Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Secular Jews

Attending the funeral of an atheist friend while working on a chapter of Einstein's Jewish Science that I am writing with Confused, Maybe Not, the term "secular Jew" became lodged in my mind. It is a term that makes perfect sense. But it seems strangely unique. I've heard people refer to themselves as "lapsed" or "recovering" Catholics, but one never hears anyone call themselves secular Catholics, secular Presbyterians, or secular Baptists. Why can you be a secular Jew, but not a secular Christian? (Is, perhaps, the correct term for secular Christian "Unitarian Universalist"?)

One line seems to be that Jews are traditionally a minority and that forces enclaves which causes culture to be as defining as belief. But then "secular Amish" or "secular Mormon" also strike the ear strangely.

Yes, one could be a secular Comedist, but why not the others? What's different?