Wednesday, May 30, 2007

open discussion

due to convoluted circumstances i would rather not discuss preston was not circumcised until this sunday. because preston was already six weeks old by that time neither the urologist nor the snip-the-tip certified nurse practitioner would circumcise him without general anesthesia. since the pix and i were less than enthused about putting our baby under, we searched for circumcision alternatives and eventually found ourselves at the home of a conservative Jewish mohel. for obvious reasons i was worried that the circumcision would be a horrifying experience that i would quickly want to repress. however, almost as soon as we entered the mohel's home, i realized that this experience was going to be special.

when we arrived one of his mohel's daughters warmly welcomed us in, served us a drink and invited us to wait in the family's living room. two sides of the family's living room were filled with leather bound volumes of the midrash and talmud, there were ornate mezuzahs prominently displayed on every door frame and when the rabbi finally arrived he welcomed us as warmly as he would old friends.

after the rabbi sat my child on his own pillows and circumcised preston with great care he took my baby, bounced him on his shoulder and consoled him with yiddish folk songs. i fear that i am not doing any justice to this experience. it was unique, beautiful and, in a very real sense, peculiar.

in both the torah and the new testament, in passages such as exodus 19:6 and 2 peter 2:9, God demands
that his people be a peculiar community. when i sat in the rabbi's house, received his family's amazing hospitality and later had the opportunity to speak with him about the way faith shapes both our worlds, i realized that this is a man who has followed this call to peculiarity in a very remarkable way.

over the past couple of days, i've reflected on that unique experience and have begun to wonder, what is it that makes followers of Christ a peculiar people? in sum, i am quite curious how living the way of Jesus uniquely enables Christ followers to bless the world and work for the reconciliation of all things.

so maybe you can help me here. what does the peculiar way of Jesus look like? how does this way of Jesus empower us to serve others in unique and beautiful ways like the mohel and his family served my little family on sunday? i'm interested to hear your thoughts and reflections.


Before Girl said...

I felt bad that no one replied to this. You ask, "what does the peculiar way of Jesus look like? how does this way of Jesus empower us to serve others in unique and beautiful ways like the mohel and his family served my little family on sunday?"

Okay, I sort of answered this a little bit in the forum Pastor Phil had. You guys show a particular creepiness in your friendliness that is different from friendliness in non-Christians. (Or maybe less enthusiastic Christians) (Wow, this is harder to explain than I thought. I hope I'm not being insulting. I'm trying not to be, and the words are what they are, unfortunately.)

There's a...wanting in on a non-Christians life that a Christian puts forth, a neediness, almost, that extends out beyond their words, something that glows in the eyes, in the questions a Christ follower puts forth, sort of a desperation, but even that's not a great word for this. It's like they aren't all there, like their heads and thoughts are somewhere else, and the more extreme ones almost seem high (from drugs, not spirituality). Wanting, needing, those are the best words I can come up with, that they are hungering for something and I'm not sure what it is that I can give them to make that hunger go away, or what I'm comfortable giving them.(And definitely, that part of me, giving, is a hard one to begin with, given my childhood, without automatically thinking it's going to be used against me at a later time. Kind of like handing someone a hammer and hoping they don't get the idea to hit me with my own hammer later.)(Oh and in case anyone is thinking this, No, I never got hit with a hammer-at least by someone else. I've hit my own fingers with hammers accidentally a few times.)

To answer this part of the question: "how does this way of Jesus empower us to serve others in unique and beautiful ways like the mohel and his family served my little family on sunday?"

I think it means to be openly helpful with people, to be brazen and ask for help if needed, no matter what the other person thinks, and truly feel that it was entirely okay to do, and not feel any sort of negative feelings. An example of this: I am reminded of another blog, Cade's, when he told about climbing a harder trail on Mt. Washington and his friends having to grab him a ride with a stranger's family, to help him up the rest of the way. I have thought about that for a few days now, and for me, I've thought, "Wow, that's brave, to just ask a stranger for help. I don't know, if in the same situation, if I could have done that." and also to think: "they must have all ben very friendly with the family, no awkwardness of having to ask for help then sit in the car, nervously, sorry, ashamed or guilty for possibly inconveniencing someone else even the slightest litle bit. And even if it truly was no big deal to the family, still feeling as though I had done something wrong."

This is the sort of goodness that Christians seem to have, a sort of easygoing-ness that sets themeslves at ease and also somehow sets others at ease...well, easily.

ali said...

I felt bad about the lack of reply, too. However, I think that the story leading up to the question made it impossible to reply. I, for one, really had other questions that I wanted to ask (and will force myself not to). So, between curiosity and this horrified, sick in the stomach feeling after reading the first part, I couldn't address the rest of it!

g13 said...

thank you for taking the time to respond krista and ali.

krista, i think you are right about many christians showing a little bit of creepiness in their relationships with non-christians. i suspect that this creepiness is the direct result of christians focusing far too much on an inclusion that is based on ideas and far too little on our commission to be a blessing to the world. maybe i'm wrong here, but i think that the Kingdom is better expressed through our acts of service, sacrificial love for the other, unwavering advocacy for the poor and an insatiable desire for justice than it is by completely coherent statement of faith. so, yeah, blah, blah, gay sex, blah, blah congress.

ali, you can ask any questions you want about the snipping of the tip. i'm not shy:)

simplyb said...

Regarding the "snipping of the tip." It would make me much happier if you referred to it as the "sharpening of the pencil."


Kellie said...

For the record....that picture is not our son. The rabbi did have us email him pictures of "the circumcision site" but we have deleted those. We are not the take-pictures-of-your-baby's genitals type. Just so you know.

ali said...

I guess I'm very curious as to why you waited so long. Also, why you are so confident that having a Rabbi perform this procedure on your child in his home (away from anything resembling medical emergency paraphernelia) would beat going with the doctor's suggestion of using an anesthetic.

Quite honestly, I hope that I have only daughters so that I don't have to go through the torture of deciding what the right decision is as far as having the snip-snip at all. I find it old-fashioned and barbaric. Steve and I have discussed it, and although he comes up with all kinds of arguments for having it done, I feel you should leave your child be the way he was born and take the extra time necessary to teach him how to clean himself properly. I also understand that my opinion on this is an extreme minority.

Anonymous said...

I hear you Ali. Honestly, it was a tough decision. Since it is pretty much the norm in America we decided to have it done. Because if he ever wants it done, now is the time to do it since it is so painful as the years go by. I haven't heard of any circumcised guy that wishes he was as God made him, but I have heard of uncircumcised that wanted it done. We went with the odds of what he would want and tried to save him pain later on.

As to how it was done.... I really did not want to put Preston under general anesthesia at such a young age. The rabbi that we saw does this for his main job and has done it for many, many years. He was actually recommended to me by the doctor I work for so I felt quite confident in his ability. While there was some discomfort for Preston, he was smiling about an hour afterward. I felt that that discomfort was better than the risks that accompany general anesthesia - not to mention the many hours he would spend crying because of the mandatory preoperative fasting.

I understand if others make different decisions. They are hard ones to make so I can see how people would come out on the other side.