Monday, August 21, 2017

Sound advice from Rabbi Kaufman

The headline, "Iowa faith healers offer words to buoy your spirit," was what caught my attention after turning to the online edition of Sunday's Des Moines Register. "Faith healers," you say? Best see what that's all about.

As it turns out, whoever posted the promotional headline on the online cover had misinterpreted the headline on the actual story, a column by some guy named Daniel P. Finney, which read: "In a nation awash in hatred and despair, these Iowa faith leaders offer words of hope." 

Are we really awash in hatred and despair? There's a lot of unrest, emotional and otherwise, but most folks I know are trying to figure out how to watch the eclipse today without frying their eyeballs.

Anyhow, six "faith leaders" were quoted, five of them from Des Moines. The Church of Christ preacher suggested "don't watch the news" and trust Jesus. The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines recommended prayer and personal reflection. The two United Methodist preachers recommended, respectively, woodworking and love (OK, that's an over-simplification).

I appreciated the advice from Imam Tahah Tawil of Cedar Rapids' Mother Mosque of America --- "We need to use our intellect and skills of communication to avoid conflict. We must prove ourselves to be trustworthy stewards of God's house. Extremists, unfortunately, advocate violence, anger and bigotry. We need to talk to people and ask them, 'Why do you hate us? How do you come to these ideas?' We must spread the ideas of peace and understanding even among those who say they hate us. Earth belongs to God. Whether you are from Syria, Kosovo or Timbuktu, this our shared home."

But I really liked the offering of Rabbi David Kaufman of Temple B'nai Jeshurun, Des Moines' Reform congregation: "Judaism teaches us, even commands us, to see the world as it is and to strive to change it, to make peace where there is strife, to feed the hungry, to house the homeless. Seeing that ugliness still exists in our world isn’t a rejection of what we’ve fought for, it is the very reason we fight. You make peace with enemies. You fix problems. We live in a world in which our ideals sometimes get run over by reality. On occasion, we feel that we, ourselves, have been run over. Sometimes, it even feels like reality backs up and runs over us and our ideals repeatedly before it moves on. But there is good in the world. There is light and hope. Our task is to increase them, rather than focusing on shade. Remember, the first commandment is 'Let there be light!' "

Then I turned to the web page of Temple B'nai Jeshurun --- a Des Moines congregation that has a number of historic links to Chariton --- and found the illustration above. That fairly well sums it up.

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