God in this country is a buffet: people can believe in whatever they want, or nothing, which includes a very strong inclination towards “spirituality” – a word which I dislike for its meaninglessness, but which seems mostly to be: “a vague, happy God-feeling which requires no work on my part.” [JS]
Yeah, it’s a popular thing (this isn’t really what the post’s about but I like to miss the forest for the trees; it’s a hobby of mine). My mom is also a fan of SBNR, and it annoys me a little bit because I do see it as a little intellectually lazy—although I don’t really know how my disdain for SBNR fits in with my pluralistic need to accept people who truly don’t believe in the Abrahamic narrative. My mom, however, seems to believe in Jesus, though we never actually talk about it. And I don’t really know how that works without the whole Christian backdrop. You’ve at least got to know your history. She also enjoys Easter and Christmas, albeit in a highly secular fashion.
Here’s the thing. That’s Israel. I’ve never been there, in case you couldn’t tell, but I suspect that, having read various statistics and everything, that Israel isn’t very religiously Jewish unless you’re in the Hareidi quarters. I see a polar approach to it all, with a majority in the middle who are really quite secular—or worse, SBNR and dabbling in New Age spirituality—but are still deeply attached to the cultural aspects. I guess you’d think otherwise, but I think it’s summed up in one person’s review of a study abroad program in Haifa—”Its religious life was lacking.” In a major city!
It’s just like America with Christianity! And that’s not so hot. Only it might be a little worse because I don’t think America quite has the “They want the synagogue they don’t go to to be Orthodox” syndrome so much here.
In other news, I’ve decided to study abroad either this spring or the fall after. William & Mary has a pretty terrible selection, but I think I might apply to the University of Exeter, because it’s in freaking DEVON. Cornwall! Cornwall! They have a synagogue that’s unaffiliated, and according to their website is against “middle-class snobbery”. I’m a little frightened that it will be only old people all over again, but I don’t think I can ask for much better given that Israel is currently on their Do Not Travel list.
Perhaps I will go to Nottingham. I don’t know which university is better, but it probably doesn’t matter. I’d go to both if they’d let me. All I can do when I read about England is think of The Fall. Bournemouth, Leicester, Manchester, they’ve all made appearances.
Here’s their study abroad list:
A lot of these are out because they’re only open to Business students etc.