photo of Josep holding Letters to Josep

Guest Letter FROM Josep: A Clarification on Josep’s Religious Views

In my previous post I mentioned that I sometimes feel it’s a little disingenuous to describe this blog as one that documents a friendship “between a Jew and a Christian,” as that makes it sound like we are both dedicated members of those religions in the traditional sense, and that’s a bit of an oversimplification. “You’re more of a… how do I put this… secular humanist theist whose beliefs are vaguely structured on Christian concepts with a suspicious bias toward their Jewish sources?” I wrote. “Does that work?”

Well, guess who’s here to set the record straight!

photo of Josep holding Letters to Josep
This guy. (He sent me this selfie like 2 years ago, but I told him I’m not willing to feature it on the “about” page because I want one with him looking at least slightly pleased about the book in his hand. He claimed that he took this at 6 am and was therefore exempt from expressing any positive emotion whatsoever. Fair enough.)

This is the first time I’m writing a letter to the blog that is partially “dedicated” to me. ‘Bout time!

The reason I am doing that is that I normally am a very shy person, walking away from any spotlight. But reading letters of religious people here and reading in your last post that I was not a typical Christian, I decided to make my own position clear.

What do I believe in?

My background, both in terms of my family and in terms of my education is Catholic. And my family is pretty religious.

I can not identify myself as a Catholic for many reasons, the most important being that the Catholic Church requires strict adherence to many things that I do not believe in or I directly feel are wrong. But I consider myself a Christian with Catholic tendencies.

I believe in God.

I do not think God is a He or a She.

I do not believe in the Holy Trinity.

I do not care if the Virgin Mary was really a virgin or not. It does not take away the goodness of Jesus’s actions and words.

I believe Jesus may have been the son of God, but it’s not a requisite to believe he was inherently good.

I respect all faiths and beliefs that are based on love and/or doing good–and I do not care what other people believe in.

But I do not condone evil (in the sense of doing wrong), worshiping evil (in the sense of worshiping something that requires the spread of bad things, feelings, or actions).

I do not condone lack of civility, education, and good manners. I deplore selfishness above all and selfish people.

I believe in science.

I believe that all through the history of humanity, people have created gods to explain most of the things that happened around them (that they could not understand).

I believe that all through history, the powerful have used religion to abuse the frail, the weak, the poor… basically the other 99% of us.

I do believe that most religions, faiths, and beliefs want to complicate things unnecessarily with rules & guidelines in order to create a “cast” of people that can interpret what God wants from us.

I believe that most of religions and faiths do create “institutions” that are full of people that say they are mediators between the people and God and that they can understand God’s will and/or word for us.

I do believe in a simpler God: He does not care about rules/guidelines or complications (liturgy) for worshiping him.

(If so, bear in mind that the most popular religion is Christianity with 2 billion followers and within it, there are hundreds of branches that pray and believe differently. Therefore most of humanity is doomed if God wants us to pray in a single way, as there are 7.5 billion people in the world and most likely, 8 billion of them pray and believe differently.)

I do believe that God just wants us to: to do good, be good, spread goodness.

For me, all the rules I need are the 10 commandments plus one sentence from Leviticus: love your neighbor as you love yourself.

The liturgy and complication of things create dangerous cults, such as Opus Dei, Legionarios de Cristo and others that appoint themselves “religious” vigilantes.

I do deplore such practices within Christianity and believe they are just one level of danger below Islamists, Wahabists, and Salafists.

The thing that pits religions against each other is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. And then we hate each other and kill each other just because we are different. In reality 99% of humanity wants to have a normal life, have a house and a family and to take care of their children.

So basically, “secular humanist theist whose beliefs are vaguely structured on Christian concepts with a suspicious bias toward their Jewish sources” isn’t that far off the mark, eh? But if you identify as a “Christian with Catholic tendencies” I’m not gonna argue!

(Just kidding. Of course I’m going to argue. I’m always going to argue. ‘Tis the way of my people!)

14 thoughts on “Guest Letter FROM Josep: A Clarification on Josep’s Religious Views

  1. Josep!! It’s good to hear from the man himself! Thank you for your essay, which I really appreciate. The older I get, the more simply I seem to view things, and “Be good, do good and spread goodness” pretty much sums it up for me. But I do feel like a bad Jew to say that. It’s great of you to check in.

    1. Laurel!! It’s good to hear from you too! Been a long time, I’ve been wondering if everything’s okay!

      Why do you feel like a bad Jew to say that? Hillel the Elder summed it up, “That which is hateful to you, do not do unto others; the rest is commentary”, didn’t he? 🙂

  2. One of the many reasons I feel so close to Judaism is that they are more humanistic than others, there is no Institution between God and the people, Rabbis do not represent the Faith, just help guide the community if they need it, there is no sins, hell and that guilt associaciated with it (I know, there is guilt in many other areas :D)… what is crazy for me is the number of rules, guidelines, interpretations, commandments… and so forth that you have to follow…

    1. I totally hear you on all of those things! (I mean, we do have sins–breaking any one of all those rules!–but no Original Sin, and it’s a whole different attitude…)

  3. hahahaha… thanks Laurel! I do try from time to time to keep with it 😉 You should not feel like a bad Jew. Daniella tells me that this concept does not exist 🙂

    1. Yes, that’s true, that’s one of the first things I told you about Judaism, I’m impressed that you remember. 😉 As you can see, people do use the term–usually in self-effacement, to mean that they don’t live up to expectations as a Jew–but I stand by what I said then. Jewishness is not a thing you’re “good” or “bad” at; either you’re Jewish or you aren’t, and either you’re connected to Judaism or you’re not.

          1. I don’t remember 90% of the things… but then the other 10% is stuck with me 😉

          2. It’s just very interesting to me which details your brain elects to include in the 10%! I have to file it in my wiki 😂

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