Community · Culture clashes

Denominationalism

This is one of the things that I despise the most.

In Japan, a popular liberal opinion is: Religion has only served as sources of serious conflict. Therefore, people would be much better off without religion.

While I totally disagree with this opinion, I do agree that religion is easily manipulated and used for various political tools, which has given it a bad name in recent history.

In the past couple of months, I have been witnessing exactly how denominationalism is being used and manipulated to destroy a tiny tiny religious/cultural community.

Since the community being destroyed and has serious “health problems” is the one I call my home community, this is quite a painful sight.

During my eleven years of being away from it, I had constantly referred to it as my “home” community. I proudly told people where I was from and that the community was there. I was not a singular anomaly, but there was a community behind me. That’s about to become history: Sure, I grew up in this community, but in the historical one. I have very little to do with the present one. The only things the present one and past one have in common is its name and maybe the building (at least for a little bit).

While I was being nurtured with leadership skills and Jewish knowledge in college, I constantly thought of how I could bring these skills back to my “home” community. I thought about this with great excitement, especially as my return neared in the last year.

Strange things were starting to happen to “my” community and I had caught wind of it many years ago, during one of my short visits back home. Knowing about this, I wanted to help even more. I didn’t want my “home” community to be so divided. Some of the issues really needed working out, while some of them just needed to be overlooked for a little bit.

What I didn’t notice was that this was a lot like a cat-fight. I got caught in the middle and got badly scratched and hurt. The pain is wrenching because as a child of the community (and one of the few who actually has remained so) I feel like I am seeing my parents fight and about to get a divorce over “irreconcilable differences” when in fact, there is a lot more going on. Plus, in this case, there are as many camps as the number of community members, but the most involved people only see two sides.

What I have decided to do? Stay out of it. I am keeping my involvement to the minimal, particularly since some people really seem to want that. While this is the most painful thing for me, I suspect it is also the best solution at the moment.

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