On Friday I attended a Shabbat service with my boyfriend's family. The congregation was Reform Jewish, which I understand to be a movement with a more modern, liberal approach to the ancient faith. I quite enjoyed the experience, mostly because there was a talented Cantor playing a guitar and a lot of singing in Hebrew. Also because there was challah afterward.
I felt a bit nostalgic as the Rabbi gave a short sermon on the story of Jacob, and as I read the English translations of the Hebrew prayers. As my boyfriend pointed out the word mitzvah and defined it as "good deeds," I was reminded of the human yearning, expressed in so many different belief systems, to be and to do good. It is a desire shared by atheists, like us.
It was a great experience, because it reminded me that I can still be inspired or at least prodded to reflection by occasional exposure to religious philosophy. Even judeo-christian (even Mormon!). It's not all bad. :)
This morning I listened briefly to a TED webcast on creating a compassionate world. To be honest, it was a bit boring. But the speakers all had differing perspectives, and hearing them allowed me to reflect on one of my strongest beliefs: that no single perspective has a monopoly on wisdom! It is a beautiful thing when we are willing to listen, and respect, and be different, and also seek common ground.