Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On Being Jewish

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

“ The hatred for Judaism is at bottom a hatred for Christianity, and it is not surprising that in the German National Socialist revolution this close connection of the two monotheistic religions finds such clear expression in the hostile treatment of both.” Sigmund Freud

“They come over every night looking for a good deal. You know how cheap those Jews are." So said my employee. I let her go on for about a minute before saying, “We like to think of it as being economical, not cheap.” Pause to watch realization sink in; right before serious back-pedaling.

Oddly enough, this incident came (I kid you not) the day after Hailey had a homework assignment on a woman who hid some Jews in her house in Amsterdam during the Holocaust. Startlingly, 80% of the Jews living in the Netherlands were exterminated.

Maybe because my father is Jewish, or because I long for justice; maybe it’s the result of having a mother who fled Latvia to avoid consequences of an occupation---but these incidents really frost me. I remember experiencing a seething anger at some white supremacist teenage types, as identified by their tattoos and lack-of-hair style, who came into the store when I worked in Thousand Oaks.

Don’t really know where I’m going with this except to say that its important for us to always speak up in the face of injustice and prejudice. Speaking up may prevent further occurrences happening again. Failure to speak up is to give hearty approval; to lay another stone on the path to greater evil.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Redefining My Life

I feel successful or I've felt a favorable result when:
I finish something well.
I change something for the better.
I do the honourable thing.
I help.
I execute something with excellence.
I bring comfort.
I bring encouragement.
I improve at something.

Or more specifically:
I help someone get what they need.
I empty all the trash in my house.
I play a musical piece with passion and excellence.
I am part of a link in the chain of comfort to someone.
I communicate well, to the point of comfort.
I am self-sufficient.

For years I've felt successful when
these things happen:
these things are present:

You’ve gotta love a woman with a resume that reads, “….writing books,speaking, putting on her Coming Up For Air Anti-Conference, producing artists, offering life and artist intensives, making dining room tables…” The above quote is from her book, “Coming Up for Air-Simple Acts to Redefine Your Life.” In the book, Margaret Becker feels life crowding in on her and decides to take four weeks off. She actually goes to a beach house and just spends the time reflecting.

Hearing her music and reading her stuff, I gather that Maggie B. is somebody that wants her life to count. Somebody with unique talent and wiring that has wrestled with her place in the world. Flowing from her personal journey and honed in those four weeks of solace and soul searching she creates a personal vision statement which she is actually fleshing out on a day to day basis. I think that is important. The Old Testament wisdom literature tells us to “number our days that we might present to (God) a heart of wisdom.”

It’s up to me to know how best to utilize my gifts and talents in ways that better mankind and glorify God. So what am I good at? I feel successful when I can point to a finished project that I did. Something tangible like a blog post. I feel successful when I cogently present a point. I’m a good small group leader. I feel successful when a point I made or a book I gave someone impacts their life.

I can go on and on; what stirs my heart and rocks my world? I am significantly aware of the needs in the world…..and desire to somehow make a difference there. That’s why I sponsor a World Vision kid. That’s why I’m connected to a number of missionaries throughout the world serving in different capacities. You get the idea.

I need to create my own vision statement. Who do I want to invest in? What do I want to invest in? It seems like a good exercise for anybody. Of course, the hope is that I’ll flesh it out.

What do you think? Anyone out there interested in pursuing this with me? Seems like a good resolution for 2008…..but I’m starting now.