And then toward the end there, a few more words

Finally wrapping up a little series on religion and language. I talked about the use of magical/religious language even by non-religious folks here, and the magic of swearing and singing here.

When I think about religious language, one moment always comes to mind: our first trip to Australia, when we encountered a troop of kangaroos quite by surprise while exploring a park in Alice Springs. It was a magical moment, one of those little snatches of beauty that you’ll remember forever. And in a moment like that, you can say one of two things: a prayer, or “Duuuuude.”

I chose the prayer. I went with the Shehecheyanu, the Hebrew blessing for special occasions. I’m still grateful to my religion for giving me words in that moment, when no secular speech would do.

I’m not that damn reverent, though, so I repeated it afterwards in a heavy Crocodile-Dundee style accent, which sounds pretty funny if you know how it’s supposed to sound. I couldn’t make meeting those kangaroos into something so sacred that I could never approach the moment again in my own mind.

And I wonder … is that what’s behind all the “Mary is My Homegirl” and Candy Torahs and all that? What do you think of religious kitsch, if you are a religious person?

You can become a “fan” of Jesus on Facebook, you know. What do you think of that? (Besides the obvious point that he probably doesn’t write his own updates.) I think I’d become a “fan” of Torah, but not of God. That just seems — unseemly. What do you think? Is this kind of domestication, kitschifying, joking around with the sacred a healthy way to relate to our religion? A fun in-joke among a particular faith community? Or does it diminish without adding?

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