Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Response to Staying in the Haredi World

Miss Shona posted the following comment:

After googling Rodney Stark, I can see that I would be one of his problem students if I ever had him as a professor. I do not know if in the year 2008, the policy of applying the laws of economics to people's choice of religion totally flys (although I can understand the logic).

I was not born or raised anything close to I will not even pretend to sympathize with feelings of the fear leaving the Haredi world along with the implications of that choice. I did grow up in a dual culture of sorts though. My Grandparents who raised me where super conservative and old-fashioned when it came to sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll (yeah, I couldn't even LOOK at boys, much less have one call the house!). My parents, who I had a good amount of contact with, were quite opposite. My father, being the conventional Jamaican man would have two (or more?) girlfriends simultaneously. My mother knows about more rap music than I ever knew existed really and would be visibly embarrassed by my clueless regarding the latest fashion trends and slang. But in the end, it leaves me to wonder...what in the world is the big deal? Why is sex placed on this high pedestal? Is it the aura of mystery that surrounds sex or something? I am not trying to minimize the effects of very human, natural feelings. But I think that sex is dangerously glorified...even within the frum world.I guess this is where the secular education comes in.

The sexual experience involves many various ingredients, including physical involvement, psychological factors, personal libido and "talents", and chemical hormones thrown in the mix to keep things progressing. To think that all of those factors will be in tip-top condition -- as the movies and TV shows love to portray -- is so completely off base.The definite advantage that the Haredim do have (and I'm not quite sure if they even see this) is that they find a mate earlier as opposed to later which helps with the psychological factor (most of the time) in regards to developing a life/identity which includes their spouse. The unfortunate flip-side is that you get Haredi singles, who when they reach the ages of 25 and older, start freaking out and just stagnate until they find their bershert. And woe be the dear Rivkle or Shmuley who stays single...The labels on hashkafah may be black & white but we exist in an infinite spectrum of grays. As MO as I am, I can surely offer up my share of TV, sex, movies and surely explicit rap music (I would still need to hold onto the R&B and reggae however) to the lowest bidder. The main thing that concerns me is the needless guilt held by these haredim who secretly dip into these indulgences; as well as the let-down they may be in for if they discover that the coveted prize of losing their virginity earlier and within a proper timeframe was not really worth it in the end.

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