Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Interfaith monologue

Gidday y'all.

Now hopefully you'll look past that crude fusion of Aussie and Southern USA greetings, and read on. First the daily headlines;

Good news this week when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeated his call that "Israel should be wiped off the map". An Israeli spokeperson choked back tears of joy saying "we're extremely encouraged by this news. Someone in Iran is actually acknowledging that Israel is on the map in the first place!"

Iranian president and very religious little man Mahmoud Im-in-a-jihad

In other news; leading up to the USA elections, Republican and Democrat campaigners have joined forces and designed a joint campaign sticker in an unprecedented show of bipartisan unity.

Apologies for the low level coarse language. I'm only quoting so it's okay.

In news closer to home, Becky is enjoying her dance classes. The other day I had the task of picking her up from dance lessons, for the first time. Admittedly, watching a motley bunch of 5 year old girls wearing brightly coloured tu-tus and stomping on the floor with all the rhythmic coordination of a peak hour freeway pile-up, is not my cup of tea. Of course, the standout performer was my Becky Boo. I'm not in the least bit biased.

The dance lessons are held at the local Anglican hall, where I realised what a trainspotter I've become, since all I could think about was how much their hardwood floors desperately needed to be touched up. Oh well, I suppose that's from a motley bunch of 5 year old girls wearing brightly coloured tu-tus and stomping on the floor with all the rhythmic coordination of a peak hour freeway pile-up.

Sam plays his Nintendo a lot and is getting really good on the race car simulator. He's dropped below 50 secs at Talledega and I feel this will really help him when he is old enough to drive.

On the weekend just prior to the weekday upon which I typed this very text which you are now reading (for any techno-nerds keen on learning exactly what day that was they can research this by examining the blog date at the top of this post and count back) we travelled to Horsham for Sharon's cousin Melissa's 21st birthday party. We made the trip in this type of vehicle, which I acquired only recently;

"Photo is for illustration purposes only". I've always wondered why people bother to write that. What else would we think the photo is for? Solving world hunger? Fixing our relationship problems? Hypnosis?

Ours is much like the one pictured in this advertising image, except ours will probably never be parked or driven on or anywhere near a beach, nor driven by perfect-bodied twenty-something parents with perfectly behaved kids who don't wreck the car's paintwork. And ours is a different colour- one called "Imperial Blonde", named after a woman who leads a small sovereign country whilst using her birth control pills to tell which day of the week it is.

I know, I know, what happened to the Falcon XR-6 Turbo I hear you all ask. Well, firstly it's my job to save my employer some money and having an XR6 Turbo would have the same weekly cost of running a tropical island resort. A diesel vehicle is a fuel/money saving measure. Well, it was,
until Chairman Kevin hit us with a sneaky, lying, spin-doctoring, greedy, stupid and annoying diesel tax. To make up for the fact that it's a gutless oil-burner I got one with leather, big wheels, a big CD player, a refrigerated glovebox and lots of little storage spaces which we'll still be discovering for many years to come.

Secondly, it has SEVEN SEATS. So on long journeys we no longer endure the three children whining annoyingly about sitting next to eachother for the whole trip. Nope. Now we have two children whining annoyingly
for the entire trip that they didn't get to sit in the cool, novel, rear seat. How did I fail to anticipate that little eventuality?

Okay, so I now have a 7 seater SUV. My life is officially over. But it will never qualify to live in the gararge, which is looking very healthy at present.

Moving right along, the 21st birthday party gave Becky Boo the chance to bust some moves on the dance floor

While some of us looked on with excitement...

No, really it was a typically rocking Horsham get together with the usual over-catering ensuring that lunch, dinner and breakfast was covered for several days for several families. However, we had to bolt early the next day (Sunday). Omi and I were keen to attend a Jewish festival known as Shuk Hashishim, celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary, being thrown at St Kilda.

You see, Naomi has chosen Israel as her subject country for a school project on nations of the "Asian Continent". To clarify if Israel was eligible, Omi asked the question of the teacher and without any creative licence whatsoever* I paraphrase the conversation thus;

Omi: Miss, does the "Asian Continent" include the Middle East?
Politically correct teacher gleefully assuming that Omi wishes to do a project on a Muslim country which is so multiculturally aware since us evil Western Imperialists have been so utterly cruel and oppressive to all of them: Why of course Naomi! That's a wonderful idea! I mean, yes it does include the Middle East.
Omi: Good. Because I'd like to do a project on Israel
Politically correct teacher with colour draining from her face believing that Israel is an evil Western Imperialist country oppressing poor multicultural Muslims but knowing she must feign approval lest she sound anti-semitic: OH...oh...well, right...YES...good...wonderful idea!

a blatant lie

So there we were, at Mount Scopus College in St Kilda, soaking up the Hebraic celebrations. Mount Scopus College, by the way, was featured in SBS's Insight forum two days later. You know, the TV forum where they gather the extremes from each opposing faction, let them argue vehemently and call it "open discussion". On this occasion it was the topic of faith-based education. I'm surprised that Doctor Timothy Hawkes was not there. I expect he was invited but declined, being a little tired of the media attention. In the end it looked like a Kevin Rudd inspired socialist interfaith love-in.

Anyhow, back to our Jewish Experience. I cannot quite believe how excited Omi was just to see the ultra-orthodox, rabbinically-garbed gentlemen walking down Hawthorn Road at Caulfield, even before we'd arrived. I had to be careful we didn't act like tourists at a zoo..."Oooh! Look at the Joooz! Look at the cute little kids in their yalmukes!" I confess I had no idea this enclave of Melbourne's inner suburbs was like a Little Brooklyn, except classier. I was not at all surprised they need to congregate so close together.

"you mean I shouldn't feed him?"

I suppose I sound a little crass and patronising, but I'm trying to capture the innocence, beauty and purity of Naomi's developing heart for this special group, the apple of YHWH's eye. She was genuinely chuffed to be amongst them, absorbing a little of their spirit. She's picked up her Dad's firm belief that these people are living, breathing, walking proof of an eternal God's eternal promises.

Fortunately we weren't entirely at sea. We bumped into people I'd previously met at a Christian Supporters of Israel meeting at the Biet Weizmann community centre in Caulfield, a couple of weeks earlier.

Like Ori, for example. Ori is an Israeli "emissary" from Jewish Youth organisation Bnei Akiva, who will tell you some amazing, and little known things about Israel's (miraculous) achievements in agriculture, academics and technology.

Then I saw Avigail Zeiri, a welfare worker who assisted in the massive evacuation and repatriation of Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia's unrest in the 1980's. In this operation over 15,000 people were shuttled to Israel in 48 hours. On one flight, apparently, they left Addis Ababa with 1014 people, and arrived in Tel Aviv with 1015, after a birth on board. Amazing stories, amazing people. Avigail is one of those people who smiles with her entire face, and she greeted Naomi in this fashion, with the predictable but charming comment of "what a beautiful name you have"

Omi and Ori

Me? I was just happy to see some Jews enjoying themselves, instead of only mourning their dead as I saw them do two weeks earlier at their Yom Hazikaron. It's hard to explain or convey how I feel around these treasured folks. Theres something infectious about their joy in the face of, not just hatred, but worldwide efforts to make them hate themselves.

As we left, Omi noted soberingly that she'd never seen a school with such high fences. We also noticed that even the vandals in St Kilda/ Caulfield had a certain spirit about them. Just look at the professionalism of this piece of urban revolutionary art, which should make it onto my list of interesting signs:

So, with a gleeful step, a batch of new ideas for Omi's project, a tinge of political incorrectness, and the unfortunate song "Can't touch this" embedded in the brain for a few hours, we headed off home in the new environmentally friendly economical multicultural interfaith nuclear family transporter to relax for the first time in 48 hours. It has definitely been run in.

For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. Adonai do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me. Ruth 1:16-17