So my old buddy David Nicol, who's also a preacher man AND the son of a preacher man posted this link to his Facebook page. It asks the question whether people who are spiritually dissatisfied with their faith community bear any responsibility for their dissatisfaction. While discussed from a Christian (specifically, Methodist) perspective, a lot of what's described here should sound familiar, especially on the idea of the 'consumer mentality' that many enter religious life with--we come (as the article says) as clients to have our needs met, rather than coming to enter a reciprocal relationship with community (and its constituents) with specific goals (beyond 'having a relationship with God'--would 'giving the kids a Jewish education' be our equivalent?).
Now, this isn't to playa hate; I think a lot of us are 'seekers' who come to community, sometimes to get our 'ticket stamped', sometimes because we're not really sure what we're looking for, and because we don't have the language to articulate our needs or wants, or because the community also doesn't have the vocabulary to share its narrative with its congregants in a meaningful way, people leave faith communities and no one is really sure of why. Reasons are given: cost, kids graduating, no longer active, etc., but at the end of the day, I think the article makes a strong point that for any of this to work, it needs to be like any other healthy relationship--that is, something that is worked at by both parties. We as a congregation (and its professional and lay leadership) must articulate clearly who we are and what we're about, and provide a framework for people (Jews and non-Jews who would choose to be a part of the community) to identify and explore their own spirituality (and I would add, their own sense of commandedness).
So, with Yom Kippur less than 24 hours away, how do you want to take ownership of your half of the relationship? Or, to put it another way, what are your spiritual (or if you prefer, 'mitzvah-dik') goals for this year? Not New Year's resolutions per se; I mean specifically where you'd like your soul/being/personhood to grow and develop?
Something more to think about, and hopefully distract you from images of Five Guys Hamburgers tomorrow night and Monday.
On another note: a big thanks to everyone who helped make Rosh Hashana as wonderful as it was, and those who are going to make Yom Kippur incredible. People have been wonderful generous with me and very loving, which I deeply appreciate, and it's been wonderful to be able to celebrate the holidays with my family in a way we haven't been able to do since the mid-90s. So that's nice.
And easy fast to you all (and yes, I'm going to wish you that, despite what the Reform Movement blog is saying), and may we all find ourselves inscribed for good in the Book of Life.