On Joining the Jews
It would be wonderful to believe that everything we do, we do for reasons of perfect self-knowledge and complete autonomy. It would be wonderful to think that we are all finished characters, and wholly self-motivated. It would be pleasant to think that I, a suburban-Chicago Catholic, decided to convert to Judaism at the age of twenty-seven because of, and only because of, my deep inner convictions.
That is true in part. But there is no denying that I converted as well because, as a late-20th-century American, I could. Anyone can: there is no Gestapo here, no Inquisition, no law to tell you no. For that matter, there is no Sanhedrin. I have read that one-third of all Americans change their religion at least once in their lives. At least once. So nobody is unique, and some of us are twice as unique as the rest of us.
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