East Of Eden

"A curious mix of the relevant and reverential"


Some Sunday Stuff: July 20th.

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Happy Sunday, All. Tomorrow is Zoe's third (!) birthday, but we started celebrating early. K will be at work all day tomorrow, so after a trip to the Carteret Waterfront Park (we were going to hit up a beach, but with the temp around 75 and plenty of clouds, we skipped it), we did a little celebrating at home. There was a surprisingly sturdy pinata (K had to crack it open) and candles on chocalate cupcakes made by me. On Thursday night I hung a bunch of paper lanterns from twine- I was trying to give it a summer/outdoor party feel. I lit the lanterns with tiny LED lights.

 

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Yesterday, K gifted Z with her very first bike. He spent a great amount of time trying to get her to pedal, but to no avail. She definitely has the leg strength, but she wanted to be pushed. Hey, it's her birthday weekend and she'll ride without exerting force if she wants to.

 

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Everyone always says "Time flies." I know it, I live it, and still, I can't believe it's been three years since I had my Zoe. She's grown so much- picking out her own outfits for the day, opinning on TV shows like "Dora The Explorer" and "Yo Gabba Gabba", and telling me quite resolutely which foods she likes- and dislikes

 

Yet- she's still my baby. Always.

 

Still my little Moo Moo. Forever.

 

Okay, let me tamp down the sappiness. Let's get to some links, shall we? First, in honor of today, this anniversary of the historic Lunar Landing in 1969, this story about Buzz Aldrin taking communion- on the moon. From Huff Po:

 

 

45 years ago, man landed on the moon.

 

As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin prepared to take "one small step for man," Aldrin wanted to commemorate the moment in a way he found most personally meaningful -- by taking communion.

 

Aldrin, a church elder at Webster Presbyterian Church in Webster, Texas, at the time, spoke to his pastor Dean Woodruff to try to find a way to symbolize the wonder and awe of the moon landing a few weeks before lift-off. Aldrin said, "We wanted to express our feeling that what man was doing in this mission transcended electronics and computers and rockets."

 

The communion bread and wine, symbols of everyday life, seemed to be a fitting way to commemorate the extraordinary moment. Woodruff equipped Aldrin with a piece of communion bread, a sip of wine, and a tiny silver chalice which he brought aboard as part of the few personal items each astronaut is allowed.

 

Aldrin wrote about the experience a year later, for Guideposts magazine:

In a little while after our scheduled meal period, Neil would give the signal to step down the ladder onto the powdery surface of the moon. Now was the moment for communion.

So I unstowed the elements in their flight packets. I put them and the scripture reading on the little table in front of the abort guidance system computer.

Then I called back to Houston.

“Houston, this is Eagle. This is the LM Pilot speaking. I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to invite each person listening, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.”

...

In the radio blackout I opened the little plastic packages which contained bread and wine.

I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.

 

 

Before taking communion, Aldrin silently read a passage from the Bible, which he had hand written on a piece of paper: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me” (John 15:5).

 

 Beautiful. Next up, marking another anniversary, the start of World War I. From Religion News Service:

Some called it “The Great War.” Others called it “The War to End All Wars.” History proves it was neither.

As the world marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I — a conflict that left37 million dead or wounded and reshaped the global map — a number of scholars and authors are examining a facet of the war they say has been overlooked — the religious framework they say led to the conflict, affected its outcome and continues to impact global events today.

More than that, they argue, today’s religious and political realities — ongoing wars, disputed borders and hostile relationships — have their roots in the global conflict that began when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914.

“You can’t understand the war fully without investigating the religious dimensions of the war,” said Jonathan Ebel, an associate professor of religion at the University of Illinois whose “Faith in the Fight: The American Soldier in the Great War” has just been issued in paperback.

“I would be the first to tell you the Great War was not a war of religion, but I think a big part of people’s understanding of what they were doing in the war, or why the war made sense to them, comes from religion.”

“Faith in the Fight” explores how American soldiers, field nurses and doctors and other aid workers used their religious experience to face the war. Reading through letters, memoirs and other contemporary accounts, Ebel discovered that rather than disillusioning those who fought the war, it somehow reinforced their ties to religion.

“The experience might have been something that knocked people off their beliefs, made them question,” Ebel said. “But based on the material I was able to draw on, the war for many Americans was not a disillusioning experience. Rather, it confirmed the illusions — if you want to call them that — of why they entered the war.”

Ebel draws a line from the “masculine Christianity” of the early 20th century (evangelist Billy Sunday’s enormously popular revivals often included military recruiting tents) to the way combatants and support workers thought of the war. Soldiers scribbled lines of Scripture on their gas masks, marked their calendars with a cross for each day they survived combat, and opened the pages of the Stars and Stripes military newspaper to read poems comparing them to the heroes of the Old Testament.

“The culture of pre-war America gave America images, ideas and beliefs perfectly tailored to war,” he writes.

 

Read the rest here. Also at RNS, this very interesting commentary by Michael Schulson:

According to a new survey, white evangelical Christians feel a lot of warmth toward Jews.

As for Jews, they feel colder toward evangelical Christians than they do about any other religious group.

Cue the Taylor Swift ballads: We have here a serious case of unrequited love.

To gauge the interreligious emotions of the American public, the Pew Research Center asked thousands of Americans about their religious identification, and then asked them to rate other religious groups on “a feeling thermometer,” where a zero was “the coldest, most negative possible rating” and 100 was “the warmest, most positive” response.

With a wildly subjective metric and results that invite massive generalizations, the survey deserves a skeptical look.

Still, the discrepancy in the Jewish-evangelical relationship is too large to dismiss. White evangelicals gave Jews a full 69 percent of emotional warmth (very high, by the survey’s standards), while Jewish respondents gave evangelical Christians a frosty 34 percent — one of the lowest ratings in the entire Pew data set.

 

Jews rated Catholics pretty favorably, so we can’t explain this result as a response to Christianity as a whole.

 

Heavy-handed efforts to convert Jews — such as the Southern Baptist Convention’s 1996 resolution on Jewish evangelism — have not endeared certain evangelical denominations to their Jewish neighbors. And some Jews may struggle to forget anti-Semitic comments made in the past by evangelical leaders, including Billy Graham.

Seeking a return to pre-Christian roots, churches hold Passover seders and blow shofars during services. Evangelical support for Israel is legendary. Liberty University, the evangelical school in Lynchburg, Va., even has a Judaic studies program that, as its director told the Liberty student newspaper, “tries to communicate to the Liberty community that we as Christians owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people.”

An employee of a Jewish federation recently told me about the letters, overflowing with praise for the Jewish people, accompanied by donations that occasionally arrive from eager Protestants.

There’s a term for this flavor of affection: philo-Semitism, or the love of Jewishness and Jewish culture. For some, this kind of love may represent an unmitigated good — especially in contrast to the anti-Semitism that has haunted so much of Jewish history.

More often than not, though, evangelical upwelling of philo-Semitism seems to have little to do with actual Jewish people, and more to do with Jewishness as an abstract theological concept.

A lot of evangelical support for Israel, for example, grows out of certain strains of dispensationalist theology, in which the Jews’ return to Israel is seen as a prerequisite for the Second Coming.

 

I know a number of Evangelical Christians, who God bless them, are more pro-Israel than the Jewish people I know. I cringe, though at their heavily dispensational beliefs that some hold that seems to fetishsize Jewishness- or the perceived "image", as Schulson notes, of Jewishness. I've wondered if they actually know any Jews- other then Jews for Jesus. Most scary is the teachings embraced by some that the Jews must return to Israel... in order to die in a genocide brought about by the Anti-Christ. So, again, to repeat, they want Jewish people to return so they may be slaughtered. Oh, but hey, they'll be raptured away so they won't actually have to bear witness to the carnage.

Nice. Yes, by now, you may have ascertained that I don't hold to pre-trib doctrine. I DO BELIEVE Christ is going to return, so please do not misunderstand. But I reject the whole pre-tribulation stuff. Anyway, please do read the whole thing. One more quick excerpt to leave you with, from the post:

 As a young Jew, I can’t help but see expressions of evangelical philo-Semitism as an attempt to keep Jewishness in its New Testament box, and to continue the old fallacy of conflating the Jewish people (of Bible fame) with living Jewish people — a diverse bunch of folks, muddling along, who have not always benefited from being evaluated in light of ancient Scriptures.

 

 Finally, my music pick, SZA with pray. Have a great week.

 

 

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