Category Archives: Bible

The request of James and John, part 1

Social predation consumed more of Jesus’ energy than any other single issue.  This comes to my attention lest my current ambitions for upward mobility leave me in a position to be tempted to look down on people.

For me, all my life until this writing, the foremost example of Jesus’ stance on this has been his response to the request of James and John.

Continue reading The request of James and John, part 1

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A short route to agony

On one occasion sometime between 1983 and 1990 — I can recall where I was living, but not where I was working — I came home from work and became suicidal. I don’t recall the basis of my agony, but it almost certainly pertained to certain foibles of “the flesh” that my “spirit” seemed powerless to overcome.

A former student had left a cassette tape at my door that day, full of music he wanted to share with me, beginning with “Bad” by U2. I had a second floor apartment, and had sometimes heard this from the boom boxes of people who walked by outside; and I knew what effect it would have on me, particularly the opening section, with the bells. Given my state, for that reason I intentionally delayed playing it.

When I couldn’t bear the pain any more, I put it on, and was at once transported from the pit of despair into a place of perfect peace. I count this as a case of divine intervention: by means of that young man and that music, God saved my life.
Continue reading A short route to agony

Two Jews, three opinions

Ethnic differences don’t all need to be A Problem.

A certain woman has struggled for some years with alcoholism.  I have followed her case because she’s close to me and because I am, after all, an alcoholic myself.

Continue reading Two Jews, three opinions

Issues with upcoming posts II

Part I:  Issues with upcoming posts

If I’ve learned anything in the past two years, it’s this:

(1)  The Way of Peace works, and my calling is to walk this way.  But it takes work that I’m not always willing to do.  Call it cross-bearing.
(2) A large portion of the poor will inevitably be poor forever.
(3) No one can prescribe another person’s dreams.
Continue reading Issues with upcoming posts II

Polar bears aren’t teddy bears; etc.

(Originally posted 02/10/14.)

Bookmarks:
To get bail, money talks
Polar bears aren’t all warm fuzzies.
Private planes are nice, but won’t make you happy
A Jewish view of charity

———— ♦ ————

To get bail, money talks

Bottom line: all across the country, tens of thousands of men and women are behind bars who are not guilty of any crime.

They’re there because they couldn’t post bail.
Continue reading Polar bears aren’t teddy bears; etc.

The dark side of EQ

(Originally posted 02/08/14.)

Adam Grant, The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence
Daniel Goleman, An Antidote to the Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence

Dilemma:  a hammer can be used either to build a house or to destroy priceless heirlooms.  Possessing the tool of emotional intelligence does not mean one will use it favorably.  What makes the difference?

In anticipating this post, I searched for a traditional term for “emotional intelligence.”  I decided that the traditional term for it is wisdom. The Old Testament consistently refers to people who have emotional intelligence as “wise.”  Those who lack it, it calls “fools.”

In the previous post, we saw that emotional intelligence, or wisdom, is a major determinant of personal effectiveness and success in life; in short, of prosperity.  To the extent one wishes all people to prosper, it seems desirable that all people be wise.

In short, the wise prosper.

But the wise aren’t necessarily good, and the good aren’t necessarily wise.
Continue reading The dark side of EQ

How emotionally intelligent are you? Here’s how to tell.

(Originally posted 02/01/14.)

How Emotionally Intelligent Are You? Here’s How To Tell

If you’re in a boat out on the water, and a storm comes up, and the boat’s rocking and at risk of tipping over; it’s critical to turn the boat to face into the wind.  This won’t stop the wind, but will keep it from rocking the boat.

Emotional intelligence is like that.  It won’t make life’s storms go away, but can help keep them from rocking your boat.

In my view, emotional intelligence is the same as emotional maturity or psychological or spiritual maturity.  This is what spiritual growth is all about.
Continue reading How emotionally intelligent are you? Here’s how to tell.

The Gospel vs. George F. Will

David Farenthold, “Austerity is a hard nut to crack”
George F. Will, “2013’s lesson for conservatives”

Farenthold asks what’s best for the country.  Will asks what’s best for conservatives.  That difference illustrates what Trojan Horse Productions and The William Tell Show are all about.
Continue reading The Gospel vs. George F. Will

Swimming against the tide

The Trump administration’s alternative Christianity

In recent weeks, I have become strongly motivated to become upwardly mobile. This raises theological issues.

Phil Zuckerman is a non-believer. He has no accountability to Jesus or the Scriptures. He doesn’t have to walk the Christian walk or talk the Christian talk. He doesn’t face the challenges, or have to do the work, I do as a follower of Jesus. Yet he wants to prescribe what Christianity must be.

He ascribes a certain Christianity to those who surround Donald Trump, and finds fault with it. I have no need to adopt or reject that Christianity. I have my own to practice. But it is not what Zuckerman wants to prescribe to me.

What’s wrong with Trump’s cronies? Apparently, as Zuckerman sees it, what’s wrong with them is that they’re prosperous. The love of God, as he portrays it, does not apply to prosperous people, but instead the poor. Only the poor.

So, according to the Christianity Zuckerman would prescribe for me, if I become prosperous, God won’t love me any more.

If anyone finds that he says differently from that, please advise. I welcome correction.

(Sigh.)

To walk the path to which I feel I’m called, I may need to focus on a Jesus saying Zuckerman does not cite. In fact, I have never heard any liberal cite it. Nor has it ever been cited in the chapel services at the homeless shelter where I stay; where they seem to think that all that matters is what one believes, and never what one does.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. … So let your light shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

In other words, do praiseworthy things.

Praiseworthy actions glorify God.

If I were to become self-supporting, would that be praiseworthy?

Might my example encourage or inspire others?

Might I even teach, by example, the ways whereby one may become self-supporting?

Would that serve God?

As to the whole thrust of liberal ideology, it appears that, if I strive to do what I feel called by God to do, I’m swimming against the tide.

Tight vs. loose: Politics and mysticism

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Monday, I lived my life the whole day the way I’ve always said one should, consistent with The Way of Peace. This was an accomplishment, and has been a long time coming. At bedtime, I was so proud of myself, I fully expected to be rewarded with a pleasant dream.

That didn’t happen.

The dream I did have was all about concepts, and wasn’t pleasant. It said, “Conservatism is tight; liberalism is loose.” It said I am currently being tight. I didn’t like being told that, and I didn’t like the fact that it was so.

Not because I have anything against conservatism. Though I tend in a more liberal direction, conservatism and liberalism are both largely immaterial to me.

But I would wind up pondering a lot, Tuesday, about how I would rather be.

It came to me that liberalism is like an open palm — one is ready to give someone something, or to accept something — whereas conservatism is like a closed fist. The conservative wants to keep what she or he has, and isn’t interested in accepting any handouts.

Now, it’s not that one is right and the other wrong. In life, both are necessary. And that insight opened up a different point of view.

That explains much more than I supposed.

The Qabala says there are ten sephirot, or dimensions, through which the Life Force may express itself. Two that are normally juxtaposed are Chesed, or Loving-kindness, and Gevurah, or Severity. These correspond well to the open palm, on the one hand, and the closed fist, on the other, respectively. The question is not choosing one over the other, but holding the two in balance; for in life, we need both.

One is not right and the other wrong; instead, each one has its own “good” or light and “evil” or dark potentialities. A “dark” potentiality of Loving-kindness is permissiveness, which can lead to a complete loss of order in society. Some people keep their hands out all the time, and that’s not good. A “dark” potentiality of Severity is that one may use the closed fist to beat up on oneself or others, to engage in tyranny or extortion.

Severity pertains less to the imposition of order than to the restoration of order (Hebrew: Tikkun) after disruption occurs. Chesed will express itself in making and serving a meal — but also in making a mess. Gevurah expresses itself in washing the dishes.

And taking out trash.

And picking up litter.

It pertains to the establishment of social norms, and to encouraging people to conform to those norms. For example, pee and poop belong in the toilet bowl, not on the toilet seat or on the floor. But when I worked at City Hall, it was clear that many men haven’t learned this.

Some social norms express themselves as laws. Thus all police activity expresses Gervurah — both its use and its abuse.(*)

But a complete lack of Gervurah is equally devastating.

It is telling that the concept of accountability is controversial among black Americans. Dez Bryant’s April 2017 remarks got scant attention in the mainstream press, but lots of pushback from the only black voices America is allowed to hear.  D. L. Hughley said, “There’s no such thing as black-on-black crime.” Stephen A. Smith questioned Bryant’s blackness. The ideal of a black world without norms manifests in the murders of Carter Scott , Chanetta Powell  and Charmaine Wilson.

Chesed and Gervurah in balance would be like a parent who corrects her or his child with love. We don’t have many good models for this. The current American correctional system is not, in fact, about correction, but retaliation. Likewise, the God portrayed in the Book of Numbers in the Bible does not correct, but retaliates. But putting the toys back in the toybox does not require scolding. Putting an errant object back in its right place does not require anger. Love can be constant.

That’s how I want to be.

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(*)(The auric color of Gevurah is blue, which is why police wear blue uniforms. The color of compassion is green, so the Green Party is so named. But green is also the color of envy.)