I’m writing a book called A Jew on Pluto: Confessions from a Former Insider. I’ll be posting chapters, one at a time, right here. It’s a book about one man’s utterly weird relationship with Judaism and his on-again, off-again relationship with its gravitational pull. If you’ve ever suspected that you and Judaism (heck, any r
eligion) exist on different planets, or you’d like confirmation that you’re far from alone in the universe—I hope you’ll come along for the journey.
But maybe you shouldn’t.
There’s a centuries-old Jewish practice that goes a little something like this: Someone who wishes to convert to Judaism must be rejected three times before being permitted to begin the process of conversion. It was not the recruiting department’s best marketing campaign. But it made a heck of a lot of sense: Being Jewish isn’t easy (the matzah thing alone is brutal), and if you’re serious about signing up, you can’t just kinda wanna; you have to totally wanna. In fact, your level of wanna must be so high that you’re willing to take no for an answer not once but thrice.
When it comes to A Jew on Pluto—or really any honest examination of one’s view of religion—it’s the same basic idea.
While it would be great to have you aboard the Plutonian Jew-Rocket, the fact is that if you’re not up for said examination, A Jew on Pluto might make you uncomfortable—and not in the my abs will thank me later way. More the I’m deeply and inconsolably offended way. And that’s not good for anyone. Let’s avoid that.
In that spirit, I offer Three Reasons Why You Should Not Read This Book. Each reason will be followed by a multiple-choice question to help you decide whether this book is for you. If you’re still here by the end, well, get your spacesuit and your moon-steppin’ boots on. It’s gonna be a wild ride. If not, that’s OK. It’s not you. It’s me. Really. I hope we can still be friends.
Three Reasons Why You Should Not Read This Book
Reason 1: A Jew on Pluto assumes that all religions are valid, with no single religion holding a monopoly on truth, and you’re not so into that.
Read the following statement:
There are an estimated 4,200 religions, spiritual traditions, and belief systems in the world today. Some people argue that each of these religions, spiritual traditions, and belief systems is valid. What those people don’t understand is that my religion, spiritual tradition, or belief system is the correct religion, spiritual tradition, or belief system, and the other estimated 4,199 religions, spiritual traditions, and belief systems can pretty much suck it.
If you agree with the statement above, it’s probably best that we part ways here. People and books sometimes just grow apart, and that’s okay. I hope we can still be friends.
If you disagree with the statement above, please proceed to #2.
Reason #2: You’d prefer not to inspire the wrath of Gary.
Note: World religions throughout history have recognized a supreme deity, prophet, or phenomenon that represents or exemplifies it. Because those deities, prophets, and phenomena are myriad in name, nature, and proscriptions regarding how they should be spelled, not spelled, and referred to, this question will opt for a neutral, non-incendiary pronoun. Let’s go with “Gary.”
Read the following statement. Then selection the option that most closely matches your view.
A Jew on Pluto occasionally cites and explores scripture and scriptural tradition. Its general view of scripture—in its myriad forms throughout history and around the world—is that scripture offers often eternal, often wise lessons, wisdom, and community identity—and even “divinely inspired” or “holy,” if that’s what you’re into—but not the literal, immutable word of Gary.
I’m good with that, but Gary is not. I’m out.
My religion’s scripture is the literal, immutable word of Gary. I’m out.
I’m good with that, and so is Gary. I’m in.
My religion’s scripture is the literal, immutable word of Gary, but I’ve got a high tolerance for heresy. I’m in.
If you chose A or B: I’m not saying we have to break up—that’s not what I’m saying at all. It’s just…I don’t know…maybe we should take a break or something.
If you chose C or D: Please proceed to #3.
Reason #3: All you wanna do is fight.
Read these three fictional reader reviews of A Jew on Pluto:
Sure, is about one person’s experience of self-doubt and questioning of Judaism and religion in general, and these things are highly subjective and not subject to “right/wrong.” And sure, at no point does the author pretend to know or possess the truth or anything resembling it. At the same time, I assert that the author is a self-righteous punk who should get off his high horse.
If you hated this book as much as I did, please see my new YouTube video “Cat Hates Cucumber!!!!”
dumass going strait to hell. GARY HATES FAGS.
If you’ve ever written—or consider yourself likely to ever write—anything like the reviews above, let’s just end it here. It’s not you. It’s me. I’m just not ready for a relationship right now.
But if you’re still here…
Click here, and you’ll automatically receive chapters of JoP as they become available .
A Jew on Pluto: Confessions from a Former Insider
Chapter 1: Does This Torah Make Me Look Fat?
Scott E. Blumenthal is a former Hebrew school principal, editor for the leading publisher of Jewish educational materials, and author of numerous Jewish children’s books that are used begrudgingly in classrooms across the country, including A Kid’s Mensch Handbook and The Great Israel Scavenger Hunt.
JoP is about a committed cynic who found himself a professional believer—and the wacky hijinks that ensued. It’s about an Earth Jew who endeavored to break free of Judaism’s orbit, only to find himself drawn yet harder by its gravitational pull—by its best self, by its warmest corners, and by—as these things often go—its two most beautiful women.
A Jew on Pluto can help confirm [what you’ve always suspected:] that you’re far from alone in the universe.
[sidebar 1 -- illustration?] “Sure, While another person’s religious views might be appropriate within the context of his or her community, geography/history, and experience, I’m preeeeeeety sure I’m right.”
I agree. Especially [odd]—what’s that about?
[sidebar 2] One quick caveat: While you’re cordially invited not to argue with my opinions, you are encouraged to point out any historical or linguistic inaccuracy. As a writer of historical fiction and materials for kids [link], I eat my research Wheaties with authoritative, respected academic sources. If I say that the Temple was destroyed in 80 CE and you know it was really 70 CE, please call me on it.
be sure to include: your experience of self-doubt and exploration of Judaism and religion in general, which is a highly subjective, personal experience that may or may not resonate with others.
make clear it’s jewish—as well as universal—throughout.
Make clear that 3 reasons are about outlook in general, not jewish specifically.
interested in laughing at yourself, cutting yourself some slack, and confirming
If you’ve ever suspected that you and Judaism (heck, any religion) exist on different planets altogether, I think you’ll enjoy the journey.
If you’ve felt inextricably drawn by Judaism’s gravitational pull (not necessarily in a good way), you might enjoy the opportunity to laugh at yourself (definitely in a good way).
If you’d like to confirm what you’ve long suspected—that you’re far from alone in the universe—you should definitely come along.
interested in laughing at yourself, cutting yourself some slack, and confirming
Instructions: Read each statement and choose the answer that best reflects your view.
There are an estimated 4,200 religions, spiritual traditions, and belief systems in the world today, most of which have their own scripture, legal code, and historical tradition. Some people argue that each of these religions, spiritual traditions, and belief systems—along with their scripture, legal code, and historical tradition—is valid and worthy for those who wish to observe it. What those people don’t understand is that my religion, spiritual tradition, or belief system—along with its scripture, legal code, and historical tradition—is the correct one, and the other estimated 4,199 religions, spiritual traditions, and belief systems can pretty much suck it.