Myth-Busting: Should I or Shouldn’t I?

Eternity II

Eternity II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A poor Irish woman living in New York during the early 1900′s has a worthless husband.  He drinks, gambles, cheats, among other vices.  Finally, his excesses destroy his health and he dies prematurely, leaving the poor woman with a young son.  She decides that despite the fact that this man was useless as a husband and father during his life, she was going to make him useful in his death.  She tells her son, “Study hard, work hard, be successful and make your father proud!”  When her son misbehaves and exhibits poor choices, she admonishes, “Now Patrick, what do you think your father would say about that?”  The mother skillfully uses the image of a noble father of good character to inspire and direct her son.  Okay, so when he gets older, he may hear from relatives and friends the real scoop.  Perhaps he will understand and appreciate his mother’s subterfuge. Perhaps not.

That’s why I wonder about my drive to replace delusions and false narratives with truth, to the extent it can be done.  However, it seems helpful for many to believe in a noble history, which spurs them on to their own nobility in thought, character and accomplishment.  What happens when you tell them the truth?  Well, due to cognitive dissonance, most will get that glazed look in their eyes, or the equivalent on the keyboard and fail to hear or read what you say. Or they will turn on you with unexpected ferocity for bursting their bubble or just shut you out.  You can provide a mountain of credible evidence.  But this is like telling them that mommy and daddy weren’t as good or loving as they thought.

In order to continue relationships, must one embrace their delusions, or at least try to keep quiet about them?  I know we are told not to awaken love until it please.  So, perhaps there is a prematurity in providing wisdom to one who doesn’t want it, truth to one who is safe and comfy in their lies.  Having a good eye might mean patience, and realizing that the false belief may be intended for good and still serving a good purpose.

Am I going to be bereft of friends if I persist in engaging in pilpul (ancient Jewish method of learning by arguing) with people who don’t know how to play and probably don’t want to?  Perhaps I need to gather to myself more pilpul players, more honest and courageous persons who are not afraid to scrutinize their most cherished thinking traditions.  I’m game.  And I’m not looking for perfection; just honesty.  If I just knew one person that I didn’t have to be careful of places you can’t go.

So, I think it is a matter of maturity.  As children we seem primed to believe that our parents are both good and right.  We require this as a foundation for our survival.  But as we mature, we realize our parents may not have been so wise or good, and perhaps not wise or good at all.  There are different methods of response.  We can dig our heads in the sand and build castles there, or we can face the unpleasant truth.  If we choose the first process, we may avoid some pain and discomfort, but the truth is pushed down below the surface, and the fear of its discovery and the energy that must be expended to strengthen and protect the delusion may drain the life-force needed for other life actions.

There is a teaching of the Jewish sages.  The word for truth, emet:  alef, mem, tav, is made up of the first letter of the alphabet, the exact middle letter of the alphabet and the last letter.  Truth is balanced and stands.  You can throw whatever you like at truth and you cannot knock it over.  The word begins with the sign of strength, flows with many waters and finishes at the sign of the covenant.  If you remove the middle letter, you have the word, “ot,” which means, “sign.”  “Em,” means, “mother,” as a mother is a source of wisdom and truth that we are to seek out her wisdom.  “Met,” means death, and truth will remain strong, “aleph,” even in the face of death, and if one removes strength, or what is first, then the word truth becomes the word death.  Just playing with Hebrew letters a bit :)

However, the word for lie or false is, sheqer, shin, kuf, reish, are the three next to last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, not including the tav, the last letter, which is the sign of the covenant.  They are unbalanced and don’t have the proverbial leg to stand on.  A lie or a false presentation can be kicked over with little effort.  In fact, it seems that lies and false testimonies fail to stand up to scrutiny and questioning.  That is why promoters and supporters of false histories so vigorously act to silence debate or discussion and presentation of contrary evidence.  They know how weak their argument is, so use fear in various forms, such as fear of social rejection, fear of not belonging in a camp, fear that this lie is necessary to protect what is valuable and fear of even questioning.  Fenced off areas are created for the delusion’s supporters where they can repeat their indoctrination in peace without fear of interruption or providing a defense.

We are provided warning in the ten “commandments,” which are really ten words of prophetic empowerment ( via Bill Bullock) not to bear false witness, and we are given grace to carry out that blessing.  We are to be a people of truth-tellers, not a people  politically compromised who believe we need the help of men and their schemes to survive and thrive.   False narratives also dishonor those who were harmed, whose blood cries out, that we shut our ears to.  Those who shut their ears to the cry of those taken away for slaughter (whether it is happening now or occurred in times past) will themselves cry out with no one to answer.  It is wrong to honor the wicked, as well as to debase the righteous.

I am not saying it won’t be painful and confusing, but isn’t it better to face the dark as well as the light of any social, national, religious or political group you choose to join yourself to?  Perhaps recognition of the these deeds and thoughts of darkness will help you, and the people you join with, to make amends for the evil of the past and ensure a future that is aware of the propensity to walk the wrong way.  Maybe you will even decide to leave the social situation or understanding you are a part of, or seriously question it.  There may be some negative fallout, and even serious consequences.  But that is what teshuva (real repentance) is about.  It is not only admitting your wrong, but turning from it, making right those wrongs, if possible and creating a plan to walk in the right path from now on.

I know I need to accept that:  1) People are not rational; not possessing either natural critical thinking nor spiritual discernment.  2)  People don’t want to know the truth, however much they protest to the contrary.  A survey of the Book of Proverbs makes it clear that people love simplicity; they love foolishness.  It is not that they can’t find wisdom; wisdom cries out and they won’t listen.

We are told that as we mature we should be able to train our senses to comprehend the difference between good and evil.  That is an ability of the rational human mind; it does not even require spiritual input and giftedness.  We are also promised in Mal. 3:18  (my paraphrase of the Hebrew) You (plural) shall return and see (discern) between the righteous (singular) and the wicked (singular) between a servant of Elohim and who is not a servant (does not serve.)  The discernment is in the returning, which I believe includes the desire to know wisdom and know truth within our inmost parts, as David cried.

As a person with a background in the healthcare world and in journalism, I appreciate the use of the rational mind, the ability to think critically, weigh evidence, look for corroboration, determine if a source is trustworthy or not.   These things are divine gifts, yet they have a limit.  They can only judge the things of this world.  They cannot move in the realm of what is beyond.  So, I don’t toss these abilities aside, but I know there is more.

When I became a man (or a woman) I gave us childish things.  Now is the time to let go of our childish clinging to comfortable lies and face the necessity of dealing with discomforting truth.  You will survive, believe me.  You will be enabled to let go of what is temporal and illusionary and grasp hold of eternity, what is beyond the veil.  His secret is for those who fear him.  To fear him is to not fear men or what they will think of you and how they will treat you.

The verse from Kohelet (Ecclesiastes 3:11) comes to mind:  To every (all) he has made beautiful in his time, also to the world/eternity he has given in their hearts from without/wearing out that they cannot find out/attain the workmanship/accomplishment that God makes from the head (start) to the end.  We cannot, in this life understand even a small piece of the thoughts and ways of heaven.  But treasure that gift of eternity that resides in your heart.  You don’t know where it comes from or where it is going, but let that drop of eternity nurture you like an infant in the womb feeding from the umbilical cord.  He doesn’t know where the nourishment comes from, nor where it goes, nor can he stop its flow.  We, sadly have the capability to pinch off the flow and cover over the gift with tough sinews and hard places.  Break up the unplowed ground.  It is time to serve the Holy One.  Israel must break up the ground.  Do not sow among thorns.  Jer. 4:3; Hosea 10:11-12.

Posted in critical thinking, discernment, myth-busting, truth and lies, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Warning to Israel, to Diaspora Jews, to Those Join Who Us and to Our Enemies

Last night I had a dream.  I don’t remember dreams that frequently, so perhaps this is just another aspect of aging :)  But this one came through loud and clear.  In the dream I was talking with friends, although none of the dream friends were people I would recognize among my real life acquaintances.  We were discussing the current war in Israel as it was related to scripture.  Then I heard a voice intone; strong, clear, emphatic, “The warning is in the parsha.  The warning is in the parsha.  The warning is in the parsha.”  This phrase was spoken three times, and then I woke up.

Enemies Among Us

Enemies Among Us (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For people who don’t know, the, “parsha,” is the weekly portion of torah that is read in synagogues worldwide.  Right now we just completed Parsha Pinchas, which tells the story of a priest who drove his spear through an Israelite prince who was cavorting with a Midyanite princess openly and obscenely right in front of the mishkan, the place where the presence of the Holy One dwelt among the people.  All the Jewish people worldwide study the same weekly parsha; so we are all on the same page, so to speak, along with any who choose to join us.

Pinchas, as a Levite, was given responsibility to guard the sanctity of the mishkan. It appears that all the others who had responsibility to act failed. In the face of the others who failed, he acted alone. It makes me think of the Talmudic saying, “In a place where there are no men; be a man.”  This means:  Do what needs to be done, even if you are the only one doing it.  Some are remembering who they are and rising up today to do just that.  These are people who don’t possess a following, honor, respect or credentials; they may even lack talent and ability.  But as these are willing, they will be enabled, as Betzalel was gifted with all the wisdom and skill required to build the tabernacle.

Somehow, I don’t think Pinchas was worrying about what the neighbors might think, or the future of his Levitical career, or was even concerned that the Midyani fan club mob might tear him to pieces or the powers that be might urge restraint.  We are told that Pinchas was zealous for the honor of the Holy One (not his own) and made atonement for the people.  This grandson of Aaron turned away the divine wrath, and received in turn a blessing of eternal priesthood upon his descendants.  Don’t try this at home folks.

I believe that what is occurring now is that the murky past and the murkier future are coming into clear focus as they merge closer and closer together.  This is what Daniel may have been talking about when he was told to seal up the scroll of the prophecy until the end of days when men shall roam/search(the internet) and so knowledge shall increase.

Last week we studied Parsha Balak.  Two archenemies, Moab and Midyan joined together, hiring a double-minded, compromising prophet Bila’am as their mouthpiece to fight against Israel.  Israel was no threat to them and had no designs on the property or goods of either Moab or Midyan.  Yes, both were jealous and fearful, which led to anger and hatred.  Both Moab and Midyan had a road back, as all who are estranged from the Holy One, his covenant and his people are offered a way to return.

I suspect it began with Cain.  Cain could have learned from the divine voice that warned him and sought out the brother that pleased Elohim to join him in worship according to the way that was accepted.  Cain chose to refuse that route and destroy the one who had gained the favor of heaven.  Ishmael rejoined his brother Isaac in order to bury their father Abraham.  But then Ishmael went back to his people and his life.  He could have partaken of the covenant blessings, but he chose not to follow the covenant ways, and didn’t want to play a subordinate role, I suspect.  King David opined that he would rather be a doorkeeper in the House of Adonai than dwell in tents of wickedness.  Lot could have rejoined his uncle, who would have welcomed him joyously and he would have provided spouses for his daughters and a place in his world.  Esau had a chance to rejoin the brother that possessed the blessing and the birthright, but wasn’t about to play second fiddle or leave his pagan lifestyle.  Both the Moabites and the Midyanites could have shared in the blessing of Israel.  They could have asked the prophet Bila’am to grant them and their people whatever they wished.  I think when one is filled with hatred, it cancels out all reason; it crushes rationality.  Don’t expect your enemies to think rationally or even act in their own best self-interest.

I believe Moab represents what the world today sees as Christianity; an incestuous relationship of Judaism with Greek philosophy and various forms of paganism that has led to multitudes who hate, despise, fear and seek to murder the sons of the covenant.  Likewise, Midyan represents Islam, a son of Abraham nurtured in a different womb, given gifts and sent away.  Midyan helped and protected Moses at a time when he was fleeing, as Islam has assisted the spiritual descendants of Moses as they were fleeing Christian lands.  But Midyan also continually attacked Israel and seeing Israel grow in strength of exploits due to the favor of Israel’s God threatened them in ancient times, as it does today.  So, the world of Christianity will join the world of Islam to fight their common enemy; the Jews.

It is Moab that hires the pagan prophet who hears from the Holy One of Israel, who is enticed by wealth, power and the praise of men.  Curiously, as Bila’am speaks, he issues a heartfelt cry, “May I die the death of the righteous.”  However, the word used here is yisharim, which means straight.  I suspect Bila’am looked upon the tents of Israel, and opined that he would walk continually in a straight way until death.  But good intentions are not enough, and Bila’am died shamefully a short time later.

We already see antisemitism growing in leaps and bounds throughout Europe, and most of the Mideast outside of Israel is quickly being emptied of Jewish citizens.  But it can’t happen here, right?  Here in the US where there are more than six million of us?  Likewise, Jewish citizens of English speaking countries such as Canada, Australia are safe?  I left out South Africa, where many Jews have already left due to a precarious situation.

Living in the US, I see government and media spewing out a false narrative about Israel, barely covering their wolves’ teeth with a weathered sheepskin.  But soon the sheepskin will come off, and the rhetoric of, “We aren’t against Jews, just Zionists,” will be replaced with free and open Jew-hatred.  Perhaps much of this has always been present, but kept hidden for the sake of political correctness.  Currently, outside of academia, celebrities and some religious groups on both ends of the spectrum, the vast majority of the US population really care little about a war in the Mideast.  But wait until it hits their pocketbook.  Wait until it threatens their survival.  Then we will be hearing much more of what was occasionally bandied about during the 1970′s Arab oil embargo, “Burn Jews, not oil.”  The difference now, more than forty years later is most of our political leaders, authorities in academia, the powerful in the press, and the world of religion is not on our side.  Even intelligent and formerly cultured persons no longer think rationally or act graciously when they feel threatened and when there is a price to pay.

Someone recently suggested that technology could improve Israel’s Iron Dome, so it not only deflected incoming missiles, but sent them back the way they came.  I suggested this new weapon be called, “Iron Slingshot.”  Such a weapon would be castigated as it would send the rockets back to the civilian areas where terrorists hide, and would lead to numerous civilian casualties, of course laid at Israel’s feet.

As the media fails to report attacks upon Israel, and rather reports only Israel’s acts of defense, so our media will black out attacks on Jews, and report only that we are suspected of disloyalty in standing with a nation that our political leadership and all the talking heads have turned against.  Recently a pro-Israel group was attacked violently by anti-Israel protesters in San Francisco while the police stood by and did nothing.  Don’t think this is an anomaly.  Antagonism toward Israel will enlarge to include besmirching resident Jewish citizens.

Canada has their blessed Stephen Harper, and Australia’s PM has pledged to stand with Israel.  I believe judgement may be delayed as long as these nations hold to this stance, although certainly many of their citizens are in opposition.

I believe persons with dual Israeli citizenship who are residing in the US or elsewhere will be at the forefront of those receiving the brunt of the first volley of attacks.  Don’t be surprised as your liberal friends in academia look the other way.  Einstein believed that German academics, due to their love of freedom of thought, speech and inquiry would stand against Hitler.  But they fell like dominoes as soon as their careers were in jeopardy, even prior to any endangerment of their freedom or lives.

Large Jewish communities who live in major cities are going to be in danger, as the message gets across that it is open season and there will be minimal consequences as police hold off lest they be accused of political incorrectness.  Its too bad that so many Jews live and work in gun free zones.  I don’t know how much help a weapon will do in the long run, as you will just be arrested for protecting yourself for employing disproportionate force.

It is understandable that the only way Jews have survived, however precariously, in foreign lands was to create alliances with powerful foreign leaders.  The Jewish people have done this in their diaspora guest homes, and Israel has played this card among the nations.  Regrettably, there are Jews among us, as Israel is fighting for its survival with Operation Protective Edge, some American Jews are planning damage control: Operation Protect My Tuches.  These are concerned that actions by Israel will reflect badly upon them, and endanger their position of Court Jew, and then there are the turned kapos in our midst.  For those Jewish members of groups that are either openly or covertly enemies of Israel, where will you go when you are forced from your job and your home?  Do you believe your friends will protect you, speak up for you, stand beside you?  No, no, no.  They won’t hide you in their basements either.

Then there are those who stand with us.  But I warn you, many will not remain standing with us when it costs them something besides a donation and it is no longer fun and meaningful.  The world of Christian Zionism is being gradually infiltrated by the Christian Palestinian narrative.  The emergent church views Israel as an obstacle to its plan of world peace, and would  just as soon see Israel and her supporters ethnically cleansed.  Much of the evangelical church is a mile wide and an inch deep in their devotion, so any emotional appear that sounds reasonable will sway many, especially the youth, who see this as another way to rebel against the ways of their elders.

For those who still remain beside us, you will be counted as one of us by those who seek our destruction.  Those who love Israel, who love torah will be considered treasonous in their own land.  The Subbutniks of 18th century Russia were first persecuted viciously by the other churches.  Then they were granted the right to become a recognized religion.  When Nazis invaded Russia, Subbutniks were given the option of rejoining one of the established churches, or going to the camps with the Jews.  Some chose to get in the cattle cars; some chose faithlessness, and were required to burn their Subbutnik houses of worship to prove their loyalty.  Don’t expect anything different.

We are frogs in a pot, and most of us don’t notice the heat being turned up ever so gradually.  Starting to get warm, isn’t it?  Don’t be surprised as synagogues and Jewish venues require armed guards, as people become more and more afraid of appearing in public as identifiably Jewish.  Already at Berkeley Jewish students are required to renounce Israel in order to avoid social shunning, and what has begun among celebrities and radical leftists will gain mainstream acceptance.  I am not going to be shocked when pro-Israel media faces further censorship, and purchase of goods from Israel and donations may become difficult or impossible.  Major financial resources for fund transfer may disallow payments to Israel in the same way they shut out charitable organizations they dislike.

The complacence does not surprise me, because who wants to believe their livelihood or their life is threatened?  It is time.  We are told the Holy One would bring his people from the North, the South, the East and the West.  Perhaps some of us in comfortable guest homes aren’t going willingly, until our environment becomes far less comfortable and more precarious, such as that of Jewish people in France, which hosts the largest diaspora Jewish population outside the US.  We just don’t get it.  He is getting his people out before judgement falls.  Measure for measure, as a nation, a group or a person treats God’s covenant nation Israel; it will be done to them.  Nobody needs to believe a word I say; just sit back and watch.  As the US spreads lies about Israel, so lies will be spread about the US.  As the US endangers Israel, so the US will be endangered: by terrorists, by invaders, by financial downturn, by political subterfuge.  The eyes of heaven see all; the divine ears hear what is spoken in secret chambers.

I know I am going to hear, “But what of the poor Palestinians?”  The Arabs, the Muslims, all peoples in every place and every state they find themselves can attach themselves to the God of Israel and the people of Israel.  There is the blessing, but it comes with a price.  They can throw in their lot with one stronger than themselves and their enemies.  They can leave the kingdom of darkness and journey to the kingdom of light.  There are sheep of other folds, and you are being awakened now to who you are and are being led where you need to go.  May you find blessing and protection in your journey.

Keep looking for clues in the weekly torah portion.  He will clearly show us what he is doing.  The false prophets will speak peace and safety, and the wicked will not understand, but the wise will understand.

Remind me that I need to keep working on my Hebrew.

Posted in acharei hayomim, aliyah, America, American Jews, antichrist, antisemitism, bible prophecy, Christian Palestinianism, Christian Zionism, complacence, Court Jews, days of Noah, dreams, Emergent, End of Days, end times, euthanasia, Evangelicals, Israel, Jerusalem, kapos, last days, prophecy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Knowledge & Rationality a Highway or a Roadblock?

 

English: Picture was shot in July. Ada Feed & ...

English: Picture was shot in July. Ada Feed & Seed is located at the junction of highway 200 & 9. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe it depends where you want to go, if and how you decide to change course along the journey, and if it matters if you travel the route you planned or just that the trip was meaningful and fulfilled a purpose.

About ten years ago I had  this conversation with my computer geek husband, “What do you think about video on the internet?  Wouldn’t it be cool to share videos and be able to watch films online?”

“Not possible,” he  surmised.  “It would be too slow.”

More recent conversation about a research study that demonstrated false memories could be physically implanted in mice -

Me:  I’m surprised the conspiracy theorists missed this one, so focused on imagined or unlikely scenarios that they miss the bulls-eye.  Doesn’t this have dangerous potential if applied to human subjects?

Him:  Nah, it’ll be twenty years at least before they reach that stage.

Me (not out loud)  Haven’t we had this conversation before somewhere?

I am completely ignorant (by choice) in the technology area and find it dull and even distasteful.  My husband and kids aren’t thrilled when I ask questions or for help on what they consider simple computer issues.  “Mooom, why don’t you just take a course and learn to use your computer?”  “Because I don’t want to and I would rather you just do it for me.”  They say there is no such thing as a stupid question, but that is not the case when a techno-illiterate by doctrine is left awash in a sea of the techno-fluent as the language and knowledge body evolves and expands daily.  I do have some basic knowledge in the area of medical sciences, but have shunned the more detailed and technical (here’s that bad word again) stuff.  I only took the required science and math courses in college, while hubby has an undergraduate science degree and much experience in this field also.

I recall my college anatomy class, where I thought I had hit the jackpot as I spotted a frog specimen that appeared nearly twice the size of the others.  I jockeyed for position and grabbed this one for myself before anyone could get it, sure that a larger frog would make it easier to find the organs.  What a shock to open up froggy and discover she was pregnant, black, stinky eggs spilling out everywhere covering and displacing the organs.  Trying to clean her up did no good, as I wouldn’t be able to describe this altered anatomy correctly.  I ended up borrowing my neighbor’s frog to complete the assignments.

So, a person ignorant of the limitations and parameters according to prevailing belief could imagine the possibility (without understanding the specifics of how it could be accomplished) of future progress, while one with greater education and training sees a brick wall ahead and doesn’t bother to try to find ways around, over or through.  It seems men and women who have set off major creative innovations either didn’t have anyone tell them it couldn’t work or decided not to listen.

I’ve discovered that there is something resident that rises up within me whenever I hear something like, “Impossible; it can’t be done.”  That is just the impetus I need to figure out a way to do it, just to prove them wrong and engage in a challenge.  Interesting, that at times it has turned out that the, “impossible,” wasn’t even based in real information, but instead on a false supposition assumed correct because it had been passed down from an authoritative source.

Last year No. 2 son was preparing to take his AP (advanced placement) exams.  Mommy bear marched into the student services and announced that baby bear required an accommodation.  My son is a young man on the spectrum and has been diagnosed with dysgraphia, which means he has difficulty with handwriting due to small muscle control and hand-eye coordination issues.  He had an accommodation to take all school related tests that required essay writing on a computer.  I was told by several staff members that I would not be able to get this relief from the testing agency and they had never heard of anyone who received this accommodation.  The counselor also informed me that my son was capable of writing legibly, if minimally so.  I even spoke with his AP instructors who told me they had my son hand pen the essay portion of the practice pre-test to prepare him.  I asked, “Well, what if a student had cerebral palsy and couldn’t even hold a pencil?”  “That would be different,” she replied.  “This is not the case with your son.”

Okay, so this made me mad.  I discussed it with my husband, and he was prepared to plunk down the $400 to file a lawsuit under ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) against the testing agency if necessary.  We were fired up, but our battle plans were not required.

The problem was, that although my son could write in a manner that was barely legible, when he wrote by hand rather than via keyboard he was forced to put so much energy and effort into forming the letters that he was unable to focus on the content of the writing.  This had been demonstrated both in formal testing and in my own observations.  My first step was to visit the website of the testing agency, and I clicked on accommodations.  Dysgraphia was listed as a disability with the allowed accommodation being the use of a keyboard for the essay portion of the test.  Bingo.  All I needed to do was provide documentation of testing that validated my son’s disability, and he received the allowance without any trouble.  I even called over to the testing agency and was assisted politely and assured that there would be no problems.  The school sent over the required evidence, and all was fine.  This also allowed my son the same accommodation on his SATs.  The staff naysayers were dumbfounded, “I never heard of anyone getting this before.”  Sometimes a person can quit way too early.

I believe courage widens the road, while fear and cowardice narrow it or lead one to pass the right exit or get off on the wrong one.  We had a family friend who realized that his place of employment was less than acceptable.  It looked like some questionable activities were occurring, and the atmosphere was negative and depressing; an environment of crude, amoral chain smokers.  This friend knew he was taking a risk in leaving, that the company leadership wouldn’t hesitate to retaliate if they felt threatened or dishonored.  But following discussion with his wife, he secured more hours at a well paid part-time gig and politely gave his notice, graciously thanking the supervisors and staff for the “wonderful,” training experience.  This individual is now CEO of his own successful firm and well-respected in his profession.  But what if he had taken the route of fear instead?  I suspect he might have grown resentful, bitter and depressed like the other employees and perhaps tempted or forced to compromise or even caught up in legal troubles due to the company ethics.  His health likely would have suffered, as well as his career future.

One area of deception is that foolishness and presumption can masquerade as courage.  Foolishness may lead one to an open road, but nobody bothered to check the tires or oil; the brakes are thin and there is only a quarter tank of gas and no navigation system.  In a class I took in Behavior Psychology, one student asked, “What is the most dangerous emotion?”  I expected the answer to be anger, hatred, bitterness or the like.  I was surprised to hear the professor say, “The most dangerous emotion, based upon my research, is overconfidence, megalomania, as it appears to be the most destructive and wreck the  most havoc.

Can one employ the knowledge one has effectively without allowing one’s current understanding to act as a barrier to greater knowledge and understanding?  Is it beneficial to believe something that is not true if this accomplishes the intended purpose?

Back more than twenty years ago, following my husband’s completion of graduate school and getting his first “real,” job and renting a home, he began to become anxious that we would have a family.  I had refused to even entertain the idea of having a baby while he was still in school, and insisted on health insurance, his full-time employment and a home.  Okay, I agreed to flex on the home, as we were renting a house in a nice neighborhood even though we were unable to purchase one yet in pricey SoCal.  So now the pressure was on.  I wasn’t against the idea of having children, but I had my qualms.  And darling was concerned that my age (early thirties) might prove problematic if we kept waiting.  I was concerned that any children I had might inherit the negative personality traits I saw in my family members, and as I didn’t have a happy childhood or effective role models on how to parent, I was conflicted.

The prevailing viewpoint at the time was behaviorism; that is, how a child turns out depends upon the parenting and environment.  I asked a couple different professionals who assured me that if I was a loving and dedicated parent, my children would do well.  The monster under the bed, that I might end up with a child who resembled persons I had moved 3,000 miles to escape seemed banished for good.  Now, my kids did not turn into these people, but there were some frightening moments; like the one where No. one son spoke the exact same phrase my dad had used and he had never heard this from anyone and had only seen my dad three times in his life.  He was speaking critically (I thought overly so) of his younger brother, and I called him on it.  The response, “It’s constructive criticism.”  That was traumatic.  I informed No. one son that this was exactly what my abusively critical father used to say when countered. Hopefully, he will be sensitive enough to not do that again.  Actually, I was so happy today to hear younger brother tell me he was going to call his older brother and ask for his advice.  Wonderful, I thought, as this would encourage my  older son to feel protective toward his sibling and respected in being asked for advice, so he wouldn’t feel the need to point out his younger brother’s failings. I’ve seen other inherited negative traits from both sides of the family. But we have survived, as with the job comes the wisdom and strength.  Well, some of it anyway.  I am so thankful I couldn’t look ahead and see some things that have gone down, as perhaps I would have made much different decisions, not knowing I would somehow be able to cope with uncertainty.  Maybe there is a sweet blindness that allows anyone to even take a step forward, foolishly confident that they won’t fall over the side of a cliff or into a hidden ditch, when at times we do.

Some people possess nice, mediocre DNA.  Our families consist of some members who are brilliant, creative and highly talented, as well as many who are marginally or seriously mentally ill; some, of course are, “all of the above,” as well as those with defects of character, and I can’t discern what mix of genetics, environment and personal choice is the culprit. Perhaps built into the eternal covenant was the natural selection that allowed the hyper-vigilant, neurotic, rigidly stubborn and paranoid to survive slaughter, persecution, treachery and assimilation in ways that their complacent, easy-going, trusting and optimistic brethren couldn’t.  I do believe that heaven holds out the wisdom and strength to get us where we need to go if we are willing.

My conclusion is that creativity is harnessed insanity.  Some do a good job of harnessing it; some don’t.  For me, I think it is like jumping into the pool, and I am not a very skilled swimmer.  When I get tired, or the water gets too murky or deep for me, I climb out, knowing I can always get back in.  Maybe  next time I will stay in longer and dive deeper?  Maybe it is not just a pool, but a pool between two worlds, like Narnia.  I like the world of journalism because it is solid, stable and real, while the world of creative thinking and writing is nebulous and ambiguous.  Perhaps the shadow is more solid, and the firm and clear is temporary and illusory.

I don't feel comfortable in
 a world of irrationality;
 it feels unsafe as it is 
too chaotic for my tastes. 
 But a world of only rationality 
lacks color, warmth 
and meaning;
 it is hard, unyielding
 and resistantly cold. 
 A cold that cannot be 
warmed.  
 
Perhaps surety and 
appointed sages are
 a safety net
 for some in the
 world beyond the natural senses,
 and for many, 
it is a short tether 
 to the mother ship.  
 
I don't want to snap the tether and
 go hurtling out into the depths of space, 
but I would like to extend the tether
 and venture out without fear. 
 In him we 
live and move and have our being, 
but perhaps we fail to live to the extent
 we can and 
our movement is limited and 
our being is diminished. 

 Maybe I don't even need 
 the protection of the space suit,
 for the unexplored 
 is a realm 
where I was designed 
 to dwell and I just need 
to learn how to breathe 
in this I know 
divine protection for the core of 
myself that is beyond, 
and if it is dangerous
 to my flesh, so be it.
  When my flesh is gone, 
I will not die;
 I will be more alive. 
Now I am becoming,
What I will be.
All my days,
Before they emerged.

Time and space
Constrain my body
Still I can touch
Eternity in my heart.

 

Posted in Uncategorized, honesty, acharei hayomim, knowledge, rationality, creativity, creativity and madness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Days of Deep Darkness; A Time of Supernatural Light

Darkness is spreading all over the earth and entering every nook and cranny of existence, but it is not something we should fear and recoil from.  Why?  In the primordial darkness the voice of the Holy One spoke divine light into existence.  This was not the light of the sun, moon or stars; this light was from beyond.  When there is divine light, there is also divine separation.  As it was in the beginning, it will be in the end, in the acharei hayomim.

Red light bulb in darkness

Red light bulb in darkness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I believe we are entering into a time of great deception, and also a time of miracles.

ירים העם ויוכיח שדברו ותורתו עומדים 

The prophecy of Rabbi Kaduri, before he died at the age of 108 can be translated, “He will lift up the people (singular) and prove that his word and his torah stand.”  The Hebrew verb translated, “prove,” is, “l’hokiakh,” and some other nuances to the word are, “to demonstrate, to show, substantiate and also, in the negative focus, “to reproach and rebuke.”

Here is what I believe a more accurate translation of Is. 60:2:  For behold (take notice, pay attention) the darkness (hachoshek, the same word used in the creation narrative) will cover (hide, conceal, engulf) earth….What does choshek cover when it engulfs earth?  I believe it hides the presence of the Creator in his work; it is erasing the name of the author’s signature on his art.  We are also told that, “gross darkness,” in Hebrew, “arafel,” which refers to a heavy or thick cloud, deep darkness and gloom.  The root means to drip or drop in the same way that rain drops from a cloud.  This deep, thick darkness and gloom will drip like rain and the thick cloud will drop down upon the peoples and envelop them.  But what happens next?  Then YHVH will arise and be upon you and his kavod, his glory, his manifest presence will be seen upon you.

No longer will those who belong to YHVH need to employ human methods of logical explanation and attempts at persuasion.  He will be seen and all will be made aware.  But you don’t get off easy  here, as many will run to the light and many more will attempt to put it out by any means possible.

Who in Is. 60 is, “you?”  Read the chapter and you can’t get away from the clear presentation that, “you,” represents Israel.  This is where his light will shine in the darkness and this is where his glory will fall.  Well, what if you are not Israel?  What if you still want to walk in the light and see his glory?  You can choose to join yourself to the Holy One of Israel and walk in his ways, honor his words of instruction and meet with him at his appointed times.  Open yourself to receive the fullness of understanding you are called to bring forth, and play the part your have been given in the deliverance of Israel.
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Posted in acharei hayomim, bible, darkness and light, Israel, rabbi Kaduri, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Prophet Waits for and Recognizes Messiah

Presentation of Christ in the Temple Icon

Presentation of Christ in the Temple Icon (Photo credit: bobosh_t)

The prophetess Anna must have cried many tears as she waited, never leaving the temple, with yearning and hope, as her namesake Hannah(Channah) also waited, cried and hoped for a child.  The name, “Anna,” means, “compassion,  mercy, yearning, and favor.”  Like Simeon, she immediately recognized what I assume was an ordinary infant brought to the temple by ordinary parents performing the prescribed offering for a first-born son.  We hear that Simeon was just and pious and the ruach was upon him, with revelation of the coming one.  Simeon means, “to hear.”

What a joy for these two, to be given this reward, this blessing to cap off a life of worship and service, to touch what myriads had yearned for, wept for…

I am going to draw the conclusion that a prophet or prophetess, a man or woman who seeks to live justly, devotedly, as a servant will recognize Messiah when they see him.  They will not require argument, evidence or convincing.  The Spirit of God will witness with their spirit.  And I suspect that they will not miss the baby through the voluminous, dirty bathwater.  Both Anna and Simeon recognized the fulfillment of prophecy, and there were no clues or outward signs to this miracle occurring in front of their eyes.  I can imagine as they held the child in their arms, hoards of men and women went about their temple duties and business without a glimmer of what was taking place in their midst.

Luke 2:25And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Holy One’s Messiah. 27And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Yeshua, to carry out for Him the custom of the torah, 28then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,

29“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace,   According to Your word;  30For my eyes have seen Your salvation,  31Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

33And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. 34And Simeon blessed them and said to Miriam His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— 35and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. 38At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Perhaps there are some among us who recognize him; recognize him in people, recognize him in scripture, recognize him via the ruach, recognize him in dreams….  Maybe, like Anna, they are waiting in a set-apart place, watching, serving.  Maybe there are old men like Simeon who know they will see Messiah return in their lifetime. Perhaps they will give thanks and and speak to all looking for the redemption of Yerushalayim.

 

 

 

 

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No Prayers for Elliot Rodger?

Number one son and I are planning to go out to breakfast with one of his old high school buddies. As he camps out on my bed, furiously texting away, I am so thankful for the mercy and kindness of heaven in protecting him and bringing him home safely to us. May peace and comfort be upon the families and friends of the deceased and injured during this painful time.

English: Halloween revelers on the 6600 block ...

English: Halloween revelers on the 6600 block of Del Playa Drive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of you may not be aware of the tragic murders in Isla Vista, home to 23,000 UCSB and other local students, that left 7 dead, including the perpetrator.

Let me tell you my story. On Friday morning I was getting my purple peek-a-boo highlights touched up when my son called. He was thinking of coming home for the long holiday weekend because he felt stressed with all the pressure at school and missed his family, his aged and ailing three-legged cocker spaniel, probably having his mom fuss over him and make sure he enjoyed his favorite foods, and perhaps even battles with his younger brother, but had decided against it because a paper was due Tuesday.  I suspect the call was to incite his mother to attempt to convince him otherwise, and mom happily obliged.  “Can’t you work on your paper at home?  I know you’ll have more distractions, but….we can all go out for sushi sometime.”

Around 6:30, with the last train to San Diego leaving in a hour, he called and said he was thinking of coming home anyway, but was concerned about the cost of the round-trip ticket, $100, as it is $20 more if you don’t get it in advance. I urged him to use my credit card to purchase his ticket, and I heard him print it out while we were still talking.   “So, are you going to be hungry, or are you going to eat that revolting, overpriced train fare for dinner?  “Not hungry,” he replied.  “I can’t eat when I’m stressed.”   “Is there anything special you want me to have for you; I can pick up Thai if you like, or whatever you want?”  “Naw,” he breathed.  “We can go out for sushi tomorrow maybe.”  His dad said, “no problem,” to picking son up at the train station 25 minutes away at midnight, and it turned out later because of a delay.

So, at 10:30 on Friday night, I received an anxious call from my son, still on the train, that his roommate had texted him that he had heard there had been multiple deaths and injuries from a drive-by shooter in Isla Vista, where he lives, and all the residents had been ordered to not leave their homes. News and campus officials provided little information, but the campus smart-phone grapevine was flooded with photos and eye-witness accounts as well as speculation and rumor. The roommate heard the many shots fired into the nearby Deli-Mart, one of the many crime scenes. (I discovered later that the roommate also knew the three students stabbed to death at the perpetrator’s Capri apartment.)  After hanging up, I immediately set upon a search of what news and social media chatter revealed about the emerging situation.

My son informed me that Thursday night he had been sitting eating a sandwich in the outdoor seating area of the Isla Vista Deli-mart, right where a young man was killed, and he was planning on going to the deli for dinner that evening, had he stayed. He knew the deli owner, and showed me a photo someone sent him of the gunshot hole in the glass at the deli, with the owner in the background. My son told me he had never met the shooter, who was a student at SBCC, not UCSB, but he had seen his car around, as a new, black BMWwith blacked out windows would not be the most common vehicle, even with an affluent student body.  My son called it, “an a$$-hole car.”

I was waiting up for my son when he arrived home close to 1 am.  We were both tired, but talked a bit.  I asked if he thought about the fact that IF he had not felt stressed, lonely and anxious and so decided to come home for the weekend, he would have been at the location of one of the shootings at the same time a fellow UCSB student was killed?  It could have been him eating dinner at the deli instead of  riding home on the train?  He recognized that.  I think this event shook him out of his funk.  Well, I can imagine that having a mass murder take place at your seaside university beats shock treatment or hours at the psychologist for therapeutic effect. It puts things into perspective.  How can you worry about finals, getting a job or getting into grad school following graduation and other worries about your future when your colleagues that were sitting next to you in class yesterday have no future on this earth?  Not that I recommend this as a treatment methodology.

I’ve been taking some courses via MOOCs Coursera and edX in the areas of Behavioral Economics and Cognitive Science.  Yes, I understand there are various errors of interpretation, where we can ascribe meaning to events that may not be there.  So, I realize I am attributing my son’s safety to divine protection, and validation that he has a destiny to fulfill on this earth.  Is it just a matter of randomness?  Can matters of life and death be reduced to random chance, as if life is a lottery that one is entered into involuntarily, and time and manner of leaving this life is some sick version of Powerball?  What about the students who aren’t here today?  Were they less valued by a loving Creator?  Or were they victims of randomness?  Do we need to know and understand what is not understandable?  Can we still press forward in our own blurry state, offering light and help where we can with open hands?  “…perhaps since the beginning of Creation, a piece of the world has been waiting for your soul to purify and repair it.  And your soul, from the time it was emanated and conceived, waited above to descend to this world and carry out that mission.  And your footsteps were guided to reach that place.  And you are there now.”  (Tzvi Freeman, “Bringing Heaven Down to Earth)

 

I choose to believe that some things are outside the realm of evidentiary testing.  AsAbraham Joshua Heschel famously concluded, “God is not logical or illogical; he is supralogical.”  In disagreement with arguments from both sides of the aisle, I don’t believe the things beyond this earth can be tested by the ways of earth.  They cannot be either proven nor disproved.  While atheists make the false assumption that what cannot be tested is assumed false and the burden to provide a preponderance of evidence is upon their opponents, believers also make the false assumption that what cannot be examined should be deemed true by virtue of emotional experience or pseudo-science.  Faith and the miraculous are by definition outside the laws of nature.  I do have a problem with those who make testable truth claims, but fail to provide any data or documentation for those claims.  My faith in God does not extend to those who claim to speak for him.  In God I trust; all others pay cash and provide evidence.  I prefer the recognition and wonder of enigma and choose to make peace with ambiguity rather than surrender to the unquestioning embrace of dogma.  “Making sense of everything is not an obligation or even a possibility. Acceptance of mystery is an act not of resignation but humility.” -David Wolpe

So bizarre. Parents worry their kids in university will get too involved in the party scene, not do well in their classes or have difficulty adjusting to life away from home. But I doubt if many stay awake at night in fear they will be murdered. Perhaps we don’t appreciate how thin the line is between this world and the next, and the influence of heaven that protects us, even while we are unaware.

I believe we are living in times like the Days of Noah, when the earth was filled with chamas (violence.) It seems as if the barrier between thinking dark, antisocial thoughts has given way to acting out hatred, jealousy and bitterness in murder.   Usually I don’t prefer the KJV, for a lot of reasons, but here it seems to meet the target: He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  Rev. 22:11   We’ve grown up in an environment where social constraints place limits on harmful behavior and encourage decency, at least to some extent.  Imagine a world without even a flawed moral foundation limiting the expression of  man’s most depraved passions; a world without boundaries.  Blogger John Parsons opined that a depraved mind was considered literally insane from a spiritual perspective, as persons devoid of conscience are so driven by their passions they are unable to reason ethically.    While we live in a world where a lot of people do some bad things as well as a lot of people do some good things, but only a minuscule few on this planet do truly horrific things.  Think of what it would be like to exist in a space where the numbers are reversed, and humans with any modicum of decency are the ones on the nanoscale.  Imagine a world where men’s hearts are filled to the brim, so full that not a drop can be added, with the most unspeakable evil, and there are neither inner nor outward limitations.

I recall that Alan Dershowitz, in his commentary, “The Genesis of Justice,” concluded that the creator’s decision to destroy most of his creation was a rash and unreasoned act by an immature God that was still learning how to play his God-role, kind of like a 16-year-old who just got his license?  Dershowtiz’s God-who-needs-training wheels would grow wiser from his mistakes, and not put pedal to the metal again.  I am thankful Mr. Dershowitz gave up following his first foray into biblical interpretation, and stuck to law wherein he is gifted.  In contradiction to Dershowitz’s conclusions, I believe Noah’s flood was not only an act of destruction; it was an act of salvation.  The only righteous men and women on earth were protected from both slaughter and corruption at the hands of the masses, and life on earth and the wisdom of heaven was preserved.  Unlike most commentators, I do not conclude that Noah erred in failing to convince one person outside his family to change their ways and redirect their hearts.  We don’t find anywhere in the text where Noah or his family was directed to preach to the masses; only that they were to follow the Creator’s instructions that would lead them to life and a future for themselves and their progeny.

Most of us at times entertain troubling dark thoughts and even times of deep darkness and despair that are endemic to the human condition.  What is it that allows a person to be swallowed up by this darkness, shutting out every hint of light, until one becomes, as this individual proclaimed, “no longer human?”  To be human is to be “b’tselem,” in the image of God.  When one has blotted out this image, one is no longer a man, but a beast, and worse than a beast because the passions of a beast are animated with the corrupted intellect of a human.

I read the killer’s entire 137 page manifesto, which the other members of my family shunned in disgust, because I wanted to understand his thought process, what made him tick. It seems as if he was being given many divine opportunities to choose life, that there were faint hints of light piercing through the darkness of his soul, but he rejected them. He chose death; for himself and others. He could have turned his angst into art, as many angst driven youth have.

Many are attempting to make sense of this tragedy:  Could it have been prevented?  Who can we point a finger at?  Let’s take a look at all the cards being played in this, “blame game.” Access to weapons: guns, knives, car?  Mental illness? A sex-saturated culture?  Inadequate psychiatric treatment?  Poor parenting/family dysfunction? Divorce?  Bullying?  Police, “missing it?” And of course, Hollywood?  A convoluted form of the children’s game, “telephone,” as his mother (1) discovered troubling YouTube videos, reported her concern to a (2) counselor (trainee?) who contacted a (3) mental health hotline that (4) called police that (5) assessed the situation with inadequate information?

This morning my, as my doctor was giving me a shot in my back, he surmised that, “we have a lot of disaffected males.”  I agree.  Many young males have no clear path to manhood in our society.  Their God-given drives to conquer their world and creative powers of sexuality lack the needed strong hands and patient wisdom that provides essential direction.  Lacking a committed father, father figure or positive masculine kinship group, the rootless male turns to his clueless peers, and the soft clay of his heart that yearns for nobility and heroism is shaped by media and popular culture that misdirects his passions and derails his destiny.

Based upon the info I gathered and my gut feeling, I think that despite some of the bad genetic and environmental cards he was dealt, he also failed to appreciate many good things in his life, and I believe this ingratitude was a dark curtain he drew around himself, increasingly shutting out perception and appreciation of all that is light and good.  He had a mother who loved him unconditionally, a grandmother and other relatives who doted on him, a younger brother who looked up to him, friends who stuck by him until they couldn’t, intelligence, talent and a comfortable living despite his parent’s divorce and father’s financial downturn. I believe he made many choices in the direction of the dark side, and found himself imprisoned there.   However, the way of darkness continually entices all of us in thought and behavior, and some succumb completely. Can’t say I understand it.  Grace and hope were always there, and he refused them.  God’s mercy always provides an escape route; but we can refuse that turn-off from the highway to destruction.”Everything is in the hand of heaven except the fear of heaven.” (Berakhot 33b)

Many surmise that some mechanism of perverse voyeurism is the gravitational force that allures people (including myself) to seek to gather information, scrutinize detail and draw our own conclusions when these sorts of apparent anomalies invade our space and consciousness.  We know the adage, “If it bleeds, it leads,” but few have questioned why?  I have some non-standard thoughts on this.  With the first biblically recorded murder, we learned, “the voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”  Blood has a voice.  That voice cries out to heaven, and perhaps we hear it, and it troubles us.  That voice not only cries out for justice; the, “kol dam,” cries out, “why?”

Rabbi David Fohrman’s book, “The Beast the Crouches at the Door,” has a chapter entitled, “Blood on the Ground,” and I would urge everyone to read it, as well as the rest of the book.  Fohrman discusses how Cain is cursed from the land that opened its mouth to receive his brother’s blood, an anguish Cain despaired was too great to bear, “…here you have cast me away from the face of the earth…”  So, here’s my jumping off point from the text:  What if a person who fills their heart with hatred, bitterness, jealousy, along with murderous thoughts and fantasies toward their fellow man finds himself likewise cursed from human fellowship, due to his own behavior and threatening vibes he gives out that he may even be blind to?

As the primordial murder was fueled by jealousy, so these acts of calculated rage were likewise.  And as the inaugural crime was prefaced by a warning and a way out not taken, so, I believe this one was also.  We are fascinated by these things because we are also capable of the same, whether we repress this intuition or seek to comprehend it in all its ramifications.  Should recognition of our own beastly potential terrify us?  I don’t think so.  Elliot Rodger had to climb over many protective fences and destroy additional barriers tall and strong that allowed him entrance to that ever darkening, ever narrowing tunnel.

A local Facebook friend questioned, “I wonder if anyone ever prayed for him?”  I feel in those words the anguish of Cain, and perhaps the greater anguish of their parents, and the unimaginable pain of the one who breathed into him the breath of life.  One problem we have when we read scripture is that we may not hear the tone of voice.  What if the divine voice was not the pronouncement of an angry, retributive judge, but the pain of a loving father as he informs his beloved, wayward child of the consequences of his own choice to turn away from the divine word of admonishment rather than run and embrace life-preserving rebuke?   Was there someone to stand in the gap and intercede for Elliot Rodger by name?  Would the heart’s desire of a mother for the good of her child be heard by heaven as a prayer?  We don’t know.  There are many prayers of mothers and fathers poured out like blood upon the earth for errant sons and daughters.  I don’t believe those prayers are wasted, even if they fail to appear efficacious for the purpose in which they were sent.

I pray this tragic event is going to spawn more than blame-placing, platitudes or calls for political action, but becomes an impetus for those who seek to be a source of light and hope spreading as the world grows darker and darker. “Purify time.  Each day, find an act of kindness and beauty that belongs to that day alone.”  (Chabad.org)  Yours may be the voice and the hands that roadblock the next tragedy.

May all the Sons and Daughters of the Holy One

gaze into the radiance of the Holy One’s glory this day,

and see themselves as they were created to be.  

(Bill Bullock, aka “the Rabbi’s Son)

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No Prayers for Elliot Rodger? The Serpent Speaks Again: Thoughts on the Tragic Isla Vista Murders

Number one son and I are planning to go out to breakfast with one of his old high school buddies. As he camps out on my bed, furiously texting away, I am so thankful for the mercy and kindness of heaven in protecting him and bringing him home safely to us. May peace and comfort be upon the families and friends of the deceased and injured during this painful time.

English: Halloween revelers on the 6600 block ...

English: Halloween revelers on the 6600 block of Del Playa Drive (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of you may not be aware of the tragic murders in Isla Vista, home to 23,000 UCSB and other local students, that left 7 dead, including the perpetrator.

Let me tell you my story. On Friday morning I was getting my purple peek-a-boo highlights touched up when my son called. He was thinking of coming home for the long holiday weekend because he felt stressed with all the pressure at school and missed his family, his aged and ailing three-legged cocker spaniel, probably having his mom fuss over him and make sure he enjoyed his favorite foods, and perhaps even battles with his younger brother, but had decided against it because a paper was due Tuesday.  I suspect the call was to incite his mother to attempt to convince him otherwise, and mom happily obliged.  “Can’t you work on your paper at home?  I know you’ll have more distractions, but….we can all go out for sushi sometime.”

Around 6:30, with the last train to San Diego leaving in a hour, he called and said he was thinking of coming home anyway, but was concerned about the cost of the round-trip ticket, $100, as it is $20 more if you don’t get it in advance. I urged him to use my credit card to purchase his ticket, and I heard him print it out while we were still talking.   “So, are you going to be hungry, or are you going to eat that revolting, overpriced train fare for dinner?  “Not hungry,” he replied.  “I can’t eat when I’m stressed.”   “Is there anything special you want me to have for you; I can pick up Thai if you like, or whatever you want?”  “Naw,” he breathed.  “We can go out for sushi tomorrow maybe.”  His dad said, “no problem,” to picking son up at the train station 25 minutes away at midnight, and it turned out later because of a delay.

So, at 10:30 on Friday night, I received an anxious call from my son, still on the train, that his roommate had texted him that he had heard there had been multiple deaths and injuries from a drive-by shooter in Isla Vista, where he lives, and all the residents had been ordered to not leave their homes. News and campus officials provided little information, but the campus smart-phone grapevine was flooded with photos and eye-witness accounts as well as speculation and rumor. The roommate heard the many shots fired into the nearby Deli-Mart, one of the many crime scenes. (I discovered later that the roommate also knew the three students stabbed to death at the perpetrator’s Capri apartment.  One of the murder victims had visited the apartment of my son and his roommate not too long ago.)  After hanging up, I immediately set upon a search of what news and social media chatter revealed about the emerging situation.

My son informed me that Thursday night he had been sitting eating a sandwich in the outdoor seating area of the Isla Vista Deli-mart, right where a young man was killed, and he was planning on going to the deli for dinner that evening, had he stayed. He knew the deli owner, and showed me a photo someone sent him of the gunshot hole in the glass at the deli, with the owner in the background. My son told me he had never met the shooter, who was a student at SBCC, not UCSB, but he had seen his car around, as a new, black BMW with blacked out windows would not be the most common vehicle, even with an affluent student body.  My son called it, “an a$$-hole car.”

I was waiting up for my son when he arrived home close to 1 am.  We were both tired, but talked a bit.  I asked if he thought about the fact that IF he had not felt stressed, lonely and anxious and so decided to come home for the weekend, he would have been at the location of one of the shootings at the same time a fellow UCSB student was killed?  It could have been him eating dinner at the deli instead of  riding home on the train?  He recognized that.  I think this event shook him out of his funk.  Well, I can imagine that having a mass murder take place at your seaside university beats shock treatment or hours at the psychologist for therapeutic effect. It puts things into perspective.  How can you worry about finals, getting a job or getting into grad school following graduation and other worries about your future when your colleagues that were sitting next to you in class yesterday have no future on this earth?  Not that I recommend this as a treatment methodology.

I’ve been taking some courses via MOOCs Coursera and edX in the areas of Behavioral Economics and Cognitive Science.  Yes, I understand there are various errors of interpretation, where we can ascribe meaning to events that may not be there.  So, I realize I am attributing my son’s safety to divine protection, and validation that he has a destiny to fulfill on this earth.  Is it just a matter of randomness?  Can matters of life and death be reduced to random chance, as if life is a lottery that one is entered into involuntarily, and time and manner of leaving this life is some sick version of Powerball?  What about the students who aren’t here today?  Were they less valued by a loving Creator?  Or were they victims of randomness?  Do we need to know and understand what is not understandable?  Can we still press forward in our own blurry state, offering light and help where we can with open hands?  “…perhaps since the beginning of Creation, a piece of the world has been waiting for your soul to purify and repair it.  And your soul, from the time it was emanated and conceived, waited above to descend to this world and carry out that mission.  And your footsteps were guided to reach that place.  And you are there now.”  (Tzvi Freeman, “Bringing Heaven Down to Earth)

 

I choose to believe that some things are outside the realm of evidentiary testing.  As Abraham Joshua Heschel famously concluded, “God is not logical or illogical; he is supralogical.”  In disagreement with arguments from both sides of the aisle, I don’t believe the things beyond this earth can be tested by the ways of earth.  They cannot be either proven nor disproved.  While atheists make the false assumption that what cannot be tested is assumed false and the burden to provide a preponderance of evidence is upon their opponents, believers also make the false assumption that what cannot be examined should be deemed true by virtue of emotional experience or pseudo-science.  Faith and the miraculous are by definition outside the laws of nature.  I do have a problem with those who make testable truth claims, but fail to provide any data or documentation for those claims.  My faith in God does not extend to those who claim to speak for him.  In God I trust; all others pay cash and provide evidence.  I prefer the recognition and wonder of enigma and choose to make peace with ambiguity rather than surrender to the unquestioning embrace of dogma.  “Making sense of everything is not an obligation or even a possibility. Acceptance of mystery is an act not of resignation but humility.” -David Wolpe

So bizarre. Parents worry their kids in university will get too involved in the party scene, not do well in their classes or have difficulty adjusting to life away from home. But I doubt if many stay awake at night in fear they will be murdered. Perhaps we don’t appreciate how thin the line is between this world and the next, and the influence of heaven that protects us, even while we are unaware and unappreciative.

I believe we are living in times like the Days of Noah, when the earth was filled with chamas (violence.) It seems as if the barrier between thinking dark, antisocial thoughts has given way to acting out hatred, jealousy and bitterness in murder.   Usually I don’t prefer the KJV, for a lot of reasons, but here it seems to meet the target: He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.  Rev. 22:11   We’ve grown up in an environment where social constraints place limits on harmful behavior and encourage decency, at least to some extent.  Imagine a world without even a flawed moral foundation limiting the expression of  man’s most depraved passions; a world without boundaries.  Blogger John Parsons opined that a depraved mind was considered literally insane from a spiritual perspective, as persons devoid of conscience are so driven by their passions they are unable to reason ethically.    While we live in a world where a lot of people do some bad things as well as a lot of people do some good things, but only a minuscule few on this planet do truly horrific things.  Think of what it would be like to exist in a space where the numbers are reversed, and humans with any modicum of decency are the ones on the nanoscale.  Imagine a world where men’s hearts are filled to the brim, so full that not a drop can be added, with the most unspeakable evil, and there are neither inner nor outward limitations.

I recall that Alan Dershowitz, in his commentary, “The Genesis of Justice,” concluded that the creator’s decision to destroy most of his creation was a rash and unreasoned act by an immature God that was still learning how to play his God-role, kind of like a 16-year-old who just got his license?  Dershowtiz’s God-who-needs-training wheels would grow wiser from his mistakes, and not put pedal to the metal again.  I am thankful Mr. Dershowitz gave up following his first foray into biblical interpretation, and stuck to law wherein he is gifted.  In contradiction to Dershowitz’s conclusions, I believe Noah’s flood was not only an act of destruction; it was an act of salvation.  The only righteous men and women on earth were protected from both slaughter and corruption at the hands of the masses, and life on earth and the wisdom of heaven was preserved.  Unlike most commentators, I do not conclude that Noah erred in failing to convince one person outside his family to change their ways and redirect their hearts.  We don’t find anywhere in the text where Noah or his family was directed to preach to the masses; only that they were to follow the Creator’s instructions that would lead them to life and a future for themselves and their progeny.

Most of us at times entertain troubling dark thoughts and even times of deep darkness and despair that are endemic to the human condition.  What is it that allows a person to be swallowed up by this darkness, shutting out every hint of light, until one becomes, as this individual proclaimed, “no longer human?”  To be human is to be “b’tselem,” in the image of God.  When one has blotted out this image, one is no longer a man, but a beast, and worse than a beast because the passions of a beast are animated with the corrupted intellect of a human.

I read the killer’s entire 137 page manifesto, which the other members of my family shunned in disgust, because I wanted to understand his thought process, what made him tick. It seems as if he was being given many divine opportunities to choose life, that there were faint hints of light piercing through the darkness of his soul, but he rejected them. He chose death; for himself and others. He could have turned his angst into art, as many angst driven youth have.

Many are attempting to make sense of this tragedy:  Could it have been prevented?  Who can we point a finger at?  Let’s take a look at all the cards being played in this, “blame game.” Access to weapons: guns, knives, car?  Mental illness? A sex-saturated culture?  Inadequate psychiatric treatment?  Poor parenting/family dysfunction? Divorce?  Bullying?  Police, “missing it?” And of course, Hollywood?  A convoluted form of the children’s game, “telephone,” as his mother (1) discovered troubling YouTube videos, reported her concern to a (2) counselor (trainee?) who contacted a (3) mental health hotline that (4) called police that (5) assessed the situation with inadequate information?

This morning my, as my doctor was giving me a shot in my back, he surmised that, “we have a lot of disaffected males.”  I agree.  Many young males have no clear path to manhood in our society.  Their God-given drives to conquer their world and creative powers of sexuality lack the needed strong hands and patient wisdom that provides essential direction.  Lacking a committed father, father figure or positive masculine kinship group, the rootless male turns to his clueless peers, and the soft clay of his heart that yearns for nobility and heroism is shaped by media and popular culture that misdirects his passions and derails his destiny.

Based upon the info I gathered and my gut feeling, I think that despite some of the bad genetic and environmental cards he was dealt, he also failed to appreciate many good things in his life, and I believe this ingratitude was a dark curtain he drew around himself, increasingly shutting out perception and appreciation of all that is light and good.  He had a mother who loved him unconditionally, a grandmother and other relatives who doted on him, a younger brother who looked up to him, friends who stuck by him until they couldn’t, intelligence, talent and a comfortable living despite his parent’s divorce and father’s financial downturn. I believe he made many choices in the direction of the dark side, and found himself imprisoned there.   However, the way of darkness continually entices all of us in thought and behavior, and some succumb completely. Can’t say I understand it.  Grace and hope were always there, and he refused them.  God’s mercy always provides an escape route; but we can refuse that turn-off from the highway to destruction.”Everything is in the hand of heaven except the fear of heaven.” (Berakhot 33b)

Many surmise that some mechanism of perverse voyeurism is the gravitational force that allures people (including myself) to seek to gather information, scrutinize detail and draw our own conclusions when these sorts of apparent anomalies invade our space and consciousness.  We know the adage, “If it bleeds, it leads,” but few have questioned why?  I have some non-standard thoughts on this.  With the first biblically recorded murder, we learned, “the voice of your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.”  Blood has a voice.  That voice cries out to heaven, and perhaps we hear it, and it troubles us.  That voice not only cries out for justice; the, “kol dam,” cries out, “why?”

Rabbi David Fohrman’s book, “The Beast the Crouches at the Door,” has a chapter entitled, “Blood on the Ground,” and I would urge everyone to read it, as well as the rest of the book.  Fohrman discusses how Cain is cursed from the land that opened its mouth to receive his brother’s blood, an anguish Cain despaired was too great to bear, “…here you have cast me away from the face of the earth…”  So, here’s my jumping off point from the text:  What if a person who fills their heart with hatred, bitterness, jealousy, along with murderous thoughts and fantasies toward their fellow man finds himself likewise cursed from human fellowship, due to his own behavior and threatening vibes he gives out that he may even be blind to?

As the primordial murder was fueled by jealousy, so these acts of calculated rage were likewise.  And as the inaugural crime was prefaced by a warning and a way out not taken, so, I believe this one was also.  We are fascinated by these things because we are also capable of the same, whether we repress this intuition or seek to comprehend it in all its ramifications.  Should recognition of our own beastly potential terrify us?  I don’t think so.  Elliot Rodger had to climb over many protective fences and destroy additional barriers tall and strong that allowed him entrance to that ever darkening, ever narrowing tunnel.

A local Facebook friend questioned, “I wonder if anyone ever prayed for him?”  I feel in those words the anguish of Cain, and perhaps the greater anguish of their parents, and the unimaginable pain of the one who breathed into him the breath of life.  One problem we have when we read scripture is that we may not hear the tone of voice.  What if the divine voice was not the pronouncement of an angry, retributive judge, but the pain of a loving father as he informs his beloved, wayward child of the consequences of his own choice to turn away from the divine word of admonishment rather than run and embrace life-preserving rebuke?   Was there someone to stand in the gap and intercede for Elliot Rodger by name?  Would the heart’s desire of a mother for the good of her child be heard by heaven as a prayer?  We don’t know.  There are many prayers of mothers and fathers poured out like blood upon the earth for errant sons and daughters.  I don’t believe those prayers are wasted, even if they fail to appear efficacious for the purpose in which they were sent.

I pray this tragic event is going to spawn more than blame-placing, platitudes or calls for political action, but becomes an impetus for those who seek to be a source of light and hope spreading as the world grows darker and darker. “Purify time.  Each day, find an act of kindness and beauty that belongs to that day alone.”  (Chabad.org)  Yours may be the voice and the hands that roadblock the next tragedy.

May all the Sons and Daughters of the Holy One

gaze into the radiance of the Holy One’s glory this day,

and see themselves as they were created to be.  

(Bill Bullock, aka “the Rabbi’s Son)

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Keep the Door Open for Elijah

I recently came across an article on Tablet that was written in 2012 by then 20-year-old Avital Chizhuk entitled, “Passover’s Perennial No-Show.”  She discussed how her anticipation of Elijah’s entry during the appointed time during the seder turned to resignation as he appeared to miss his cue year after year.  This touched me, as in my childhood I experienced the same hope that Elijah might actually walk through that door and sit down and eat his dinner at the place we set for him, and drink the awful, syrupy Manischewitz wine we carefully poured into his kiddush cup.

Passover @ Poppy's 2006

Passover @ Poppy’s 2006 (Photo credit: joshbousel)

But for me, this no-show wasn’t a source of angst or even contemplation.  It was more like a kid who realizes Santa isn’t real, but that dawning revelation is not a source of theological questioning or personal despair.  Her family left the plate and filled cup on the table overnight – just in case – while I believe we cleared ours following the meal.  This must have been like leaving out milk and cookies for Santa, except the author’s dad did not dump the wine in the sink and return the empty glass to the table surreptitiously while the children were sleeping as evidence of the prophet’s secretive visit.

The author was young, and so I don’t fault her for absorbing the mindset of her colleagues.  I suspect she was quite enamored with the cynical rationalistic philosophy of her generation and engaged in the black and white thinking common among college students.  It was not only Elijah the missing guest, but frequent false messianic dreams of her hopeful relatives that disappointed.  She learned to say, “Jerusalem,” with the same faraway look in her eyes as her ancestors had, yet failed to recognize that Jerusalem is now in our hands, and we may choose to live within her gates if we desire; something our ancestors held onto by faith, but would never realize within their lifetime.  The author was amused at her naive, youthful faith, which has now taken a beating in light of a perusal of the historical and present suffering of our people and other peoples.  One day the question, “How can there be a loving God when there is so much darkness in the world,” may be replaced by, “Why is there still any light and hope within us in the midst of the darkness?”  If the author dug a bit deeper, she would see the great depth of faith and future hope that emerged from even the greatest times of degradation, persecution and pain.  Too bad that her elders are no longer talking of Elijah or spiritual truth, but only can offer tidbits of anecdotes and political discourse for her to join into.  Perhaps that is one of the curses of a time of relative freedom and prosperity, along with the delusion that such times will continue.

I noticed one commenter mentioned a family tradition, of when the door was opened for Elijah, the family would all go outside and invite in any passing strangers to join them in their meal, which led to some interesting times, and the understanding that this was a day to say, “Come and eat.”  We live in a suburban sort of cul-de-sac, and I doubt there are many passing strangers.  But you never know, some dog walker minding their own business could get invited to enjoy my exquisite cooking, our rivaling siblings and mentally challenged three-legged cocker spaniel, and as well we shun Manischewitz for higher end and more drinkable kosher Israeli vine offerings.  I offered my own comment.  “Perhaps Elijah has come and you failed to see him, hear him or recognize him. The prophet Malachi promised to send us Elijah the prophet before (in anticipation of) the great and awesome day of The Holy One, and he would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers, so that the land would not be cursed with destruction.”  I believe we are seeing the hearts of the fathers turned to us; their hope, faith, wisdom is no longer a dusty tome that we cannot decipher, but our eyes are being opened and their hearts are turned to us as their voice becomes accessible to us.  As the hearts of the fathers, those living and deceased turn to the children, we, the children turn to the fathers.  This must happen lest the land be destroyed with a curse; this must precede the day of deliverance and reckoning.

This is what the Holy One is saying to us: “Stop at the crossroads where you find yourself now and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel that path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’  Jer. 6:16

 

Listen:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra4HWj1jrJA

 

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Treatment for crazy screenplay: warning – rated PG-13

Number 2 ... History made as Iran agrees with ...

Number 2 … History made as Iran agrees with world powers to freeze nuclear program (24 November 2013) — The gang’s all here …item 2b.. The Twilight Zone – To Serve Man … (Photo credit: marsmet549)

Holy Shit

Synopsis:  Monty Python meets Indiana Jones meets Sideways meets schlock – also borrowing from the story of Mohammed, but don’t tell anyone :)

taglines:  Sideways Meets Schlock; Wine, Song and Shit; Love, Peace and Free Stuff;

 

Warning:  If the title offends you, please don’t read any further.  This screenplay would likely be rated PG-13.

 

Javid Shahzad is a 21 year-old UCLA engineering student, US born son of Iranian secular Muslims who fled Iran in 1979.  They had to leave because his dad was in the liquor import business, supplying all the alcohol for palace functions and was a friend of the royal family, and his mother was a popular  (now considered immodest and despised) model/actress, and they knew their lives would be threatened under the new regime.  His dad is in management at the Beverly Hills Hilton, where Javid works part-time as a waiter.  His mother is a saleslady in cosmetics at Neiman Marcus, Beverly Hills.

Javid doesn’t want to study engineering (of which he is failing his classes and his family doesn’t know) and follow in the footsteps of his older brother, a successful engineer.  He wants to be an actor, which his mother secretly nurtures, but the rest of the family finds shameful.  Javid is not a good actor, but he is breathtakingly handsome, so he sweet talks his way into a bit part in a community production of Fiddler on the Roof.

Javid means “eternal,” in Farsi and Shahzad means, “prince, son of the king.”  Everything is going badly for Javid.  Already on probation for his failing grades, he gets kicked out of college, his Valley Girl blonde, surfer girlfriend dumps him because his parents have cut off the money due to his flunking out.  He has to leave his dorm with no money and no place to go.  He is starting to become unglued.  His friends reject him due to his increasingly troubled behavior.  He is ashamed to move back home.

He packs up his meager belongings in his slightly beat up Honda and heads to work.  This shift he is working a Passover Seder dinner at the Hilton.  A beautiful cougar, slightly inebriated from the 4 glasses of Passover wine, gets lost on the way to the restroom and finds Javid crying alone in the breakroom.  She takes him back to her room, wines him and dines him (all kosher for Pesach, of course).  No, they don’t consummate their relationship at this point.  They sings songs from Fiddler on the Roof together and she tenderly cradles him as he drifts off to sleep, singing, “Sunrise, Sunset” to him, lullabye style.

Javid falls asleep in her chaste embrace, but awakens in the middle of the night to a divine visitation, or a psychotic break, however you want to view it. While he is dizzy and has an awful hangover headache and goes into the bathroom, and then in an attempt to feel better  settles down to a jacuzzi bath, he is met by a divine being named, Teyve, who looks like the male lead in the community production, who heals Javid of his hangover and tells Javid that he has been divinely selected and called for a purpose.  He is to bring peace to the world and lead his people to the promised land.  He is to institute a new religion that teaches love, peace, and a ritual of drinking 4 glasses of  very  expensive boutique kosher Israeli wine -  Domaine du Castel, my favorite Israeli wine (the wine used for the seder and also ordered from room service) – and their liturgy is singing the soundtrack of Fiddler.  He is given three charges by the visitation: to recover the Holy Shit (1) and build his Tevya’s holy city of  CACA, (2) and to get Domaine du Castel to produce a 100 point wine. (3)  Mecca in Arabic is Makka, which rhymes with Caca.

If he builds it (the city),  if he possesses it (the holy shit) if he produces it (the 100 point wine) they will come.  (the characters from Fiddler on the Roof will come to life to usher in this new era and teach the world to sing in perfect harmony – “If I were a Rich Man,” of course.)

Javid goes outside for a cigarette to clear his head.  He walks down to the pool area wearing only a towel around his waist.  He really looks like a mess, so security mistakes him for a homeless guy that has been crashing in empty hotel rooms.  They give chase, and Javid runs.  This is one of those crazy chase scenes that every film needs.  Javid bursts into another late night seder just as they are opening the door for Elijah.  The surprised Sephardic seder group of mostly Iranian Jews (which everyone knows doesn’t start until 9 pm and goes all night) welcomes and embraces him as one of their own as he shares his visitation excitedly in Farsi.  The group continues their celebration, quickly sets a place for him on the floor where they are dining according to custom, and proffer him with native foods that Javid scarfs down. They protect him from the security.  He spends some time with the group, and then returns to his own room.

He wakes his cougar, 36-year-old wealthy divorcee, Beverly Hills therapist  Marsha Weiner-Kady.  He shares his experience and wonders if he is crazy or she slipped something in the wine.  She assures him that he is not crazy.  She becomes his first follower and promises to bankroll his project with her generous divorce settlement, selling her jewelry if necessary.  They go down to breakfast and Javid picks up a copy of Archeology Today.  Flipping through, he reads that remnants of an ancient camp with pieces of cooking pots, weapons, wineskins and an ancient latrine replete with fossilized feces has been uncovered in Sinai, dating back to the journey of the Children Of Israel across the desert.  The items are on their way for inspection at a lab for further research, with the intention of placing them in a museum.

Javid realizes that this is what the divine visitation is about.  He and his followers (which are some of Marsha’s bored trophy wife and celebrity clients and friends along with undocumented workers staffing the Hilton,) plan to steal the Holy shit and other items to make them the center of their ritual in the City of CACA that they are to build on the UCLA campus, which will bring the characters of Fiddler on the Roof back to life (who never existed except in the mind of writer Shalom Aleichem) who will come to earth to end war, poverty, suffering of all kinds, as everyone will drink 100 point Israeli boutique kosher wine which will be imbued with magical qualities as they rejoice with the cast in their city, and bring on the dawn of a new era. Now no Israeli wine has earned 100 points, and perhaps the highest was Domain du Castel won 94 points one year, I think.  But that won’t stop them.  They Holy Shit is located in a dig in terrorist and opportunist strewn Sinai, but that won’t stop them either.  UCLA is not so thrilled about their city being built on the campus, but can be persuaded via $$$$$ to allow the Caca-ites to build The Javid Shahzad & Marsha Weiner-Cady Center for Artists of Creative Anarchy (CACA) (an artistic wonder like a Taj Mahal) on campus and endow a scholarship fund for flunking engineering students that would prefer the arts to the dismay of their families.

Javid’s older sister Maryam, who saved his life when he managed to get the gate open and fall into the family pool as a toddler, is a psychiatric resident at UCLA, and convinced her brother is mentally ill,  attempts to have him receive treatment against his will.

Despite the efforts of Marsha’s dad’s legal team, his sister ends up convincing the family to falsify information in order to force him into treatment and medication.  They produce statements that claim Javid is a threat to himself and others.  Following treatment and medication, Javid’s visitations from Tevye disappear.  He no longer believes in his divine mission.  Now he has no purpose nor will to live.  He explains all this sadly to Marsha when she is sneaked in to visit him by bribing the staff of the exclusive, private hospital where he has been held.  Marsha proposes marriage to him, as once they are married, she will be able to remove him from the authority of his family.  Javid is incredulous that she would still want him, yet agrees. But the family has gotten a conservatorship of Javid, preventing him from marrying without permission.  Javid wonders why Marsha would still want him, still believe in him after he has now “lost faith.”  But she hasn’t lost faith in him and neither have his followers lost faith either in him or his message.  And Marsha’s dad owns a large, respected Beverly Hills law firm to fight the conservatorship.  The group manages to smuggle Javid out.  Javid is brought to the newly built CACA Center at UCLA, where it is decked out to celebrate their marriage.  The 100 point, award-winning wine (number one with both Wine Spectator and Robert Parker) is passed around to guests and for the reception, the group has managed to bring the entire original New York cast of Fiddler to provide the entertainment. While it took miraculous intervention 2,000 years ago at the Cana wedding when Jesus turned water into wine (and some really good stuff it is reported), it is no less a divine miracle for a small boutique winery to produce bottomless vats of a 100 point wine. The Holy Shit is encased in crystal and sits in the middle of the reception room.

 

Drawn by the free wine, food and entertainment, all sorts of groups that don’t get along:  the Bloods and Crips, Conservative and Liberals, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups, Nation of Islam and White Supremicists, Atheists and believers, Calvinists and Armenians, proponents of red horseradish served with gefilte fish and those who prefer white chrain, and even people who drink Two-Buck Chuck instead of the good stuff. These disparate groups disagree on so much, but one thing they can agree on – free.  The UCLA Awakening becomes the Party Heard Round the World.  Copycat parties spread to other college campuses and spread further quickly via social media, springing up world wide.  The theater company goes on tour with the Holy Shit and free wine is provided.  This sparks a worldwide revival called WSS – Wine, Shit and Song.

Although the family had been estranged, they are reconciled for the bris of David, the couples’ firstborn son and the first grandchild for both sides of the family.  Marsha is a spoiled, petted, only child.  After many glasses of wine, Maryam and some of the female family members on both sides decide they need to get some air, and the out of town guests want to visit Rodeo Drive.  One of the Persian guests plays a traditional song on her ipad, and they teach the others a traditional Persian dance on the street as passersby stare,  Maryam leading, past the exclusive stores of Rodeo and to the amazement of onlookers, who are welcomed to join in.  The jacuzzi where Javid had his original vision becomes a shrine, leading to a whole cottage industry that revitalizes the seedier areas of L.A.  Beverly Hills is renamed Caca Hills, Bel Air = Caca Air The Hollywood sign becomes the Cacawood sign…Brentwood, Westwood – all the -woods become incorporated into Cacawood.   Marina del Rey = Caca del Rey. Sunset Strip becomes Caca Strip, etc.

 

This is a work in progress.  Thoughts?  Note:  I only took one class in screenplay writing and wasn’t even able to complete the class or screenplay.  I realized that script writing is highly visual, and I am not a visual thinker, so would really need a visual thinker and one who is good at the structure to help.  I think I am good at generating ideas and dialogue, and I am an auditory thinker.

 

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Your Worldview Comes Home With Lipstick on its Collar

If a woman loves and trusts her husband and assumes the sentiments are mutual, what does she do when he arrives home with lipstick on his collar?  I suspect she attempts to find any other reason than the most obvious one to explain this perplexing and surprising situation.  Think Occam’s razor; if there are multiple explanations, the simplest is nearly always correct.  But the easiest thing to do is ignore the lipstick.  Doesn’t the greasy imprint look more like blood that might have arrived via shaving accident?  Of course.  What is there to be upset about?

Lipstick on Your Collar (song)

Lipstick on Your Collar (song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Back in middle school, I was required to take an art class. Now most people would enjoy an art class as a break from more academic fare, but not me.  I am untalented at art, and that is not false humility; that is perhaps putting it nicely; I don’t even do crafts.  We had an assignment, and thankfully there was the option of doing a drawing or a decoupage, which doesn’t demand much artistic ability.  We were given a stack of magazines to cut out pictures for our decoupage.  After we finished, the instructor informed us that you could tell something about yourself by the pictures chosen for the decoupage.  I had chosen photos mostly of faces, but also of nature.  The teacher walked around to view our progress.  “So, what does my piece say about me?” I questioned.  “Well, see, you have beautiful faces and beautiful scenery; you are saying, “People are beautiful and the world is beautiful.”  I’m not sure I meant that.  Maybe that was just what the magazines I picked were full of.  Anyway, that was then, this is now.

 

This story caused me to think about the topics I choose to write about.  Mostly I enjoy writing humor and satire, and I even turn unfunny topics into parody also.  So what does this say about me?  I think it reveals that I see the world, people and institutions as absurd.  This is especially true of those who fail to see their absurdities. Now this is true for existence under the sun, as Solomon in his wisdom said was empty and temporal, like what is blown away by the power of a breath, flimsy and weak.  But there is a life and a world beyond this one that is eternal, and it is not even within our imaginings.

 

It occurred to me that is has been almost 40 years since I became a follower of Yeshua, right around the time I started community college just before I turned 17.  What a ride it has been, 40 years in the desert, stopping at an oasis here and there and falling into a snake pit here and there and everything in between, moving on with the cloud and sometimes not, and perhaps getting off course at times.  I can look back upon all these years and those before them and know that everything has a useful purpose, and all things will work together for good.  I always tell people that it is useless and a waste of energy to go down the road of, “What if?”  It is like sending good money after bad.  We need to conserve our energy for the present and future, not regret the road not taken, as we could never know how that one would have turned out either.

 

In some ways, the world of the various camps of faith I have been a part of whether for short or long periods were a positive influence in my life:  the friendships, the kindness, the help and support, the belonging, the meaning and purpose.  It helped me to feel valuable, gain some confidence, conquer some childhood wounds or at least survive with them.  But in some ways it has been negative: the overt or covert pressure for conformity and loyalty; the negation of my natural bent to creative thinking and scrutinizing questions and the safe world becoming a guilded cage.  Now, I admit I might have not survived without it.  At 16, I was a dysfunctional mess.  The cage provided protection.  I’ve often felt something was wrong, but couldn’t put my finger on it.  People say the Body of Messiah/Christ is like a family.  Well, if it is, it sure is one freaking dysfunctional family.  I grew up in a dysfunctional family and I had no say in the matter; why do I want to voluntarily choose to join another dysfunctional family?  Ah, the lure is that this family is not dysfunctional.  But that is a lie that gets uncovered gradually, and perhaps we refuse to acknowledge the extent of the dysfunction, and by the time you begin to notice the spots and blemishes are much bigger than you thought, you are already in, and so tend to minimize and disregard much of what you see.  But maybe that is also part of the attraction, in that we seek out and bond with what is familiar.

I thought my mother was crazy or just the self-deception appeared crazy as she insisted, “It says that if you fight a lot, it means you have a good marriage.  We fight a lot – so it means we have a good marriage.”  I believe she read an article in a women’s magazine (not exactly a paragon of peer reviewed research) surmising that healthy marriages allowed disagreement, conflict and open discussion of differences instead of the “don’t go there,” more characteristic of shaky relationships.  I doubt even a psychobabbler “expert,” would claim that long, daily, profanity filled, degrading screaming matches were evidence of a healthy, positive relationship.  But then I did the same thing in my denial of the sickness of the religious world and the self-deceiving lies it told.

As we are coming up upon Passover, it is time to remove the leaven, or the leaven will envelop us and we will be no bread; only leaven.  It is interesting that I hear word of groups and movements that I have been a part of in the past.  We had some leaven back then.  But now the leaven has reached a whole new level; the little leaven has leavened the whole lump.  No one removed the leaven and if anyone spoke of the leaven, it was in whispers.  We are given a divine opportunity to clear out the leaven, and if we choose not to, we will be removed.  Our feasts and offerings will not be accepted and will be a stench in the nostrils of the Holy One, as it was with our idolatrous and hardhearted forefathers.  May this season be one of cleaning out the old leaven and preparing ourselves to then consume the bread of life, before it is too late.  If you think in the puffyness of your leaven that you are untouchable, beware, your candle will be removed.

I remember how my grandmother cooked without recipes; in fact, she shunned the idea of a recipe as something for amateurs, akin to riding a bike with training wheels.  You don’t fall over, but you don’t get very far or go very fast, and it isn’t much fun.  She just knew the food was right by taste and by feel.  Everything was made from scratch, and she had no use for modern women who leaned on conveniences, “Can she open up a can, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?”  She delighted in revealing to me that her daughters-in-law couldn’t boil water as newlyweds, and that my mother hadn’t progressed much beyond that state.

So, perhaps religious structures are like recipes, for those who don’t have anyone who knows anything to teach them and would just end up crying with a fallen mush of cake, as my grandmother noted the inexperienced ladies in our family were prone to do.  Last time I looked, nobody died from a collapsed dessert.

 

It is the glory of the Holy One to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search out a matter.  It must be the role of religion and its leaders to block or limit the seeking.

 

In the past year, I have flipped though some books that I accepted as good and true without question in the past, and now I see subtle misleading, flagrant error and even fraud.  The same is true with teachers and teachings.  Cognitive dissonance kept me from seeing this, and many other things.  One class I am taking asked the question:  Which is better?  1)  Ignorance is bliss.  2)  The unexamined life is not worth living.  Hmm, I think it might depend on what stage of life one is at.  When I was a mixed up teen, or when I was a mother of small children, the priority was that I needed help and support that presupposed a common belief system and behavioral structure.  At the time, I did not need to parse details and question; I  needed assistance.  Following the assassination attempt on President Reagan, it was reported he quipped to surgeons working furiously to save his life, “Well, I hope you are all Republicans.”  “Today, Mr. President, we are all Republicans,” answered one of the surgeons.  And for that day, I had to be whatever it took.  But sometimes it doesn’t feel so benign, such as one lady who admitted to me that she married her older, well-heeled husband to provide a better life for her daughter.  Not that she disliked the guy or was unhappy with him, and she had a kid with him too, but she wouldn’t have pursued a relationship with him if she didn’t have both a child and lack of adequate funds to raise her as she desired.  We do what we have to do, and by doing so, we convince ourselves we have done the right and good thing.

We are told that thousands of messages come at us daily and it is impossible to examine them all. So cognitive shortcuts cause us to accept those messages that already agree with our own, discard what is considered useless or in contradiction to our beliefs, and if we have time and emotional energy, we might put a few things aside for examination.

 

With all the positives, I’ve realized that the world of formal religion is toxic for me and will quash my gifts and derail me from my divine destiny.  Self-censorship is rooted in fear, even if it is unrecognized.  Who can fault people who are kind, loving, caring, sacrificial and helpful?  It is subtle, and even though no one says anything negative, I believe I need to seek out kindred spirits, not just those who I share common values and beliefs with, but those who get me and can affirm and release me for the purpose I was put on this earth.  And if I don’t have these people in  my life to push me forward, at least there won’t be anyone to hold me back.  Sure, some camps are better than others and some are worse.  But they are all the same, whatever the brand or rhetoric to the contrary.  Resistance is futile; you will be absorbed.  You might not even know it.  This is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and it syncs with what we know of human behavior and cognitive science.  We will see what we desire to see and be blind to what we do not wish to see.  Once we make a decision, we will likely view it favorably.  Most people don’t have the time and energy to question their worldview with the same scrutiny and effort they would put into buying a car.  Once in, the people we associate with and media we consume reinforce our worldview and close off considering otherwise.  Plus, fear is added to shut off relationships that might test unproven or disproven theories spouted as truth.  And there are other cages and windowless boxes besides the religious ones.  King David said three thousand years ago that all men are liars.  Do you think anything has changed since?

 

There is a story.  An observant Jewish man decides to forgo the long fast and longer services on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.  After the family has left for synagogue, he tells them he will be along shortly.  Then he gets in his car and goes to a drive-thru where he picks up an Egg McMuffin.  After enjoying breakfast and finishing his coffee, he heads over to a golf course, which is unusually empty as this is a mostly Jewish neighborhood.  God looks down from heaven, and his angels join in the spectacle.  The man puts the ball down and takes his first shot.  He hits a terrible shot and it lands in the water.  The man is dejected.  But then, the ball pops out of the trap and careens straight to a hole-in-one.  Now the angels are perplexed.  “You see what he is doing, flagrantly violating the holiest day of the year, eating tref, driving and now golf.  Why did you reward him?”  God answers, “So, who can he tell?”

 

Now I haven’t done anything really bad, or willingly violated precepts of torah, the teachings of Yeshua or the law of the land.  Well, perhaps the law of the land on occasion, especially when it comes to driving, as my kids will tell you.  Comedy driving school was so much fun; at the first meeting, we all went around and gave our names and what caused us to end up in the class.  “My name is John and I was caught driving 45 miles an hour in a 25 mile an hour zone,” was topped by, “My name is Susie and I was driving 70 miles per hour in a 25 zone and I ran a red light and made an illegal U-turn.”  It felt like a 12-Step Group, except we were all proud of our exploits.

But I have thrown off the weight of expectations of religious systems, including those designed to keep women in their place. Please don’t give me that crap about how you have freed women and this is not so; you know it is.  Yeshua treated women as equals; you don’t. I read about one MessyWorld group that states that they have no women on their Beit Din (religious court) due to the fact that even discussion of the matter created such rancor, despite the fact that Deborah was a judge and a military advisor, so you can’t argue she only dealt with women’s issues. According to scripture (the real meaning, not your biased, agenda driven translations) a woman can do anything except act as a priest in the mishkan (tabernacle) and not all men can do that either, only those born to this task.  I’ve dumped a lot of doctrine and a lot of don’t touch, taste, handle – this or that person or this or that idea.  However, I do feel like the guy who made the unexpected shot.  I want to tell someone.  I don’t want to keep things to myself that others might not understand or find threatening to their neat and tidy place.  I am not criticizing their place; perhaps it is where they need to be right now and I have no business interfering.  There were times I needed to be blind, because this blindness allowed me to be where I needed to be at the time, both for my well-being and that of others in my sphere of interaction.

 

One thing is that I know the history of my people.  Many don’t.  They accept a reconstructed and whitewashed history without question, and all they might need is a basic history book to sort this out.  I believe people need to know their history, and the history (however dark) of the things they believe and live by.  Some are so sincere.  History is not destiny, but I believe it can be if left unscrutinized.  Once you know your history you can decide what to reclaim and what to discard.

 

I was all prepared to go out alone into the desert, the bear his shame outside the camp, even though I didn’t relish the idea, but I didn’t see any other choice. One problem is that many see the problems of their particular camp, and then jump from the protection of one camp to the safety and security of another.  Part of the self-deception is to exaggerate the problems of camp A and ignore its positive qualities, while ignoring the flaws of camp B and overreaching its good.  But we who are used to the camp feel exposed, almost like we are unclothed, when we are outside the camp.  Have you ever had a dream where you found yourself in public in some stage of undress?  Most of us have, and it suggests our discomfort and fear of embarrassment of someone discovering that we are not who we think we are or present ourselves to be.  I’ve learned that the greatest talents even fear being a failure and being exposed as not up to standards, or not up to snuff any longer.  So, being outside the camp is like those dreams of public nakedness.  Camp members provide a shield while they shoot arrows at their competitors, but if one is outside the camp, all you will get is arrows shot at you from all sides with no cover.  However, this campless state is useful, as one learns to duck, run and develop tougher skin and greater faith.  He who trusts in princes is a fool, while he who trusts in the Holy One will be kept safe.  When we need less, we can love more, and love in truth.

Then this disparate group of ladies welcomed me into what I now call, “The Panera Five.”  We meet every Tuesday morning over coffee, with no plan, no agenda and no leadership.  We discuss whatever we like, laugh a lot and nothing is out of bounds, including stuff and people we are upset about, crazy, outside the box ideas we have and occasional bad words.  I remember when C. first invited me, I asked, “Well, are they going to say, ‘she must think she knows everything because she is Jewish.’”  “Oh, no,” came the reply.  “We already have someone like that.”  My first experience was rather unusual.  One lady began to share urban legends and conspiracy theories.  I’m sure they didn’t know that one of my pet peeves is urban legends and conspiracy theories and the people that make them go viral without bothering to check them out.  In some instances, this can be slander, as one is sharing something about a person, business or industry that is false.  So, I know it isn’t polite, but I had to speak up.  I did, and then the other lady who also is in the, “know everything,” category validated my words with some of her own.  Its difficult, because I don’t desire to hurt or denigrate a person, but feel it is difficult to just ignore it.  However, I am not in the place of some sort of divine auto-correct application.  When it was time to leave, the person who I corrected with my oh so superior knowledge gave me a big hug and told me how happy she was that I came.  Wow.  That was humbling.  And that was unusual, not expected at all.  I expected this person to be uncomfortable with me.  But I am learning something that you don’t see on social media and in superficial relationships:  There is so much more to a person than this or that thing you know about them and don’t agree with.  It is easy to put someone in a category and then those categories go into a bag and the bag goes in the trash.

 

Last year we went up to L.A. to see the premiere of an Indie film that number two son had a small role in.  There was something about the atmosphere that was electrifying and attractive to me; it was bursting with excitement, thought and creativity.  At the same time, this is a highly immoral world with much deception and dirty dealing.  All memes aside, I am sick of the suburban mommy ghetto.  Being around creativity sparked my own juices and made me feel alive, where a part of me was dead.  But when I was younger, I could never have survived that tough, dangerous world; they would have eaten me alive.  I picked a safer place.  But I no longer want to live a life of quiet, not quite desperation, but not quite fulfillment either.  I don’t want to die with the song still in me.  Just let me release the song, and let it live on after me.

 

When people seek to love God and love each other, who can argue with that?  I certainly wouldn’t think of arguing with these things.  But I need to dump the doctrine, the expectations and the restrictions on being who I am and expressing it openly.  Perhaps at 56 I have finally decided what I want to be when I grow up.  Yes, I am aware that some may seek to hear the right buzzwords to allow them to relax and surmise that I am still, “one of us,” and not, “one of them.”  And those who like me will need to think that I might be a bit eclectic, but have not stepped over the line.  But perhaps I have.  Have I left Yeshua or am I even considering it?  No.  “Will you leave also?”  “No, Master, you have the devarim haolamim, the words of eternal life.

 

I wonder if I will make it to the promised land in my life, if I am worthy, or if I have missed my opportunity, like my ancestors who saw the giants in the land rather than the milk and honey.  If I die in the desert, it will be okay.  I may not merit to enter the land, but my children will enter therein, and my grandchildren will be born there.  This I have been promised.

 

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