Sunday, November 22, 2015
I have created this meditation to help the individual reader ponder the perplexities of their humanity and that they are never really conformed to anything.
Perplexities and Conformity
Calm yourself,let your mind rest,nothing matters right now but you
let your feet become comfortable
close your eyes but only for a time feel connections with everything around you
Now open your eyes and look at your
As you look at your hand look at the lines in your palm how they run into each like meandering streams
Move your eyes up notice the grooves that are your fingerprints see how they look like the hills on maps
Now continue analyzing your hand look at all it's perplexities,think about those perplexities is it a black hand?a white hand?a gay hand?a hand of social change or social oppression?
What is this hand you have is it even really your own?It had to be birthed from someone?Had to passed on from many different peoples with many different peoples with many different lives than the one you live
The very blood that runs through your hand could have experienced slavery,or be that of an oppressor,it could be that of a sweet gentle soul to your grandmother
All these things reside the bad and the good
If your hand holds such diversity why choose to conform?why make your hand of a certain type?Within your hand is many worlds for it came even from stardust than the world you even experience
Something is unique about those lines and grooves we beging with despite being shaped by many worlds,and many generations that hand are your own no lines and grooves hold your uniqueness in a world that calls you to conformity your hand will never will
Let your hand dance celebrate it's perplexities because in a world where everyone chooses to say we are all the same it chooses to be different
Monday, November 16, 2015
Torah Reading:Genesis 28:10-32:3
Haftarah Reading:Hosea 11:7-12:14
"And Jacob went on his way,and the angels of God met him"-Genesis 32:2
This week's Torah portion holds a special significance to me you see if I was to ever choose Judaism and have a Bar Mitzvah this is the portion that would be read.The portion coincides to the day I was born.In my own reading of it I can't help but find many lessons that have been relevant to my own life.Let me celebrate just a few of these lessons:
Some people have messed up families,leaving them is sometimes the best option for both
Jacob had one dysfunctional family.I mean think about it his father almost got sacrificed by his grandfather and neither of them would claim their wives publicly insisting they say were their sisters.His father also played favorites between him and his brother Esau.We could very much say his family was pretty messed up.I came from my own messed up family and followed Jacob's example and fled opening up myself to something new.Sometimes we have to accept that there is such dysfunction in our families and move on.
Visions matter don't get deterred from them
Jacob was a man of vision he had a great vision of a ladder of angels coming down and up from heaven because he is given a great promise in that vision that his posterity would fill all the earth.Jacob never forgot this promise to the point of seeking all his life to have his son Joseph who was in Egyptian captivity.I learn from Jacob that we should not be deterred from the vision we have in life no matter how impossible it might be stick to it.I never thought I would live in Chicago or do the things in life I have done thus far but I did.The impossible is possible just don't get deterred in your own visions no matter what comes your way.
You see your past and future in the waters of life
Water is one of the most basic needs of life it also points you to who you are by your reflection within it and directs you towards those around you because it is something we all need.Jacob reached down to get some water and literally met his future wife there.In water we meet life for without waters we could not have been born.I love water and love to swim as I am tossed by the stream of Lake Michigan I reminded as I am as I meet myself I witness the many drops of community that sustain me rebirthing me all the time to a better self.
Take a stand for what's right
Working years just to marry Rachel the women who loved dealing with a barren paramour only to blessed with a child after much strife he is told by his father-in-law that he cannot leave with the dowry promised to him standing for his vision he leaves his father-law.We should stand up to those things that are just wrong within our society like Islamaphobia or the Mormon Church's stance on gay couples that punish children just because of who their parents naturally love.I stand up in life like Jacob does whenever everyone else seems to be seating down I choose to stand up pointing the wrong committed.We should strive to do this as humanity.
Angels are all around us sometimes we have to fight them but they help us more in the end
Angels played a substantial part in Jacob's life.He envisioned them,even fought them.Like Jacob I recognize the angels of our humanity.Those noble souls that exist that seem to change the fabric of the tapestry of life all around them.These are the people I strive to be,to walk with,learn from and even fight with but in doing so I know my world will be changed around me.I welcome these angels encourage you to welcome them to.
Jacob has been a great teacher in my own life a Rabbi whose lessons are worth learning an individual of great contradictions but full of great promise.A witness to angels and one that struggled with them.In Jacob I do not only see myself in the waters of life but I see all humanity in it's beautiful yet challenging nuances except unlike some of us he chose to believe in his promise.Will you believe in the promises given to you in your own life?
Questions to ponder:
As you look at the parallels I found in Jacobs' life to my own what do you find in your own life that is like your own?
What happens to you when you are near or around water?
Have you noticed the angels present within your own life?
Friday, November 6, 2015
'Spirit-That within us as individuals and communities that guides us towards the next step;not an incorporeal being but a common sense held among an individual or group."-Truths of the Soul,The second truth
"We are all different.There is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being,but we share the same spirit"-Stephen Hawking
As human beings we are all different yet there is something within us that seems to unite us besides just our shared imperfection.I believe that thing that unites us all and prompts us to the next step possibly even in our own evolution is what I define as Spirit.If my belief in The Eternal is the idea that I believe gets us to the next step Spirit is the momentum that makes the impossible happen.Spirit is the catalyst of our humanity when we no not what to do,when we are reaching wits end it is the hope that pulls us through with insight.This principle simply recognizes that our human spirit.This true guide helping us get through all the tough times.It is the presence of The Eternal.This is simple what I define as my principle that produced as we realize we are all one.
Questions to Ponder
Do you recognize the beauty of the Human Spirit within your own life?
What do you think we could all if we worked together?
Let us feel this human spirit as we work together.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Torah Reading:Genesis 23:1-25:18
Haftarah Reading: 1 Kings 1:1-31
In this week's Torah portion called Chayei Sarah meaning"life of Sarah" yet it does not exactly recount her life much at all actually only in passing at times it does discusses Abraham having to bury her,Abraham remarrying and how many children she actually birthed to Abraham but does not exactly talk about her life.One could assume this was a recounting the legacy of Sarah but if it does I think it does a horrible job.It seems to make Sarah look like some kind of item even referring to her as "his dead" not even mentioning her name acknowledging her as an equal to Abraham.For a human being that was asked by her husband to pretend to be his sister,gave her slave Hagar to her husband because she was childless at the time and witnessed being called her husband's sister again with Abimalech.For some reason this portion does not do her justice to watch she endured which at times was very uncalled for her and reduces just to property.The way this parshah brings out as being like a property calls to my mind a great injustice that is going on in Israel right now that is of Agunot or "Chained" women who are forced to stay separated from their husbands unable to be divorced because the husband is the one who approves of the divorce not the rabbinic court.
Some might say that this right held by the husband seems so arcane for our modern times the fact of the matter is it does happen our times.It is a reality though just as much as it is a reality for me in Indonesia to get one hundred lashes from a whip.I can only imagine what some of these women feel eternally attached to a marriage that they do not have a choice to end.Let's just fathom a little bit what these women might go through:
Being not able to on with their lives is pretty depressing forced into a place unable to progress in life not only that if the husband was abusive there is probably even more depression.
Seeing that the Beit Din or Rabbinical court that the husband and wife stands before to discuss the marriage is made up all of men it makes these women a minority in even advocating for themselves.
These women are literally enslaved to the will of their husband the rabbinical court can do things to influence him to do it but in the end it is his decision.The woman becomes property no longer a human being of equal value to all of the human race but a slave to a man that she doesn't even love.This is the most horrible fact to me as the Orthodox pray daily recounting the freedom they have through The Eternal chain their women as such.
Sarah was a woman of valor.She dealt with a husband who would not even claim her as his equal partner in life just the same these men choose to not recognize these women as their equal partners in life.Like Sarah these women have trekked the desert air of emotional despair.I affirm that one day you will be free and no longer chained.Sarah I hear you crying out for these our human sisters may we listen to them help them have strength to find their promised land.
Questions to ponder:
Why do certain societies itemize women turning them into property?
What do you think of this injustice of Agunah is it right?
How will stand for these chained women?
Miriam was a "Women of Valor" within the bible I pray one day these women may be able to sing in freedom with her
Thursday, October 29, 2015
As Shabbat approaches this Friday night I write this poem celebrating what Shabbat means to me as I experience it:
Shamor V'zchor,Remember and Observe.
Remember those freedoms that I had not before under the Tyrant's fists my own escape from the Egypt of my life before.
Observe those rituals that made the freedom I always more than just a dream but a reality,lighting those candles of hope,blessing that wine of joy and breaking that bread that reminds me of the harvest that has come
You Shall rest
Rest from what?there is nothing to rest from our world needs to learn in order to do let my rest be the energy by learning so shall the world be repaired.let my rest be my learning in order to do.
Make it holy
Holiness by action by which it excites within me,strength I had not before,holy by the learning done and the learning acted upon
Bring your servants,your guests,your animals and all
Shabbat is a gift to all given to the Jewish people as a reminder that as six days have passed one stays a seventh calling us to oneness with each other.A communion,A Zion where the lion of boldness lays with the lamb of peace.
Bring us peace,Angels of humanity arise on this day!!!The ruins of the week are gone.Shabbat is here to build the temple of your life again.Rest everyone.L'chai Dodi.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
"The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women.It is about a socialist,anti-family political movement that encourages to leave their husbands,kill their children,practice witchcraft ,destroy capitalism and become lesbians"-Pat Robertson,Founder of the 700 Club,Televangelist
"You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do"-Anne Lamont
Recently in my life I have had a fair bit of trolling from some people that would themselves call themselves Religious fundamentalist.One person even commented on my D'var Torah on Noah that in accepting a notion of The Eternal distinct from people like Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson that I was in fact rejecting the true God of all humanity.It amazes me they had so much arrogance to say that they knew what the true God of all humanity happened to me especially when with that very blog I said my notion of The Eternal may not be everybody.I accepted my own humanity but they seemed ready to judge me.I have to ponder myself sometimes why do people like this choose to stay in a world that they hate many of the people in it.
If you don't know what kind of person I am talking about here is a visual example:
This lady who played in the reality show Trading Spouses on the cable network CMT. She switched places with a woman who described her spirituality as more eclectic for a month.In the video she criticizes the family she stayed with calling them "Darkside","Ungodly" etc.. to her family that she has returned too.The whole time during the show she judged those around her dividing herself from others as a "Christian" yet the person who took her place was kind,loving,and treated people as she wanted to be treated.If you had your choice over who was the saint in this situation who would you choose?I choose the eclectic.This lady like Pat Robertson,The Phelps,and others totally turn me away from their message by their actions alone.
Fundamentalists may not realize but through their actions the very demons that they claim to fight that they themselves have become demonic at times in going against windmills.Paul Tillich the religious philosopher and expounder of process theology laid out three demonic traits of fundamentalism which are guides to help us all understand them.These traits are:
1.Destroys the humble humble honesty of the search for truth
Fundamentalist Faith in it's charge that it has the "The Truth" it tells the person that there is no need to seek anything out anymore but religion in itself is created by human beings so as human creation how can something ever answer to every human need?It just can't happen.A person could argue it is the only one that allows them to connect to the divine but just because it's their prescription doesn't mean it someone' elses not only that while their waving the flag of truths others are too.There is no single truth that unites all humanity at the present moment.
2.It splits the conscience of adherents
You ever wonder why these faith groups are so against culture?against even having associations with a group that opposes them?The answer is simple they want to dictate the conscience of their adherents the ability to think for themselves is taken away entirely.Their members' heads are in the clouds that their basic needs go unanswered stress eating happens,anorexia,etc..are rampant.In seeking the perfection the faith sells human freedom becomes something not even present.The individual loses themselves in the doctrine becoming a tool for the leadership of the group to use at their pleasure even dying for such beliefs.
3.Makes one fanatical because one is forced to suppress truths which they are dimly aware
Fundamentalist beliefs become an escape no matter how much faith a fundamentalist has basic needs that are forgotten to the point of strapping bombs to their chests and shooting others.The truths of equality,liberty,and compassion become totally forgotten.The individual outside becomes the other and not the Thou.
For sometime some would very much term me a Religious fundamentalist and I would say yes I used to be but I have come to believe that even our human beliefs deserve moderation.We should never take things to such an extreme that our world is painted in black and white.Our world is like a rainbow globe in it's diversity.This diversity is beautiful.I would say that the fundamentalist forgets this diversity but i'm here to remind them that we are all one human family on Spaceship Earth no human is better than the other we are all working for a better world just get your head out of the clouds and show compassion towards the other here on Earth.
Questions to ponder:
Why do you think there are fundamentalists?
Does such hate of another even if it's couched in love really healthy for human society?
It's easy to show compassion if you lack in it what might happen if you show some?
Human beings will always be imperfect,nobody's perfect and therefore is no good judge of the other
"When they had not yet retired,and the people of the city,the people of Sodom,surrounded the house,both young and old,the entire populace of the city from every end,and they called to Lot and said to him,"Where are the men who came with you tonight ,Bring them to us ,let us be intimate with them."-Genesis 19:4-5
Torah Reading:Genesis 18:1-22:24
Haftarah Reading:2 Kings 4:1-37
Sodom a city whose names lives in infamy to the point that some cities in America have laws called sodomy that target gay men like myself in England these sodomy laws used to be a capital offense and in some eastern countries now gay sex is punishable by death by these kind of laws very much so that in Indonesia made one of these laws this last week that said anyone caught having would face one hundred lashes with a whip this week.As horrible as these laws the ones who have created such laws cite the story found in this week's Torah Portion as their inspiration behind such laws but was the destruction all about homosexuality?I don't think so nor do I think it had anything with homosexuality whatsoever but everything to do with hospitality.
Hailing from the Southern United States living most of my life in Southwest Louisiana and North Florida I was schooled from an early age in Southern hospitality.I grew up learning that manners matter.My grandmother and my mother both taught me the importance of addressing a person as they were as Yes Ma'am or No Sir in response to who they are also to one in the authority of who they are.What I notice within this section of the portion is that it does not specifically say the men of Sodom wanted to be intimate with Lot's visitors but it does say the people of Sodom wanted to be intimate with them.In fact Enosh the word used means mortals in the collective,Mankind.So could you imagine a guest at someone's house and all of the sudden there is a knock at their door than you find out the whole city they live in wants to "get intimate" with you to the point your guest and you have to escape?Nobody would want that it would be the ultimate act of rudeness and Lot's guests experienced such. Wouldn't you want to do the same?But there was more than this inhospitable act the people than just this.
The inhospitable nature of Sodom really had no bounds the Talmud records:
"Rabbi Judah said they were wicked with their bodies and sinners with their money
A.Tannah taught wicked with their money and sinners with their body and wicked with their money as it is written "Thine eye be wicked against their poor brother"-From Tractate Sanhedrin,Babylonian Talmud
If you think in reading the emphasis on how wicked they were with their bodies had something to do with sex you probably have it on the brain.Actually the Rabbis say within tractate it refers to bloodshed not sodomy and it emphasizes "Their bodies" not the bodies of others.It's amazing where our assumptions go sometimes they could be talking about tattoos or piercings.The rabbis also emphasize another point that being they were not charitable they hoarded up their wealth to themselves.Could it be that what some commentators think of this chapter is about sex but in all actuality it is a metaphor for the inhospitality that greed breeds within individuals?I think so.
It has to be revelation to some that these verses had nothing to do with homosexuality.I know it is but the lesson is easily seen the people of Sodom were a people both unfriendly to themselves doing things to their bodies and bad to their neighbors by showing their greed to them wanting more out of them.Itemizing them not holding the universal perogative of "Love thy neighbor".Let us together strive not to be like the people of Sodom and not give someone one hundred lashes because of who they love but choose to love everyone as equal members of the human family.
Questions to ponder:
How are you inhospitable to another?
Do you see how this was an issue of manners in Sodom not homosexuality?
How can you be more hospitable to another?
We are called to "Love thy Neighbor" may we embrace this Universal Ethic of hospitality.