Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On Evolution, Religion, and Coming Out

This really got me going. See, dinosaurs are really important to me for lots of reasons. I have a kid. My dad is a Biologist. Oh, and my dad works as a Fossil Explainer at the American Museum of Natural History.

But even before he started working there, The Museum (as we call it) was always a special place to me. When the new dinosaur exhibit (as we still call it) opened in 1995 (no, I didn't have to look that up) it was a big deal in my family. My mother and brother got to see it the first day. I had to wait, but I got there as soon as I could and to this day I am amazed by what I learn there.

And then there's evolution. The article I linked to is partly about the evolutionary evidence found in the fossil record of dinosaurs specifically. They have taught us so much about how the world and animals developed that it's mind-boggling. Which is why Creationists are trying to suppress that science.

Which brought me back to my job. I teach religion to third graders at a Reform Jewish Congregation. Before school started, I decided it was time to come out to my boss. I didn't do it last year because my revelation (anti-revelation?) happened in the middle of the school year, and I wasn't sure, when I started this blog, where it would end up. But since I'm staying (for now anyway) in my congregation, I decided to keep the job that I love. Because I really do love discussing religion with children for two hours every week, and I love watching them make progress in Hebrew reading the other two.

So I sat down with my boss and told her that I now identify as a Humanist but I still also identify as a Reform Jew. And I don't believe in God. (I said it with a capital G out of respect for her. She's a good person, and a friend, and God is important to her.) I told her about this blog and all the work I've done and will continue to do figuring out what I believe.

She was interested in that stuff (as I said: good person, friend) but what she really wanted to know, as my boss, is whether I can still do my job. And it came down to this: my job is to impart a sense of wonder and connectedness to God to my students.


Oh, and when you taught them the real story of Chanukah--that the Jews were celebrating Sukkot because they had their Temple back, so they lit up the whole city of Jerusalem for eight nights, and THAT's why we light an 8-armed candelabra, not because of a stupid oil miracle--that pissed of the Rabbi. Don't do that anymore.

But...the kids asked. They wanted to know the scientific explanation behind the menorah miracle. Since when does the Reform Movement deny science and endorse miracles? I feel like the whole Movement has shifted.

Yes, says my boss. It did.

This opened a pit of fear in my stomach, but I had to ask.

What about Evolution?

She told me to leave the question open, because "we don't really know."

Yes, we DO really know. Feathered dinosaurs!

Crap. When did the Refom Movement come to this? Why, oh WHY would we want to side with the fundamentalist crackpots on ANYTHING?!?!?!

I'm hoping this will pass, and won't really come to anything. I'm hoping that I will find a way to gather the Progressive folks in my area, or in my congregation, so that we can stick together and stay Jewish and keep the Reform Movement Progressive. If this is the tip of a spear, though, it might be the wedge that pushes me out of the Movement.

This hurts.

1 comment:

  1. Here's hoping that the boss won't try to fight science......... Not that it's a selling point, but the catholic church was able to publically accept Evolution..... maybe your boss can do the same.