Thursday, November 16, 2006

That's Jewish

On the heels of a superior Mel Gibson fumble and in the middle of continued conflict over Israel, I feel compelled to jot some thoughts down on all things Jewish. It will become fairly obvious that I do not know much. In fact, I probably have more questions than answers. However, I rely heavily on commentary to set me straight and am hopeful that many of you will have something to add.

Religion or Race – The first conundrum for me is the actual definition of a Jewish person. Many claim the heading because of their lineage and in this case the implication is that of a racial tie-in. In this scenario it seems possible to be Jewish from your heritage but not necessarily practice any type of religion. What is interesting to me about claiming a racial tie is that there are no real defining differences between a Jew and an everyday Caucasian. Yes there are stereotypes that sometimes fit the bill but unless a guy is wearing a
Yarmelke and has curly black locks with full beard, it isn’t so easy to walk around pointing out Jews. And when will fill out applications that ask our race, I never see a box for Jews. If all Caucasians decided to define race in this manner we would have boxes for English, French, Dutch, German, Australian, and Mutt.

The other scenario has those practicing Judaism being labeled Jewish as well…whether their heritage warrants it or not. I assume that one can convert to Judaism even if they were formerly a gentile such as me. So how do we properly define this group? When the Bible speaks of God’s chosen people is He referring to one group or possibly both?

Christian vs. Jew – This is perhaps more confusing to me than the former category. It seems that some Christians have a problem with the Jews. I don’t get that. The New Covenant (Christianity) was built upon the foundation of the Old (Judaism). Without the former you do not have the latter. The only real thing that separates us is the belief in Christ’s deity…who was a Jew! The Bible (assuming Christians read it now and then) explicitly explains that the Jews are His chosen people. Thankfully the New Covenant makes it possible for a nasty Gentile, like myself, to qualify for eternal bliss but I am not a chosen one as dictated by the Bible. Further implications in Revelations prophesize that it will be the Jews that figure out that we are in the End Times recognizing various prophesy to be true. The speculation goes on to wager that many of these Jews will also realize that the Messiah has indeed already come (in the form of Christ) and 144,000 will convert. So…do you see why I get confused about any conflict between the two groups? There is nothing Biblical to set us apart, only evidence that we should be very cooperative with one another.

Jews Killed Christ – This is perhaps the most inaccurate statement ever made. First of all, if you want to get technical, the Romans killed Christ. Argue all you want that the Jews called for his head but Pontius Pilate had full authority to do as he pleased. The Roman soldiers beat and whipped Him. They disrobed Him and spat on Him. They marched Him up the hill and nailed Him to the Cross. And they pierced his side with a spear to finalize the deed. However, even the Romans get off the hook in my book. A proper Biblical perspective says that you and I killed Christ. He died for our sins even before we were knit together in our mother’s womb. No one person or group crucified Him…we all did. And since I believe in Christ’s deity, I realize that He could have stopped the events that led to His death at any time. Yet He chose to go through with the sacrifice to establish the New Covenant!

Protection of Israel – We are entering a new era that concerns me. Previous generations never questioned America’s protection of Israel likely because this nation has predominantly been Christian since the days of its foundation. This fact becomes less and less true as new generations turn to other faiths or no faith at all. Even modern day Christians seem to be losing their grasp of Biblical truths and prophesy leading the way for a shift in thinking. I have heard and read many rumblings of disdain about our protection of Israel. Many are starting to speak out and demand that the Palestinians also have rights to that land and that our protection of Israel needs to be removed. I am not the most superstitious of people but that idea scares me greatly. Modern day America is pushing the envelope to be on par with Sodom and Gomorrah. I sometimes believe that the only reason God has not sent down his "smite rocket" at us is that we continue to protect His Holy Land and People.

It’s your turn now.

1. How do you define a Jew? Heritage or Faith practice? Both?
2. Do you think there is any good reason that Christians should despise Jews or vice versa?
3. Do you think we should continue protecting Israel?
4. Other thoughts?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Touch of Psychosis

I often tune into a morning radio show that has a new bit running and I find it quite enjoyable. Using a popular song out right now, they invite listeners to call in and confess a compulsion or a strange quirk. Upon doing so…the track plays “Does that make me crazy? Does that make me craz-eh…possibly.”

I’ve touched on some of my strange behavior before in a post called
Marriage Quirks
and its worth a re-read if you are not familiar with it. The callers to this show absolutely make me feel better about my most strange habbits but they also call attention to things that I never really considered as abnormal. Many callers, like my wife, are just OCD to various degrees. They have to do things in multiples of fives or they touch a doorknob three times before turning it. Then there are people that are off the charts with nerosis. One guy confessed to always peeing in an empty bottle instead of the toilet. Another likes to lick the heads of bald men. It was a female thankfully but very strange all the same. Still another likes to rip off several of his entire toenails.

I fall into a very minor category compared to most of these but I believe that we all have strange quirks that we perform on a daily basis. We may even do these things without awareness until a radio show or someone makes us stop and think about it. So I present to you some of my ticks. I might be missing a few but these are what come to the forefront of my mind. I fully expect to have some good confessions from you in the commentary.

Toothpaste – As confessed in the previously mentioned post, I cannot handle it when the tube is depressed in the middle. Before I can even squirt a bead onto my brush, I first smooth the paste from the back to the front, leaving the cap on. Only when I have a perfectly shaped tube can I take the cap off and begin my brushing regiment. The strangest thing about this quirk is that I am just about as far from being OCD than anyone else I know. What might be stranger is my OCD wife is the one who squeezes the tube in the middle forcing me to reshape it every day.

Hot Air – I get cold in the winter like everyone else. But my wife gets cold in the dead of summer if the AC is on. So the battle over the thermostat creates some interesting fun especially in the car. The Durango that we drive has a nice feature that allows me to control my air vents and she, hers. However, there is often an occasion that my wife switches all controls to hot and rightfully so since the air outside this time of years is rather chilly. The problem comes when she leaves the setting to blow air through the normal vents rather than the floor. I CANNOT stand having hot air in my face. I could be trapped in ice and would still go ape if someone decided to defrost my encased body by blowing hot air on my face. I can only speculate that it has something to do with the feeling of not being able to breathe. Stuffy, hot air is not the easiest thing to inhale. A constant stream of it has me rolling down the window to escape from its evil nature. Needless to say, I quickly tell her to switch the controls to blow on the floor before I hyperventilate.

Being On Time – This is common for a first born child. But despite being married to another first born, she often likes to arrive a bit late. She is good about things that are important…like getting to work, weddings, etc. But a casual get-together is something a bit different. She hates being the first one to arrive whereas I have a deep-set inclination to be fifteen minutes early in most cases. I CANNOT handle being late. What might be worse is that I cannot handle others being late. It gets me in a rather fowl mood. My mother claims that I had this quirk from birth, having entered this world on the exact day that the doctors predicted.

Door Locks – Last but not least I have a nightly routine where I secure the locks in my home before hitting the sack. Not so unusual on the surface as I am sure most Americans lock the doors at night. My problem is that I check, double check, and sometimes triple check my work. If I don’t make a major mental note as I am doing it the first time, this little voice creeps in and says, “You forgot to lock the front door. Better go check and see.” And because I failed to make a mental note and perform this routine in a half asleep state, I cannot even remember the previous thirty seconds prior when I was turning the very lock in question.

So what are your quirks? Come on…I know you have some. And I am willing to bet a few of you can make me look rather sane.