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Re: Kneeling and One's Mundane Private Beliefs (Long)

Poster: muselaw@tidalwave.net

Gentle friends,

The thread concerning kneeling has become increasingly troubling to me,
so as a newbie to the SCA I decided to delurk and post in search of some
reassurance from the populace.  This is a very sensitive subject for me
and many others, and I hope to honor that sensitivity. Please forgive me
for the length of the post.

I think that the original question posed (by my friend David ben Sarkel
Ha-Kuzari) was as to the correct behavior in an Atlantian court for
individual(s) who had *already concluded* that obeisance such as
kneeling was unacceptable behavior, according to his or her own personal
religious practice.

I am convinced that the generous responses from throughout the Kingdom
have been motivated by a sincere desire to inform the populace and
assist the original poster. I'm sure that the following wasn't anyone's
intended result, but just to make certain: 

---Please, my friends and cousins-- mundane religious beliefs, feelings
and family customs (even those arising from a scholarship-intensive
faith) are not appropriately treated to public "documentation" analysis
like garb or armor construction or entries in an A&S competition. They
are far too personal and emotional to be treated this way, and there are
many variations on the practice of a single faith.  I speak for myself
and not for the gentle original questioner or his lady, although I am a
member of the household and they are dear friends, but I don't think he
was inviting comment on the validity of the household's members varying
*religious* positions.  I don't think he was asking for religious
instruction on Judaism and kneeling, requesting documentary support or
other evidence to challenge or confirm someone's beliefs, or trying to
invalidate someone's lifelong feeling that bowing was idolatrous. I
don't recall that he even stated that the decisions were based on any
particular religion.  

I'm not at all sure that this is the place for us (whatever our
religion) to comment publicly on whether or not we think someone is
theologically justified in refusing to bow, kneel or curtsy, or (in a
forum which includes many nonpractitioners of a particular religion)
whether some scholar or authority supports the nonkneeler's presumed
belief system. I really hope we don't need documentation to live by our
own mundane personal faiths when they interact with the SCA.   

I am sure this was not intended by anyone who posted in an attempt to
provide helpful and interesting information about Judaism's position on
bending the knee, but I am concerned that some of the responses we've
had to this thread theologically questioning the non-kneeling position
of some SCA participants may have caused others to view in a negative
light those who after sincere contemplation choose not to kneel, curtsy
or bow, or even to question the sincerity or validity of their position.
I recall that at least one early poster mentioned that she had received
negative comments in response to taking this position.  I am also
concerned that those (Jewish or otherwise) who believed they shouldn't
bend the knee to nonDieties before this thread and continue to believe
so might nevertheless feel social pressure from this thread to behave
inconsistently with the way they were raised because it's different from
the religious "documentation" some respondents have provided.    

As a very private person who is new to the SCA, I never imagined that my
own religious beliefs might be subject to this kind of group evaluation,
by my coreligionists if there were any, or by others. To be honest, I
was very concerned about the real (not nominally "official") social
acceptance of religious minorities in the SCA. I knew that respect for
the Crown and Court rituals were very important in the SCA, but if I had
heard this kind of religious evaluation was a possibility, it might have
scared me away from the SCA. It smacks of the real Middle Ages, not the
Current Middle Ages.

My personal feeling is that faith is so private that it's no one's place
to question another's religious practice, from a scholarly point of view
or otherwise--not even other members of the same religion, and certainly
not in the SCA context. It should be utterly sacrosanct.  My
understanding of the concept of the Current Middle Ages, and the basis
on which I decided to participate in the SCA, is that personal faith was
respected without question and that religious discrimination of any sort
whatsoever is unacceptable.  Even if there is absolutely no
"documentation" for a religious belief or practice, if it is part of a
person's personal faith, I feel that as part of *our* practice of
courtesy it should be accepted by us graciously and without any further
substantive analysis, just as I hope the non-kneelers will honor and
show their respect, devotion and courtesy to the Crown and its
representatives in every way their practice and conscience will allow. 

Thank you for listening to my concerns.  As I stated above they are my
own and not necessarily those of the initiator of this thread.  I
realize and sincerely respect that others may feel differently.  If you
have comments on this post you would like to discuss with me in depth,
please feel free to respond offlist.


Gwen ("waddaya mean, 'I'm a Libertarian?'"), in the Barony of Storvik
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