Tag Archives: Judaism

Give Me That Old Time Religion!

10 Jan

This is a conversation about religion. Yikes!

Often, just the mere mention of the word religion will get people to unconsciously straighten their backs and tighten their guts, while waiting for whatever is coming next. For me, I’ve lost count of how many people, once they discover I am Jewish, who want to share with me the simple fact that as soon as I make Jesus Christ my lord and savior I would be welcomed into God’s Kingdom of Heaven. Since Judaism is considerably older than Christianity, by, oh what’s that number, 3,760 years, I’ve often thought of all my dead ancestors and where they wound up after leaving their earthly bodies.

But interestingly I do believe in Jesus. But more about the historical Jesus as described in Reza Aslan’s bestselling book, Zealot. I am also very drawn to the Gnostic Gospels found in Egypt in 1945. Gnosticism being more about humankind’s individual relationship with God than it is about having a strict organized religion, created by men, to control men and women, boys and girls, with fear and damnation.

Even as a little boy in Sunday school, learning bible stories out of the Old Testament, I could not reconcile a loving, creative and merciful God with one who would smote (here is a word you don’t run across too often) you if you by chance angered Him, or for that matter, Her. If this was what organized religion was about, than I didn’t want any part in it. Immediately after my Bar Mitzvah at the age of thirteen, organized religion and I parted ways.

Now does that mean that I am against organized religion for everyone? Of course not. Just because I chafe at the yoke of religious dogma does not mean that that very dogma, and the organization that exposes it, does not bring enormous comfort to those who believe in it. And religion does more than just comfort our souls, it brings structure to our lives. But in my life it is my relationship with God, and God alone, that brings me even more than just comfort and structure; it brings me enormous joy and happiness, unconditional love for ALL my brothers and sisters, and the knowing that God has asked me to fulfill a function while in this body, a purpose so-to-speak, that will benefit all of mankind. I am hoping it is through the words I write.

The opposite of Love is not Hate, it is Fear.

We are all at the beginning of a brand new year. We each have the power to make of this year what we desire. We do it through our thoughts, the choices we make, and how we face and overpower our fears. So please remember this: God gave each of us free choice. He will never interfere. But he does ask two things of us; that we make no decisions by ourselves — and that we always choose wisely. Have a wonderful year.

With Love,

Michael

Am I my Brother’s Keeper?

18 Oct

After Cain kills his brother Abel God asks Cain where is Abel. And Cain replies, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Implying, how should I know. When in fact he did know. He just killed him.

Those five words are probably the most quoted in the bible.

Am I my brother’s keeper? I personally believe so. All men (and women too) are my brothers. We look different. We act different. We speak different languages. We celebrate different cultures. But if we were to remove our outer skin and never spoke, there would be no way to tell us apart. And that’s because we are the same.

And if we are monotheistic, as Judaism, Christianity and Islam are, we believe in one God. We pray to the same deity, although we call him by different names it is the same God. The God of Abraham.

So, if we are all the same, and are our brother’s keeper, why do we hate our brothers and sisters so? Why do we fear them instead of loving them and watching out for their welfare? As God wishes us to do.

We do it because we are afraid. We want to blame others for the things we no longer have control over. We wake up with fear and we lie down at night fearing tomorrow. And knowing how afraid we really are politicians and pundits take advantage of our fears to convince us it’s not us, but THEM. And if we can just eliminate them everything would be alright once again.

They convince us that our president is not one of us. He’s not a Christian he’s a Muslim. He wasn’t born in “our” country. He doesn’t think like we do. What they are really saying is he’s black and we should return to the days when it was accepted belief that blacks were inferior to us. They want us to fight back against the inevitable; we’re going to lose our white Christian America. Get over it. We’ve already lost it in California and lo and behold, nothing has changed.

They convince us that corporations are just like people. When we know they’re not! People have consciences. Corporations do not. Corporations think only short term and they think only of making a profit and to hell with the people of this country or any country for that matter.

They convince us that contrary to the fact we got screwed by the big banks on Wall Street, that we shouldn’t add any new “big” government regulations, practically assuring all of us that we’ll probably get screwed again.

They convince us that even though the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, demanded that their suppliers move their manufacturing to China so that they could offer lower prices to their worldwide customers, it was OK that millions of Americans lost their manufacturing jobs. And what is even more incredible is that the very people who were put out of work – still shop in their stores.

They convince us that we don’t want a government run healthcare system. But those on Medicare (including me) love it, and demand that legislators keep their hands off of it.

Obviously, I did a little venting of my frustrations here. But isn’t it time we put away our fears and began to see and love our brothers and sisters as ourselves? After all, wasn’t it God that wanted us to be our brother’s keeper?

With love,

Michael