28 July 2006

Confusion


"And must I now begin to doubt
Who's never doubted all these years"

- Javert in Screenplay - Les Miserables

Ironically, it was on a flight home from Israel, when I tripped over to disbelief. It was really like a bulb coming on, where everything that I had read, suddenly and without warning, just tipped the scales of my mind. Like a see-saw where my life is in perfect balance and someone got off the other side and I went crashing to the ground.

Here I am, somewhat middle-aged, coming upon this crisis of faith. I guess I had the typical reaction, but I don't really know. I remember thinking how unfair this is. After all, anyone coming across this information, in the exact sequence as I had, would definitely come to the same conclusion that I had. I'm pretty certain now, that is not completely accurate. There are different levels of incongruity that people can live with.

The words of Javert came to mind. Someone firm in moral convictions can suddenly see things differently.

Several years later, I came across a tale by, IIRC, Isaac Bashevis Singer where a Rabbi on his deathbed undergoes what I went thru.

I wasn't dying, but I knew my life had changed forever.

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    13 Comments:

    At July 28, 2006 11:13 AM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    If I got a quarter every time I had a simple epiphany such as the one you describe on the airplane, I'd be a very rich man by now.

     
    At July 28, 2006 11:50 AM, Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

    It was really like a bulb coming on, where everything that I had read, suddenly and without warning, just tipped the scales of my mind.

    It's really fascinating how the mind works. We have one mental paradigm where we squeeze all the facts we know -- and they all pretty much fit -- and then along comes something which just doesn't fit -- or someone shows us a paradigm which fits better -- and it can all change in an instant.

    I think of it sort of like those optical illusions where you can see a vase or two heads, except that the picture can change and when you've thought your whole life it was two heads, the new picture simply looks much more like a vase.

     
    At July 28, 2006 11:55 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Irviner, (see, you're getting on the map, after all),
    Care to share some of your epiphanies?

     
    At July 28, 2006 11:57 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    JA,
    > or someone shows us a paradigm which fits better

    Wow, that hits the nail on the head.

     
    At July 28, 2006 2:28 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    You don't want to know my ephiphanies...

    But I'll just share a few of them.

    1.After reading "The Mind's I" I said, maybe they are right, we are nothing but random stuff collected with an illusion of empathy and freewill.

    2.After watching the matrix: Thats a good age old question, maybe I'm in the matrix... does it matter? The matrix is better than the "real world" anyways.

    3.Perhaps B'hai is correct.

    4.The Art world is a twisted form of capitalism at its best, fueld by people who are anti-capitalism.

    5. I have no self.

    6. G-d is the self.

    7. I would be much happier in a Jewish society than a hellenistic society.

    8. sometimes animals of opposite species make love to eachother, there is no such thing as "unnatural"

    9. There was nothing wrong with Nazism as long as you don't believe in some sort of "higher moral authority"

    Ok, time for me to do other things now.

     
    At July 28, 2006 2:31 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    Oh, and those 9 things I listed, all happened within a 2 week span during my first year of college.

     
    At July 28, 2006 4:19 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Irviner, you must have a very interesting life. But if everything is an epiphany then nothing is an epiphany!

     
    At July 28, 2006 6:08 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    Out of curiosity, have you played the "Taken to its logical conclusion" game?

    But not everything is an epiphany. There may be some 30 or 40 epiphanies that one makes about various things, but there are closer to a jabillion events that happen.

    I would just hope that one waits for more than a few epiphanies before changing thier life forever.

     
    At July 28, 2006 6:26 PM, Blogger happywithhislot said...

    BHB
    before this moment, were you rational about Chazal superpowers or believed they did have such powers as laser beam eyes or flight?

     
    At July 28, 2006 6:34 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    > I would just hope that one waits for more than a few epiphanies before changing thier life forever.


    I think that's the exact definition of epiphany, a real eye-opener.

     
    At July 28, 2006 6:43 PM, Blogger Irviner Chasid said...

    I'm your average college student, suddenly I get an epiphany that Jesus is the way to go, few years later I get an epiphany that the group I ended up joining was a cult, few years later I get the epiphany that all religions are just more complex cults. Few years later, I find out I wasted my years in college learning philosophy when what I need is math skills, so I go back to college, whein I get the epiphany that Jesus is the way to go...

    I've heard a few too many stories like that..

     
    At July 28, 2006 6:59 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    > before this moment, were you rational about Chazal superpowers or believed they did have such powers as laser beam eyes or flight?


    Happy, welcome back! I don't know if you saw my comments on your log. Got to run soon. But in answer to your question, I was selective in my attitude towards midrashim. I never believed things like a bird flying over a Tanna's head burnt the bird. My reason for that was simpply how come it was not recorded in Roman History or Josephus, and how come the jews were afraid of every one.

    It's funny that I never applied that kind of thinking to Exodus. How come it was not recorded in any other histories.


    But that's a legitimate position not to take every Midrash literally. I had full faith in Sinai and TMS.

    Shabbat Shalom

     
    At July 28, 2006 7:05 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Irviner,
    To me, that sounds like emotion, not epiphany.

    (1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure

    If it happened frequently to me, I would stop and wonder what's going on.

     

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