Surrendering the Lead: An Observation from the Way of Saint James, Part 2

Vallone photo part 2Continued from yesterday.

On our seventh day walking El Camino de Santiago, my husband and I rose before dawn and departed O’Cebreiro, a Celtic mountaintop village with cobbled streets and numerous pallozas—round, stone houses with thatched roofs. We walked beneath the moon and stars, soon joining a group of eighteen young adults we’d met a few days before.

Guided by a few pilgrim headlamps, we headed down a wooded track. It wound around the hill before descending to the hamlet of Liñares and ascending again. The sun began to rise, revealing an ethereal horizon of green hilltops floating over morning mist. This is where Megan caught up to us, and my husband walked on ahead so the two of us women could talk.

Megan is a blue-eyed Millennial, a genial girl-next-door with a graceful stride. She told me nothing makes her happier than teaching and working with kids. Just a few months before the Camino, she completed a MEd in educational psychology. Through the summer she worked as a camp coordinator. She enjoyed it very much, but the job was seasonal and ended. On the Camino she was pondering her future, worried that she’d found no other job and scared she never would. [Read more...]

We All Have a Place on the Great Chain of Being

XJF347996Somewhere along the Great Chain of Being, we all have our place. That’s an old concept, and perhaps one that doesn’t fit our times as easily as it did in the past, but there’s much of it that still holds true.

From the ancients comes the idea that all things in reality can be located along a continuum—a “Great Chain,” as it were—hierarchized so that each thing possesses an attribute in addition to those that rest immediately below it, and lack an attribute possessed by those immediately above. Plants have life, so are above sand, which has only existence; but plants cannot move, so they are below animals.

Likewise, each entrant within a category can be hierarchized: The lion is the king of the beasts, because it possesses all of the prized attributes of creatures—strength, courage, beauty, etc. But because it lacks a soul, the prophets would rate even the most glorious of the leonine family below the most inglorious of the human. [Read more...]

Slogans in Ruins: Land for Peace, Two State Solution

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“Hope lost and fear won,” said Udi Segal, the diplomatic correspondent for Israel’s Channel 2 News. Referring to Secretary of State John Kerry’s nine-month negotiations whose collapse in April contributed to the escalation, Mr. Segal added, “I don’t think the people in Palestine or in Israel feel more confidence in those Western, American Kerry-like ambitions to solve our problem with those peace slogans.”

New York Times, 8/29/14

This week, again, the news fills me with despair. But on Shabbat I recover hope. Is this a two-state solution to the problem of being human: six days, despair; on the Sabbath, hope?

This summer I flew in turbulent weather. I gripped the armrest, squeezed my eyes shut, and visualized: land, land, let me stand, once more, on solid ground for peace.

At night, when I’d prefer to be sleeping, my perseverating mind goes to war with my worn body. I need a two-state solution: one that will allow me to sleep when I sleep, one that will allow me to work when I work.

I am not a gardener. I am not a weeder. I am not a pruner. I am not a fertilizer. I am not a tender of soil. I do not turn to land for peace.

My problems are real. My problems are white and American and Jewish and middle class and academic and male. My problems are nothing compared to the problems of others. Reading and watching and thinking about theirs, the problems of those who are walking targets, those who are working poor: could this be the one- state solution to my problems? [Read more...]

My Garden, the Book of Joel, and God’s Plagues

il_340x270.624628888_ss6oFirst came the vine borers. These are moths. The females lay their eggs inside the stalks of squash plants. When the eggs hatch, the larvae start to eat. They eat so greedily, the larvae can easily kill the entire plant.

I learned that you must split the vines open where you see gunk building up on the outside of the vine. Then you stick in your finger until you feel a grub and pull the little wriggler right out.

After the vine borers came the cucumber beetles, of the family Chrysomelidae. We had two types: spotted and striped. With cucumber beetles, it is not the beetle so much as the bacteria they carry with them. Bacterial wilt makes all the plants in your garden look so very yellow and sad.

The kale was being ravaged by two kinds of caterpillars. One sort was lime-green in color; the other a striped, fast-growing, slightly fuzzy little sucker that replicated at a rate faster than my wife and I could keep up with or understand. The fuzzy crawlers seemed to generate spontaneously. [Read more...]

The Creationist Crisis Reprise

Sevbible2eral months ago I blogged about the Ken Ham Bill Nye debate at Liberty University. I hadn’t given the two much thought since then until last week when they both rose back into the media. My son’s Popular Science magazine arrived with Nye on the front, his fists wrapped like a boxer’s, and the title of the article about him: Nerd Fight! The same day, Ham hit the news as a butt of jokes for blogging that intelligent alien life cannot exist because, “the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation… To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.”

What struck me about the Ham kerfuffle is how this arises from the same place that his strict stance on young earth creationism does. At its core, this is not about the science; it is about hermeneutics.

[Read more...]


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