Friday, April 29, 2005

Sojourners magazine, the Sabbath, and Jim Wallis

I'm encouraged by the title of Jim Wallis' book God's Politics : Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, his magazine "Sojourners", and this article I read about the Sabbath in his magazine. His selling point, as the Amazon editorial puts it, is that "the true mission of Christianity--righting social ills, working for peace--is in tune with the values of liberals who so often run screaming from the idea of religion."

I often wonder at the audacity of television personalities and political parties. I wonder, how conservatives so devorce themselves from the causes that they hear espoused every week in their churches, namely protecting G-d's creation, feeding the poor, and equal rights for all people? And how, equally mystifying, can liberals not see the that the ethics of religion provide a moral basis for the causes that they themselves demand? Finally, and most frighteningly, what forces are at work to diminish the voices of reason in mitigating this conflict. Why is it that only the screaming heads are allowed to speak?

Seperately, as a Sabbath-observer, I found the article about the Sabbath in his magazine quite refreshing as well. The idea is that observing a day of rest (not just any day, but the 7th day, the day G-d commanded) never was just a rule observed by a people by rote. This day, for it's observants, provides psychological rejouvination, and a reminder every week that there are things, ethical things, that we as a people maintain, from which we will not shy away. Every week, we have a physical reminder that we separate our inner selves to G-d.

There's so much more to say. I'm not going to say it all here.

Life in the armpits??!!!!!

Metaphors are often more graphic than we realize. The latest edition of the Economist has an article entitled "Life in the armpits of palestine." The article describes some of the day-to-day hardships of living in regions of the West Bank of Israel which will be surrounded by the new security fence.

The reason the title cought my eye was that I've recently discussed this same metaphor to my new wife, who moved here from Odessa Ukraine. We're moving next week to the bayou in Louisiana and a couple of my relatives before the wedding described the region as "the armpit of America." As english-speakers, the words just roll off the tongue; kind of a cutsey way to say that it can be hot (and humid) there. But to someone who hasen't heard the metaphor it sounds horrific. Who in their right mind would ever want to live there!??? Have we made a profound mistake by moving there??

I spent a lot of conversation time prophilacticly trying to steer the conversation away from such allusions. I demonized similar comments publicly so as to make clear that I wanted to put a better light on the subject. For the most part, it seems to have worked. The more tactful of my family quickly cought on and made sure to mention some of the more interesting things about the region ("you can always find something to do in New Orleans").

But the thing about it all that strikes me is the power that can be behind such a silly little phrase (armpits are gross!!!). A funnier one I always remember explaining is "love-handles." People talk about them all the time, but try explaining the allusion to someone unfamiliar with the term and it gets a whole lot more interesting...

We can be on the lookout for more of these. They're everywhere, I know. Perhaps we should be more careful with them; perhaps we can enjoy language more by thinking about what we're saying more often. Something to think about...