To one Jewish professor, Martin Luther King Jr. was a mensch

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marches with other civil rights leaders — from left, John Lewis, an unidentified nun, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Bunche, Heschel and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth — from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on March 21, 1965. Credit: Courtesy of Susannah Heschel

January 16, 2017 · 10:00 PM EST
By Lidia Jean Kott

Susannah Heschel was just a child in the spring of 1965, when her father left for Selma, Alabama, to march with those demanding that everyone be allowed to vote regardless of their skin color.

“He kissed me goodbye,” says Heschel. “And I remember thinking ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again.’”

Just a few weeks earlier, many demonstrators had been brutally attacked by police officers on a day known as Bloody Sunday.

Heschel’s father returned safely. But the experience left an impression.

“My father came home feeling like it was a religious event,” says Heschel. “He said, ‘I felt my legs were praying.’”

To Heschel, and her family, the religious aspect of the Civil Rights Movement is an important part of the story, even if it’s not talked about as much.

That’s because Heschel is a professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College.

And her father, Abraham Joshua Heschel, was a rabbi.

Heschel’s father was born in Poland and lost several members of his family to the Holocaust. He was able to escape and come to the US, where he became an activist.

A calling, according to Heschel, with a lot of historical precedent.

“Jews came to the United States at the turn of the century from Russia, and there were Yiddish newspapers that would report in screaming headlines that there were Pogroms here in the United States. And what did they mean? Lynchings,” says Heschel. “Jews were outraged by that. How could that be? Russia is one thing but in the United States? So there is a long tradition of rabbi’s speaking out against segregation.’’

Heschel believes that, in part, the Civil Rights Movement became so powerful because everyone felt included, regardless of their religion.

“If you look at Dr. King’s major speeches, he doesn’t talk about Jesus, he doesn’t make this an exclusively Christian event,” says Heschel. “That openness, that embrace of Jews meant so much to my father.”

The night before he joined the march, Heschel’s father stayed in the same house as King and a few others. This house, which belonged to Sullivan and Richie Jean Sharrod Jackson, became an informal headquarters for activists.

Heschel later spoke to Richie Jean Sharrod Jackson about the night her father stayed there.

“Mrs. Jackson told me she got up in the morning and went into the living room, and there was Dr. King standing in one corner of the room saying his prayers, and my father was in another corner of the room saying his morning prayers, and there were a few others in the dining room praying,” says Heschel. “That to me is such a central concept of the Civil Rights Movement, coming together in that way, each one praying in their own faith tradition, in a different part of the house.”

Even as a kid, Heschel says that she felt herself to be surrounded by heroes. Heroes like her father, other friends and activisits, and King.

“He was always so gentle and kind and friendly to me,” says Heschel. “There were times at the end of lectures when I’m sure he was tired and just wanted to relax, and yet he was so generous and sweet.”

Now, says Heschel, she often goes back and listens to King’s speeches. Speeches that made her cry when she was younger.

She credits King with teaching her about “how to be a human being, how to be a mensch in the world,” and helping set her on her life’s path.

“I became a professor of religion because of him,” she says.

Note: “mensch” means “a person of integrity”.

Six reasons why we shouldn’t worry

1. It’s fruitless.
2. It’s disobedience.
3. It’s taking what is not yet given.
4. It’s refusing the given.
5. It is the antithesis of trust. If you trust, you can’t worry.
If you worry, you can’t trust.
6. It is a wicked squandering of time and energy.

~ Elizabeth Elliott Quotes

DON’T STROLL THROUGH THE SWAMP

“You’re gonna regret it!” I waved away the warning without turning around. What was to regret? I took the shortcut.

I was on my way to a picnic. The tables sat on the other side of a marsh. The parks department had kindly constructed a bridge over the marsh. But who needed a bridge? I ventured in. The mud swallowed my feet. Squiggly things swam past me. I think I saw a set of eyeballs peering in my direction. I backpedaled—flip-flops sucked into the abyss. I exited, mud covered, mosquito bitten, and red faced.

I walked over and took my seat at the picnic table. It made for a miserable picnic, but it makes for an apt proverb. Life comes with voices. Voices lead to choices, and choices have consequences!

~ Max Lucado

From God’s With You Every Day

We are the World! Happy New Year!

Praying for blessings to all of you around the world. May we all come together to find what is best in each of us. Love surely is better than hate. Working together, standing together, loving together will make the difference. If you are upset about something, find your voice. Go on Twitter, Facebook, start a Website, care and share positive ideas and progressive thinking instead of crying in a corner. We can all light the place where we stand and that light will shine enough to change things.

Be blessed with much love, joy, and happiness!

Sharon & Erick

We are the world!

There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And its time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

We can’t go on pretending day by day
That someone, somehow will soon make a change
We are all a part of Gods great big family
And the truth, you know,
Love is all we need

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So lets start giving

Losing my religion for equality

Although this article was published in 2015, when I discovered it today, I thought it important to share. ~ Sharon Rule

Jimmy Carter
Published: April 27, 2015 – 11:12AM

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981

May 4 2015

Want equality for all? Then spurn organised religion.

This story was found at: The Age

Christmas

So happy to be sharing this amazing day with all of you. Hoping you are having a wonderful, blessed, full-of-love day. If any of you are alone today, we reach out to you to let you know you are never alone because we love you and are with you in spirit. Remembering those who are no longer with us and feeling the loss of their presence. Sharon and Erick

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Why I love Christmas

When Christ was born, so was our hope! This is why I love Christmas. The event invites us to believe the wildest of promises! He did away with every barrier, fence, sin, bent, debt, and grave. Anything that might keep us from him was demolished.

He only awaits our word to walk through the door. Invite him in. Escort him to the seat of honor, and pull out his chair. Clear the table; clear the calendar. Call the kids and neighbors. Christmas is here. Christ is here. One request from you, and God will do again what he did then. He’ll scatter the night with everlasting light. He’ll be born in you.

Let “Silent Night” be sung! Every heart can be a manger. Every day can be a Christmas.  The Christmas miracle—a yearlong celebration! ~Max Lucado

The Heart of the Human Problem

The sinful nature is the stubborn, self-centered attitude that says, “My way or the highway.” The sinful nature is all about self: pleasing self, promoting self, preserving self. I have a sin nature! So do you. Under the right circumstances you will do the wrong thing. You’ll try not to, but you will. You have a sin nature. You were born with it. The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart!

Christmas commemorates the day and the way God saved us from ourselves. The angel speaking to Mary in Matthew 1:21 says, “. . .you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Each of us entered the world with a sin nature. God entered the world to take it away!

~ Max Lucado