Thursday, November 29, 2007

Odd little signposts along the way...

Growing up, I was always far more comfortable with Jewish comedians of the Borscht Belt golden years than others. Don't get me wrong, I was no prude. I listened to George Carlin, Robin Williams, and so forth... but I always had a special spot for Alan Sherman, Mel Brooks, etc.

So the Saltines I've been eating for years are just pseudo-matzah in a smaller size...

I once invented a language in my head for a book I was writing and accidentally named a character "angel of death" in what appears to be a semitic pre-cursor to Hebrew and Arabic. Never heard of it before today.

If Christians didn't exist till long after Jesus and Jesus was Jewish, then why make a whole new religion? Wasn't Jesus acting within Judaism? I could have sworn his work wasn't aimed at let's say pagan Romans...

Why have I always felt like I missed out on something whenever I come across mentions of Shammai and Hillel and their exchanges? Sure, I loved playing an Atari and an under-sixty general life expectancy doesn't sound great, but something happened during that period that was really special and important.

I've covered my head with a hat or sweatshirt hood since I was a little kid. Never liked being without one.

While always aghast at the violence, was still much for the Old Testament.

Strange some days...

Answer to the previous question

Previous Question: What have you done to be Jewish lately?

Actual Answer For Me: Therefore, I do homage and respect that which those who've gone before have laid out, even though it is only perhaps to most a small thing.

Respect for tradition of a thing which is done out of respect for G-d.

Not the kippah or the crochet, that which they embodied. The reason they were done.

For those undergoing paroxysms of doubt in their faith, know that the great respect for tradition with faith in an earnestly held belief in a good thing is one of the ways Jews are perceived by the outside world. This is why you should hold on.

I know so many have questions. They struggle with literalism versus implication, G-d's direct word versus inspirational writing, the portrayal of a vengeful G-d versus a nice and loving G-d... They struggle this way in Christianity. I'm sure Muslims do as well and in fact know very well that some do from the Muslim section of the local book store.

Don't you think that asking shows that you even care in the first place? Don't you feel that asking is what He wants you to do?

Okay, now do you think He is a sadistic bastard? No? Then why would He want you to ask and despair? He wouldn't. He wants you then to ask and... what?

Go back and re-read those quotes I posted early this AM before I headed to bed.

What have you done to be Jewish lately?

My task yesterday: I crocheted a kippah.

My task today: I wore it.

If yours was missing, or you never had one and were in the boat with me, converting, and it was considered here in our modern times important for Jewish men to show respect for G-d by covering their head with a humble covering, would you make your own?

Why did I make my own? Because my co-religionists deem it important. Important enough to make an entire industry of their manufacture, and wear them constantly. Make them a signature visual affectation of being a Jewish man. Therefore, I do homage and respect that which those who've gone before have laid out, even though it is only perhaps to most a small thing.

Respect for tradition of a thing which is done out of respect for G-d.

I don't need it to be in the Torah. I don't need the Talmud to spell it out. The faith of simple men and women and their decency was all that was needed. That is why anything matters. Because we with great caring believe it does. As G-d says all the time, believe whatever you choose to believe. You will anyhow. Just be careful what you choose.

Tomorrows task: complete the crocheted book cover for my pocket paperback copy of the Torah so it will remain in good shape and easier to keep with me. I'm told it is important by people I respect... Not to mention a certain deity who has taken to making odd philosophical and moral points right when I am getting out of the shower. More about that another time.

I am called crazy because I say G-d talks to me...

...and I call you crazy for not listening when He talks to you.

Some favorite quotes...

From The Matrix Revolutions:

Agent Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something? For more that your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Yes? No? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. The temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself, although only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can't win. It's pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?

Neo: Because I choose to.

From The Prophecy:

Thomas Daggett: [narrating] In the end, I think it must be about faith, and if faith is a choice, then it can be lost - for a man, an angel, or the devil himself. And if faith is never completely understanding God's plan, maybe understanding a part of it - our part - is what it is to have a soul, and in the end, that's what being human is, after all.

From The Prophecy II:

Valerie Rosales: [referring to God] It's not that he stopped loving you. It's because you don't listen.
Gabriel: What does he say ?
Valerie Rosales: [whispers into Gabriel's ear] Jump.

From The Prophecy III:

Gabriel: In the end, there's still the word. Everywhere. In heaven with angels, the Earth and stars; even the darkest part of the human soul. It was there the word burned brightest, and for a moment... I was blinded.

(all taken from for op-ed use, even if the op-ed is implied by the arrangement)

Monday, November 26, 2007

WORSE than Slamming the Door on Converts

The worst sin in the world is not killing. It is not rape. Nor child abuse. Nor anything else you see mentioned in the news. Those things can for the survivors be outlasted and with the strength of the human heart be surmounted.

The worst sin in the world is destroying hope. Without a belief however irrational it may seem that life will continue and even improve, their is no motivation any longer for action. Actions turn to other motivations. Darker ones. Hopeless ones. All the world tumbles down to Hell.

We see it every day. We see the other sins. Those are the after effects of denying hope.

The first hope is that our creator loves us too. We want to be accepted and loved, just the way we are, by that which made us. It's as strong a drive in our hearts as wanting our mother and father when we are in peril. Stronger than sex, more powerful than hunger, we want G-d to love us too.

I say too because we have an inherent sense that G-d loves, and someone else. We see our cup as half empty and think that everyone else has something going for them just a little more than we. We think G-d loves everyone else. Some of us take up clothing, books, and scrolls imbued by the trust of our fellows and spread that message. Even then, those spreading the message wonder. Come to think of it, when was the last time you told your Rabbi that G-d loved him or her? Who comforts the men and women of the faith when they need it?

Now, ever more, with this happening we are reminded of in the title linked article, as well as this other one I may have mentioned thanks to Rejewvinator, we are seeing in Judaism a terrible slide in the direction that Christianity has already slid: taking away the hope, slamming the door on the idea... that G-d loves you.

You're not a Jew by their standards... then what are you? Just a human being?

There's nothing "just a" about you. Remember that this entire world began with G-d waking up one day before time was even time and noticing His own existence and commenting, "I am."

Don't let go of that hope. You are. You are, and He loves you too. And that is something even He can't take away from you.

Let not the schism be.

Goodness but the flue does bite...

And I got it!

Well, we can be thankful that unlike the writers of Battlestar Galactica who think that downloaded Cylon memories can carry actual material organic bacterial/viral infections with them, we know this Internet won't transmit the bugs.

So, more posting this week. See you around!