Thursday, April 21, 2011

Excerpts from the Orthoprax Haggadah

"Now we are slaves, next year free."
The seder is both a celebration of our freedom and a recognition of the ways in which we still hope for freedom. On the one hand, we are relatively free from dogma and free from indoctrination. We have clarity of mind about religion and the natural world, which is a significant achievement.

At the same time, as orthopraxers, we often don't have freedoms we want. We may not have the freedom to speak our minds openly. We may not have the freedom to act as we want. More importantly, we may not be free from emotional confusion or cognitive dissonance about our lifestyles, and we may not have clarity about how best to live orthoprax lives. And so at the seder, we consider how we may be more free at this time next year--what we can change internally or externally to find emotional freedom and happiness.

"In the beginning, our forefathers were idolaters."
Here we recognize the chain that has led us to our present state. Our forefathers long ago were polytheists, who believed they had to appease many gods with religious rituals. Later generations recognized that the world could be more simply and better explained by one personal God. In our day, we recognize that there are even simpler and better explanations for the world and for the origin of religious ritual.

"Of four sons spoke the Torah..."
"The wise son:"
This is the orthopraxer who is "smart" about his orthopraxy, managing to fit in despite it. As you will notice, he does not speak of beliefs, or Torah and science. He simply discusses Jewish law and practice, and he is answered in kind--he lives in this world of practice and avoids conflicts with beliefs, happy to make meaning of the rituals to which he is accustomed. He is probably Zionistic, feels a sense of Jewish identity, and reads Kugel.

"The wicked son."
This is the "naughty" orthopraxer, who cannot help but point out what appears odd to him: why are people still following a Bronze age myth? He is considered wicked by the haggadah because he does not care to fit in; he would roll his eyes at this. This orthopraxer probably reads Dawkins and Pharyngula. It is notable, though, that he chooses to be at the seder to begin with. He may not know why and he may struggle with it, but for whatever reason, he is there.

"The simple son."
This refers to the simple believers or ba'alei tshuva who accept whatever they are told.

"The one who does not know how to ask."
Here are any frum people, particularly intellifundies, who simply don't understand the weight of the questions and conflicts in the minds of skeptics. They have faith that all questions can be answered, or else they read responses to biblical criticism or evolutionary theory without understanding the questions themselves. This is because they do not really know how to ask.

You will notice that there are not any orthoprax daughters listed. This is a shame.

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