Tag Archives: religion

A Window into the Way We Think About Religion

If you want to read something that will give you all kinds of insight into the way our culture thinks about religion and its implications (or lack thereof), you can hardly do better than a short article from Elizabeth Weil in the New York Times called “The Unexpected Bat Mitzvah.” Weil comes from a Jewish background, while her husband has Christian roots, though neither faith apparently plays much of a role in their day-to-day lives. As she puts it in the piece:

 The Weil-Duane narrative, as we had plotted it, involved outsourcing religion: celebrating Jewish holidays with my family, Christian ones with Dan’s. Inside our nuclear family, we placed our faith in love, books, nature, generosity: the standard liberal, coastal stuff.

 Not exactly a revolutionary approach in present day America. Enter Weil’s twelve-year-old daughter, who decides that she wants to have a bat mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ceremony (the term means “daughter of the commandment”). Weil and her husband are understandably surprised by their daughter’s request, and the bulk of the article then deals with how the family navigates their way forward.

Reading through the article (which I’d highly encourage you to do) a couple of times, I was struck by all the ways it offered a glimpse into how we tend to think. Here are a few: