Finding What’s Most Important

I despair for my involvement in humanity, religious and otherwise. I suppose it was predictable. In fact, a lot of people predicted it. I pretended that I could go it alone, but in the end, it wasn’t possible, let alone reasonable.

I’ve been through the religious argument wars, the Jewish identity wars, the “you’re just a Goy” wars, and I’ve survived. But it’s gotten worse, much worse.

My Aberrant Theology was bad enough, having to struggle with the various flavors of normative Christianity, which frankly, hasn’t appealed to me for quite some time.

But given all of the recent racial unrest, assaults, murders reported in the mainstream media lately, religious people who are also what have been called Social Justice Warriors (not the person who originally posted this to Facebook but one of the more vocal commentators), who are also religious and at least in theory, hold a theological view somewhat similar to my own, I despair.

What’s the point of attempting dialog when each and every time, the only answer is to remain silent or capitulate?

I tried to clarify my views and seek a dialog, but when the discussion got to a certain point, it was abandoned, probably because I didn’t “see the light”.

It’s just like church. It’s just like the contention in Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots, at least as far as my involvement has been.

I know it’s my fault. I’m not easy to live with (a fact my wife can confirm). I don’t play well with others. I don’t roll over. I ask too many questions. When pushed, I push back. Nobody likes that, especially when the point of online debates is to be right and to make sure everyone else knows they’re wrong.

Social justice sounds nice, it sounds, well… “just”, but just like religion, it’s only as good as its weakest link…human beings.

I admit that as I’ve gotten older, my tendency toward being somewhat misanthropic has increased. Yesterday, I put my one year old granddaughter in a stroller and took her for a walk in the neighborhood. During the walk, I kept identifying the potential threats to my grandchild. The family walking two large dogs. The pre-teen boys playing basketball and not paying attention to their proximity to my granddaughter and the potential for collision. Cars driving too fast through the neighborhood.

My granddaughter loves to go for walks, but by the time we got back home, I was a nervous wreck.

Religious pundits make me nervous. So do social justice warriors. At least in social media, they want me to agree with them while asking no questions and simply accepting what they believe is self-evident; that they are always right.

Some months ago, I did a purge on Facebook, Google+, and twitter to eliminate some of the more negative forces in my life. I really need to find more peace and less contention. I don’t thrive on conflict and bringing conflict to others. I need to stop letting myself be drawn into endless and fruitless debates.

It’s nothing personal. I need to do this for me, not against you. It’s been over two weeks since I’ve posted here. Granted, I’ve blogged elsewhere, but even at Powered by Robots, I’ve allowed conversations to occur I never should have. What started out as a venue for my fiction writing turned into a social platform, at least some of the time.

I’m tired of fighting.

I’m considering what next to eliminate from my life so I can reclaim some peace of mind. Maybe killing all news feeds would be a start.

One of the few things I’m sure of is that my grandchildren love me. My grandson loves playing with me, and my granddaughter smiles and laughs when she first sees me after we’ve been apart. That should be what’s most important. Not jumping through the religious and social hoops of people who need something from me I do not have to give.

I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. If God wants me, He certainly knows where to find me. I’ll be on the floor playing with children. And later in the night, I’ll be sleeping and dreaming of tomorrow.


18 thoughts on “Finding What’s Most Important”

  1. I consider you a friend. I flew to a conference, in a good part, to meet the man who writes so compellingly, cogently, beautifully – not for sinister purposes, but to know the human being whose soul was so open, transparent, and gracious.

    But it’s hard to look around us and see the swirling vortex; despair lurks; fear for the future abounds. The slings and arrows of other believers is what has in some ways made me sluggish about activating the blog I reserved on WordPress. I don’t know that I could stand up under the attacks.

    There will be a time, however, when all will be made right and restored. Until “That Day,” chazak! And know you have friends who value your writing.

  2. It is understandable for anyone who chooses not to be a joiner to be unhappy with those who like to join, and by joining find something to fit within…not something to express oneself at. It grows more and more tiring to attempt to break through all the electronic clutter to try and reach someone to connect with every day.

    I write more in my journal than I do anywhere else, and I am only writing down what is going on in my life…the struggles, the opinions, the details that no one wants to hear because I am too outspoken for other people’s comfort about the G-d components of my life, and how I think G-d wants me to handle them. I find I want to comment less and less on what is going on…it takes too much energy to explain why I feel the way I feel, and how I got to feeling this way, and those just starting the journey toward’s Torah awareness each have to find their own balance. They have to walk their own individual journey towards understanding what they believe, and how much they want to disclose of that belief to others.

    Your writings have been crucial to my growth as a Believer, though, and I have learned a great deal commenting on your blogs, and interacting with your other commentators. In the scant two years I have been around (if it has been that long) my ideas have changed, and mutated, and I think I have grown in understanding of many issues I would not have been exposed to except here. I hope I am being less critical, and more understanding than when I found your writings, and of a broader array of ideas. I also hope that you do not entirely retire from this blog to rejoice in your family…but I am just being selfish.

    As a body of work, all that you have written testifies to the fact that you care a great deal about G-d, and how you wish to live because of G-d. As such, your writings are a marvelous story of how you have changed as you walked with our Rabbi, what you have discovered, and what you want most. Echoing in all of your writing about G-d has been your delight in your family, and having a family who all trust and believe in YHVH, if not all in the same way, is a powerful argument for loving one another despite differences of all kinds. In that, you need no further audience, just time and the company of your family.

    Revel in it…rest in it. And if you wish to write again, I think you can be very sure that all of your audience will accept whatever you choose to share with us, and be glad of it.

    1. Actually, it occurred to me earlier this morning that my “herd” is more like the one in Ice Age. I mean, who makes a herd out of a Mammoth, a Saber-Tooth Tiger, and a Sloth? They have nothing in common with each other besides not being able to fit in with their own kind. I guess that’s my herd. I’d like to think of myself as Manny or Diego. They have their own kind of strength. In the end, I’m probably just Sid, though, the plucky comedy relief.

  3. I say unplug. I took a break from social media and it was fantastic. Do what you need to do in order to love God and others to the best of your abilities. It doesn’t have to look like what everyone else is doing.

  4. Just want to say that I love your writings! When God began to create His great human being and his environment in 6 days, “darkness was upon the surface”. Tohu wa vohu. Now the same is happening, because God is creating a new world and inaugurating the true King. My soul also is tired. Tired because of missing God. And not only that, but not seeing God by orhers who had be my brothers. But: Israel shall live! Because He will do it! Shalom! Jos

  5. @Marie: I’m not sure what that is anymore.

    @Jos: Thanks. Yes, there is a darkness across the Earth, and it is said that it is always darkest before the dawn. I know Israel will live because God has said it. But while God has promised to gather all of Israel, standing apart, I don’t know that includes me. Maybe there is community waiting for me in the resurrection.

  6. “Maybe there is community waiting for me in the resurrection.” I knew your faith is strong, if you don’t find it in this world, then you definitely will find it in the world to come!

  7. Far away in East Africa, I have enjoyed your blog. I stumbled upon it and still go through the old pages for something to learn.
    Take your time and enjoy your grandchildren for there is nothing better than to be with them and see them grow. They need good memories to sustain them in the days ahead because at the rate the world is growing darker, good memories are going to be a rare asset/diamond to have.
    I remember seeing my dad peeling a tangerine for my firstborn when he was young. The boy (he loved food) clutched at his grand-dad’s knee while my dad patiently took off the peel and the fibrous strands. Both were in absolute silence…I can guarantee you it looked – and felt like a prayer. The gestures and movements were unhurried and their rapport great.
    For me, my best memory with my dad is watering the tomato garden with him in the evenings when he came home from work. Not much talk was there but I could sense his love of gardening and learned to enjoy it too.
    We are plagued by gadgets these days to a great deal and they take time away from our real time relationships.
    Have fun…and remember you have to be creative enough to be able to beat the TV and video games!

  8. @Jos: Thanks for the encouragement.

    @Margareth: It’s great hearing from you. I know a lot of people read my blog posts and most of them don’t comment, so I have no way of getting to know them. I am so glad you commented and told me a bit about yourself.

    I only really knew one of my grandparents, my grandpa, my Mom’s Dad. We would play card games together and have rubber band wars. He died when I was 16. I’m very glad my parents are still alive (in their 80s) and that my own children grew up knowing and loving them. Now my grandchildren can know them too, at least a bit.

    It is important to build memories for the next generation, especially those that let them know they are loved.

  9. James, one of your readers suggested unplugging from social media. Recently, I’m on there, but fly past most articles – for my own pace of mind.

    As you know, I had to back off writing in my blog due to time constraints and trying to figure out which direction God wanted me to go.

    You’ve said it before, and the title of your blog speaks volumes “My Morning Meditations”. Your meditations, James, not others.

    Our world is growing darker. Your voice is needed. Maybe not everyday, but when God shows you something – as he often does – you need to share it. You, after all, are a gifted writer.

    If you have to simply silence the naysayers, who take the arguments beyond where they need to be, then that’s what you do. Anyone who can’t agree to disagree after some discussion, should not be given a platform. They can go out and start a blog of their own.

    You, sir, have been an inspiration to me as a writer, and I would hate to learn that you were silenced.

    Enjoy your grandchildren. Mine are a delight and source of lessons for me. Seeing through young eyes helps us to see the good, when surrounded by….not so good.

    1. You’re right, Ro. The world is getting darker. The purpose of “Morning Meditations” is to spread light, not darkness. But it also is a reflection at my internal state, whatever it happens to be at a time.

      I’ve offloaded some of the “darker” content to my “Powered by Robots” blog spot, where I express my frustration with the world using dystopian fiction. That’s why I wrote The Loyalty Test and especially The Tribunal, to give a voice to those frustrations and to illustrate that any principle, no matter how “just” it sounds, can be twisted into totalitarianism. I know the so-called anti “white privilege” people don’t see themselves that way, but if they are allowed to flood social and news media, as well as the public education system, with principles and practices based on their beliefs, how long will it take before the world goes completely dark and even mentioning God is considered illegal? I know. An exaggeration…or is it?

      1. Not an exaggeration at all. The light will get brighter and the dark will become darker. So we must continue to shine the light as long as there is breath in our bodies…and with blogs…even after.
        To live is Messiah, to die is gain.
        We know that one day, perhaps sooner than we thought, mentioning God will be illegal. But that is a day of hope, because Messiah will return.
        It’s the in-between that’s frightening (in it’s darkness).
        I have friends, believers, who are promoting this ‘anti-white privilege’ and it not only surprised me, but breaks my heart. What else can I do but pray? And that is the greatest thing of all!

  10. Ro Pinto – thanks for that reminder that the Light will always be stronger than the darkness.
    It is crucial now that we have to rediscover our place as as Gentiles who call upon the G-d of Israel (this is where James, you have excelled in enabling us realise how hard that struggle can be -and how important it is) as well as the power that comes from the gospel afresh before the waters break over our heads. It isn’t a time to go all wobbly at the knees, as Thatcher would say.
    No doubt the darkness will grow greater, but there is a way to thrive amidst persecution for the church. At least we are seeing areas where thriving has occurred despite intense persecution. But it boils down to engaging biblically with issues – and staying faithful unto death. What appears to the world as “insane behaviour” for the love of Christ – obedience and faithfulness in suffering will unbelievably sustain us. Nik Ripken’s book the ‘Insanity of God’ is an eye opener about this.
    Bowing to fear may mean we are still unsure of who the Most High G-d is, and how capable is this Lord who has conquered death that we call Messiah.
    On this BLM and apparently open season on the police force, it has rendered me speechless. People are buying into terrible lies. Unfortunately, it is not just one issue that is eroding America – there is a multitude of issues combining forces to eat away at her fabric. And there are many that have made themselves unwitting pawns to the dark forces that would tear apart America. It has to have a spiritual dimension to it the more you look at it. No amount of politicking will help there except a spiritually based solution.
    Coming from a mixed family with a wide range of colours (my dad is Caucasian in appearance and my mum is African; my father in-law is Indian and my mother in law is African – from the famous Tutsi tribe that overlaps from Rwanda) colour never figures a lot in my interaction with people. My kids and I have varying shades of colour making me realise today people have a hard time when I say I am their mom! I was sad when my youngest described me as “white” – where did he get this from? School? Had always assumed I was just “mom” to him. Not a shade of colour.

    Aside from that, Persecution, to me seems the more urgent issue for us today as believers in Messiah. It is a matter of when – not if.
    VOM’s Glenn Penner’s book “In the Shadow of the Cross” brought the truth home to me. It is no wonder the Chinese already have their translation as they have been facing it head on for quite a while.
    If we don’t prepare in peace time, by the time trouble comes upon us it becomes really difficult to stand when the storm is at its fullest and we will end up with confused knee jerk responses.
    Let us bring ourselves to bear on this most painful of all topics. Lessons unique to Judaism will be helpful as Jews have been the most experienced group in that aspect with so much to teach us all….They have survived and thrived too, despite everything to date.
    James..there’s a lot you could write to us about glorifying G-d with all our soul/nephesh (Kiddush Hashem) in life now and in the face of death. I know it is a gloomy topic and it is a tall order – and I know it will give you depression just researching on it.
    Nothing as they say focuses the mind so wonderfully as facing death. Living with a husband with terminal cancer gave me this insight. But in Messiah we should be able to go one step beyond that – to the joy that comes from the assurance of world to come.
    Sorry for the long post. Back to you James, as it is your blog.

    1. Margareth said:

      James..there’s a lot you could write to us about glorifying G-d with all our soul/nephesh (Kiddush Hashem) in life now and in the face of death. I know it is a gloomy topic and it is a tall order – and I know it will give you depression just researching on it.

      Well, I do like a challenge, but I’ll have to carefully consider this. I don’t like to write simply for the sake of writing. I appreciate the suggestion, so thank you.

      While I won’t deny that America has a history of racism and other injustices, I believe the news and social media have inflated the divisions artificially for their own purposes. Somebody wants our nation to be divided. They want to prevent us from unifying as one people. They certainly don’t want us unifying in the Name of God. These will be the most difficult days to endure, the “birth pangs of the Messiah.” The world will become darker before his light returns to illuminate us.

  11. I know how you take time to weigh your words. They have made an impact on my life…please do take all the time in the world to consider this.
    It is just that one gets a sense that this is a small lull before a storm. Don’t want to be caught napping…in these parts where I live, things are quite volatile. But is any place “safe” these days?
    Remembering Paul in his letter to the Romans – in Messiah, we are secure and loved no matter the external circumstances.

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