Mama Blogging.

November 10, 2009

She has a few words of wisdom for this young whippersnapper. He’d better not stay up past his bedtime.

Not to be confused with “mommy blogging” – by this I mean, my mama is blogging! I set up a tumblr account for her and she has entered the blogosphere! Introducing – MamaPeke! I’d invite you to say hello to her personally, but I don’t think you can comment via tumblr – in any case, you can read her musings (and a great recipe for cinnamon rolls) and then comment here if you so choose. Or you can read her musings and then make some kickass cinnamon rolls. That’s another possibility.

PS: I also have a tumblr account for non-nanny related shenanigans.

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Birthday Dinner.

September 6, 2009

No photos of the infamous “potatoes of the Lord” because they were eaten too quickly, but the cupcakes made it long enough for photo documentation:

Both of my favorite ladies are named Karen. Also, my mom is badass.

Lily! :

Walter is very serious about his cupcakes:

Art in the Family.

August 31, 2009

On my father’s father’s side of the family, there is a strong and powerful line of engineers and physicists. My great-grandfather was a professor at M.I.T.. His grandson, my dad’s cousin Kenneth, won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1982. It’s amazing that I can’t do math to save my life. On my final exam for physics in high school, I calculated the weight of the moon to be 7kg. 7. It really is made out of cheese.

On my father’s mother’s side of the family, however, are artists and historians. And art historians. My father’s mother’s father (did you follow that? My great-grandfather.) had a great love for art and was himself something of an artist. I’m not sure exactly what recessive genes were involved, but one of his grand-daughters and three of his great-granddaughters have become artists/art-historians. Weird, huh.

(Incidentally, it also runs in the family that no one dates people within their own nationality. My grandmother is German and married an American. Of her children, my father is the only one who married another American. Of the grandchildren – I’ve had two significant relationships with Europeans, my elder cousin is German and involved with a Turkish man, and one of my younger cousins is French and is – or at least was – involved with an American.)

Anyhow, my younger cousin, Vanora Rolland, is not only a fellow artist, and a fellow collage artist, but she’s an absolutely amazing artist and I wanted to share her work. I’m really totally floored with her mastery of collage technique and the absolute beauty of her images. Did I mention she’s younger than me? Like, a LOT younger than me? Man, it’s not fair that she’s also light years ahead of me.

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Photo by Flickr user E|NoStress|

Another good MeFi post for background reading: Obama and the Mideast Conflict. Though my own thoughts are less about Obama’s policy than they are about the effects of it… on my father. 

My father, as previously mentioned, is a Jew For Jesus. Even before he started seriously exploring Messianic Judaism a few years ago, he’s always had very strong feelings about Israel; specifically in the context of a Jewish homeland. In short, he’s a fervent Zionist. To say the least.  Part of his political beliefs include the idea that the United States will be blessed (or is blessed, if you can really say that) by G-d for supporting the state of Israel.  Any candidate that expresses sentiment challenging Israeli-US relations is one that my father would never vote for. 

His justification for this hinges on a passage from Genesis 12:

1 Now HaShem said unto Abram: ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee.

2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing.

3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’

My father believes this passage to be literally true. In fact, he believes the entirety of the Bible to be literally the word of G-d as transmitted to his chosen “scribes.” In this, he believes that a reduction of aid from the United States would constitute a “curse” upon Israel, and he doesn’t want to live in a nation that will suffer a curse from G-d. His solution? He’s honestly contemplating moving to Israel if US foreign policy changes. 

Not only does this not make any rational sense from a pragmatic point of view (Where is he going to live? Where is he going to work? What about the threat of violence? What about his family, children, grandchildren, parents, back in the US?), but I have to wonder about the Biblical logic as well. 

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Photo by Flickr user knowhimonline

When did the practice of taking the Bible to be the literal word of G-d begin? Did this start with the Jews? I know that there is a consensus that the major prophets spoke with G-d, but does that go so far as to imply that the scriptures are the literal words of G-d? And since my father also ascribes to the New Testament as well, how does one reconcile the two? Can you believe that one half of the Bible is the literal word of G-d and the other half is a “new” interpretation when the messages become contradictory? Did G-d change his mind? 

Another question on my mind: If G-d spoke to man and commanded that his words be written down in the form of scripture, why did he stop? Christianity hasn’t stopped. “Prophecy” as such certainly hasn’t ended. Via my father, I’ve been informed of plenty of people who have claimed to have the gift of prophecy. If these words that are being received from G-d (if we can take the leap to say that this is true), and they were written down, would they have the weight of scripture? Probably not, but why? If the Bible is the word of G-d, why isn’t any transmission from G-d not worthy of being recorded and added to past scriptural knowledge?

I have trouble accepting the Bible as literal truth; as one might imagine given that I’m not an adherent to Abrahamic philosophy.  I have even more trouble with those who do believe that the Bible is literal truth and then proceed to pick and choose which passages to apply to their daily religious practice. Sure, my father believes that nations who abandon Israel will be cursed by G-d, but the man does not believe that those who eat pork will be equally cursed, despite clear scriptural prohibitions.

This, to me, smacks of a sort of arrogance that we as humans can decide what’s “relevant” from G-d’s words. Who are we to know if the Almighty really is going to curse those who eat pork? How do we as men and women know what is and is not important to G-d? And if we do receive messages that we truly believe are directed to us from G-d, then why aren’t they weighted equally to what’s already been written before? The obvious reason is that these messages often directly contradict scripture, which to me doesn’t lead to the conclusion that they’re false, but rather that scripture is just as accurate as anything that G-d may or may not have ever said to anyone. That is, it’s a good starting point to understand what G-d may be on about, but it can’t be the be all and end all of religious knowledge.

As a Buddhist, I truly believe that direct experience of the world and spirituality is the only way to really attain one-ness with whatever “higher being” you seek. No written words can describe what G-d or the universe or whoever may have to say to you personally. They can serve as a guidepost, but to apply words spoken to someone else 2,000 years ago to your life as literal truth makes no sense as you’re not living in their society, in their job, with their family, with their karma, essentially. We all have our paths and to believe that you can actually retrace someone else’s path step for step is to abandon the great mystery of life to walking around with blinders on.

It bothers me greatly when my father goes on one of these tears when he has an idea that has come to him from G-d. I never know what’s next, I can’t count on him to be grounded or stable. I feel like the rug is constantly being torn out from under me and sometimes, I really want G-d to talk to me and explain himself, but so far, he hasn’t bothered to call.

Strange Symmetry.

February 28, 2009

Being back in touch with my long-lost-daddy has meant that I’ve rehashed my life in a sort of Cliffs-Notes form, which inevitably includes mentioning how I lived in Iceland for a while. 

It was very interesting, and strange, to find out that my grandfather spent half of WWII in Iceland. I knew he had been stationed in New Guinea for a period of time, as I have a ring that he made while he was there, but I hadn’t realized it was the US military (army, I think, don’t know for sure) making up for his time in the Frozen Northlands. 

It’s a very strange symmetry to find this out both after my grandfather has passed away and after my connections to Iceland are themselves gone. I don’t really have anyone to talk to about it, or anything meaningful to say other than “Wow. That’s weird.”

Better late than never!

February 27, 2009

It’s been an intense week. 

This photo is my mama, me, and my Daddy Bill on Easter, 1985. Look how blonde I used to be! Anyhow, the point of this is that this is my childhood family. These are the parents that tucked me into bed at night, made me eat my vegetables, came to my Little League games even though I spent most of them lying down in right field, etc. My daddy in this photo might not be the one who donated my chromosomes, but he is the guy who throughout my childhood was “Daddy” – the one I came home to after visiting “Daddy Steve” on the weekends. 

To make a really long story, he and my mom divorced. Yeah, kind of saw that coming. He was still a huge part of my life for a while, and then he moved to California, where he became more of a peripheral part of my life. About ten years ago, he remarried and cut off contact with me. It was perhaps the most devastating event of my life. Every day of those ten years, I’ve thought of him. I’ve had constant dreams where he comes back into my life.

And Sunday, those dreams came true. Out of nowhere, I got a FaceBook message from him. FaceBook of all things! I suppose I could be angry that it took ten years to get this message, but I really don’t care about that. If this time was necessary, so be it. I’m just overjoyed to have my daddy back in my life again. That’s not to say that the emotions this week haven’t been totally overwhelming at times. It feels like a new life, honestly. I feel like a hole has been mended, an immense burden lifted – the sort of thing where you don’t know how bad you felt until it was gone. 

I’m going out to Indiana, where he’s living now, to see him in April. Oh, messy thrilling life.