Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins - Born Secular (download)

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins

For the record, I am not trying to convert anyone here. I am not a Jew for Jesus. I’m not really a Jew for anything, but I guess if forced to choose I would be a Jew for Everybody Chilling the Fuck Out.

There was a kid who used to call me a Jew for Jesus in high school, because he thought it was funny. The joke, for those who don’t get it, is that I was Jewish, and a Jew for Jesus was a thing that he had heard of. It was therefore real real funny to call me Jew for Jesus, in-spite-of-slash-because-of the fact that it so clearly annoyed me. When he ran for our school’s sports commissioner (No, I don’t know what sports commissioner is either), I voted for the other guy, and after the other guy won, I overhead him complaining to his friends, “Why would anyone vote for that guy? He’s going to be a terrible sports commissioner!” I turned around and said, “I voted for that guy, because you call me Jew for Jesus,” and I took great pleasure in watching his face drop as he thought about all the people he had alienated over the years. It was the kind of moment you see in movies that never ever happens in real life. It was a small victory, and one that to this day fills me with pride. Jesus would have wanted me to turn the other cheek, so clearly, I am not a Jew for Jesus.

My personal take on the guy? I do believe Jesus was a man that lived, but I don’t believe he died so that we could feel okay about giving retarded people the death penalty. But that doesn’t mean he/He/It can’t inspire in others something beautiful and rapturous. I’m pretty sure about ninety percent of all great music is about Jesus, heroin, or love-sick teenagers (or a combination of all three, as a song I’ll be posting here soon is; THAT’S CALLED A TEASER).

I don’t think that a lack of belief should be a roadblock towards appreciating a good yarn. (Especially, when that yarn is wrapped around two sticks and called a God’s Eye, thank you very much City of Palo Alto Day Camp— CHURCH AND STATE.) For example, I also don’t believe Moses talked to a burning bush, but I’m still going home next week to take part in the Passover Seder and sing ridiculous songs like “Hunka Hunka Burning Bush” (not a real song) and “Pharaoh, Pharaoh,” sung to the tune of “Louie, Louie” (yes a real song).

It would be interesting to go around the seder table and ask, “Okay, seriously, how many of us believe all this actually happened?” At my family’s table, I’d guess most people would respond in the negative. (Of course I could be wrong. I’m notoriously bad about assuming everybody agrees with me. For example, I would not guess that 50 percent of the country thinks it should be illegal for women to keep their madden names. Also, there are people out there who prefer Billy Madison to Happy Gilmore, has the whole world gone crazy?) So why do we still do all this? All this nonsense with the shank bone and the matza (I refuse to spell it “matzoh” because that’s not how it’s pronounced; “matz-oh!” what is that?) and the four cups of wine? (Okay, I understand the part about the wine.) As the wicked child might ask, If you don’t really believe that God brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, what does all this mean to you?

I think most people (again, what do I know?) practice religion in quotation marks— the ritual itself becomes more important than whatever the ritual nominally represents. No, we don’t think Moses did this, or Jesus said that, or Buddha or Mohammad or Krishna or Zeus did the thing with the other thing to the guy with the head, but we do think— we KNOW— that this is what our parents did, and our grandparents, and there’s something deeply comforting in that. This is what people like us are doing right now, all over the world. There’s a string that runs through us and connects us forwards and backwards, to the ghettos of Warsaw, the waters of Babylon, to ourselves as a child, on the floor of the living room, our mother in the kitchen, our father setting the table, and the house filling slowly with the smell of hard-boiled eggs.

(2,559 plays)
  1. indigere-novus reblogged this from juliasegal
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  4. professionalsmartass reblogged this from juliasegal and added:
    I also love songs about Jesus, specifically songs I used to sing when I was in church as a teen - when I could halfway...
  5. killercupcakesgorawr reblogged this from juliasegal and added:
    kinda liked.
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  10. bringthebeards reblogged this from juliasegal and added:
    Well this was a really lovely read. Following (without even seeing what the rest of their tumblr is about. My gut just...