Thanks to the traveling Virtual Reality show sponsored by the 2020 Venice Biennale and exhibited at the Portland Art Museum, and the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, I have been lucky enough to see both the VR and the traditionally produced versions of the Argentinian film project “4 Feet High“. It is a splendid exploration of the queer experience, the disabled experience, teenage sexuality, and the meaning of both beauty and eroticism in a world of western, fashion-oriented, stereotypes.

4 Feet High” is really a mini-series / film and a VR project all rolled into one. It was directed by María Belén Poncio and Rosario Perazolo Masjoan and it concerns a 17-year-old blue-haired girl named Juana who is confined to a wheelchair because of a physical disability. Juana enters a new high school and quickly connects with a group of LGBTQ+ students who are fighting to be given effective, modern, sex education. Juana seems to want some sex education as well – but she wants it in a more visceral way.

Rosario Perazolo Masjoan is, in real life, wheelchair-bound and believes it’s important to cast actors with disabilities to play characters with disabilities. Marisol Agostina Irigoyen, who plays Juana, demonstrates how amazing it is when an actor brings real-world experience. to a part. This is her first role but, man, you’d never know it!

Despite her physical limitations Juana wants to be treated as a normal student. Particularly impactful for me is a scene where, having been called to the principal’s office with one of her activist friends, Juana insists of receiving the same punishment even when offered an “out”. She also wants the same sexual experiences, even when that means explaining to dates how to lift her from her chair and onto the bed. She’s struggling with her sexuality just like those without disabilities She is also struggling against a world that wants to desexualize her because of her limitations. I was particularly affected by as scene where a boy without a disability tells her that she’s “amazing“. She tells him not to say that. He asks why. She says: “Because we don’t say those things to people we want to kiss.” He leans in, emphatically states “You’re amazing,”, and kisses her.

There is so much more I can say about this film but I don’t want to ruin the surprises. It has a wonderful experimental animation component to it and it’s beautifully edited.

The most important thing I noticed, and this is what the film is really trying to contribute, is that despite her contorted body, Juana is beautiful. Despite her limitations, her sexual life is erotic. In other words, the Vogue Magazine stereotypes of beauty and eroticism are just that: stereotypes. Beyond what contemporary western media wants to portray, beauty goes far beyond the stereotypical and body-type does not limit the ability to desire or to experience love.

If you have a chance to catch “4 Feet High“, on a screen – big or small – or within a your VR goggles, take the time. You will broaden your view of the beautiful and, perhaps, find the erotic is some unexpected places.

The Clouded Mirror of Memory

A couple of decades ago, I wrote a poem called “Memory” that was published in 2013 in my book “The New Poetics of Isolation“. It was a poem about repressed memories and memories of actions that could have had different consequences. One particular stanza was about my father:

“I summon memory / and pause upon the pathway / leading to the rear edifice / within which father’s / chemistry was taught / with plastic molecular models. / A retrograde reality / where polymers build atoms; / not vice-versa”

That was a play on the fact that the model atoms were made of plastic. (Hey! I never said I was going to be a great poet… just a poet.)

That poem ended by saying:

I could have / learned much / had my ego / not prohibited / my assumption / of apprenticeship.

This poem did not speak only of my father. But, with his recent passing, I have come to view it with greater clarity. I missed so many, many opportunities to learn from him. I don’t think it was my ego alone that got in the way. I think it was the clashing of both of our egos. Still, one does not have control over others and must, thus, be satisfied with finding and acting with the best within ourselves. That means taking responsibility and that is why I put this on myself.

Brilliance in Context

Dad was a brilliant guy and had he tried to talk to me in the context of things I was interested in – cooking, the creatine / glycogen cycle during my weightlifting workouts, etc. – I would have been damn interested. I was not taken by polyimides and heat shields, and wire coatings and that’s on him. But, I own the responsibility because I could have done something too. Like:

“hey, dad, why do I always want to eat so much after being around all those people taking bong hits in the Toys-R-Us parking lot on Saturday night? No, dad, it must be from secondhand smoke.”

Joking aside, I could have pivoted to my interests and asked him questions in my context. I didn’t and now I regret that.

Here’s why I say dad was a brilliant guy:

A CV in Plastics

My father received his BS in Chemistry in 1949 from Rosevelt University in Chicago. He went on to the University of Chicago where he earned an MS in 1952 and his PhD in 1956. He authored countless papers and, by the end of his career has amassed over 100 patents, all in Polymer Chemistry and primarily in High Temperature Polyimides. These plastics formed the foundation for electrical insulations, lubricants, ablative materials, and polyphenylenes. In the vacuum of space, many materials outgas and can be damaged by the recondensation of volatilized gases. These plastics were able to avoid failing in these environments. Perhaps the best known applications for we non-chemists would be as conformal coatings used in aerospace applications such as to protect electronic devices and wiring from the intense heat of spacecraft reentry.

My father was pretty self-absorbed with his career. We kids, could say “dad…. dad…. DAD!!…” and he would not even answer. But to get his attention we need only whisper, “hey… Doctor Bilow’…” and BOOM! we got his attention. When I think about how odd that sounds, I also think about how committed he was to caring for his family. He worked so hard so he could put us through college, help his brothers, care for his mother, and raise a family on one of those 1960s single incomes. Doctor Bilow committed himself to his career for all of us, even when it did not always seems that way when he was at Moffit Field, or chairing a Sigma Xi conference. Think about it…

When dad decided to become a chemist nearly 75 years ago, polymers were in their infancy so he began his career at Dow Chemical Company developing polypropylene. At that time, anyone who was a bit creative could come up with projects which they believed warranted development and products which they would like to see invented. He, thus, went on to spend 25 years at Hughes Aircraft Company in Culver City, CA where he led laboratories in Polymer, Physical, and Analytical Chemistry and served as Senior Scientist for the Advanced Materials Lab.

The position that dad held at Hughes was largely the result of the space race. The USAF and NASA requested proposals to develop polymeric materials which could char efficiently but still retain physical integrity. These government organizations anticipated developing spacecraft which could enter the earth’s atmosphere at high reentry temperatures and this required high-char plastics to maintain structural integrity. Dad was at Hughes and his team submitted a winning proposal. That led to a lifetime of these materials (and, frankly, the possibility for a space program from which vehicles and humans could safely return!).

Family Matters

That use of my father’s brain-power is what allowed him to purchase a home in the San Fernando Valley, to support the Jewish Community, to get us through our B’nai Mitzvah and weddings, and to send his electronic-musician / photographer / mediocre scholar son to CalArts – a world class private art institution while simultaneously helping my sister through UCSD. His work was for him and, as a teenager and young adult, it seemed like that was the end of the story. But, as a 60 year old who has been nowhere as successful as he, my “old curmudgeon” perspective is very different. I’m now 5 years older than dad was when he first retired and I’m not close. He had a whole second career ahead of him though.

At 55, dad retired from Hughes and joined Furane Products Co. as director of R. & D. At Furane he got to experience what I experienced through my years at Grass Valley, corporate mergers and acquisitions. After a merger with Rohm & Haas, dad became manager of research, and, a couple of years later, Ciba-Geigy bought Furane so he ultimately retired again; this time from Ciba-Geigy. Of course, in the spirit of good old American M&A, the company was by now part of Novartis. At Furane dad dealt primarily with polyurethane foaming processes. This is a far cry from the space program but his work ultimately led to another amazing change in the world – an entirely new mattress market. From space to bed, that’s my dad!

In the Community

There is another thing I think a lot about now-a-days. That is my early involvement in ACM OOPSLA conferences, my book review editorship and columnist position at several computer magazines, and even the involvement I have with the SMPTE Journal Board of Editors and my ACM volunteerism. That came from Doctor Bilow, too.

Dad was also an active part of the research community. He was a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, a member of the American Chemical Society, and a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemists. In both 1970 and 1974 he was presented with the Industrial Research Magazine IR-100 Award, first for his work with wire insulations and second for a family of thermosetting, high-temperature, addition curable polyimides. Dad also had the high honor to serve as President of Sigma XI and to receive Hughes Aircraft Company’s coveted Lawrence A. Hyland Award. He was no stranger to awards!

Hidden Influences

I ask myself, often, why a PhD Polymer Chemist would support his son in getting a degree in Electronic Music Composition at an expensive Art School when he knew the power of the sciences and the difficulty of the arts. Well, he and I had vastly different tastes, but he loved the arts. He loved paintings (not what I liked) and classical music (which I adored even while going to Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and Grateful Dead concerts.) And he LOVED to DANCE (he danced, I watched Twyla Tharp and Bella Lewitzky, and got certified as a teacher of “Movement Expression” – so, again, we differed but he led the way). And…. man…. he could dance!

Doctor Dance

Those of you who knew my father well will know this, but most people will not. Dad was a marvelous ballroom dancer. He and my mother were extraordinary on the dance floor. Even as a hand drummer I could not count as well as my dad did when even casually waltzing (God…. I just this second realized that this may well be why I am addicted to Leonard Cohen’s “Take this Waltz”!!!)

Mom and dad were both proud of this and well into his 80s dad’s “dance card” was full up at the Burbank Senior Center. As they aged mom because the greeter at the senior center door while dad danced up a storm with all the “young” ladies. Once in a while, while visiting LA, I would join them but I was generally too self-conscious to dance with or around them. To me, it was like singing in a karaoke contest with Placido Domingo. I could not do it but it sure made me proud and it sure made me happy to see them smile. They were much more stylish than the folks I hung out with at “Dance Home” above the Radio Shack in Santa Monica.

Endnotes

I want to close with some thoughts I should have opened with:

  1. My father used to sit in Norm’s Restaurant, time and again, while I was as Cedar Sinai Medical Center having my many regularly scheduled esophagus dilations. His worrying gave him an ulcer but never did he complain. Dr. Bilow… I love you.
  2. My father used to bring home dry ice and liquid nitrogen to use at our Cub Scout meeting so that we could freeze hot dogs and smash them with a hammer. Dr. Bilow… I love you.
  3. My father helped me adapt our bathroom so that I could use it as a darkroom with my first Kodak enlarger sitting on the toilet, when I was 12. Dr. Bilow… I love you.
  4. My father helped me convert the storage closet beneath our stairs into a darkroom so that Jeff Brown and I could process our rock concert photographs. And he pretended to believe I only inhaled second-had smoke out back. Dr. Bilow… I love you.
  5. My father drove to Valencia to attend every one of my CalArts composer’s concerts, family in tow, to support me even though he could not understand why he was paying soo much money for me to write music that he had to sit in the dark to listen to on an Ampex Quad Machine through giant JBL Speakers. Dr. Bilow… I love you.
  6. I never demonstrated this very well, certainly not as well as my siblings, but I want to tell you something. Dr. Bilow… I love you.

As my wife said when her father passed away “I’m an orphan now”. In it’s own funky way, that’s true. But I will say that, perhaps because of that, I realize more now than ever what a blessing it was to be the son of the son of Russian immigrant who made good, went to a university I could only dream of, helped put humans in space, supported his family so well, and set me on a solid course for my own journey.

Dr. Bilow… I love you.

Dr. Bilow… I miss you!

All the rest is commentary.

z”l

A lot of folks tell me about how important it is to keep a “gratitude journal”. I used to do that but I haven’t for a long, long time. With everything so strange because of COVID and the recent election insanity it’s easy to think that the world sucks. So this Thanksgiving I thought I’d share how easy it is to find gratitude if you just look around.

I can be jealous of people who have more money, bigger houses, cooler cars, etc. I can think I’m not as lucky or not as talented as some. But the fact it, like all of you, I’m blessed. You just need to look around.

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement” 

– Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

For example, here are a few things I’m grateful for…

  • Patt. My wife and life partner of 31 years who was in my Christmas stocking on Christmas Eve 32 years ago and who put’s up with all my unique traits 🙂
  • A brother and sister who still love each other even after 50+ years.
  • My friends from Cafe Marzocca who have made a year of COVID-19 bearable even while standing outside in the rain 6 feet apart and wearing masks. And, who, by the way, share with us cookies and scones from their kids, home made masks, invitations to their fundraisers, lively political discussions, and especially the kindness of lending an ear when I talk too much about myself and my little problems.
  • Eric, the best barista in the world.
  • Johnnie Walker Blue Label – and the fantastic attorney who so graciously gave it to me for my 60th birthday.
  • A Torah Study Group that shows up for class even when thy know I’m teaching instead of clergy.
  • Rabbis that honor me by asking me to lead Torah Study in their absence.
  • My old friends from CalArts who keep me in touch with a past so different from today and so important in my life.
  • SMPTE leadership who gave me the huge honor of asking me to edit 2 issues of the Motion Imaging Journal this year, got me a byline in TVB Europe, and asked me to host a session at the 2020 conference.
  • The old leadership at BlueVolt who gave me a chance to work with them when I needed it.
  • The new leadership at BlueVolt who gave me the chance to continue on and to learn so many new things.
  • My Weight Watchers group who supports me even though I’ve been at my goal weight for, like, 2 years.
  • Doctors Kubicky and Jaboin from OHSU who have become trigeminal schwannoma gurus
  • My guru (speaking of Gurus) whose instructions on meditation I rarely pay enough attention to but who I know won’t ever give up on me and my karma.
  • My dear friend Traci, who is my Oregon sister and always will be.
  • My financial planner who keeps telling me that I may someday retire.
  • The tens of millions of people who agreed with me about the need for a fundamental shift toward empathy and compassion and away from vitriol and voted to change our nation’s leadership.
  • The few Republicans, Libertarians, Objectivists, Evangelical Christians, and others who’s views differ from mine who are willing to discuss issues and philosophies without anger, meanness, or insults. I wish there were more of us on both sides. But, I’m deeply grateful for those I can still speak to, rationally.
  • That I was able to turn our dog Zimrah from a PTSD rescue dog who destroys venetian blinds when not on Prozac into the best canine friend I’ve had since Sydney died.
  • That Bluebell has lived for 17 years.
  • The memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Lewis, and C.T. Vivian among the many awesome people who left us this year.
  • The memory of my mom, who I miss every day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The title says it all. Spots are limited to 20 per session so sign up now!

Well, friends, as we can see from the all uppercase cry-baby tweets this morning, Dear Leader is a bit out of control and the Democrats have won the “adult For President” part of the election. But you can also see that Dear Leader has lots of lawyering yet to do. So, the presidential battle is not yet won.

We all know that Biden has won the election battle so we who do not think Mr. Trump is the right executive for our country rightly rejoice. But I feel compelled to remind you that the battle for human dignity is still just beginning.

Close to 1/2 of the entire country finds Donald Trump an acceptable representative of the moral compass of our country. The majority of those people actively embrace him. Personally, I know some very smart people and some very loving people who are in that camp. I don’t understand but I know that I have work to do.

What this says is that we have won the political battle but we have lost the moral battle. And, I do mean lost.

People who have never studied world history and who can not spell the name Mussolini have said terrible things to me about my contention that President Trump has been playing from Mussolini’s playbook. They will quickly insult me but just as quickly back away from giving me examples that prove me wrong.

This is not their fault; it is mine.

Why? Because I care about a world without fascism and without dictatorial regimes and if I can’t make that clear to people who I know are intelligent, loving people then I have not done my job.

Now, there will always be neo-Nazi, white-supremacist, evil people in the world. I don’t expect us to change them. What I do expect is that we will not get complacent once Trump is out of the White House. So, today, as I enjoyed a celebratory adult beverage at 10AM and feel good about that. I’m also mindful of the fact that, until I can convince those who are not on the fringe that Trump has been our fastest path to dictatorship, my work is not over.

Alternatively, I can simply choose to believe that 1/2 the country is not particularly smart. That’s the easy way out. But I know from experience that it’s not true. So let’s not be complacent. Let’s keep fighting from a position that I believe to be the moral high ground for a world of freedom and liberty that moves away from, not toward, authoritarianism.

Fifty-Nine year old Cheryl Tiano, was an agent who represented film, TV and game composers at the Gorfaine-Schwartz Agency. She passed away on Monday night, apparently due to complications from heart surgery.

The Society of Composers & Lyricists told Variety:

“Cheryl had long ago taken her place amongst the top tier of composer agents in the entertainment industry. Her clients loved her, and she loved repping them. She is an enormous loss to our media music community.”

I’m sure that’s true. But I did not know her as a rep. I knew her as a joy-filled, very energetic, extremely intelligent member of the CalArts student body in the early 1980’s. I knew her as a friend and as someone who was extremely kind to me in my ancient days as an introverted guy who needed all the extroverts I could find to surround me. Cheryl was wonderful.

Over the past couple decades I have lost several friends and mentors who I dearly loved. My composition teacher and friend Lucky Mosko, his wife the great flutist Dorothy Stone, my friend Art Jarvinen, my best friend in Oregon Pablo Esteve, my tabla teacher Pandit Taranath Rao, and several more. Cheryl now becomes part of that list of those whose memory alone ties me back to an earlier life. I miss that. I am at least as sad about this as when these other dear CalArts friends passed over the years.

Cheryl was one of my “electronic music” colleagues, hanging out in B303 and B304, the Buchla studios at the CalArts of the 70’s and 80’s. In fact, when I had both electronic pieces and chamber music performed in the Composer’s Concert that I call my “graduation recital” Cheryl handled the recordings for me. I used to be a little disappointed that I had to remaster these in ProTools like 20 years later because they were way too hot. Now that seems like a stupid thing to be disappointed in. <sigh>

I remember going to Cheryl’s home for dinner several times. She was a beautiful soul and I’m deeply saddened to hear of her passing. When I think back to my years at CalArts, Cheryl is one of the people I always think of and will always remember. Her passing is a terrible loss to the industry but to me, personally, it’s another loss of someone of whom I hold cherished memories.

One of Cheryl’s clients, Sean Callery, who worked on “24” said it best, I think:

“If God ever needs an agent, he sure has one now.”

Considering what an insane world we live in and how God’s name is used to justify so many odd behaviors by so many people, I imagine She does need a rep who will never put her on hold!

While I can’t imagine them ever reading my blog, I do want to send my deepest condolences to Cheryl’s husband Frank Gerechter, her dad, Hi Tiano (who I’m sure does not remember me but who I remember), and her sister Linda Tiano back east. May her memory be a blessing for all the Tianos and all who came to know her.

z”l

Dear Judge Barrett,

Congratulations on your confirmation. You are not the Justice who I want and people really should stop pretending that you resemble the genius of Justice Ginsburg. Who knows, you might. But, like RBG, only the time you take to prove it will tell. It will be a tough sell and I’d encourage you to try you hand at being rational despite the person who nominated you.

I see nothing that makes me think you are an immoral or unethical person. In fact, you just said exactly the right things about the separation between your personal beliefs and the law and your separation from political aims. Only time will tell if you act as you have spoken. I hope you will.

I’m always one to respect people until they give me reason not too. Sadly, the guy who nominated you and virtually everyone who voted for your confirmation has fallen into that latter category. That doesn’t mean you will. Think rationally and give all people their share of dignity and perhaps you won’t damage the union too much more.

Now, there IS something that will put you into my disrespected category very quickly. That is if you make decisions that are neither founded in rationality, nor in your Christian morality, nor in you scholarly knowledge of constitutional law. If you make decisions based on politics – as you said 5 minutes ago you would not – and contradict the morality that I hope you possess, then you move to to my disrespect list. Forever.

Here’s what you absolutely must remember. Assuming that you are qualified for this job, and sincere about what you just said about the law, you owe Donald Trump nothing. You owe Mitch McConnell nothing either. Don’t make irreversible decisions based on owing evil forces a debt. You don’t!

I implore you not to mess with this American election, to respect precedent, and to not destroy someone’s legacy just because Donald Trump has a vendetta against a great black President. The country is now largely in your hands. Please don’t contribute to destroying it just because out current President wants. They may be evil; you need not be. Prove yourself worthy of your new position by being beholden to no one.

Good luck.

I did not write this but the author gave me permission to share it. In a time of great challenges, Rabbi Shelton Donnell held a Seder via Zoom. Many of us are doing this but Rabbi Donnell’s post-seder thank you note was so touching and educational that I want to share it verbatim.

Next year in Jerusalem (or…. really… anyplace but Cyberspace).

Remember to love your relationships.

Chag Pesach Someach!

 


 

Dear Family and Friends,

Wendy and I want to thank you all for joining us for our Seder last night. To say the least, this was one of our more memorable Passover experiences. These have been very difficult times for all of us, all the more so because we are challenged to reevaluate so many things, activities, and services that we usually take for granted. This has also brought to the fore how important people and relationships are to us. Ironically, the social isolation that prevented us from holding our usual Seder, brought us “together” with many people with whom we rarely have contact. Granted, looking at your faces on a screen simply was not the same as having you in our dining room but, I must say, it made me feel connected to you as well as our tradition, and that was very meaningful for me.

This season marks more than our Passover Seder, tonight we begin the “Counting of the Omer,” the period of seven weeks between Passover (marking the Exodus from Egypt) and Shavu’ot when the Torah was revealed, transforming the ragtag refugees into a people, and a nation with a unique destiny that continues to evolve even today. When the Temples stood in Jerusalem, pilgrims brought the “Omer” — offerings of the first and best of their grain harvest. Centuries later, this joyous period took a dark and traumatic turn. Today, the period of Counting the Omer is observed by traditional Jews as a time for semi-mourning — pleasurable pursuits, new enterprises, and celebrations are suspended, following the customs of those who have lost a loved one. Why? The Babylonian Talmud tells us that during the Roman occupation of the Land of Israel, the conditions for Jews and Judaism were oppressive. Eventually, the Jews rebelled for a second time (the First Revolt from 66 to 70 C.E. saw the Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, one of the greatest existential traumas faced by our people). The Second Revolt, led by Bar Kochba, deepened the tragedy and resulted in the Diaspora of the Jewish people and the last gasp of the national aspirations of the Jewish people until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

During the period of the Hadrianic persecutions prior to Bar Kochba’s revolt, we are told that tragedy struck the students of the great Rabbi Akiva. Legend has it that 24,000 disciples died in a very short time. The rabbis of the Talmud attributed the deaths to a lack of mutual respect and concern by the disciples. Another explanation is that the students were brought down by a vicious plague. It is because of this incredibly sad memory that the period of the Counting of the Omer has transformed from a time of unbridled joy to semi-mourning and introspection.

Okay, so why do I bring this up? The story that I just related has a brighter side and a message that I think is very appropriate for us today. According to that same legend, a miracle happened on the thirty-third day of the Counting of the Omer — the plague stopped, and the devastation wrought upon the rabbis and their students ended, enabling them to renew and rebuild the rabbinic tradition that has come down to us today.

I find it interesting that predictions and projections about the trajectory of the coronavirus suggest that we may (please God) see a significant bending of the arc of contagion and death around the time of Lag B’Omer, the day on which we give thanks and celebrate the end of the plague that threatened Judaism itself. And more, the rabbis and their students appear to have learned a lesson about mutual respect and concern, so that they could actively make a positive difference in their situation and persevere against threats both physical and spiritual.

Our gathering last night for our Seder reminds me of the power of the human spirit and the importance of connecting through mutual respect and concern for each other. I believe that it was that faith in the human spirit that enabled our ancestors to survive that ancient plague and go on to thrive as a people, a nation and a faith. For me, that message is a beam of light in these dark times.

Wendy and I want to thank you again and pray that we all will remain safe, healthy, filled with hope and faith that we can do more than survive this modern plague, that we can use the lessons learned from it to make our family, our community, our nation and the world thrive. That, for me, would be a wonderful miracle.

With blessings for a happy and healthy Passover,

Shelton

I have not written here much, this year. My blogging has been pretty much limited to the writing I do on learning for my employer. But I had a thought today at Torah study and I want to share it.

I am meeting more and more people who identify as non-binary in gender. I happen to like identifying as a straight male and my difficulty with understanding non-binary gender identity probably has its root there. I respect people with different gender identities than I but I do admit I’m struggling to get my pronouns right. No matter. I’m trying.

Today it occurred to me that perhaps non-binary gender identity is more appropriate for humans than I thought. Consider this:

Genesis verse 1:26 begins: “Let us make a human in our image…” Most people I know answer the question “who are ‘us’ and who is ‘our'” the same way. Literal or allegorical, most people I know say something like “maybe God was asking the angels to help”. But, what if God was not asking other entities to help. What if God was identifying as having no particular gender, or being a mix of genders, and speaking of themselves in the plural just like my non-binary friends do? Food for thought, anyway.

I also have been pondering this:

Genesis verse 1:27 says “And God created the human in his image. In the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” What if “male and female he created them” really means that all of “them” (humans) were created to be simultaneously male and female? We know that anatomically we share some interesting commonalities – like men can get breast cancer because they have breast cells and women have a clitoris that has aspects of the male organ; and we know we have psychological traits that vary from one human to another. So, maybe Genesis 1:27 is really acknowledging our dual nature. If God is dual gender and we are mad in God’s image then perhaps we are to. After all even if we don’t all agree on translation (which we don’t) we can all agree that biblical Hebrew has no punctuation. The same words can mean vastly different things depending on sentence structure.

I really don’t know why but I feel better now.

Shabbat Shalom.

 

Friends,

On this Independence Day, in year 3 of the reign of Donald Trump, all I ask of each of you is to consider this:

All of us were once immigrants, fleeing an oppressive regime, and looking to make a new life. Are we really all that different from today’s asylum seekers from Latin America?

Actually we are. They come to our border in peace where the founders of our great nation brought violence. The founders of our great nation also brought the travesty of the 3/5 rule, went on to the alien and sedition acts, and really just went down hill from there.

Yet we built from that a nation founded on liberty and dedicated – after a civil war, a few miles of Chinese built railroads, a little Japanese internment, a few murders of civil rights giants, etc. – a nation dedicated to the equality of all people. We came so far as to legalize gay marriage!

But, as we saw in Germany in the 1930’s, even the greatest nation can slip into pure evil within months. We can’t let that happen.

And if you think it can’t then you need to remember that the German killing camps began as nothing more that places to house Russian POWs. The most intellectually advanced society let those camps grow and grow and grow until they were machines that could murder and incinerate 10,000 people a day.

Not everything horrible starts big. It can happen anywhere.

So on this day when we celebrate a nation who’s founding ideology was worth risking lives, fortunes, and sacred honors, please remember that we would have no nation were it not for immigrants fleeing repression.

Here’s proof:

In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, 

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Georgia

Button Gwinnett

Lyman Hall

George Walton

 

North Carolina

William Hooper

Joseph Hewes

John Penn

 

South Carolina

Edward Rutledge

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Arthur Middleton

 

Massachusetts

John Hancock

Maryland

Samuel Chase

William Paca

Thomas Stone

Charles Carroll of Carrollton

 

Virginia

George Wythe

Richard Henry Lee

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Harrison

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Carter Braxton

 

Pennsylvania

Robert Morris

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Franklin

John Morton

George Clymer

James Smith

George Taylor

James Wilson

George Ross

Delaware

Caesar Rodney

George Read

Thomas McKean

 

New York

William Floyd

Philip Livingston

Francis Lewis

Lewis Morris

 

New Jersey

Richard Stockton

John Witherspoon

Francis Hopkinson

John Hart

Abraham Clark

 

New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett

William Whipple

 

Massachusetts

Samuel Adams

John Adams

Robert Treat Paine

Elbridge Gerry

 

Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins

William Ellery

 

Connecticut

Roger Sherman

Samuel Huntington

William Williams

Oliver Wolcott

 

New Hampshire

Matthew Thornton

——-

Happy 4th of July. Stay strong and resist hatred so that a 300 million of can have the chance to turn back toward good,