You can’t seperate church and state

You can’t separate church and state.

It is IMPOSSIBLE.

Why? Because everybody worships something.

Worship is all consuming, mind, heart and body.

Everybody worships SOMETHING. Therefore…

Anyone in an elected position will worship SOMETHING. And…

WHAT they worship will effect their leadership and their decisions.

If Christians try to keep their worship separate from their leadership in government, SOMEONE ELSE’S WORSHIP will replace theirs.

Again, you CAN’T separate church and state.

Only through a firm foundation in God and a deep understanding of scripture can a government arrive at a principle for religious freedom where church and state can be unified without the establishment of a State Church.

What are Mishloach Manot?

I love making ritual and festival teaching moments come alive for my family and church. Purim is one that speaks right to my heart because of the spirit of giving.

Coffee Shop Rabbi

https://www.flickr.com/photos/shinyhappyworld/5634941531/ (image by Wendi Gratz)

Ask most American Jews about Purim and they will mention children’s parties, silly Purim Shpiels, costumes, and masks. They may tell you the story of Queen Esther. They might tell you about drinking alcohol in quantities not seen on any other holiday. They are less likely to mention one of the sweetest customs of the day: mishloach manot. (meesh-LOW-ach mah-NOTE) This is the mitzvah of wrapping up small gifts of food or drink to give to family and friends. If the Hebrew name is a tongue twister, call them Purim Goody Bags.

While it is a commonly observed mitzvah in some places, I had never seen it in my home congregation in Oakland. My first experience with mishloach manot was when one of my teachers at Hebrew Union College, Dr. Rachel Adler, showed up at class with a shopping bag loaded with a small brown paper bag…

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Priscilla Speaks part 4: Ishah

We’ve revealed the Ezer Neged for what it is, the Powerful Equal of the Dirt-Man, a fully suitable and essential counterpart, but how does this image reconcile with that of the person of the woman? In Hebrew this word is Ishah, and I add it here as the final description of the God-given counterpart.

We defined counterpart in the previous blog “A Counterpart for the Dirt-Man” and I put it here again for reference:
From Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:
COUNTERPART, n. [counter and part.]
1. The correspondent part; the part that answers to another, as the two papers of a contract or indentures; a copy; a duplicate. Also, the part which fits another, as the key of a cipher. (emphasis mine).
As we continue on in Genesis 2 with the creation of the woman, God takes a rib from the mans side. Think about the purpose of the rib cage in relation to the Ezer Neged.  The Ezer Neged is a shield, a counterpart and a helper.  So is our rib cage.  She is not from the head to be above him, nor from his feet to be under him, but from his side so that they may walk together in unity. While Adam may not have truly understood, yet, what this woman, this Ishah was going to be, he trusted the Lord to fulfill his promise of a counterpart and says,

“This is now flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone, she shall be called Ishah for she was taken out of Ish.”

And the two forsake all other partners and are joined together. I’ve used the Hebrew rendering above for man (ish) and woman (ishah) purposefully to make sure that the word/picture here is understood. In Hebrew these same words are also what is used for husband and wife.  The fact that the mans counterpart is a woman is unmistakeable in every way.  This beautiful picture foreshadows what Paul would later speak about using the words submission.  Only to an equal can we submit in love, and have no fear.  Un-equality can come in many forms, some as basic as age, financial ability and religious beliefs, others go much much deeper and God examines each individually as we form a marriage covenant with another human being.
In summary, based upon the reasoning of God’s intent for the male and female beings of humanity, evident in Genesis 1 and affirmed by the creation of the ezer neged in Genesis 2, we can conclude that Adam not only fully recognized the powerful and essential role of the woman according to God’s revelation to him, he also ACCEPTED it and embraced her as his counterpart. There are further applications of the marriage covenant here between Adam and Ishah that I hope you will be inspired to discuss further.  For now, our discussion has left the door open to answer a very important question, “What IS the origin of the church’s un-egalitarian worldview about men and woman, and husbands and wives?”

(stay tuned for part 5: Curses)

2014-10-31 17.10.23For my wonderful counterpart and blessed companion who is doing an absolutely beautiful job raising and teaching our children with me. Thank you!   

H.R. 5 The Student Success Act Worse than the Redcoats: Invasion of Home School

Wow this makes my blood boil.

I listened to a speech last semester by an upstart teacher-in-processing at the local community college who said TO MY FACE with no apologies, that I did not have the right or ability to teach my children. And you know what? Many parents in our nation DON’T know how to teach their own kids, and rather than LEARN, they are giving up their rights to being parents altogether.

Meanwhile the next generation of teachers are being taught to belittle us and sell us on ideal, no hassle education so that we’ll hand over our babies right off the bat! (I’m not exaggerating here, this is was my conversation with the ed students ).

This is where Common Core is going ya’ll and we need to put a stop to it!

COMMON CORE

nanny

I learned about H.R. 5 “The Student Success Act” on Saturday night and posted what I knew, but I’ve since learned more.  I only have time today to post about the most vital of these things:

This bill will mean, in some of the United States, that the government will be in your home, enforcing neutral (nonreligious) teachings.

Home schools are defined as private schools in many states (check here to see how your state defines it).  If your state defines home schools as private schools, then if H.R. 5 passes into law this week, you will have a government official assigned to monitor your home and enforce regulations.  The regulations (see page 79-86)  mandate “secular, neutral, nonideological” mentoring, computer technologies, and one-on-one counseling, etc.

On page 79, the Student Success Act declares as illegal: religious computer technologies, counseling, one-on-one mentoring or school equipment– in private schools, which in…

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How Ritual Communicates

Dr. Marvin Wilson said in American Anthropologist, published in 1954, that “Rituals reveal values at their deepest level…I see in the study of rituals the key to an understanding of the essential constitution of human societies,” (pg. 241).

Passover Plate _ Jews for Judism

Americans do not typically like ritualistic ceremony, at least we think we don’t. We have many, many rituals that are followed religiously. We even have our own food laws! Think about Sunday football games for example. There will be candy, chips, soda and/or beer, and probably some kind of nachos and pizza. Other amenities include hot wings, team jerseys and Solo cups. It may not be written down, but rituals are typically not recorded BEFORE they are put into practice in some way. Due to our rapid decline in the richer elements of culture, Americans turn up their noses at ritual ceremony believing it to be antiquated, senseless, and in some cases the idea of ritual itself is believed to be unbiblical! Didn’t Paul say that we don’t have to do all these things anymore? Only the Sadducees and Pharisees kept the laws and ceremonies and we are NOT supposed to be like them. What we regrettably miss is the message and magnitude of the Old Testament application to our lives.
G.J Wenham in his commentary on the book of Numbers calls ritual, “The means of communication between God and man…Old Testament rituals express religious truth visually verses verbally,” (pg. 29, emphasis mine).  This is a powerful and very different viewpoint for the American mind.  While we have ritualistic acts, they are nothing in comparison to the ritual and ceremonial laws and sacrifices of the Old Testament.  How do we even begin to comprehend the worldview of these people?  It is a long journey of thought and discovery but if we view each the Levitical sacrifices, their process and purpose, as a TEACHING experience both for them AND for us, we may reach a starting point.

Being a visual learner this makes a lot of sense to me! I love creating rituals around birthdays, Christmas and Passover, or other special events, because it communicates to my family and my guests a message about that event that might go unheeded in words. In essence, these rituals and family traditions are a teaching tool that incorporates all kinds of learning, tactile, visual and verbal into one powerful and repetitious lesson. While the Bible does warn us against vain repetitions in Matthew 6, and against the formalistic practice of religion without heart, it never calls us away from rituals as God establishes them and uses them. Rather, they are purposed to draw us to Him.  After the majority of the Levitical sacrifices the families sat together to feast in celebration!  While the blood was still fresh on the ground, and the power of the sacrifice itself still fresh in their minds, the families gathered together in fellowship. What grace! Have you ever considered the GRACE within the laws of God? Seen the mercy and consideration they prescribe?

Consider the ritual of Passover.  Passover is accompanied by the Feast of Unleavened Bread and is established three unique times between the book of Exodus and Numbers. The first two times appear in Exodus 12, beginning with the institution of the Passover Lamb to be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The spirit of God strikes down the first born and the Egyptians urge the people to leave (vs. 33), and then the chapter closes with an official establishment of the Passover with specific instructions about WHO can observe it. This is notable because the third ordinance of the Passover later in Numbers changes these laws. It would seem that once Israel became established in the wilderness that God saw fit to make a way for foreigners, specifically sojourners, to observe the ritual as well. A sojourner differs from the identification of a foreigner in that he has been a resident among the Israelites for some time and intends to stay. A sojourner and their family would have become familiar with the cultural and religious practices of the Israelites, and if they desired to observe the Passover it would be a sign that they were truly adopting the Israelite customs as their own. Simply put, God made a way for foreigners and aliens to become members of the chosen nation, to come closer to Him, and he was going to do it again on a much bigger scale.
God draws us to him through rituals because they communicate to us and demand a response. Take, for example, a man named Jesus who sat around a table and celebrated the Passover with his disciples not long before he died. Like the meals of the wilderness wanderers in Exodus he used its elements to teach both Jews and Gentiles as one. “Take this bread…Take this cup…” As the disciples eat and drink they are responding to his call to remember him as the last Passover lamb, their eternal Savior. When this ceremony is repeated year after year correctly it symbolizes a relationship with the Lord in which we act our remembrance of him and live our response to his teaching and calling in our lives. Far from removing ritual from our daily lives, Jesus endorses it! This is why we keep biblical rituals alive today in our home, and add more meaningful ritual aspects to present day traditions to keep God’s messages to us alive in them as well.
What we call communion, to me, seems oversimplified and lacking in the educational intent of what Passover was meant to be. It can still hold significance, and I treasure the teachable moments of that Sunday when our children watch us nibble and sip in remembrance. But the true significance and power of God’s message in the ritual of Passover, incorporates sacrifice and lament with an entire week of feasting and celebration after it! And I believe this ritual specifically is necessary to our adoption of a Christian life. Why do we eat unleavened bread? Why are their four cups to drink not just one?  Why do we leave an empty chair at the table and eat bitter herbs?  Each aspect of this amazing tradition hold a very special message about God, who he is and what he plans to do. As Christians we are sojourning with God’s people, and God has prescribe a way for us to become one of them but we cannot expect to truly be adopted into a family if we remain ignorant of the practices and traditions that compose their heritage. Giving a Passover Seder meal has become a regular part of our family’s yearly rituals, one among the many that we make meaningful by exemplifying God’s communication to us through the practice and teach my children to respond to Him. For myself alone, some rituals comprise a very deep part of my relationship with God. They represent a place in my heart and mind that is very sacred, and where I treasure memories and hopes and communicate with God on a deep, deep level. God’s intent was for the worship and lifestyles of the Israelites to be DRASTICALLY different from the nations around them, to set them apart by the truth of God.  I hope that if someone were to observe the rituals of my life, they would see God’s truth.

The Danger of Refusing to Learn

One of the biggest problems we have yet to face is the failing of our nation. I often hear, and have said myself a few times, “We have to return to founding principles!”, and want to agree! And then I think about the many things left unfinished by the founding fathers and mothers, the many problems yet to solve in their budding union. Our founders understood that while looking at the past gives us purpose and fortitude, it more importantly gives us lessons for growth so that we do not repeat past mistakes. These lessons also give us creativity and conviction to do better. When it came to forming the principles of liberty they didn’t try to copy European monarchies or the forms of churches which still held to the divine right of kings. No, they looked to God and scripture, and applied their conviction of His lessons about rulership and nations to a NEW and innovative government. It wasn’t perfect but they sought to grow, to learn and to make their new world a better place.

So when did we stop being innovative? When did we give up improving upon the our first ideas and expanding our designs? When did you stop believing that you could make an impact on the world?

Let’s not try to GO back to the way we were. We need to go forward. We need to seek to UNDERSTAND our history, to learn from it and in doing so put an end to foolishness and ignorance. Learning is a forward motion, an expansive progression from the inside of ourselves outward. Learning is discipline and we, if we hold our course, become it’s disciples. We who call ourselves disciples have the greatest responsibility of all.

The life of a disciple of Christ was never meant to be stagnant. Rather, it is a journey of transformation, led by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of becoming something new (Romans 12)! “Sing to the Lord a new song,” the palmist says. You don’t have to listen to the radio for long to figure out the lack of innovation in Christian music. Our nation is crying out for a new song, and we who should be teaching the world are failing to write it.

We are stagnant and dissassociated with reality. Youth groups are failing, schools are failing, children have no respect for parents and really, have we given them a reason to respect us? Have we been dedicated, consistent and nurturing of our child’s minds, bodies and hearts? Obesity is rampant! Children are leaving the faith and calling their parents hypocrites. Idaho has the WORST go-on rate in America which is SUCH a misnomer. The problem is not that our children are not CHOOSING to go on, they haven’t been educated enough to choose! It isn’t their fault, it is ours, and we arrogantly snub our noses at offers for teacher training, personal enrichment classes and continuing education as though it were the height of insult. We refuse to take the time and money to adequately educate ourselves in the journey of discipleship and then complain and ring our hands when we hear that a governor won’t give more money to education.

Someone is writing the music for our nation and IT ISN’T US. Where is our heritage? Where is our cultural inspiration for creativity and imagination!? Why aren’t we signing up ourselves and our spouses for any extra training we can get!? And those who do usually put biblical studies at the bottom of the list. “I go to Bible study.” One or two hours a week didn’t keep the kids following the Lord, why are we so much better?

We are refusing to learn and the consequences are self evident.

Some closing thoughts from the writer of Hebrews :

“Let us think of how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our assembling together, as some do, but encouraging one another. All the more so, as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25.