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Idol Chatter

Guy Ritchie, sometimes known these days as Mr. Madonna, recently fell asleep during a Kabbalah meditation service. It’s okay, it happens to everyone–we may not be celebrities, but we understand. We’re all busy, what with our jujitsu and jetlag and all that living in castles with bodyguards. Not to mention that our wives are constantly under scrutiny from the press and regularly the subject of excommunications and inquisitions declared against us for disrespectful use of religious iconography. At the end of a long week, can we really be expected to engage in meaningful spiritual pursuits?

But instead of laughing good-naturedly at her husband’s exhaustion or emergent narcolepsy, like the other worshippers did, Madonna didn’t crack a smile, leading gossiphounds to speculate again that adherence to Kabbalah is driving a wedge between the Ritchies.

But according to this article in the Daily Mail, Madonna (who at one point took the “Kabbalah name” of “Esther”) may not be long for Kabbalah herself, because she’s “said to resent the enormous drain her association with the group has been on her finances” and because “her patience with the religion has become increasingly tested because it has ultimately failed to help her achieve her dream of a brother or sister for nine-year-old Lourdes, her daughter by fitness instructor Carlos Leon, and five-year-old son Rocco by Ritchie.” The mail quotes an “associate” of Madonna’s as saying, “Madonna looked to Kabbalah for results. She thought her faith would help her get pregnant again, but she is feeling let down.”

So for me, as another Esther, approaching the Jewish High Holidays, this begs a re-examination of the role that religion plays in our lives. Most of us are born into a religious structure, and we stay members of that religion–practicing faithfully, sporadically, or not at all–but counted among the numbers for the sake of demographics, at least. Others are seekers–born into a family that worships one way, but find that faith in some way wanting; the seekers leave parental faith behind and try on other faiths until they find one that fits.

Madonna was born Catholic, but found the structure restrictive and her faith severely impacted by the loss of her mother. Disappointed in her traditional faith, she’s never missed an opportunity to take a shot at Catholicism through unconventional and often-offensive use of religious symbols in her work. When she embraced Kabbalah, she did so with all her heart and her pocketbook. Now, it seems that because Kabbalah disappointed her by not providing another child, she may leave that behind.

So is the function of religion meant to be results-oriented? Or does having faith mean believing that there’s a reason for the things that do and don’t happen, even if it’s inscrutable? And what of those moments when your partner’s spiritual affiliations don’t match with your own?

When confronted with all these issues, it’s not surprising that the mind and body sometimes choose sleep over spirituality.

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