Last evening I heard a piece on National Public Radio about a twenty-one year old man who has left orthodox Judaism.  The piece also included an interview with someone involved in an organization who assist people who have left or are thinking of leaving.  The brand of orthodox Judaism involved is often called, in English, ultra-orthodox because they are very isolationistic, shunning most contact with the outside world. (This is in contrast to what are called modern orthodox, who are just as committed to religious observance but see value in certain aspects of modern western thought and culture.) We learn that this man came from a divorced home which is unusual in his community, so his attachment might have been weakened in that way. It was an interest in science that seems to have spurred his break however. (His family allowed the reading only of religious texts.) We know a little of how he lives. He attends college. He eats pork. He does not wear a skullcap. That is about all we are told. We are not told if he still believes in God and prays, or if he tithes, or if he is living a hedonistic or a morally disciplined life.

It seems that for many religious people, especially, perhaps, members of small, intense communities,  it is difficult to separate out different strands of their religion, so if they discover one strand that is hard or impossible to credit, they may throw out the whole thing which can easily lead to faddishness and moral debasement. I hope that has not happened, and does not happen, to the subject of the NPR segment.

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