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The Twice-a-Year People

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One of the things that never fails around Christmas is people complaining. The same is true for Easter. Or, if said people are Jewish, around the High Holy Days and then Pesach.

They complain about the lack of parking space, complete strangers taking their usual seats, the crowd, the noise… In short, they complain about the people who only come to Church or synagogue twice a year. For some reason they appear to be an incovenience to the ‘regulars’. Jokes are made about them on Facebook, weird nicknames are given to them, and blog posts how to avoid them are posted.

Inevitably someone mentions that these people should attend regularly and contribute regularly. But why would they want to go somewhere regularly where they are clearly not wanted? The regular attendees’ attitude, the thinly veiled frowns, the loud complaints about seats and parking places don’t go unnoticed by those twice-a-year people. Prominent Chatolic bloggers admitting going to a different Mass to avoid the people who only come twice a year speak volumes to those who are considering to return to their faith, but are treated as an inconvenience.

So please, before you complain about the visitors at this year’s Christmas services, just think about all the people who would be ready to fill the pews every week if you gave them just a smile, helped them get around and thought of them just as much a part of the Church or the children of Israel as yourself.

 

Operation “Christmas” Child???

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It’s time for my annual post about shoeboxes and religion.

Why do Samaritan’s Purse folks insist in delivering “Christmas” packages to children in countries and cultures where Christmas is not celebrated?

“Oh, but they don’t do that!” said a local pastor friend of ours, a big fan of OCC.

Oh, but they do. On their page they say,

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So… the reason is quite simple. This is not a charity, this is a proselyting method for Samaritan’s Purse’s pet brands of Christianity. Portestations that they must be reaching out to the Christian minorities in such countries are refuted by their own website, again. 

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If you wouldn’t mind people of different faiths distributing gifts to your child for their religious holidays with the intent to convert your child to their faith, often without your knowledge, then please go ahead, and send a box to Samaritan’s Purse. If you’d object to active proselytizing of your minor children, or generally consider the practice of OCC unethical, please consider one of the many alternatives to be charitable this holiday season.

Ten Answers to Today Christian’s Questions to Atheists

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Today Christian posted a list of questions: 10 Questions For Every Atheist without actually giving a chance for Atheists to reply. So here are my answers.

1. How Did You Become an Atheist?
I read enough sacred texts of various religions to find that they contradict each other, and they all claim deities that cross out other deities. How did you pick your deity to believe in?
2. What happens when we die?
Usually our loved ones are very sad, we get buried, our bodies decompose, and return to the natural cycle of life. Unless, of course, they are pumped full of chemicals that will only poison the earth.
3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!
What if there is a heaven and hell and you believe in the wrong religion? Just the same way you don’t believe that you can be wrong, I know that I am right.
4. Without God, where do you get your morality from?
It’s sad if someone needs religion to be moral. I get my morality from living in a society, and confirming to or rejecting certain societal norms.
5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
See 4. If your only reason for not murdering and raping because some unseen man in the sky said not to, you are a pathetic human being. And apparently Christianity teaches that good deeds don’t matter. Actually Christianity teaches that you can murder and rape people and still be rewarded. so I don’t get this question at all.
6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
The meaning of life is to make this world a little better by the time you leave. To make the world a lot better for those in need, and not just have a comfortable assurance that it doesn’t matter if they die for they have a better life in the world to come. This is our only life, we need to act in this life.
7. Where did the universe come from?
I recommend Stephen Hawking’s documentary (narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch) “Did G-d Create The Universe?” It’s on Netflix. But really, the world being created by some duck laying an egg and any other creation myth is just as likely as G-d creating it.

8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
Miracles usually have an explanation. People also have connection with other deities that you believe not to exist. Mental illness, halucinations, warm fuzzy feelings are common. Oh yeah, us atheists also have those Holy Spirit feelings as Christians. We just know it’s our own mind or subconscious that creates them.
9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
Dawkins is an asshole, and sometimes I wish I could have made Hitchens move to an apartment building without a rocket shelter of safe room in Ashkelon, but only after experiencing life as a secular Jew in certain parts of the world.
10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
If there is a god, why do so many societies have different religions? The answer to the original question is easy: humans want to understand the world around them. When having very little scientific knowledge, they come up with theories. Theories became religions.

7 Quick Takes – 18

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— 1 —

I’m so excited! I finally got my iPod! It had an adventureous journey from California to me, with a detour in Jerusalem for about a week, but it’s finally here! Between my new phone and the new iPod, I’m so mobile and communication enabled. 😀 It has been a great week, talking to people easily (well, typing for them and they read), and not having to drag my iPad along. I just love it. 😀

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— 2 —

Can you see what’s on the screen? It’s our 7 Quick Takes host’s new book! I was going to wait to get it, but Amazon paid me, and I had enough gift certificates to buy Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found Itby Jennifer Fulwiler. She also wrote a little e-book, so I’m busy reading.

Why do I want to read a very Catholic book by a very Catholic writer? Jennifer Fulwiler took the exact opposite route to find her happiness from me: she went from atheism to Catholicism, while I found my escape from Catholicism (and Christianity in general) to my current existence as a non-believing Jew very liberating. So I want to read her story. I hope to make a big pitcher of lemonade tomorrow (Thursday) and just read away. I have read through the acknowledgements, and I already enjoyed picking out the bloggers I follow(ed).

— 3 —

My other Amazon purchase this week was this:

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The first few chapters of SOTG reminded me of needing to find my copy of Carl Sagan’s CosmosOf course I couldn’t find it, so for less than $6 I bought the e-Book, and I now know what we will do for the remainder of the school year.

Cosmos, along with some of Stephen Hawking’s books, was one of those wonderful readings in my life that helped me realize that what I felt and thought to be real was not that peculiar an idea at all, that there were others, who thought like me, and there were those, who had the science to back it up.

— 4 —

I was suddenly struck by inspiration the last couple of days, so I didn’t only post about Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), but I wrote two crafty posts about the successful attempt with cold porcelain and making hard chocolate shells for ice cream. With the last topic the idea of making home made Krembo came up. Now I just need marshmallow cream and I could make some. After all, the upcoming week’s planned projects include making peanutbutter cups, where I make my own peanutbutter as well, and maybe we’ll  make some hazelnut-chocolate spread as well. Yeah, I’ve taken up making my own Nutella substitute. It’s not that I’m some super dad, it simply takes 20 minutes from start to finish to make two large jars, and it’s cheaper, and possibly healthier when made at home.

— 5 —

It’s May! In a couple of days my teens will be home from Europe. Some will sit the Bagrut. Some have recitals. The Eurovision Song Contest is next week. And in less than three weeks Kevin and I will be in Rome. I am getting very excited about it! Summer is absolutely in the air. It will be such a busy month!

— 6 —

Sunday evening brings Yom Hazikaron, the Israeli Memorial Day. We won’t have parties or barbecues– those have to wait a day for Yom Haatzmaut, our Independence Day. On Memorial Day, just like on Yom HaShoah avweek before, the national flag will be lowered to half mast…
…and the sirens will sound and everything will stop.

— 7 —

Just to illustrate how far TV has gone…

Me: “I remember when TLC was known as The Learning Channel, and it lived up to its name.”
Itai: “You really are old.”
 

They were surprised tha History showed actual history related programs, and A&E once had arts and entertainment… And that MTV Europe had half an hour dedicated to movies, and the rest was music, before they invented The Real World… I feel mighty old now.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – 11

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— 1 —

I'm so on top of thingst hat I completely forgot to shop for Purim. As I described before, this is a holiday where we are to send food portions to at least two of our friends. So this morning I braved the crowds at two grocery stores, and finally I have a decent base to start to put some mishloach manot together. Early this morning we wrote the list of potential recipients, and what we'd like to give them, and then bought items for a few extra goodie bags in case someone unexpected sends any of us anything. I'm really not a big fan of ripping up packages we just got to gift someone we weren't prepared for.

And this is another reason why I love homeschooling. Purim is the candy gift nightmare of Judaism. But this year I don't have to prepare the small bags for the gazillion and one classmates.

Another mitzvah of the holiday is giving to the poor. I had to stop by the bank machine and get plenty of cash so every family member can fulfill this mitzvah. Last year a wealthy couple in my kids' then school gave us quite a bit of cash, because they thought we could use it. We also gave to other families within our means, and I know they gave to people who had less than them… We even met a homeless man at the bus station one year who was also giving his two coins to charity. Now I feel fairly prepared, because I even got noisemakers to take to synagoge for the reading of the megillah.

— 2 —

Someone told me recently that they liked Jews, because they seemed so normal and not as extreme as some Christian groups in their area. I was shocked by that, because I tend to think of our haredi community as the people who make Bill Gothard and Doug Phillips seem normal.

So, meet the lovely folks of Lev Tahor.

— 3 —

About a month ago my eldest daughter informed me, again, that we were out of cotton makeup pads. You know, those round thingies that boys use for acne tonic, and girls use for I have no idea what. Upon realizing we were spending around $10 on those things per month, and thus create unnecessary trash, we decided to remedy the situation. Going through my yarn stash, we found some white and light coloured 100% cotton yarn, and started to crochet. It took approximately six minutes to create a pad, and using leftovers that were absolutely not enough for any other project, we made about 30 of these pads during homeschool hours. Since then we have made about 100 pieces that are used in various bathrooms in our home.

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We washed them before first use, and both the white and the colours have ben working great since then. The trick is that even washing them is not bad for the environment, because we squeeze them in with the regular wash loads, using one of those wash bags sold at dollar stores.

Gosh, I feel so crunchy. If it goes like this, I might attempt making my own detergent again.

— 4 —

Kevin and I went on a date yesterday! We haven't really been on one for a long time. We went to the Dizengoff Center and shopped for birthday presents. Three of our children have birthdays in the next three weeks, so we had quite a bit of shopping to do. Since two of the birthday kids are reading my blog from time to time, I will not post what we got them. We had dinner at a fast food place, and just generally had a nice time hanging out.

— 5 —

My only birthday child who is definitely not reading here is Judy. She is turning one on Sunday, and I can't decide if I'm the awesomest or the most horrible parent on earth. Since she is the youngest of many, she has more clothes, books and toys than she can ever use, so in addition to a few wooden puzzles, I wrapped three huge boxes in multiple layers of fancy paper for her. I know she will love them.

— 6 —

Yesterday I realized that it's not just that I don't like mozzarella. I don't like mozzarella, oregano and basil. I don't eat pork or non-kosher sea creatures. I'm going to Rome in May. You see my problem?

— 7 —

Shabbat Shalom!

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

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