Lisa Miller, who writes a weekly column for The Washington Post, says she looks forward with “foreboding” to the Jewish High Holy Days. Rosh Hashanah begins tomorrow at sundown.
Religion is a stick, which the in-crowd uses to punish the outliers: As in, God hates gays, or God loves gays, or God hates the sin but loves the sinner. Polls have shown that the main reason a younger generation is abandoning religion boils down to this: It’s punitive and mean — too much of a bummer too much of the time.
The truth is that even in private, religion can feel like a weight. You go to church or synagogue because you feel obligated; you send your children to Hebrew school with reservations and over their protestations. The upcoming Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur in particular, can feel like an orgy of self-immolation. The fasting. The counting of sins. The beating of breasts. During this season, the liturgy forces the faithful to regard without blinking their mortality and worse: the chanciness of everything.
Read her column to learn how she discovered joy in the midst of meditating on repentence.