Born a Jew, Raised Christian with a Brother who was Born Muslim, and in the End I Became Buddhist

Last Mother’s Day I wrote about having 3 mothers here.  No, sadly there are no lesbians involved.  I’m adopted and have known this fact for as long as I can remember.  My brother is also adopted.  I was born Jewish and he was born Muslim—together we were raised Christian.  Aside from taking my brother to a Middle Eastern restaurant once a year, I didn’t have much exposure to anything outside the realm of an educated middle class white protestant environment.  I loved going to church every Sunday! Eventually I started reading the bible and asking questions and investigating church doctrine–predestination was a fascination for a while.    Slowly I started taking leadership roles, teaching Sunday school and actually gave a sermon.  I felt a strong calling to the ministry and enrolled in College in hopes of then going onto Seminary.

The summer before college I got a job as a camp counselor at a Christian camp.  I was thrilled!  I loved working with kids and I loved talking about God so what could be a better summer job right?  Wrong.  Now I had a year of rebellion where I went to church and youth group activities at another denomination, but for the most part I had attended just one small church my whole life.  I was not prepared for what I was about to encounter at the camp.    At first it was like any other church camp.  I had attended plenty growing up.  But then one week I got a girl in my cabin with bruises all over her back—she was 8 years old.  I immediately went to the camp director.  Her response was that the devil had entered our camp.  I calmly explained that I didn’t believe in the devil but I did believe in child protection services.  She said that I was the reason the devil was here—that the devil enters the hearts of those who do not believe.  She said I was endangering the campers because I couldn’t protect them from the devil if I didn’t believe.  I was shocked and wanted to quit immediately and wrote a letter to my minister back home–he had helped me secure the job in the first place.  Before I got his response (after a lot of prayer) I knew what I was going to do.  I was going to stay for the kids—they needed my perspective.  I started to notice how the other counselors talked about God and being saved and witnessing.  They also talked openly to the children about burning in hell and doing the devil’s work.  One week a little boy probably around 8 years old said he was gay.  The other counselors where freaking out—saying that he needed an exorcism.  My perspective was that he was so young he didn’t really know yet.  But I was interested in why he thought he might be gay and I wanted to assure him that it was ok.  This became a very big issue that the camp director got involved in.  I was moved to a different cabin with older kids and told if I couldn’t talk about homosexuality in the context of it being a sin I couldn’t work with the young kids.  Odd logic, but hey at least they didn’t fire me.  I was enjoying at that point being the liberal counselor who prayed to God our Father and our Mother (this really upset people).  When that summer ended, I had some serious doubts about Christianity—at least the type that I saw practiced at the camp.  So by the time I got to college was open to a world outside Christianity.

One of my favorite teachers in high school had talked with me about Buddhism and what kind of karma I was creating when she caught me bingeing in the bathroom.  I didn’t really understand at the time, but she planted a very important seed.  My 1st semester in college proved to be quite a wild ride and after connecting with a professor I was told once again that I had better think carefully about the karma I was creating for myself.  This time I was more curious and I asked a lot of questions and began to learn about Buddhism.  Out of all the different types of Buddhism out there it just so happened that both teachers chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.  Soon I began to practice and try it out for myself.  Buddhism offers me the tools I need to overcome challenges.  I’ve found that I still have a spiritual calling as I did in high school—a calling to be share this Buddhism.  I honestly can’t imagine my life without this practice.  No doubt I wouldn’t be the same person writing this blog today.  For that I am grateful.

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9 Responses to Born a Jew, Raised Christian with a Brother who was Born Muslim, and in the End I Became Buddhist

  1. Lori says:

    it’s rare Jennie that something makes me horribly angry.

    This has left me frankly pissed. How can someone say that to a child???

    Thank you so much for being the wonderful person you are, and protecting the children the best way you could.

    I adore you for that

  2. Anna says:

    Your post has really made an impact with me. While I was raised Christian, but not devout or overly involved, I just question the whole thing. I have always said I can be just as good a person as a Christian if I do the right thing in life. Buddhism has always fascinated me. I would love to hear more how you become to practice!

  3. momto8blog says:

    I am sorry you had this experience….it is hard to not judge Christianity as a scam when a Christian gives witness like this…..

  4. Wow! I find most religions have some basic truths at their core. It’s too bad that Christianity can’t just stick to some of those basic “Jesus Truths”…many of which are actually quite similar to much of what Buddhism also supports. There is just so much contortion, dogma, (and quite frankly fear and condemnation). It takes courage to tackle these topics, so I commend you for doing so. Enjoy reading your posts!

  5. veronica lee says:

    I’m so sorry you had to experience that! Some people give Christianity a bad name but I’m glad you found your spiritually calling.

    Great post! I enjoyed reading it too!

  6. Jen says:

    Wow – this is such a moving and interesting post. I’m absolutely shocked but, sadly, not really surprised.

    I’m so proud of you for thinking so independently and being such a strong “seeker.”

    Thank you for sharing!!

  7. This was a very interesting read. It saddens me that those people were responsible for the well-being of those children. I’m glad you’ve found some peace with Buddhism.

  8. Damyanti says:

    This post reinforced my belief that religion= politics + spirituality. If the spiritual essence of any religion is followed, there is no discrimination or power play. Sadly, most religious followers lose spirituality and cling to politics.

  9. Ameena says:

    This is a fascinating post…you’ve been exposed to so much! It’s amazing how gracefully you seem to handle it all.

    Thanks for sharing!

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