Saturday, June 30, 2012

God's Chosen Argumentative Ones?

Jewish people, says Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, "are not so much God's chosen people as His argumentative ones. They don't take things on faith. Abraham, Moses and Job," he notes, "all argued with God. And sometimes won."

As TIME magazine's Richard Stengel wrote recently:

"Like Bibi, they were ornery and maybe had a chip on their shoulder. You can imagine Bibi arguing with God, and he probably does. Israeli society hums with contest and grievance. The name Israel derives from Jacob's wrestling with the angel.

"Islam, Bibi has suggested, is about submission, Judaism about arguing. And if you disagree, he will argue with you. Just because everyone thinks something, he says, doesn't mean it's right."

—Richard Stengel, TIME magazine, May 28, 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012

And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations

No high like the Most High

Anyone born with multidimensional human DNA—which should be most of us—either knows or hopes life consists of more than the physically visible and measurable. Extra-terrestrials? Harry Potter? New-do voodoo?

In helping come to the conclusion "There is no high like the Most High!" two somebody else's stories here tell the biggest one.

The first is a clip from the brilliant PIXAR people: Alien abduction gone wrong!

In the second, Rising and Falling through SanteriaJohn Ramirez describes his search for fatherly acceptance, prestige, power, and respect from others in the Bronx, New York. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why are kids so happy?

When you are changing and learning, 
it's the happiest time of life.

Something to learn there, no?

Miracle at the Temple Gate

While our tour group enters and learns all about the temple in Edfu, Egypt, I sit at the temple gate drinking water, watching people come and go, and quietly praying and singing.

In comes a lovely young couple, she wearing the most beautiful combination of colours and patterns I’ve seen a Muslim woman wear. I watch as he takes pictures of her, then he asks if I could take one of the two of them. I comment on her beautiful outfit; we all agree the whole black get-out many married Muslim wear is sad, hot and ugly. I ask if I can also take a picture of her, and we then get into a long conversation.

Turns out the young man lives a few streets away from our Toronto house! Traveled from Egypt to get his PhD in electrical engineering at University of Toronto (which I also briefly sorta studied at nearby Waterloo University)! He now works for a consulting company my brother has also consulted for, and which my husband's former employer had hired consultants from.

They got married January 6 that year in Egypt, and were awaiting the paperwork for her to join him in Toronto—where she had never been. He took his cellphone/camera back out and in the flash of an eye we were Facebook friends.

Touring the huge Valley of the Kings at various stops on our Nile Cruise, we King’s kids ran into each other FOUR more times. Increasingly astonished, I had my husband snap the photo below for evidence of this encounter number three, taken a day or two after our first.

By our sixth or seventh meeting I simply exclaimed: "Maybe we're all supposed to live together!" And that, my friends, is the gospel truth.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dancing over Deep Mysteries

Our guide and shepherd in Israel was encyclopedic-brained Mordecai. Skilled tourist-bus driver Mohammed steered us—40 mostly Christians from many different countries—safely along and through scores of treacherous curves, alleyways, passageways and mountain roads. Guide Morty and driver Mohammed, obvious good friends, both live with their families in the Tel Aviv area.

As we drove north from Jerusalem through the Jordan Valley, Morty explained our plan to drive along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, then on to Capernaum. But Mohammed, phoning local friends and yanking a few strings, arranged a special side-trip for us to cruise the Sea of Galilee. An optional ‘extra’ which none of us turned down … and complete with that haunting Hebrew music that has you either weeping, dancing or both.

I’d already fallen in love with fellow tourist Sandra, a messianic Jewish woman visiting Israel for the first time with her husband and two young sons. Originally from Columbia, South America, they now live near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Canada) in the tiny town of Elbow. Incredibly, six people in all had all travelled from Elbow (pop. 294)!

As we sailed over these special waters, I noticed Sandra bouncing on her bench as the music tempo livened. I couldn’t sit still any longer either, so hopped up and invited her to join me on the deck between us and the sea. Sandra and I skipped and twirled around awhile, and then she coaxed her seemingly-on-the-way-to-becoming-ultra-Orthodox hubby up.

Here he tries (as he tried throughout) to get me to do it, ah, properly. Apparently I wasn’t even saying, or singing, 'Hallelujah right. It’s 'CCHHH..cchhAAlleluia' (beginning with the funny chokey sound Czechs, Dutch and Germans do so well), he corrected me.

Mohammed gave me a couple of gifts on separate occasions, making like it was a great secret to offer them. First he passed along a little wooden dove pin (not sure what the dove is carrying: looks like it could be a fish, or maybe a carrot, but likely supposed to be an olive branch); then a few days later a Jerusalem cross made of local wood..

While my husband and I ate breakfast with him one morning, I asked Mohammed if he is Christian.

 “A little bit,” he replied, with a twinkle in his eye.

As Mohammed dropped us off at our last hotel, I thanked he and Morty for being so fantastic at their jobs, and remarked how I loved that their names were practically archetypical Muslim and Jewish. And how it was too bad Ishmael and Isaac hadn’t gotten along so well!

Morty seemed puzzled. “Was it Ishmael?” He looked at Mohammed and they shared a few words in Hebrew. Then he peered back at me. “They probably did!” he replied.

“Yeah, I bet you’re right,” I agreed in wonder. “They were brothers after all.” We left it at that, but had definitely reached another level of the deep mysteries of Israel.

Story behind THIS Somebody Else’s Story

Tired of the ‘me’ culture most of western society has become, I’ve always, for one, been enchanted by the seeming selflessness of Japanese society. Even their language reflects this. As an example, the word a Japanese person would use for his/her own house would be different from that for your house. Something like ‘my little shack’ and ‘your wonderful mansion’ (I exaggerate but only slightly).

The title for this blog has been borrowed from a song that still grips me: Somebody Else’s Story, by John Waller.  Stay tuned!