Permission to Belong

We have had a long wait.
Let me be weak.
Let me be bewildered.
Let me be prayerful.
Let me be genuinely analytical.

And we have overcome.
Let me be victorious.
Let me be proud.
Let me be jubilant.
Let me be radically liberated.

When I see that we have screwed up,
Let me be embarrassed.
Let me be ashamed.
Let me be infuriated.
Let me be respectfully critical.

We have lost far too many.
Let me be victimized.
Let me be mournful.
Let me be hopeful.
Let me be sorrowfully beautiful.

And I am amongst those we have gained.
Let me be transparent.
Let me be paradoxical.
Let me be outspoken.
Let me be here.

Thank you for reading.

God is

A common core belief amongst people of faith is that God is Good. The very definition of justice, righteousness, kindness. He created this beautiful, incredible, world and grants us life. Things that appear bad happen only for a good reason, and if we just believed hard enough, we would see the good in everything.

The atheist or agnostic retort is so astonishingly obvious that it’s a wonder believers don’t seem bothered by it: So much horrible crap happens in this world. There are innocent people starving to death, abused, neglected, murdered. If there is a God, He must be malevolent, pure sadistic evil.

I believe this dialectical rhetoric is false and allows each side to become frustrated and disengage with the other.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said he likes to call atheists “His Majesty’s royal opposition”, and I think this may be a helpful view for believers to hold. A healthy government needs a healthy opposition. It is important and necessary for the opposition to have an uncensored voice, and for the leaders of both parties to seriously consider each other’s points of view. We don’t only listen to what they have to say, but take their contributions to heart, be willing to change how we see and do things, even though we don’t expect our core belief system to change. The opposition needs to faithfully call out the One in office for corruption, cruelty, injustice, illusory promises, and allowing people to torture and slaughter people in Her name.

Disclosure: I am a theist. This is how I see God:

God is Existence. God is Source.

So yes, God is good. And yes, God is evil.

God is all encompassing.

I believe God to be innately good. God does a lot of bad stuff, because She is constrained in an unnatural form, strained in a world where humans fight each other to death, slaying babies, animals, and Her own essence in Their reckless wake, over ideology and land and money and humanity and God Herself. There is terror and there is a war on terror and all over the world innocent children full of potential having their lives cut short. These creatures also create art and science, because of or in spite of all this waste, and of Her. People are falling in love and babies are being born, and technology is being developed to help the blind see and the deaf hear and humanity learn how to communicate and connect with each other around the world, building things and breaking down the barriers They created.

Breathtaking beauty and mindnumbing ugliness coexist.

He cries when He causes depression, death, and tragedy, and He laughs when He causes joy, love, and life.

She is striving to be only Good, but since God exists in the form of universes full of conscious creatures, with their own independent strivings and ideas, She needs those humans to help Her get back to pure good existence. God needs humans to believe in that potential, that Goodness, to become Her truest Self. Then He as a separate, anthropormophized, appropriated, misused, and mistaken entity will cease to exist and Humanity will recognize who God as He has always known We could and should be.

If you believe in or are wondering about a God, how do you see Her? If not, has the possibility of His existence ever had an effect on your thoughts and outlook on the world?

Lost Love

What if it had been two fathers who brought the baby to king Solomon?

What if the mother was known to both the fathers who’d loved her?
What if DNA tests were fruitless because the two fathers had more DNA in common with eachother than they had with some of their respective brothers?
What if the mother was lost in another realm and hadn’t been heard from in thousands of years?
What if both fathers were willing to do anything for their lover and their baby, even murder the other?
Would King Solomon, in his infinite wisdom, have said cut the baby in half?

Let’s play this out.

(This is just one, unfortunately gloomy, possible scenario. If you have another idea, whether gloomy or cheerful please share!)

Assuming neither father succeeds in killing the king, his majesty cuts the baby in half.
Each father gets his half. It doesn’t even matter who gets the brain, the heart, the spinal cord, because those are all now lifeless messes of tissue.
He cradles what was, moments ago, his precious tiny bleeding infant, and carries her home to bury her.
Each father forever mourns the loss of his beautiful daughter that was full of so much potential, forever seeks revenge against both the other father and the king who made this happen. Neither will ever see her grow into a curious, unstoppable toddler, a daredevil, intelligent schoolchild, a productive, aspiring, stunning adult with so many gifts to share with the world.

Neither will ever forget her scream as she is split from everyone she loves and the world she wanted to be a part of.

They will both remember their old love, but the memory of her and her promise to return one day may fade and become skewed as it blurs with rage over the loss of the baby they waited for in restless anticipation for nine long months.

They will no longer deem king Solomon righteous, intelligent, and just, and will be suspicious of anyone trying to make some kind of compromise between two parties.

They will do their utmost to avoid each other, creating strong tensions and animosity between anyone who joins their side and anyone who joins the other one’s side.

There will be people who never knew the beautiful lover and they will simply not understand the fathers’ tears and agony and violence over a dead body, cut in two.

My Judaism is

This was inspired by Sarah Tuttle-Singer’s exsquisite post last week.

My Judaism is ancient lyrics with rhythms and melodies gathered across times and places, and an ever expanding ensemble of beautifully in tune and wonderfully out of tune instruments playing together in wacky harmony.

My Judaism is Chasidish electronic dance music and potato chips on Friday afternoons and it is vegetarian shabbat meals because Oneg Shabbat is when your soul and your body feel joyfully nourished and also that way we can have icecream for dessert.

My Judaism is part choice, part inheritance, always a struggle and motivation to grow. My Judaism is searching for meaning in the mundane and making the mundane meaningful.

My Judaism is Klezmer melodies and its heart is rooted in the Middle East. My Judaism is falling in love with a land as I walk barefoot along her green mountain paths, kiss her tired old stones, join the bustling crowd of her market streets.

My Judaism is striving to heed Mordechai’s advice to Esther: our history will continue no matter what you do. Your choice is whether you are written into that history or not.

My Judaism is colourful paper stars in the windows for Hanukkah and clean white tablecloths for Passover. My Judaism is the sweet exhilarating exhaustion of walking home from synagogue early Shavuos morning after learning Torah the whole night. My Judaism is disconnecting from cyberspace and engaging in positive rest for 25 hours each week.

My Judaism is believing true peace and a more perfect world are possible.

My Judaism is a community who delivers and receives boxes of Shabbat food on Thursday nights, quietly, anonymously, lovingly, respectfully.

My Judaism is asking questions and knowing I’ll probably never receive answers that satisfy me but keeping on asking because its about the search.

My Judaism is respecting my elders and trying to learn about my past while I have the opportunity. My Judaism is not rejecting people I love.

My Judaism is appreciating that my soul is returned to me first thing every morning. My Judaism is never giving up hope, expressing gratitude for every moment, and learning something from every person I meet.

My Judaism is not blind adherence to an ancient scroll, but a living, breathing, ever changing adventure, striving to unify past, present, and future, body, mind, and soul.

My Judaism is enraged when my brothers and sisters are killed and even more enraged when my brothers and sisters kill.

My Judaism is not (only) in Heaven, and my Judaism is being concerned about the earth.

My Judaism is taking playing devils advocate to the next level and empathising with my opponent.

My Judaism is learning to be comfortable with ambiguity and my Judaism is a dance between idealistic vulnerability and determined strength..

On The Way

I admire your conviction.

I appreciate that stubbornness, strength of faith, of your single-minded, purity-pursuing soul. Your tidy, assured, resolute way of looking at the perplexities of the universe.

I thought you had it all figured out, and maybe you did, that your confidence was proof that the cessation of doubts and confusion was possible.

But your fear frightens me. Your singularity of thought seems to lead you to believe that those who are wrong are opposed to you.

And that those who are opposed to you are wrong.

And that those who think differently than you are opposed to you.

The distinctions we love to so clearly draw between objective truth and objective falsehood may be better described as blurry lines between fiction and less fiction.

Maybe not. Maybe you are absolutely right.

But maybe you’re partially wrong. Even just a tiny bit wrong, and the tower of perfect trust comes crumbling down.

Walking on a narrow bridge of truth means you are always worried about falling off.

So you build tall walls for security, keeping you safe from falling into the murky, dangerous waters beneath, to the right or to the left of you.

To keep you from seeing them even.

Other people, on their own bridges, or boats, or swimming, or drowning, look up at you, or down at you, in awe, condescension, pity.

Its comfortable and safe and even inspirational to walk the narrow bridge you’ve built forever.

But I’ve been splashing and drowning and earnestly trying to build bridges that keep collapsing for too long.

Maybe there are other ways of getting across.

Maybe its not even across we have to get to.

But the main thing is not to be afraid.