Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Blessed or cursed?

If you have grown up in the church you most likely will have heard of something called "the curse". What happened is that Yahweh created people in a perfect world and placed them in the Garden of Eden. However people chose to rebel against God. As a result humans fell under a curse. Growing up I was under the impression that God had specifically cursed people.
However I just reread the story in Genesis. Yahweh actually does not curse people specifically. The ground is cursed and we suffer consequences for our actions. But no where in Genesis are humans cursed by God.
My teacher in Genesis says that this is important because foundationally we are blessed by God and not cursed by him. God never removes his blessing from humans and places them under a curse in Genesis.
Do you see yourself as blessed by God? Or cursed by him?
How can we help people see that God has blessed them not cursed them?

Friday, September 14, 2007


This fall I am taking two classes with Winnipeg Center of Ministry Studies (an Anabaptist seminary) - Genesis and Death (actually my Death class is called Death, life and happiness but our teacher told us that he was forced to put in life and happiness). I have had one class of each so far and they both seem to be totally fascinating.
In my Death class our teacher read a chapter from Michael Wyschogrod's book, Abraham's Promise: Judaism and Jewish - Christian Relations, called "A Jewish Death in Heidelberg". It told the story about how a Jewish man died in Heidelberg. His Christian friends wanted to bury him next to the woman he loved (though never married) in a Christian cemetery. In fact he had expressed this wish (though he never left a will). The Jewish community objected to this and insisted the he be buried in the Jewish cemetery. They argued that being buried in a Christian cemetery is contrary to the Torah. This story raises several interesting questions. How binding is the desires of a dead person? What if their wish goes against their religious convictions?
Who has the authority to decide these matters? In this story the man had no family. So do his friends or does his religious community have the authority?
What does it mean to honor the dead?
Fulfilling the final wish a person is often seen as a way of honoring them. However this was the struggle. The Jewish man was apparently very Jewish (though he did have a falling out with the Jewish community). So is it more honoring to bury him in the Jewish fashion (keeping the spirit of who he was) or by fulfilling his desire?
These are difficult questions. I wonder if they are more difficult because I do not like really talking about death.