I attend Czech classes twice a week. This time of year the courses focus on Christmas. I’ve attended three different schools over the last five years, and all handle Christmas similarly. Even though the Czech Republic is only marginally Christian, for many Czechs being Czech and observing Christmas seem to go hand-in-hand. In fact, Czech customs around Christmas even figure into the citizenship exam.
In last Tuesday’s class, my teacher asked me how I celebrate Christmas here. She knows I’m Jewish. When I said that I don’t observe Christmas traditions in my home, she responded, “you don’t have to be a believer to do Advent-related and Christmasy things. Only 20% of Czechs are, and yet we all participate in Advent and Christmas.” It was part invitation, part assimilation request. However, the excited in-class discussion felt more like an attempt at conversion. Don’t you want to be a part of this amazingly joyful time? Continue reading “On My Invitation as a Jew to Participate in Advent and Christmas by Ivy Helman.”
In a recent post I wrote about finding God in music. I confess, I cannot remember the last time I set foot in a church. As a woman, I continually grapple with the foundational messages of Jesus and Catholic Social Teaching and the disconnect with the power structures that seek to control the ways we love and find justice. I long to participate in the culture I grew up in, but cannot support the weaponization of the tradition.
Lately, I’ve come to realize that the messages I connect to I find in music. There are particular songs that offer me the guidance, philosophy, and ideas around meaning and purpose that I resonate with. One of those is “Where’s the Love?” by the Black Eyed Peas.
I’ve been listening to it on repeat lately because it is the sermon I need to hear; it speaks to me and even though it was recorded quite a while ago, it is still relevant. I think it is fair to say that in our current socio-political culture, people are “acting like they got no mamas.”And by the way, I include myself in that statement. Like anyone, I sometimes get so caught up in believing that my way is the only way, I forget to listen to what others have to say.
We are in the midst of a political civil war and are so busy yelling past each other, we’ve forgotten how critical unity is to shaping a healthy government that serves its purpose – caring for the people. Continue reading “Where’s the Love by Gina Messina”