Yom Kippur, The Pope And My Reluctant Secularism

Sometimes the easiest questions are the hardest ones to answer. Like: What religion are you?

I had reason to think about this issue the other day during a routine doctor’s appointment at a local London hospital. As we were winding up, the doctor turned to me and asked: “Oh, yes, and what religion are you? It could be relevant to your treatment.” He was holding a clipboard and a pen, ready to tick the appropriate box on his chart.

I paused, as if he’d asked me the solution to Fermat’s Last Theorem. “Umm . . . well . . . I used to be Catholic.” I heard myself say. “But my husband’s Jewish . . . so I guess . . . um . . .”

The doctor raised his eyebrows. As polite as the Brits tend to be, you can tell when you’ve tried their patience. And I could see that this kind gentleman was thinking: “Honey, just answer the question. I’ve got loads of patients to see in the waiting room and I really don’t need an American confessional right now.”

“I guess I’m nothing,” I told him finally. “Yeah, that’s right. Just tick ‘nothing.’ ” But what I really wanted to say was: “Do you have a box for ‘formerly Christian’? Or perhaps for ‘wanna-be Jewish’?”

Read the rest of this post on www.PoliticsDaily.com

Image: Yalmukes by Bekah Stargazing via Flickr under a Creative Commons license

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  • Reply Leah

    September 21, 2010, 8:44 pm

    Great post! I grew up in a mixed faith family (my Dad is Jewish, my Mom ‘nothing/former Catholic’). For the past 15 years I’ve lived outside Boston, MA (US) and was pleased to discover others raised just like me. Prior to that I was living in Western MA where there is not much diversity in terms of religion. I was allowed to tag along to friend’s church or other religious-themed gatherings while growing up in order to make up my own mind. :)

  • Reply delialloyd

    September 21, 2010, 8:47 pm

    Thanks Leah. Glad that it resonated!

  • Reply Kristen @ Motherese

    September 21, 2010, 9:31 pm

    To your piece at Politics Daily, Delia, I say a big “Amen!”

    As a fellow lapsed Catholic married to an atheist Jew, I think about these issues all the time. The idea of being “nothing” doesn’t work for me, but I don’t have any better answer to the question “What are you?” And, of course, I wonder how my kids (now in utero, 1, and 3) will answer that inevitable question someday.

    It’s comforting, at least, to know that even in our nothingness we aren’t alone. Perhaps we need to come up with a name for our tribe?

  • Reply Patricia

    September 21, 2010, 10:53 pm

    I had a Jewish Great Grandmother, a Methodist organist Grandmother and an United Church of Canada Grandmother…My Mother and Father joined the United Church which was a Congregational(liberal) and Presbyterian(education oriented) church when they moved to the USA.
    At age 10 I knew I wanted to be a minister…found out in seminary that meant Liberal United Church of Christ with huge doses of activism…( you know like Obama a community activist!)
    Now at 61 and having raised my children in a Peace Dancing house church group for folks who are gay, mixed marriages, former Mormons and Catholics etc. –

    I can not accept my Mum’s suggestion of “belong to the group you feel most comfortable with…believe what you wish to believe.”

    We don’t go because the new leader is trying to be Buddhist from a Catholic values programing place…and it really offends me and all the group are folks with young children.

    I miss some of the rituals…and the singing, so I chant and do Dances of Universal Peace….meditate daily at home and practice yoga…

    Have you read Karen Armstrong’s The Spiral Staircase…..I thought that helped my thinking a great deal…although she said recently on Bill Moyer’s Journal she was still searching for her community and feeling strongly that that was important to find.

    I think there are lots and lots of us seeking and searching – sometimes

  • Reply delialloyd

    September 22, 2010, 10:04 am

    @kristen and @patricia-yes, I think we are all searching. And it’s reassuring to hear that others are too (even those who’ve written books on it!) I’ve not read that book, Patricia but will take it out. I think “community” really is what I’m looking for and the question is what kind…thanks for chiming in, guys.

  • Reply Erin

    September 22, 2010, 10:59 am

    I really don’t like the way we have to choose one way or another – can’t we just be spiritual or religious without a label? If not, then I’m Catholic Lite. Catholicism demands a sit down dinner where you eat what you’re served. I prefer to treat it as a buffet where I pick what I want to believe. And I don’t feel guilty about it.

  • Reply ErinC

    September 22, 2010, 4:16 pm

    I’ve trying googling Alternative Liberal Jewish syangogue, North London, LGBT and am coming up with nothing. Wondering what synagogue it was…?

  • Reply Daryl Boylan

    September 27, 2010, 8:07 pm

    I certainly sympathize with the wish to be part of a community. Most of my friends who feel that way join Unitarian communities of the like-minded, tho’ these vary a great deal. Somehow, I’m more inclined to just stick with old friends of assorted religious persuasions; the things we share seem much more important than those we don’t.

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