Dancing Along Autobiographical Lines

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THERE IS SO MUCH in this world that fascinates me, that it is going to be difficult to narrow things down to enter into a blog. But that’s what I’m planning to try to do.

I AM INTERESTED in Art (almost every kind of Art), Art History, art curriculum, history, science, psychology, writing, novels, autobiographies, Judaism, Jewish history, the Scriptures, Yeshua the Messiah (not the Hellenized Jesus Christ), comedy, movies, and God knows what else. Mathematics is right out.

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I THINK the very first thing I will write about is my novel: “Living From the Inside Out”. The reason I want to begin my Blog-life with this is because it—out of all the things I have to offer the world—may be the most pointedly Me. I have so much to say, and have found so many different ways to say them. But I figure a blog is supposed to be my voice about how I see the world, and if I had to cull it all down to one thing, it would be this bizarre novel I have written.

THE BOOK, Living From the Inside Out – dancing along autobiographical lines – is about a Jewish kid in El Paso Texas who grows up cut off from Judaism and cut off from the surrounding Mexican culture that is so completely pervasive in El Paso.  But the boy ends up finding a connection with the Mexicans around him, and with Judaism that his family cares nothing for.

THE MAIN CHARACTER becomes a Conservative Rabbi to the chagrin of his ignorant, narrow-minded and bigoted parents. He moves back to the Southwest, taking a Rabbinate in Las Cruces, New Mexico. This is when the trouble starts. Pursuing sociological study of the Crypto-Jews, he finds his “bashertah” (intended) who happens to be of Mexican descent, and happens to be of “Crypto-Jewish” descent as well. Because of her tearing away from Catholicism and pursuit of Judaism, the Rabbi wants to “find out about Jesus”.

I DO NOT MEAN JEWS FOR JESUS, that sort of “pursuit of Jesus” in the writing of this book.  I mean a Jew, a Rabbi who knows his stuff, who honestly wants to discover how Jesus fits into history and Judaism and Israel and reality.

ON HIS SEARCH he meets mostly insane people.  My brother who lives in Israel asked me if this was autobiographical. I said yes. The main character’s name is Michael, but that is not the only self-styled aspect of the book. I don’t know why it is, but most Jews are messed up. Most Messianic Jews are worse. And yes, I count myself in the same camp of crazies.

THE RABBI meets his namesake. The man lived some 150 years before, and his image is on a slate tile that, on an absurd visit to his dysfunctional parent’s home, he finds hanging on the wall. Then that long-dead Rabbi visits Rabbi Michael in his dreams. But they are not dreams. They are reality. They are somewhere in between. And they change Michael on a very deep level.

FACE TO FACE is a whole lifestyle of ancient Judaism. And on 2 visits to Israel, Rabbi Michael learns to live in that framework, and attempts to bring it back to the Southwest. This is ill-advised.  It drives all of Michael’s problems to the surface and the book borders on the absurd for almost 70 pages. But that is as it was in my life, and that is where the dance along autobiographical lines becomes a screwed-up tango. The story does however resolve itself beautifully. The visits from beyond the grave, the lifestyle of Face to Face, and his integration of the real Jesus (or more properly, Yeshua) all braid together into the tools that he uses to bring healing to himself and to others.

EVEN AFTER MORE than 25 years of Biblical study, I cannot understand why Jews have such a horrified, knee-jerk response to Jesus. Well, I lie, I do understand. I guess what I don’t understand is why they can’t find it inside to discover the truth of things: what is real and what is illusory, what is foolish tradition and what is delivered by God, what it meaningless, and what is good and strong and accurate enough to build a foundation on.

WE NEED TO BE MORE open to things that maybe we don’t understand or are frightened of; and that goes for people too. People can be weird. People believe all kinds of weird stuff. We all do. But even the weirdest people can speak into our lives and change us for the better. And if you think about it, maybe you are the weird one who will do the speaking to help someone else.

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