Sophisticated Unbeliever Who Abandons Faith To Indulge In Speculation

Hi, I’m Nathan. As part of the 20SB Blog Swap, I’m posting on Jon’s blog today while he posts over on mine, L’histoire de sa vie. A quick introduction: I’m 22, I’m from Houston but live in NYC, I work in IT and am a Computer Science student, and I recently started listening to a lot more Bluegrass music. I’m also a self-titled Apikoros, as I’ll explain below. The term Apikoros is aptly described in the Daniel Bell quotation above.

I grew up in a typical Texas Jewish home, which meant that the extent of my religion was going to synagogue each Saturday for a couple years before my Bar Mitzvah. After synagogue, we’d often go to a restaurant where I’d have a cheeseburger or some other definitely un-kosher meal. Like most Texas Jews, I didn’t follow any of the commandments that Jews believe are required.

When I got to high school, I wanted something more. I wanted to feel God in my life, and I wanted to fulfill the mitzvot (commandments) that make Judaism special. I began keeping Kosher (no more cheeseburgers) and Shabbat (no more driving around after synagogue) and I began to find meaning in my life as part of the observant Jewish world.

I began learning a lot more – I hadn’t known a lot about my commitments before I made them, but after I made them, I sought to learn. After high school, I spent a year in Israel, studying at the Conservative Yeshiva of Jerusalem. And then I went to college, a student at the joint program between Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

While in Israel, my faith began to shake. I learned about Documentary Hypothesis (the idea that the Bible is not written by God but rather by four men) and I also began to study more philosophy, especially Jewish philosophy. By the time I got to college, the groundwork was laid for my own rebellion.

Eventually I came to the following conclusions: There probably is a god, that is, a higher being that created everything. That god doesn’t interact with our world or even care much about what’s going on – that is, he created the rules, set them into motion, and then stepped back to let the system run itself. Organized religion is both an attempt by mankind to explain the system when no explanation has been found and to control groups of people in a variation of social contract. The god I painted above couldn’t care less if I eat bacon or if Muslims make hajj or if Catholics take communion or about any other caveat of any other organized religion.

Thus, I started to become less religious. While in Israel, I would daven (pray) often, approaching the three times a day required by strict Judaism. When I got to NYC, I started davening only on Shabbat, specifically on Friday night and not Saturday morning. I enjoyed the community though, and maintained my practices regarding the sanctity of Shabbat and Kashrut for communal reasons.

Eventually though, I became a full Apikoros. An Apikoros is an ancient term for a Jew who rejects the authority of rabbinic law. A ‘heretic’ if you will. What is interesting is that like Chaim Potok’s Apikoros in The Chosen, I do believe in God, and yet don’t follow any of the mitzvot.

I’ve thus returned to my roots as a Texas Jew. I go to synagogue when I feel like it, which is very rare, and I often joke that “I pray when I want to, and God listens when he wants to.” Even though I live in a building with many who are still very observant, I spend Saturdays watching Texas football, and I often enjoy un-Kosher food.

And yet I keep learning. I continue my studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, learning and absorbing more and more about Judaism. I find it fascinating and love to learn about my religion, even as I simultaneously reject it. Thus I am an interesting form of Apikoros – the kind that knows the term and understands what it means, and yet would self-apply it.

“All Israel has a portion of the world to come … [except] who says there is no resurrection of the dead in the Torah, that the Torah isn’t from heaven, and the Apikoros.” – Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1

Blog Swap About Life

Hey everyone!! I’m Heather from EveryyDayy . Some of you may know me, some may not. It’s nice to meet you all! I want to thank Jon for setting up this blog swap, and volunteering to swap with me when my partner bailed.

The past few weeks I have been driving myself a little crazy with my life decisions. Has anyone actually followed through with their “plan”? If so how’d you manage it. I need some pointers because my dreams seem to travel further and further away with every decision I make. I’m having an unusually hard time dealing with this right now. To the point where I am going back onto anti depressants that I’ve been off of for over a year, so that instead of feeling disappointment daily, maybe I’ll just go numb.

4 years ago if you asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I had it all planned out. I was going to go to Design school at Columbia College in Chicago, while attending classes there I’d also be working on my business degree on the side. All while working for an event planning company or design firm. As well as a small little cafe in the city, where I’d learn every aspect of running my own business, and network like crazy. After graduation from Columbia College, I would then go on to work for a prestigious design firm or event planning company full time, work my way up to the top until finally, I was able to open my own company. I didn’t need a man in my life. I was strong enough on my own. Yep. That was my plan.

But instead I decided not to move to Chicago. Why you ask? Well because I was dating, who I thought was the man of my dreams, and I wouldn’t dare leave him especially to move to Chicago. See I dated this guy all through high school, we fought, he cheated on me, I cheated on him, we fought some more, we had sex. That’s about all our relationship was. But I thought that it was love. I went on thinking that for another year and a half after I graduated high school as well. I ended up working on a Public Relations degree at East Carolina University with a minor in business. He lived about 3 hours away and would come to visit quite often. I was okay with all of this. Knowing that it wasn’t what I truly wanted, it continued until my sophomore year in college. I was finally done. Done putting my dreams on hold for someone who didn’t treat me that way I deserved. Done.

I met a guy through a friend (long drawn out story, that I will elaborate on at a later date ) Jay. He started out as just a tutor/friend. Nothing more. Slowly but surely (in a very fast way) I began to fall for him. Why? Because he was perfect. There was nothing about him that I would change. Not a single thing. He was great looking, he was built, he had beautiful teeth (yes major turn-on for me), on top of it all his personality was amazing. For once I felt like a person, and not a toy. He treated me with respect, and let me know that I deserved a lot more then what I was getting from my current relationship. Unfortunately I met him a little too late. A few days later (maybe a week or so) I made the decision to move back to my dad’s house and do online classes for a little while–There was an incident that occurred that I couldn’t deal with as well as I thought, and removing myself from that environment was crucial to my sanity.

December came, exams ended and I packed up all of my things. Loaded them into my brand new Chevy Cobalt and headed to Virginia for 9 months. Several rumors started that I was pregnant and I was going away to have my baby, so no one would know about it. Even one that I was checking into a psych ward (you’ve got to love your enemies–I swear) however none of them where true. The truth was, I couldn’t handle what was going on in my life. I was depressed, exhausted–physically, mentally, emotionally. I had a severe case of mono, and I had to get away from everything for a while.

So I moved to my dad’s up in Culpeper Virginia. I got a gym membership. Started working out like crazy. Almost too much. But I loved it. My dad got me a trainer. Who worked me like you wouldn’t believe. I scored a job at Starbucks in Warrenton (a town over) because all that we had in Culpeper was a Walmart, and the beginning constructions of a Target. Of course we had a few other things. Dairy Queen, where I worked my first job when I was 16, KB Toys, a run down Belk, Fashion Bug, Shoe Show, and other bummy places that should be torn down and completely rebuilt. I loved my job at Starbucks. Everything about it. I still do love it and wish every day that I was still working there.

I moved to my dad’s single. Jay and I where ‘talking’ not dating. We had become best friends in about a months time. Also in that time I somehow fell in love with him. Of course I didn’t tell be because I wasn’t sure I wanted it, what he would say, or if I could handle its consequences. New Years eve came a long and Jay invited to a Carolina Hurricanes game with his family, and then it happened. I was so happy. Happier then I had been in a long time. It was a feeling that I wasn’t really used to.

I returned to school in August of 2007 and I changed my major to the one I thought I wanted to do more then PR, Interior Design. My passion in life is art, and design. All sorts. Not just decorating. Actually designing. My high school actually offered Interior Desgin classes which of course I took along with 5 semesters of art, including independent study. I figured it would be a breeze. It wouldn’t be hard, because of course I love interior design, so what would be so bad. Right? Yea, well apparently I thought wrong. I started falling behind in classes and not being able to catch up. I was sleeping through them, and there was nothing I could do. I was in such a deep depression that even Jay couldn’t help me. I ended up completely withdrawing from the University on Medical. For my severe depression.This time was different. My dad came down from Virginia to move me back to my mom’s house in Apex, North Carolina.

I found a job at a marketing firm that turned into a huge scam. I was conned out of my last 3 paychecks (over $1400) that I still haven’t seen yet. After that, I got my job back at Old Navy for the holidays. My car broke down Christmas eve, and I couldn’t make it to work because I didn’t have a ride (the day after Christmas) my general manager thought I was lying, when my car was sitting (broken down) in the Old Navy parking lot and fired me. A few weeks later I started working for a lady named Stephanie in Holly Springs, North Carolina as a live-in Nanny. Holly Springs is only about 2 1/2 minutes away from my house, but she insisted that I live in her attic that way I could be on call 24/7. Which I was. Even on my days off I was still on call, and would be called. I watched 2 boys. One was 2 1/2 the other was 6. I was with the 2 1/2 year old all the time. It got to the point where he was calling me Momma Header. Her demands became very unreasonable and I left. On fairly bad terms. Though I felt a million times better when I did. I was not only caring for her 2 boys, but her as well. I made her bed, did her laundry, cooked her dinner, etc. It was a little too much for too little pay.

Shortly after I left I got a job at Walgreens. I moved into my apartment with Jay and here I am. In Greenville North Carolina. I worked at BB&T for several months but January came and I was let go for a bogus reason. Now I am an assistant property manager at a student community about 3 blocks from campus. I love it there, but having encounters with students who are graduating in 2 weeks, every day, knowing that I am supposed to be getting my graduation plans together as well is very hard. It’s a constant reminder of something that i’ve failed at. However this position is fairly close to what I want to do, and it is definitely a great learning experience.

Where the hell did my plan go? I have no idea what I want to do with my life anymore. I’d love to still go to design school. Finish my business degree, and open a studio. In the past 6 months I have managed to gain 65 lbs. No exageration whatsoever. I dread waking up in the morning and going into work. My clothes don’t fit. My hair never does what I want it to do. My makeup is always bad, and I’m pail. Yet I get out of bed every morning, and I make it through my day. Because though times are pretty crappy, that’s what you do. You bite your lip and deal with it.


Best Celebrity Sighting Ever

20SB Blog Swap 3Todays guest post is brought to you by Joanna from This is all part of the 20 Something BloggersBlog Swap 3“. Don’t forget to go check out my post over on her site.

When I lived in LA, one weekend some friends of mine were talking about this bar in Hollywood they went to the weekend before. Apparently, the guy who played Adam Banks in the Mighty Ducks movies worked there. I promptly yelled “Vincent A. Larusso???!!!!!” What Pete, Dave, and K-Dawg didn’t know was that I was OBSESSED with this kid in 7th grade. Oh yes, I had all the movies. I was first in line when they became rentable. I had the Tiger Beat poster. And, I clearly remember my friend Jan and I screaming “oh my God!! He is sooo cute!” and rewinding ALL of his scenes in the Ducks movies like the boy crazy middle school girls we were.

Adam Banks

Adam Banks, love of my middle school life

So, of course after that weekend, I desparately wanted to hit said bar up and see him for myself. My mission? Get a picture with him in a tactfully and polite manner (Yeah… that didn’t happen… Oh, I got the picture, sure, but… well, what’s that “tact” word mean again?)

Here’s what happened: My best friend, Vicki, and I went on the prowl. Vicki, I came to find out, also had a uber-crush on Vincent (oh yes, we’re on a first name basis now). Upon entering the bar, we see him and Vicki turns to me and says “Oh my God, Its effing Adam Banks.” Ssssshhhh Vicki! We have to do this discretely!!

You’d think that we would have gone into this prepared. You’d think we’d come up with a slick line like “so, wanna pull a flying V?” or “how was it working with Emilio?” or maybe even “where’s Pacey?” But no. The best we could come up with when meeting one of the absolute biggest teen idols of our 7th grade year was “Listen. We know who you are and you’re the only reason we’re here.” Wow. We are slick. Of course, this is after we had ordered like 9 drinks from him.

The best part, though, was when I was closing my tab I told him how embarrassed I was about the whole thing. He turns to me and says “YOU’RE embarrassed? I’m the one who’s embarassed” Aw, Banksy! Don’t be embarrassed!

Adam Banks

Hockey gear courtesy of microsoft paint.

So, I wonder how often that happens to him….

Weekend at the cabin

Monday back behind my laptop at work and I can’t get my mind out of New Hampshire. I love weekends up at the cabin. We just drink, drink, play some drinking games, drink and eat food.

So what was on the menu this weekend:

  • Food
    • Lemon peppered shrimp on the BBQ
    • Burgers
    • Hot Dogs
    • Buffalo wings (from scratch)
    • Burger King
  • Drinks
    • Bud Light
    • Miller Light
    • Longhamer IPA
    • Longhamer Summer Ale
    • Longhamer Blonde Ale
    • Longhamer Ale

All in all a great weekend of food and drink. Lots of beirut and some game you play with ski poles, bottles and a frisbee.

However in true fourth of july fashion, the cops yelled at us to stop lighting off fireworks. I may be mistaken but i thought it was legal to light off fireworks on a private beach in new hampshire before 10pm. Oh well, maybe it was.

How a little chicken salad can save a relationship

Hi, I’m Jenn. I’m over here from my usual spot at jenn(uinely) rambling… (and you can find Jon over there today (or maybe tomorrow), if you want to catch up with him; It’s all part of the Great 20SB Blog Swap).
I’d be surprised if Jon and I share any readers, so I’ll start off with an introduction in bullets. I’m:

  • 23
  • Living in NZ with my partner D and our kitten Trudy
  • Half way through my first year as a real grown-up
  • Pretty happy all round at the mo
  • Trying to figure out what to do with my life
  • A big fan of Arrested Development

But for today, none of that really matters, cos today I’m gonna post about the suckiness that is life sometimes.

Last year, D and I were long distance. And it sucked. Like, totally sucked. Not all the time, but we most definitely had our moments. Both of us had moments that we’re not proud of, we had a hell of a lot of arguments, broke up, cried.

Fortunately, we also laughed, danced, kissed, smiled, cuddled and talked very openly about our relationship. And in the end it was the positives that won out, and even made us stronger.

For the first few weeks, it was all sweet. We were stoked to see each other again. We had those movie-type-running-jump-hugs in the airport. We spent the whole weekend attached at the hip. We couldn’t stop talking to each other about what was going on. We made out at the movies like teenagers.

But after a few months the cracks started to show.

Until you’ve been there, it’s really hard to understand. Since you’re not seeing each other all the time, when you do get to see each other you have to cram the last (week/fortnight/month) of emotions into one (weekend/day/hour). Add the fact that the first wee bit has a tendency towards awkwardness, and you’ve got a confusing time ahead of you. You finally get to see each other, and something annoys you. So you get snarky. And you argue. And the fact that you argue annoys you (because you’re supposed to be making the most of the time together) and you just get madder and madder.
The little thinks that would have been dealt with in 2 seconds during the week suddenly become arguments. And the arguments become fights.
It’s like a time bomb, set to go off most weekends that you spend together.

And all of this makes you wonder…

Makes you wonder if the good times are good enough to make up for the bad. Makes you wonder if it’s all worth it. Makes you wonder if you can hack it.
(or maybe it’s just me…)

Now, I don’t want to give you the impression that all our time together was bad. Far from it. But the bad has a tendency to really stick in the mind. And it gets harder and harder to remember the good times. You can quickly forget the wonderful dinner filled with sparkling conversation.
But no matter how many times you ctrl+alt+delete, you can’t stop the memory of the fight you had over the fact that the bedroom was too hot. No one had done anything ‘wrong’, but the emotions came up, and the hot bedroom turned into “you never care about how I feel” “just cos you’ve good a good homeostasis system doesn’t mean that I’m happy” “just cos you’re in the mood doesn’t mean I am” “you’re never in the mood, you don’t find me attractive anymore” “when you make leaps like that, I don’t know why I even bother”…

After a few weekends of this, we decided we needed to get past it, or the relationship wasn’t going to come out the other end at all (let alone intact).

And the key for us was a few well placed jokes or ‘diffusers’. Basically, we stopped taking ourselves, and what was happening, so bloody seriously! The person who noticed that we were on this path would come out with “Oh Chicken salad” “Dun dada dun dada dun dada Shiny Scalpel, Dun dada dun dada dun dada Gonna slice ’em up” “Bum-bum bwada” (…we are also big fans of Scrubs). And we’d (mostly) manage to change the subject, and get back to having some fun together.

This didn’t always work, and there were still sucky times. But we got through the year. And now we’re living together alone for the first time. In a new city. Where we didn’t know anyone before we moved up. So we need to get along, cos if we don’t, we got no one.

And I couldn’t be happier… (with our relationship, work’s another story for another day).

Just goes to show that life isn’t so bad after all. Even when things are going down the gurgler, there’s bound to be a way out. My big advice is – You just gotta get over yourself!

Now, I’m hoping to inspire Jon back to his theme of ‘making the most of life when it’s all going to shit’, and I think I need your help. And all that you need to do is answer my question.

How do you get through the bad times? What are your tips and tricks for getting life back on track?

Easy as.

Hope you enjoyed the blog swap!