Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

“Welcome — Love Child of God” Part 1

March 22, 2009

I attended the local Atlanta Meeting for Worship this morning, something I had not done in possibly 10 years.  I left this Meeting for many reasons, but now I don’t think any of them very important in the scheme of things.

This entry started out to be titled “Good and Evil”.  It is spring in Atlanta, a few tentative days into the calendar and I awoke with much on my mind.

I have been mucking around with both good and evil for the past few years, trying on things that really didn’t fit, trying to discover the light in a very dense darkness, trying to discern the bigger questions from the narrow ones.  This past period has, again, been a period of growth, but more importantly, when I allowed it to be, an exercise in discernment.

And this is the rub:  Good from Evil isn’t as easy as it looks when applied to people you think you know.  There’s always that operating factor: there is always hope you are wrong and the basic humanity within will spring forth, with reclaim the person, and cynicism about human nature will be defeated.

That all will be made plain in the light of what we expect of human decency.

Sometimes it doesn’t work that way…..sometimes the corruption of the soul has tipped the balance and evil is deeply implanted and THE working order.  Light has been overcome by darkness.

I have been reading a book:  Goldhagen’s  “A Moral Reckoning:  The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and It’s Unfulfilled Duty of Repair.”

Goldhagen’s impulse is fierce, but fierceness and revealing approach is necessary in this question. There is a balance, not an apologia, or excuses, but Goldhagen is determined to make his case.  And if this is true (and I have no  reason to doubt his  statement of history…) it is a horrific example of what can be done to a part of humanity.   It  (the behavior of the Catholic Church) will create a fallout of hatred, narrowness and prejudice for generations to come.  I have seen some of this and am dealing with it in personal ways right now.  I know people who have ‘living hatred’ in their hearts (a Quaker expression)  and want it that way. This is on both ‘sides’…both Christian and Jew.

(If you obtain and read this book, read it with a broadness of heart: I would have said that Goldhagen overstates things for a purpose, and he seems to condemn the whole of Christianity, the Bibical authors, etc…for antisemitic thoughts and writings.  Perhaps this is so.  I don’t know, but he seems to go full blast in some paragraphs, and then backs up a bit, paints with a broad brush, then retracts.  It is a very sharp indictment of Pius XII and all the Catholic Church structure, in both Rome and Germany, but he doesn’t think much of the Protestant branches of Christianity either. In fact, all of Christianity is condemned throughout history as setting and maintaining  the basis of antisemitism.  He makes a creditable argument.  But leaves one without hope, especially if you are a Christian.)

Reparations must be made in some very significant way before there can be any ‘forgiveness’.  What the nature of reparations must be, I can’t say.

Recently I have stepped out into a new world, that of Judaism.  My father apparently came from this culture, though it was never known to me until long after he died.  Of course, Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jews would say that I had no ‘claim’ to Judaism, but the Reform welcomes us to their tribe.

My ‘claim’ is nothing but trying to understand these people and their customs, culture, and history.  I have been talking to Rabbis, attending services, went to a lovely bat mitzvah, have held Shabbat for two weeks now, and finally, am attending Torah study.  I have found wonderful fellowship with Jews and especially with Jewish women.

This morning, early, I was contacted by a dear and beloved friend in a far off country.  We are writers and have been close for a number of years.  He suffers from the human condition:  our loneliness.  I know that I did, and it led to depression.

But there is a bigger issue underneath this dragging loneliness.  It’s that we tend focus totally on our  selves.  Especially when we realize we are miserable because we are alone.

I think the only way to break out of this is to joint nasty humanity.  And in part, our issueof loneliness is our determination NOT to be part of humanity.  Of course, we are shy about strangers, strange churches, strange places.  It takes courage, a determination to end that lone-full-ness.  It takes work to put our pain on the back burner and step out into something strange and not ‘me-centered’.  But really, it is a very rare person you can get to focus their time, energy and attention completely on you and be with you and your angst on this issue.  Putting aside our selfishness (and we are all that!) and reaching out to strangers and joining in strange rituals, food and events, well….we find that we can ‘fit’ into particular streams of humanity.  But we must first ‘try’.

I have found a great, rollicking, argumentative, noisy, emotional, embracing and welcoming people amongst these Reform Jews.  I was startled how much they argue with God. But why not?  Israel means ‘struggle with God’ I am told.  These people argue with God.  And they are a clearer and nearer to God people because of it.

I attended the Quaker Meeting this morning.  They meet in silence.  There are messages, as the Spirit moves. Their difference seems more of form than anything else…

But….they seek God as each sees fit.  Just more quietly.

“Welcome– Love Child of  God”, indeed.

Lady Nyo


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Wild plums color the forest

Through clarifying windows of the Spirit.

Outside the gentle riot of Spring

Inside the graying of heads wrestling

with the Divine.

I come back after many years absence,

seeking the same as when I left.

No change, still seeking.

Nothing has changed except the forest

is denser through the windows.

Denser too, the ‘want’ inside seeking

to manifest through the pull of years.

This Spring gives hope,

Another chance to

Journey through the Spirit,

when we are again returned

to life, our footsteps unabated.

This is the juiciness of Cosmic Love

where seeking and nature collide.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009

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