Yesterday I started and finished Pearl Abraham’s The Romance Reader. It’s a wonderful book, sad and beautiful at the same time. Abraham describes a Hasidic girl’s struggle to find some way she can be independent of her parents and the expectations the Hasidic culture places on her as a woman. But as I was reading it, I couldn’t help focusing on how much organized religion can and often does hurt people. Orthodox Judaism in no different than Orthodox Christianity or Islam. Women are subjugated, told not to use their minds (which were surely given them by God!) and to obey their husband. Men are hemmed in as well, even if they are in a more privileged position.
Religious people are no stranger to power abuse and distorting things to fit their own agenda. And that hurts me and sometimes makes me want to give up. I don’t know how the christian call to "love thy neighbor" got turned into "judge everyone and make life difficult", but I’m hoping it can be reversed. Religion, when practiced right, can add meaning to lives and do wonderful things.