Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Status Report - Grateful

At the beginning of the year, I made a high-level plan on how I wanted to live. The basic idea was that I would use Maslow's hierarchy to target specific behaviors that would improve my sense of well-being and purpose. I liked the plan when I devised it for myself; I like it now.

So, how am I doing with the plan? In some - maybe many - respects, not great. I'm really not eating clean or exercising regularly. I did set up a savings account. I help with the house, but I need to do more. Same with quality time with the family. I do call my family often. I haven't done much with the house, but I did get the lawnmower repaired and got the birds out of the air conditioning. I have done jack squat with keeping my areas clean. I certainly don't read Torah often enough, and I am not exercising my creativity as I'd hoped. And, well, I do reflect on myself too often.

So, OK, maybe I'm operating at a C grade. I can improve, I'm sure. Of course, anyone can decide to change his habits or his life or his mind. The key part is doing the work once the decision has been made. This is where I have fallen down, and this is where I need to take a hard look in the mirror and ask whether I really want to change. Maybe I don't. That's OK too, isn't it?

In an unrelated development, I had a rather interesting situation. I was at Becky's church, and the pastor of the day was giving his sermon. He brought Martin Luther into the picture, and of course I nearly gagged because to me Luther is a no-good anti-semite and I don't really care to hear anything about him or by him. But of course, these folks can easily forgive Luther and separate his anti-semitism from the rest of his theology because they weren't tormented by Luther's minions.

I later sent Becky some lowlights from Luther's anti-semitic writings, and she forwared these to the pastor, also noting her displeasure. The pastor - and I'm sure he's a nice guy who means well - sent back the kind of vanilla response I suppose I'd expected: "I'm so sorry, I meant no harm, Luther was certainly in the wrong on many things, he was a man and therefore imperfect, and" - I knew it was coming - "only Yeshu was perfect."

These people and their Yeshu! On the one hand, I have to admire what seems like genuinely internalized belief - apparently true faith. On the other hand, these folks need to wake up and smell the coffee. It's extraordinary how they pray to a man, fixate on sin and death as a way to excuse bad behavior, and use pretty songs to generate heart-dominated worship (as opposed to head and heart worship). The people sway to the music and raise their hands, but it is all rally just vapid. And their "new testament" - don't get me started. What it says is hardly original or significant, yet what it does to Tanach is criminal.

I suspect these people all intuitively realize Yeshu is a mythical character, but they also actually believe the myth. In fact, this is what gives them their strength. In a scary world, they depend on the myth to personify their heart's desires and stabilize their ambiguous identites and need for a sense of purpose. Poor folks, they cannot bear to reflect on HaShem alone, so the Yeshu myth helps them feel oriented, grounded and - perhaps most important of all - involved. Though I am decidedly not apologizing for them or anyone, their idol-worship is a monumental achievement of rationalization against evidence.

I can only thank and praise HaShem that I was not made a gentile.

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