For this week’s provocative question, I am going to do something I haven’t before done in my provocative question prompt. I’m going to post something a fellow blogger wrote. In this case, the blogger is Judy Dykstra-Brown, and in one of her recent posts she wrote:
Oh my name it ain’t nothin’
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I was taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side
Oh, the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh, the country was young
With God on its side
War had its day
And the Civil War, too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I was made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side
The First World War, boys
It came and it went
The reason for fighting
I never did get
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don’t count the dead
When God’s on your side
The Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And then we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now, too
Have God on their side
I’ve learned to hate the Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side
But now we got weapons
Of chemical dust
If fire them, we’re forced to
Then fire, them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God’s on your side
Through many a dark hour
I’ve been thinkin’ about this
That Jesus Christ was
Betrayed by a kiss
But I can’t think for you
You’ll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.
So now as I’m leavin’
I’m weary as Hell
The confusion I’m feelin’
Ain’t no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
That if God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war
I thought I’d let Bob Dylan answer this one for me. Written in the early 1960s, it hasn’t gotten old. If anything, it’s more relevant now than it was then.
War never gets old and it seems we never tire of it. We never run out of reasons to fight. In every war throughout human history, God is on every side. Everyone claims him and is sure that all the horrors they perpetrate are “in God’s name.”
Since God has never made any comment on this, my best guess — should there be a god:
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
That if God’s on our side
He’ll stop the next war
When my first husband and I were getting married, he was something vaguely Protestant, though no one in his family knew what. They never attended church and while they were wild about Christmas, it was a very non-Christian version of it.
I’m not even sure they were Christian, but they weren’t anything else, either. I think it’s possible on the paternal side of the family, they might have been Jewish several generations back, then drifted into Christianity because they weren’t Jewish enough to hang with it.
Thus when my granddaughter was hitting eight or nine and Passover/Easter was approaching, I asked Kaity what Easter was about. She had never heard of Jesus or Christianity — or for that matter, Judaism. She was sure that Easter was about baskets of sweets. She didn’t love chocolate (who doesn’t love chocolate?) — but always preferred the hard-boiled eggs. Funny kid.
In a Jewish family, religion comes through mom, but in Christianity, it devolves from dad. In theory, she could have swung either way.
Here, in a very Christian valley with dozens of churches and not a single synagogue, it made more sense to find her a Protestant niche. Later, if life took her into “choices of religion,” she could make up her own mind.
I didn’t feel, without any backup, that I could raise her as a Jew. I don’t practice Judaism. I like Jewish food, Jewish people, and deeply appreciate Jewish law and how far ahead most of most kind of law it is (and was).
I studied in Yeshiva in Jerusalem because I needed to know more, but I knew I would never be Orthodox. This was a big disappointment to my teachers who thought my interest and intellectual involvement preceded a religious commitment. They didn’t “get”(most people don’t) that I love learning for its own sake, but it doesn’t presage any follow-up.
A couple of “studies” have evolved from “learning” to hobbies. Photography. History. Literature. Ecology. Music. Some kinds of art. Technology. Other stuff.
Thus I knew a lot ABOUT Judaism, but not much about how to actually “be” a Jew. I also know a lot about Christianity, because I studied that too and even converted to it, though I practice it to the exact same degree that I practice Judaism — which is to say, I don’t.
I am religiously non-dogmatic. I am pretty sure I believe in something, but I don’t know what. Not nothing, though.
Meanwhile, Garry and I felt some pediatric religion was necessary. I didn’t expect Kaitlin to make religion her life, but I thought she needed to know that Christ was not a chocolate bunny and Judaism is a religion, not a bad word you call someone.
You can’t make a choice if you don’t know anything.
To my great relief, she is happily practicing nothing, considers herself vaguely protestant — and prefers eggs to chocolate.
Easter in the very olden days of yore.
Plus, there were eggs.
In medieval times, life revolved around the church, and the year was marked out by a series of religious festivals, customs and holidays of which Christmas and Easter were the main events. But contrary to many a modern perception, people in the Middle Ages had more time off than we do today. And although there was a good deal of attending church and religious rituals and processions, these did bring the community together, and they also knew how to kick back and have fun.
The Easter period would start with Shrove Tuesday, a secular holiday involving boisterous games and sports. After this, the fun gave way to the fasting period of Lent, when churches were hung with veils and crosses shrouded. Little observed today, if anything we brace ourselves to give up chocolate or booze for the requisite 40 days, but they took it much more seriously in the Middle…
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This week’s provocative question is a spinoff of a question that Melanie (Sparks From a Combustible Mind) asked in her last Share Your World post.
That question from Melanie got me thinking about fate and predestination. So here’s this week’s provocative question.
I’m not entirely sure what “predestination” means. By this do you mean a rigid “ending” that you can’t change, no matter what? Because I don’t believe in that.
I think we end up where we are supposed to be. I don’t think it’s a rigid, unchanging finish. I think it is flexible and will change depending on the choices we make. But there’s a likely place we will probably land.
I don’t believe in a frozen, unbending future. More like a conclusion based on our intelligence, status, birthplace, education … and the things to which we are attracted and choose along our path as well as the kind of people to whom we are attracted.
This is how I like to describe it.
Life is like a bus trip, except you don’t know where you are going and you can’t drive the bus. No ticket, no map.
You will meet other travelers on the bus. Some will be your friends and maybe lovers and mates. They enter the bus at various stops and get off where they must. You may not be happy about it.
The bus will sometimes stop and give you the chance to visit and enjoy the scenery, but eventually, you’ll have to get back on the bus.
You still won’t have any idea where the bus is going and you still can’t drive. Sometimes, the road will be very rough and treacherous. Other times, the road will be smooth and the scenery beautiful. When all is smooth and lovely, you may think you’ve got everything under control.
You will never have everything under control. You never know when the bus will take a sudden turn or for that matter, drive off a bridge.
Life will take you where it takes you.
I don’t know what, if anything, God has to do with it. Maybe something. Maybe nothing. I have no idea. But if prayer makes you feel better, I say go for it. Because whatever makes you feel better — especially if it costs nothing — is worth doing.
These may be the funniest guys ever … except for maybe Monty Python … sometimes Mel Brooks … and Carl Reiner …
These guys were first and somehow, they are just perfect, even today.
So in this passage, we explain that being hirsute is offensive to God. And from this …
You may put away your bibles. Don’t forget to drop some money in the basket.
What’s the worst topping you could put on popcorn? (credit to Teresa for this one)
Anything other than salt and maybe butter. But I can’t eat it anymore. Too slivery for aging gums.
In what country did Silent Night originate?
I was sure it was Germany, but am now told Austria. Go figure, right?
WARNING! The following question is NOT meant to start a fuss. It’s merely a good discussion question in my opinion. Most everyone knows where I stand on this. If you feel like arguing about it, please give it a pass.) We’re all adults and sensible ones at that. We can be mature about such things, right?
How would you react if there was irrefutable proof that God doesn’t exist? How about if there was irrefutable proof that God does exist?
I wouldn’t believe it regardless. You can’t prove (or un-prove) faith. It’s an opinion, yay or nay. Unless God personally drops by and shows me his a photo ID, it’s faith.
What is the scariest non-banned item you could take on to a plane?
I haven’t the slightest idea. I’m not even sure what IS banned and I have no intention of traveling by plane.
Which version of the holiday celebration do you and your family enjoy? By this I mean do you follow Jewish traditions with Hanukkah; Christian celebrations with Christmas and (for those over the pond) Boxing Day; or some other festivities that I’ve overlooked? Please do share with everyone! I truly feel that this sort of question lets us know a little more about our fellow bloggers without getting too personal (i.e. revealing too much of private lives, which some folks prefer to keep private.)
We just have a little tree. We watch old holiday movies. Garry loves Christmas Eve church, but it always gets held right at dinner time, so we never get there. Which is a pity, because regardless of religion, I love Christmas Carols and know a ton of them. I learned them for Glee Club in elementary school. That was before we weren’t allowed to learn anything with religious content. I didn’t even know the songs were Christian. I just thought they were pretty.
Actually, thinking about it, I know more religious music than most people because, as a music major, I spent years learning Gregorian chant and other early Western music. I’m sure I had my mother very worried.
If you study music, an awful lot of it is religious. Western music started as chanting and “grew up” in churches. When you study music, it’s a long time before you emerge from religious music to “modern” music … and a lot of our modern music is based on old church music too.
I don’t think anyone should be forced to follow anyone else’s religion, but I also think trying to remove all traces of religion from the world is silly. You can’t do it. Religion and religious thought are woven into the way we think. It’s organic. Nor do I think there’s any reason why you can’t believe in god or gods — and yet be a scientist or mathematician. I have never understood why one thing negates the other.
Not all of the things we believe are Judaic or Christian, either. There’s a lot of much older stuff woven into modern thought. There are many reminders of more ancient religions which are part of “modern” thinking.
Sorry for going on so long. This was what I studied in school. It began with music but moved into religious philosophy. I wrote papers about it. I still dream about it.
The near decade I spent in Israel was no coincidence. Despite what I may have said, my travels had nothing to do with how many times I read “Exodus” (the novel by Leon Uris, not the second book of the Torah).
I needed to be there. Because I needed to understand. Things.
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