Being Jew-ish

No High Holiday services for me but here’s what I did in addition to having days off from work. Dipped pieces of apple in honey to assure a sweet new year, took a morning for reflection and writing with my Gemini pal Julie, walked by Temple Emanu-El’s mobbed parking lot and felt guilty.

Why are people deeply entrenched in religion? I’m optimistic, have faith in the goodness of the vast majority of people, but I believe it’s who we are as human beings, not about religion.

Is religion meant to stop people from doing weird things? Weird stuff happens no matter what we do.

Stephen King calls “The Leftovers” by Tom Perrotta “the best Twilight Zone episode you never saw” in a recent New York Times book review. Spooky. On Oct. 14 (it’s coming up!) people all over the planet are swooped up, very much like the born-again Christian version of “The Rapture,” except Perrotta’s characters aren’t necessarily believers. They just randomly disappear.

In the book, a cult develops with adherents donning white robes, taking a vow of silence — cigarettes dangling from their mouths (it’s a look). They follow people around, transmitting important lessons through an insistent gaze.

I’m about halfway through the book so I don’t know how or if the situation resolves.

“Higher Ground,” which was directed by and stars the lovely, talented Vera Farmiga, was more down-to-earth than “The Leftovers.” The movie takes a young girl from the scary “Do you take Jesus as your savior?” question when she raises her hand in church, to her grown-up married self living in a strict Christian community. Farmiga’s character Corinne Walker comes full circle.

Corinne has always read a lot — a rebellious practice — and there’s no way she can believe everything that she’s told, especially how a woman should adhere to her husband’s wishes.

While a Rotten Tomatoes review says the Irish postman reading a Yeats poem aloud doesn’t ring true, I’d say the scene with dogs surrounding Corinne is totally unnecessary. See the movie; let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, we’re in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the day when we’re hopefully inscribed in the Book of Life. I want everyone I love to be inscribed in the Book of Life. Like Farmiga’s Corinne, I empathize with the religious beliefs that are part of me. I just don’t buy them.

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