From “Skeptical Jew” to “Skeptical Observations.”
I have to confess that I have always been somewhat uncomfortable with the title that I originally chose for this weblog—Skeptical Jew. As I noted in one entry (“Funny Word, Funnier Concept”), the word “Jew,” perhaps in some degree because of its rather curt sound, carries with it an echo of the scornful tone with which it has at times been uttered—so much so that many non-Jews shy away from using it for fear of sounding anti-Jewish. I was perhaps depending on the insider’s prerogative in entitling my blog “Skeptical Jew”: “Jew” is the standard classificatory term in English for one of such origins as mine, so I can use it with impunity. But I am suspicious on principle of reliance on such insider’s privileges. What is more, I could still hear that echo. So I retained a degree of discomfort with putting the word, as a description of myself, into the title of my blog.
Recently, another consideration has added to my misgivings. Although I have made more frequent entries to the blog of late than I was doing for several months, I have found myself with less and less to say about Jewish topics. This was perhaps inevitable, my knowledge of Judaism being as meager as it is (meager, I mean, not by comparison with what people in general know, but by comparison with what Jews of extensive religious education know). One of the aims with which I started this blog was to reflect on my perplexing condition of being a Jew by something more than descent and upbringing alone, yet less than belief. But since writing three rather inconclusive entries on this topic early on (“Three Ways of Looking at Being Jewish,” “Reply to Comment on Jewish Identity,” and “On Being Skeptical”), I have had no new thoughts about it.
I have decided, therefore, to drop the “Jewish” theme from my title while keeping the skeptical one. “Observations” is a loose enough term to capture anything that I may wish to do here, while “skeptical” describes my temperament and my epistemological orientation rather than an object of concern. I hope that I shall have further things to say about Judaism and being Jewish. But I will no longer make any effort to bend my thoughts toward them any more than they are naturally inclined to go.