Friday, December 14, 2007

A Wake for XGH

OK, so it's not a Jewish tradition, but I think it is fitting to hold a wake to celebrate the passing of XGH's blog. A few days ago I had a moment of reflection, and I said to myself - "Self, after all these years of reading that blog, how has it impacted your life?" And then I thought, perhaps this would be a good time for the others, people who have spent so much mental energy reading and posting on that blog, to also reflect what impact the blog had on their lives. It would be a fitting tribute...

So with this in mind I call on the friends and foes of XGH to post a few paragraphs sharing how XGH's blog influenced them. Feel free to post it in comments on this post, or if you have your own blog, post it there, and link to this post.

b. spinoza
David Guttman
holy hyrax
Yehudi Hilchati
Jacob Stein
lakewood yid
Rabban Gamliel

anyone else I missed...

Starting with myself, I think the blog had several big impacts. The biggest was just the sheer number of references to books and ideas that I was not aware of. Each mention was an opportunity to look into the book or the person and learn about them. I was exposed to so many new ideas in theology and philosophy, that I will be busy for decades absorbing all this new information.

Then there was the social aspect of hanging on at the blog. It drew some of the wittiest, quickest, funniest people I've known. What can I say, we Jews can do humor like no one else. It was like a frum Algonquin table.

Finally, the blog allowed me to practice self control and learning how to let things go and not argue when the cause is lost, even if you feel you are in the right.


Anonymous B. Spinoza said...

what am I? Chopped liver?

December 14, 2007 7:45 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

crap, I had you on the tip of my fingers and somehow left you off, b.spinoza.

Also I forgot David Guttman. Hang on for the edit...

December 14, 2007 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

"anyone else I missed..."

Yeah me! XGH was good at making me reexamine things even if he was unsuccessful at making me an unbeliever.

I'll make a bet with BTA on something he said on XGH's site. If ten years from now as BTA claims Judaism will be defunct I'll join him. If Judaism isn't defunct he'll have to become a Satmarer. LOL :-)

December 14, 2007 9:46 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

holy crap RG - I don't know how I forgot you!

December 14, 2007 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

Thanks. You're a good guy. Even if you are a Kvetch! :-)

December 14, 2007 9:55 AM  
Blogger evanstonjew said...

I posted my feelings on XGH. I just wanted to say your idea is very good and your comparison to the Alogonquin table is particularly apt. I think this group will have a long term impact in ways that we can barely imagine.

December 14, 2007 10:17 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

EJ, thanks! UNless you object I will repost your comment here (in case the XGH blog disappears)

XGH...First of all thank you, thank you for a wonderful blog that has done so much for many, many people. Each of us has related to your blog according to his needs and place in life, and you managed to respond with warmth and cheer to each one of us, thus stimulating and enriching our intellectual and emotional lives.

I can understand how having done this so long you are burnt out and need a vacation. I agree with Ed, time to take the Mrs. to dinner, go on vacation, take up a hobby, bird watching is very good, and do whatever it takes to resume a normal life. But once you do all that I would ask you to reconsider for a few reasons: You have a virtue that none of us combine a love of Torah and mitzvot and enormous courage. It takes courage to kick ass three years straight, exposing the self congratulatory idiocy that makes up so much of the current conversation in Orthodox circles. You took on issues that no one else would handle. We all admire courage, not because of the consequences which may not even be that good, but because it shows strength and spunk and a boyish playfulness that we tend to lose as we become 'mature'.

I remember we used to play stickball as a kid. Every now and then we would break a window in a shul next to the lot. It didn't bother us too much....why else do shuls have windows? You broke windows for three years letting in light and fresh air which benefited us all. You have an ability to see through pompous b.s. and expose the heart of the issue. You have been on target so many times that by now you ought to trust your instincts. And even when you are dead wrong the post turns out to be so stimulating that it lodges itself in your readers’ consciousness’. I remember the post you wrote 'Picky, Picky, Picky' where you picked a fight with some Esther whatever her name was. Women, men came out of the woodwork yelling and screaming at you. Why? Because you touched a nerve, you got to people, they had to deal with issues they preferred to put aside.

One final point, actually a point I touched on with arama in our baroque discussion of hegemony. When you attack Orthodoxy three years straight, there is going to be at different times some anxiety , some guilt, what am I doing, I attack the old but what now, how do I replace it, what do I do for an encore, was it worthwhile, ...and dozens of questions and doubts like this. It is also natural to turn such guilt inward, I am nobody, I know nothing etc. We should all be so lucky to have your intuitions, your sense of where the truth is buried.

I am certain these anxieties will pass for one reason...underlying all your challenges was not hatred , but love, not a desire to bring Orthodoxy down but a desire to re-establish it on a firmer footing. When a person like you works leshem shamayim according to his conception of the true and the good he is to be congratulated, and in time you will look back with pride at what you accomplished. At that time, think seriously of coming back.
evanstonjew | 12.14.07 - 10:58 am | #

December 14, 2007 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

Hey XGH can you make it pleasant for me to view your site by lifting your ban on me? There's no reason to hate me anymore, or was that you hating you?

December 14, 2007 12:03 PM  
Anonymous David S said...

As a late adopter of the XGH blog (Post GH), Ill admit that I never got to read a lot of the base arguments that XGH and company had. I have always felt that much of the "skeptics" arsenal ie. blowing up literalism is a bit too pat and easy and the blog often went down that road. Nevertheless, on the whole I see XGH in human terms, someone who is struggling with the idea of faith (as I am) and who tried to make sense of it in a communal setting. Although anonymous (one of the serious flaws of the endeaver) he showed himself warts and all in so many ways. It is brave to be truthful about yourself even anonymously. I hope he finds his answer (not the answer because of course that cannot be found communally, but only individually).

RIP XGH. Ill be looking for the new blog with the call sign XXGH...if you ever get to XXXGH count me out im not into that type of thing.

December 16, 2007 3:00 PM  
Blogger David Guttmann said...

I love being an afterthought!

Good idea kvetcher. Unfortunately lately I have been busy and have not followed GH as diligently as in the past. I will miss his sharp wit, insightful questions, holding on tenaciously to what he thought to be truth at that moment and yielding (rarely) when shown to be wrong.

I don't think we have heard the last of him and I strongly believe that he will come back in a reincarnation (Gilgul:-)) as a defender of Torah and its teachings. More learning, maturity and a love of truth will be the catalyst.

Your blog ain't so bad either ...

December 16, 2007 3:02 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

How it influenced me? Vellllll....
There were several blogs that I stole material from when I was doing commentary on some texts from the rosheshiva of YCE.
In no particular order, Dovbear, Hirhurim, the Gadol Hador, Margavriel, Steg, der Shaigetz. And others. When I mention the j-blogs to friends, I usually refer to Dov, XGH, and Mis-naged as the holy trinity of Jewish blogging (no offense to any other bloggers intended - those three simply are).

Mis-naged blogs no more and XGH was converted to teenage angst. But Dovbear is still around - and most of the good commenters or interesting people still drop by his den daily. It is by the handles underneath people's comments that I discovered all the other blogs that I read. And still read.

[I'm still waiting for someone in the j-bloggolam to pose a question about Indonesian food, so that I jump out of the woodwork and scare people with my knowledge. Either that, or for a Jew in Brabant to start blogging..... ]

December 17, 2007 9:29 PM  

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