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Showing posts from August, 2011

What Am I Missing?

In the past week, I've been reading In the Garden of Beasts , a book set in 1933-1934 Germany. The book discusses William E. Dodd, the American ambassador to Germany as Hitler rose in power. He and his family have to sort out what is true and who is telling the truth in a critical age of shadowy figures and subterfuge. This in non-fiction. As I read In the Garden of Beasts , I'm disheartened by the correspondence that goes back and forth between high powered American government officials and regular civilians that ignores or downplays Germany's actions against Jews and other "unclean" races. Not only do people seem to dismiss the allegations, very often the letters reveal confessions of personal ambivalence or outright antagonism toward Jewish people. The main concern of the American government is primarily Germany's potential default on war and reconstruction debts and, secondarily, Germany's failure to reduce their armaments. The people who sound the t

Who? What? When?

I recently read a book about Rabbi Hillel called If Not Now, When? . (I reviewed the book here .) Among his other wisdoms, Hillel was patient with people who said they were too busy to study the Torah. He listened to their well-intentioned promises to do it later, when they had more time. He replied, however, that no one ever gets more  time. (Ask most retired people if they have more space in their days now.) If you aren't making time for it now, when will you realistically do it? We all know about activity (and acquisition) creep. And we all know what it means to be busy. If not now, when? I have many answers to that questions, but if I am honest, they are all excuses. When I read the Epistle lesson for this week, I think Paul has a similar question to the Roman Christians: "If not you, who?" He writes, " The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is

Questions from the Dark

Following a recent local tragedy in which a young family (husband, wife, and two daughters) were killed in a plane crash, I've been talking with people affected by the tragedy. In many ways, an accident like this has a broad ripple affect beyond even secondary and tertiary relationships. People remember when they have been in similar situations or their own fears around death (their own, of their loved ones) rise to the surface. Inevitably the question arises, "Why did God cause this to happen?" And its corollary: "How can this be a part of God's plan?" This is a sure-fire pastor stumper to which there is no great, comforting answer. Truthfully, I don't believe God caused this tragedy to happen and I don't think it was part of the plan. I think accidents happen because God allows us to use our free will and also allows the same of the people around us. The decisions we make (good, bad or neutral) can affect others just as their decisi