In the Presence of the Mystery

LET’S ASSUME FOR THE MOMENT that the Chanukah story is true (or at least as true as any myth or legend) …

Basking in the glow of three candles a little while ago, it occurred to me that to the Maccabees, the oil-miracle’s second night was the most exciting.

They had already used up the one cruse of oil (or so they thought). When the flame didn’t go out as expected, however, they knew something strange and/or miraculous was afoot.

With the Temple menorah still alight by the eighth day, they might have become used to the miracle; taken it for granted even.

But that second night — that must have been the best.

Seasonal Skirmish Solved

AS WE WIND DOWN DECEMBER, the social air is thick with anticipation — and, alas, some rancor.

It seems once again that some are taking issue with some who take issue with being greeted by the adherents of our country’s majority-religion, who in turn are peeved at what they perceive to be a “War on Christmas” — as though it’s somehow un-American to be polite or play well with others. Allow me to once again proffer a solution to this non-problem — an all-purpose response to someone who wishes you a happy holiday-outside-your-affinity-group. Simply say to them, “Same To You.” (After all, it’s not like anyone has a monopoly on Northern Hemisphere winter light-festivals.)

Words to Bring Back: “Fabulous”

– Definition: adj. Of, like, or recorded in fable; fictitious; mythical

– Used in a sentence: The current Administration* is doing a fabulous job.

– Why: In its current usage, “fabulous” is synonymous with “great” or “excellent.” But I think it’s important to return some words to their root meanings. Not only does that enrich our vocabulary; it also expands our thinking. Use it or lose it, folks.

If truth is stranger than fiction, it is because it has a better and more creative author.”
— Jeff Forsythe

365 Names: “G-d”

G-D is a bit of linguistic trickery. Because traditional Judaism teaches that the name of G?d (see what I did there?) is not to be erased, “G-d” is a way to write that Name without really writing it: on a Hebrew school blackboard, say, or a Xeroxed handout, or a computer screen, or any transient or otherwise ephemeral medium. Of course, as Rabbi Larry Kushner points out, “‘God’ is not God’s name” — thus, erasing “God” should pose no theological problem. Some habits, though, are hard to break. (So what’s with the question mark? See here, o seeker after Divine nomenclature.)