goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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We ALL Must Rise

This morning my Facebook feed is full of “He Is Risen!” I understand the ritual and passion for this Easter Sunday, but once again, I have a perspective as a Jew attending church with my husband for ten years that may never occur to most of you.

All this declaration of Christ as your Savior appears to be meaningless gibberish for most people. Something they say by rote, without thought. Like my ex-husband who wanted to eat the foods on Jewish holidays but he had no understanding of the symbolism of those foods, many people I know who profess to be Christian are walking a pathway that is full of trimmings but no substance.

I spoke of this at Christmas also. The adoration of Baby Jesus and all the promise He represented goes no further than grabbing presents from under the tree for most people.

I am NOT espousing that someone needs to be strict in their daily observation of religion…ANY religion….in order to be a good person. In fact, with ISIS attacking Muslims who do not believe as they do, with fundamentalist Christians destroying rights and freedoms in this nation, with any ultra-conservative branch of any religion, we see they have very narrow definitions of what is right. That is NOT what Christ taught.

I confuse a lot of people when I say that I am closer to Christ than they are because I practice the same religion that Jesus did.  He observed the rules better than I do but he also broke them from time to time. Most of the time, he broke social conventions and was a dissenter, attracting followers and scaring the establishment. But generally, overall, his message was one of “love one another”. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

The Bible Belt where I lived for over 17 years has a preponderance of Christians who believe that Christ died for their sins, that they are saved. It may be a coincidence that that section of the country overwhelmingly voted for Trump, not necessarily because they liked him, because many did not like things about him. They voted for him because he promised delivery from things they perceive as evil. I believe their training as an obedient flock for their churches lead them to have faith without using any common sense about the promises made.  But their minds, like all good sheep, are befuddled by those promises.  They have not learned the ways to solve problems. They are stuck in a rut of tradition that means there is only one right way. And that includes following the shepherd.

Why am I picking on Christians? I just came from an Easter service where the Praise Band was singing and moving. The congregation, for the most extent, clapped as requested but there was no joy, no smiles. Did the words they learned as children not reach their adult ability to analyze? Are the praises they sing empty words without their hearts.  (In order for you to understand that I feel the same way about Jewish services where everything is in Hebrew, I will let you know that my Haggadah this past Monday’s Seder had limited Hebrew. I wanted the participants at my table to understand the story and the reasoning behind the holiday. To chant in Hebrew when you memorized it as a child and have no idea what the meaning is….has NO meaning.)

People often forget this commandment to love one another applies to everyone, everywhere. Not just people you know. Not just people who live near you. Not just people who speak like you, live like you, worship like you do. All people.

When does the message hit the heart? When does it become part of the soul?  When it does, you will rise.

Walking in the spirit is a pathway by people of any or no practiced religion. It means, simply, loving your neighbor as yourself. The rest is commentary.

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Secular Christianity in America

Believe it or not there are over 300,000 churches in the United States, with affiliation to about 217 different Christian Protestant denominations. While about 60% of people say they attend church each week, the number is really about 20%, thereby showing us the first crack: not walking the walk. After all, the Ten Commandments includes Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness…..in other words, DO NOT LIE.

So, what we have here is a situation where a lot of people claim they are Christian, but in reality do not even attempt to walk the walk. A lot of people claim Jesus as their Savior but few attend church any time other than Christmas and Easter and even then, attendance is not as full as in past decades.

America is no longer a Christian nation. It is a Secular Christian nation.

We have a lot of people storming the stores and knocking down anyone in their way on Black Friday to capture the deals, the better to pile presents under the Christmas tree.  We have people who know one verse and the chorus to Christmas carols but not the subsequent verses nor the story of the origin of the song.  We have a lot of people who have elaborate trees and lighting, not realizing these are traditions that are based in other belief systems. We have millions of people who truly believe the baby Jesus was born with cows looking over Mary’s shoulder and Mary, of course being perfect, did not have labor pains. Oh, they probably never thought of that.

We have people who stuff candy treats into baskets for their kids on Easter.  We have millions of kids who love the Easter Bunny and have no idea that anything else is being celebrated that day.

We have people whose comprehension of their religion is limited to the Sunday School stories they were told when they were little.  They don’t have the time or inclination for any Bible study and might really be amazed to try to reconcile the differences in the gospels if they ever did a side-by-side evaluation.

There are many people who believe there is a war on Christians because over the past few decades there has been a rising awareness that not everyone here in the United States is Christian. There are Jews. There are Muslims, There are Buddhists. There are Jehovah Witnesses. There are Mormons. There are (gasp!) atheists.  And in recognition of those other people, some communities realize that pushing JUST the Christian symbols is not the right thing. And so, Happy Holidays, which has been a saying that has been a part of American culture since the late 1800s, has recently become a nastygram to many. We have some people who believe snowmen on coffee cups are a sign that Corporate America is the Devil…it may be, but red and white decor is not the sign of that. starbucks-xmas-cups

Why are Christians feeling under assault where there is no problem?  I have no idea…maybe an inferiority complex that starts with color and sexual identity and goes on into church attendance and understand Jesus’ teachings.

Okay, who am I to be calling the kettle black right now? I am a secular Jew who has been attending church for 10 years with my Christian husband.  When he asked me if I would go with him I told him I would as long as I was respected. And his response was perfect, “If you are not respected we are in the wrong place.”

In the past 10 years I have attended 4 churches with him. One for 6 months when we were on sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado was my big introduction. There the choir members welcomed us and helped me understand the rituals. I focused on the similarities of the mass and of course, it made sense; Judaism is the root. If any church misses the Jewish root in their practice, they are not practicing anything close to what Jesus did.

The next seven years was in a church in Huntington, West Virginia. There were a few people who were a bit hesitant accepting me, but over a short time they saw I was not there to mock. The priest, when I attended a class, misinterpreted that I would want to be baptized afterwards. I told her learning is part of life, but did not necessarily mean complete acceptance of doctrine.

When we moved to Oregon we started in one church but moved to another because there was a lack of music as well as no real warmth of community. We found it more comfortable with another congregation across town.

So, four different settings. I’ll bet you I pay attention more than many. It is rote to most other congregants.

I have learned enough to be “dangerous”. I have attended about ten different study groups where I have caused lively conversation because my viewpoint is different. I have been told we are all imperfect so I should not expect people to walk the walk all the time.

I don’t expect people to be perfect. But I do expect people who loudly and publicly profess to be Christians to at least be NICE.

In reality, I have met only a few people I feel live their faith. They exhibit true acceptance and understanding of others without imposing their viewpoints on others.

However, I have also been told I am doomed to Hell by more that I care to count. My husband has been pulled aside and told he is responsible for saving my soul.   This is not the message that wins. This is a message that alienates.

And it alienates more than me. It alienates other people who claim to be Christian but just do not do something exactly as someone else thinks they should. And so, people stop attending church.

Numerous studies in this country indicate the biggest reason that Christianity is losing membership, active or passive, are the behavior of the “do it my way or you are doomed” people, most of them fundamentalists.

And many of them do not know the soul of their religion. They can spout chapter and verse but can not find the love.

And so, pass the fruitcake. The eggnog is ready.  Christmas is here.buddha-love

 


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A story within a story and a concept to consider

Years ago my maternal grandfather would preside over the Passover Seder. For hours and hours and hours he would intone the readings and prayers in Hebrew while my cousin Nancy and I would compare the levels in our glasses of diluted wine and water. It was all but a meaningless process and once Grandpa died and my father started to preside, I asked my mom if we could perhaps use another Haggadah.

“Oh no!” she replied with shock that I would suggest such blasphemy. “This is the ONLY one.”

(unsaid) Really, Mom? This wine-stained freebie from the liquor store where we buy the Manischewitz?

I tried again when Dan and Lisa were really young. “Mom,” I pleaded, ” Can I revise the Haggadah to reduce it to 20 minutes so the kids really understand and participate?”

“Oh no!”, she replied. (Repeat with me) “This is the ONLY one!” More wine stained than ever.

So, when Graham and I got married and we decided to host a Seder I told him a bit more emphatically than I needed to that I would be finding one that worked better for us. He didn’t care, of course. There are literally over 1000 versions of the Haggadah, each very much following the prescribed order, as Seder means “order”, and telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

That’s the first story. The second is next:

The story we share at the Seder is not simply what Cecile B. DeMille’s movie with Charlton Heston shows. We talk about what went on in the minds and hearts of the people affected there and then. And then we try to make it into something we can relate to.

IMG_1033I don’t know about you, but I can not relate to working my entire life building the pyramids or other structures.  I’ve done some physical work and I work pretty hard at the food processing business, even when my body hurts, but to FEEL like a slave takes a stretch of imagination. Growing up here in the United States in the 50s, 60s and 70s, my freedoms expanded and my opportunities were ahead, ready for the taking.

And yet, each of us are enslaved to something that we know we would be healthier without. Me, it is easily sugar. Someone else maybe their tobacco. Someone else their wine or beer or pot or whatever. We can identify people in public life enslaved to the concept of power and how that has warped their view of what is healthy.

Once we can recognize that item for ourselves we can begin to think about how it feels to get rid of it. And not by our own choice. That freedom from slavery in Egypt was not desired by many. Afterall, there is some peace found in a routine that is not desired but has no responsibility. To become free means to take on a huge change. And we know most people do not like change.

In the Seders I host I try to get the people attending to recognize their own enslavement and how they (and I) fight the change that provides freedom.

So that’s the second story. And now, to the concept I hope you will consider.

In the news today one of the issues is the brouhaha about transsexual individuals using the public restroom for the sex they feel is their identity. There is so much fear about perverts attacking children.  There is so much condemnation for the wrongness of these people. There is not the loving (supposedly Christian) acceptance that they have a difference we might not understand but can respect.

We also have grave concern, all of us, about ISIS and other terrorist groups and how they seem to be difficult to stop.  It is horrible how a few people continue to flow to those groups from western society here and in the UK. Why? But the more difficult concept for me is the hatred of ALL Muslims based on these extreme groups. The people I hear who are so afraid seem not to recognize that all fundamental ends of all religions have their extreme and narrow definition of what is acceptable and believe all others who profess to practice the same religion but in different ways are NOT that religion. And need to be changed. It is true in Islam. It is true in Judaism. It is true in Christianity. Meanwhile, it seems hate of the others is easier than acceptance of the other.

I wrote a blog a few months ago in answer to a friend about whether I would welcome a Syrian refugee family into my home. You can read it here.  That issue, as well as a myriad of others supporting people who have had incredibly horrible events occur simply because they were both where and how they were are not hard for me.

I merely remember that I was once a slave in Egypt and was delivered out of bondage. It is my modern role to help others who desire to, escape their slavery.freedom


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Momisms

MOM-izm. (noun) A statement presented as a grand truth by your mother, so it must be considered to be reliable and accurate.

I don’t know about you, but I wised up to some of my mother’s momisms pretty early. They just had an otherworldly basis, as if there was no place for them in the reality of the world I lived in. So, it became a bit of a test for me to see if I could knock them down.

A GIRL SHOULD NOT GET MARRIED WHILE SHE IS IN COLLEGE AS SHE WILL NOT FINISH!  My mom worked at a nurse at the local university’s student health center and met a number of young women. Some she “adopted” and I soon had a number of “sisters”. That was cool…the more to love the merrier. But R met A and he was in the Navy heading to JAG school and then to assignment somewhere. Mom was sure R would not graduate, especially when she got pregnant, but sure enough, she walked with her class and then went on to do great things Mom admired. Amazing what you can do when you have a plan.   Later, I got married before I graduated, and finished my bachelor’s degree on time, no problem. In fact, the new location lead to an interesting job opportunity I would never have had if I had not moved.

DIVORCE IS FORBIDDEN! I knew my Aunt E was divorced; THAT was not a secret. The reason was, though.  E and her daughter S lived with my paternal grandparents and other than their rooms being very crowded and messy, nothing was unusual, really. But when my own marriage became emotional stressed I had this wall of forbidden territory I kept bumping against. No  method of trying to reach his head or his heart worked and it wasn’t until my mother came to visit and noticed how rude he was, even to her, she said to me “I don’t know how you can stay with him.”  It was like a ray of sunshine on a dark dreary day. Thanks for changing the Momism, Mom.


NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE! 
Get real Mom. Teach responsibility. (Don’t just leave books out for me to “find” and read.) Teach about not giving yourself away. Teach about birth control. Teach about how magical sex can be if the partner is a person who truly loves you. But also remember to teach that sexual urges are pretty darn normal.  So, yes, I had my early escapade, and shamefully but wisely went to the health center to get my birth control. Hid it in the sweater drawer when I went home for the summer. (Surely there was no need for Mom to go into THAT drawer.) What fools we be, we who try to deceive. Yes, Mom, the pills were mine.  I was being playful, but responsible. And get out of my drawers!!!sweaters

 

THE MAN IS THE BOSS. YOU WILL TAKE CARE OF YOUR HUSBAND AND HE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU. Only problem with that one was he didn’t have the same mom so he didn’t get taught the same lesson. (Of course, if he had had the same mom, we would have been into a different forbidden territory-LOL) A corollary of this was told to my oldest sister who, when she achieved her Masters in Nursing and discussed continuing to get her PhD was told she would emasculate her husband who had been “working” on his PhD for 10 years. My sister did not recognize this was a Momism; she thought it was sage advice, and so, she did not continue her education.  That marriage ended in divorce, because, as I indicated above, I broke the taboo in the family.boss

ADULT CHILDREN SHOULD LIVE NEAR THEIR PARENTS, TO BETTER HELP THEM WHEN THEY GET OLD. I was very very young when my paternal grandmother came to stay with us to recuperate from a heart attack. I do remember that she decided that I, at age 3, was too old for my favorite bedtime blankie and made it disappear.  I imagine my mom had issues as well because Grandma did not come back when she had a subsequent heart attack a few years later. Mom had my vote on that one, not that she asked.  When I ended up living 1000 miles away from my parents as a young adult, my mom asked why. I reminded her that she had taken us camping around the US every summer; that if she wanted me to be convinced that New Jersey was the center of the universe she should have never shown me the world.

sleep-walking-01CHILDREN NEED TO…….(PICK ANY) WAKE UP AND PERFORM WHEN RELATIVES STOP BY AFTER BEDTIME, GET ON THE PHONE AND TALK TO YOUR GRANDPARENTS EVEN THOUGH YOU VISITED THEM WEEKLY, GIVE KISSES TO PEOPLE YOU DIDN’T KNOW BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS SAID IT WAS WHAT YOU MUST DO…(the list goes on and on and on). One morning my mother told me that I had played my violin very well for the second cousins who had stopped by (we were just off the New Jersey Turnpike so it was a friendly pit stop) on their way home to Albany around 10pm. I was 10 years old and I’m sure it was no more than Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but golly gee, I had no memory of it. What a talent! I could play in my sleep! This “late night” performing did not bother me as much as the enforced phone conversations and I never made my kids get on the phone. Interesting enough, they often wanted to. Amazing what free choice can do.

OUR RELIGION IS THE ONLY RIGHT ONE. Well, no. Simply, no. Since people started sharing their thoughts about their place in the Universe there has been over 3000 interpretations of man’s relationship with God. And all, every single one of them, was “manmade”.  (very few women have been involved in the major Western religions.) So, let’s toss out “my way is the only way” and get to the basics-teaching morals and behavior based on treating others the way you want to be treated. I dare say if we comply with that, as simple as it is, we will be happier as a people.

IF YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING I WOULD NOT LIKE, YOU SHOULDN’T BE DOING IT.  Yikes, Mom…not fair! Although you smoked, it wasn’t pot. You didn’t cut school.  You didn’t hitchhike. (Well, considering how scary that one was, I never did it again.) You didn’t get mugged in the New York subway with your best friend. (And I couldn’t tell you about it because it was one of those days when I had skipped school.)  My mom’s voice was in my head when I started a misadventure but I always told her to be quiet, I had thought it through. So, when it came time to raise my own kids, I modified it. IF YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING YOU KNOW I WOULD NOT LIKE, BE SURE YOU WANT TO BE DOING IT.

It would be interesting to read my kids’ version of this essay. LOL

 

 


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Does it Matter if it is not True or Accurate?

In the past week there has been a lot of controversy over one Presidential candidate’s life story, especially what has been touted as being offered as a full ride to West Point. I will consider that if General Westmoreland did chat with Ben Carson he MIGHT have said “you should consider applying to West Point….it is free, you know” or some such.  However, it is unknown if there was even a direct meeting. The big question is WHY did this story get fabricated and why don’t people who like Carson see it as an indication of a potential issue with the man owning his responsibility.

WHAT??????????????

WHAT??????????????

Also in the last week we have seem an absolutely ridiculous reaction by the Christian right because Starbucks decided their holiday cups would be plain red.  As an attack on Christianity this is pretty weak. I wonder if the penny counters at Starbucks considered they could use the same red cups for Valentine’s Day.  But it is amazing that this “attack” is the removal of snowflakes or snowmen or penguins. These are NOT symbols of Christmas and if the Conservatives believe it so, they need to get to church more.truth-new-hate-speech1

On a less widespread scale I have seen the proliferation on Facebook of quotes from our Founding Fathers to illustrate a significant point. These quotes are very easy to check for accuracy. What ensued recently after I pointed out an error to one poster was challenging-he said it STILL was a good quote. When I mentioned that people tend to put more credence on a statement depending on who says it, he deleted my posts.053014_Gullibility_Blog-230x300

Another reaction happened when I posted a statement that three Republican candidates recently attended a Christian conference and said NOTHING when one of the speakers called for killing all gay people. When I pointed out that anyone who supports these candidates are either of the same mindset or are not thinking at all, I was chided that the Democratic candidates have flaws. NO kidding. THAT was not the point though.  The issue is that we have some people commanding national attention who are so scared about homosexuality that they want to kill them all. Sounds like Nazi Germany…and they also were very Conservative.

The erroneous issues are not just from the Republicans. And that is important to understand.  Hold yourself up to a standard where YOUR word is true, your comments are based on truth and accuracy and THEN expect our leadership to do the same.

We say we hate lies. We’ve been lied to many times before. That is why you MUST take the time to research and know the backstory yourself. If you rely on anyone else to tell you what to think, you are culpable. fool Kierkegaard

 


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The Connection Between Us

Each of us is the center of our own universe and yet we experience similar pains and joys. I have learned that the ability to share helps me ease the anguish and magnify the happiness. Does your pathway include sharing?

About four years ago I started visiting farms that had expressed interest in providing food to The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington, West Virginia. A new concept, The Wild Ramp combines the shopping experience of the outdoor farmers’ market with the ease of indoor shopping.  It is a year-round indoor local food market that has increased in appeal since its inception about 4 years ago.

Although I had one grandparent who had retired from running a chicken farm, my childhood in the New York metropolitan area was focused on suburban and urban living. I even got a degree in urban planning. So you can imagine just how tickled I am that I have become enmeshed in the local food movement.

When I started I knew next to nothing and today I know just a smidgen more.  But armed with my curiosity, I spent an hour or two visiting the farmers, hearing their stories and learning about their growing practices. I then wrote blogs to inform the consumers, the better to market that individual farm and its products and The Wild Ramp Market overall.

My visit to Mil-ton farm in mid June 2012 just prior to the market opening was a learning experience for me. Dad Tim was working off-farm at his day job. Mom Stephanie was home with the four kids, in charge of daily farm chores and home schooling and also working a part-time job. Grandma lived on the land as well, part of the extended family.

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My favorite often used photo from Mil-Ton Farm

One thing that immediately struck me was how curious the kids were. They came with us as Stephanie and I walked along, eager to show me things and be part of the experience. I learned a lot about that family that day and made a foolish assumption that all farm families were that cooperative and involved with life learning. No, as I learned over time, the Appletons are unique.

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Tim and Kellen working to renovate the shop

They all pitched in, even the youngest, helping renovate the shop space. They all helped other farmers in the Wild Ramp extended family of farmers as there were calls for help. The kids helped develop salable items over the seasons.

Vivian helping raise a high tunnel at The Potager, a Help A Farmer Day project.

Vivian helping raise a high tunnel at The Potager, a Help A Farmer Day project.

The Appletons walk the walk. Caring, loving, with high standards and expectations to strive for them. They have a strong faith in God and strong belief in the goodness of life.

But Tim just died, after a long and valiant experience with cancer. The Wild Ramp family is feeling this pain.

Personally, it brings my own loss of a loved spouse very much back into my mind. I can clearly imagine how Stephanie, a pretty strong woman, must be spinning in torment, trying to comfort the kids to provide them a sense of security while not quite really sure intellectually and emotionally where her footing will be in this earthquake. And the kids, scared of future loss, needing a lot more reassurance that all will be okay.kids

Although she might beg to differ today while everything is so raw, I know Stephanie and the family will work through this. The hole Tim’s passing  has left is a horrible learning experience for all, but they will learn to meld the pain of the loss with the rising spirit of his memory.Stephanie and Tim

The outpouring of love and prayers for this family is a testament to the goodness they have been as a part of the community. Tim’s legacy is priceless. We ARE connected, all of us.

 


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You’re Going To Die

Funny things happen when mortality hits me in the face. The last time, about 12 years ago, I was so sick with meningitis I didn’t even think about it until I was better. This time I have “something” wrong and the docs are trying to figure it out.

Am I gong to die? Probably not today. But yup, will sometime.

As will you.death-quotes.-Die-like-a-hero-going-home

So many people are AFRAID of dying. Other than I want to stick around to watch my kids mature and I have a few more things to do, I’m not afraid. Whatever your belief system, if you have faith in a religion, you have been told what the pathway is at the end of this life. So why be afraid? mark-twain-death-quotes-the-fear-of-death-follows-from-the-fear-of-life-a-man-who

The funny part is that some people think that just because they have a faith inspired belief in what happens upon death they don’t understand that that is not the common concept.  One very well intentioned 14-year-old once told me he was particularly worried about me because I am Jewish and have not accepted Christ as my Savior.  Because of that, he warned me, I would be going straight to Hell.  When I told him that Hell is a Christian construct and I was a bit concerned about any religion like his that had to use a stick like that to try to get their members to comply, he was confused.

So what do you expect? Is it scary? Why?

Me? I’m just going to try to keep on keeping on until my time arrives. My belief system is that good deeds done here and now is the way to live. What good is a promise of heaven if you never helped others lives here to be better? And so….onward.to the next adventure.To the next adventure