What’s Your Name?

I’ve changed the blog’s name, but not the URL. (Take a look in the upper-left corner of the page or at the header across the top if you’re on a mobile device.)

Why?

As I’ve continued writing the blog over the last…it’s nearly two years!…I think my outlook has changed somewhat so that I’m not simply secular. As it happens, I’m becoming less fond of the secular label because I think that, like many labels with a purported opposite (here, religious), it and its supposed opposite may often obscure more than they reveal.

I’m not simply secular because I believe in the importance of community for support, celebration, and education. I think a congregational setting is often the best place to provide that, and that professionally trained leaders may often be the best people to provide the guidance for such places. And I think when we talk about secularism, what we often mean is rejection of the trappings of congregational life.

That need not be the case, of course. Sunday Assembly is a kind of “secular” church, and Jacques Berlinerblau and his ideological and intellectual predecessors imagine a secularism that is focused on politics and the social sphere more than the more individual and private sphere of personal belief and conscience.

But the additional reality is that I’ve come to certain conclusions about how ethics interacts with Jewish sources, and that conclusion puts me into Secular Humanistic Judaism, a movement with a centralized set of institutions, synagogues, congregations, havurot, etc. From the outside, these organizations appear “religious,” even as the Society itself is directly involved with a wide array of organizations that identify as “secular.” And while the Society uses the term Secular Humanistic Judaism–a term I use, too–capitalizing “Secular” means something a bit different from simply being “secular.” The difference carries with it organization, normative conclusions, and ideology, and if I mean to communicate clearly, I think the title of the blog should reflect that message. My normative conclusions are as much humanist as they are secular, and given the conscience-related function of many definitions of religion, I have a hard time simply leaving the title of this blog as “A secular Jew in Indianapolis.”

And if none of that were enough reason to change the title of the blog, the custom-printed faux vanity plate on the front of my car would settle it:

Humanistic Jew in Indianapolis vanity plate

Humanistic Jew in Indianapolis vanity plate

So, the blog is now “A Humanistic Jew in Indianapolis.”

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