First I want to share a story I've read in nearly every book or article:
"A man went looking for Rabbbi Hillel and said to him, 'I want to become a Jew. But only on the condition that you teach me the Torah, all of it, while I stand on one foot.' Hillel looked at the smart aleck and said, 'What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. That is the entire Torah -- all of it. The rest is commentary. Go and study.'" (Choosing a Jewish Life)
Funny that the simplest message of the Torah isn't all that different from the New Testement I grew up with.
I should explain where I am coming from in order for anyone to understand where I'm going.
I think some people, especially those who still identify as Methodist, wonder what I meant in my first post when I mentioned "anything goes Methodism."
What I meant to imply is that being Methodist in modern-day Christianity doesn't have as strong of an identity as some other religious affiliations. For example, Catholicism, Baptist, Judaism, Mormon, etc. I know a lot of Protestants who choose their denomination based on the pastor, not on its beliefs. Yes, I know this is not the case for all Methodists, or Protestants in general, but I do believe in recent times denominations' beliefs are falling into more and more grey areas. And maybe that's a good thing.
My family, on my mother's side, is United Methodist. I grew up going to the Methodist church all my life, and some of my fondest memories are of Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. I often find myself asking Ryan if he had any of the same experiences in Hebrew school as I did in Sunday School. ("Hey, Ryan, did you guys have the felt boards with the felt characters for story time?"..."No? Oh that's too bad...")
I stopped going to church in 2003 while I was in college. I mostly felt that our local Methodist church didn't seem to have any relevency in my life anymore. It was a time of change for me, and as it is with people in every faith, sometimes spirituality goes by the wayside when dealing with stress.
I feel very lucky that my experiences with Christianity have been in a United Methodist home. In fact, I think there are a lot more similarities between Methodism and Judaism (especially the Reform branch) than some might think.
Like Judaism, Methodism is based on service to those less fortunate and to the broken world at large. The denomination is known to stress service and charity work. It is a very socially aware and one of the most liberal denominations of Protestant Christianity.
Like Judaism, it is against the death penalty. It also takes no definitive stance on homosexuality and abortion rights. (I heard many "Methodists on the fence" jokes growing up -- usually during Methodist sermons.) And the denomination stresses the importance of peace over war. Now let me make clear -- these are the denomination's stances, not necessarily the stances of parishoners themselves. (And I should say I'm describing these all from memories and through the purvue of past teachers and pastors, so I'm sorry if I've misconstrued anything I have been taught.)
To round out my list of three topics -- the dreaded "ch."
I chose the Hebrew name "Michal" as some of you might remember. Well, that's all fine and good except I CAN'T PRONOUNCE IT! There's something about that "ch" or "chet" sound. I just can't do it, especially when it is followed closely behind by the dreaded "L" (Think: challah...yep can't do that one either).
So I think I'm in trouble. I'm going to have to learn to say the name, or it'll just be silly for the rest of my life. But it's ridiculous to have to repeat rudimentary words to your boyfriend. It just makes you feel dumb.
For the record, I can't roll my Rs either.