Showing posts from October, 2016

All in the name: Truth in advertising

I don't know when the change happened. But it's everywhere now. When I was young, and our family went out to eat, we would order from the menu, and the items would have names like 'meatloaf' or 'veal parmigiana' or 'spaghetti and meatballs.' Mind you, in those days, ethnic foods were not that available in restaurants, at least not the ones we would visit in our infrequent outings. Main ethnic foods were prepared at home, by my mother or our grandmothers, and whatever was served, that was our dinner. And that was it.

Sometime in the last few decades, and perhaps because of allergies or the desire among many to eat healthier, the tendency has been to name just about every ingredient in each individual item on a menu. Now if you order a simple you will read, "Surf N Turf (350 GM Aged Sirloin) Finished with sauteed prawns and squid in a garlic sauce(Cooked medium)" or if you want Chicken Tikka masala, which is a fairly simple Indian dish, you m…

Tranquility in vivo

So much of life is turbulent. We get disturbed when we read the newspaper and see the suffering of Syrians in Aleppo. There are gunshots spraying over university campuses or in shopping centres. Worries arise in respect to the falling British pound and the dissatisfaction with the American electoral process. Life seems difficult and without calm.

Dr Bruce Wells wrote in this article in June this year about depression and worrying. He says, "Worrying excessively can lead to a host of physical and mental problems such as hypochondria, muscle tension, chronic indigestion, poor sleep, irrational fears, panic, self-consciousness, stage fright, compulsive behaviours, and perfectionism. You may think that worrying will help you avoid bad things from happening, lessen the impact of bad things, or help you come up with solutions. But worrying is actually the problem, not the solution."

So Dr Wells gives six solutions which might help.
Rather than be …

Conjuring up images: Isaiah 60

Maybe I shouldn't use the term 'conjuring.' It might make you think of Macbeth or even earlier, as history shows, Shakespeare took note of The Three Witches or Weird Sisters or Wayward Sisters whose origin lies in Holinshed's Chronicles (1587), a history of England, Scotland and Ireland. But to 'conjure' is more than the witch's notion. Merriam-Webster says the simple Definition of conjure is
"1) to make (something) appear or seem to appear by using magic
2) to make you think of (something)
3) to create or imagine (something)"

OK, so I want you to imagine with me what Isaiah is saying in his wonderful passage in what we label "Chapter 60." Remember he didn't write in chapters like modern novelists do.

Is. 60.2 “For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the LORD will rise upon you
And His glory will appear upon you.

I let my mind wander as I read and even memorised this passage a couple w…

What is love, after all?

It's not even Valentine's Day, but I'm thinking about love. Yes, emotional love. Yes, real love. I'm not even watching a chick flick on an airplane, although I have done that. Hey, nothing wrong with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan together. No, the word 'love' is bandied about so often and so far... it does require some thinking on it, don't you reckon? And after we have thought about it, maybe we should discuss it?

Nothing like Shakespeare's 116th sonnet to help us on the subject.
I quote it in full. Forgive me if you aren't used to these 14-liners from the Bard.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and ch…

Amazing grace: Being edited

Many of us Jewish people spent hours and hours the last couple weeks dealing with personal issues, repenting of sins committed, and asking God and others to forgive us. We anticipated that God, who set up these High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, would be somewhat vested in being there on the other end of the long phone call to Him.

There was talk about judgment and about eternity; there was consideration of repairing the breach and making things right. It was deep, emotional, considerate. And all the while, many in the row in front of us or behind us, or who never even darkened the doorway to enter the synagogue, seemed to be less inclined to dig deep and ponder what was hitting us so deeply. Should they be so sure that their prayers or thoughts were heard by the very busy Almighty? What is their take-away from all this religious activity?

I saw this above image of the editing erasure on another blog yesterday. It struck me personally. When I talk to God, in prayer, as…

Hope, where is it? A Yom Kippur message

G’mar Chatimah Tovah. May you be inscribed and sealed at the end for good. That’s one of the best greetings on this holiday. Of course, when I grew up the greeting was “good yontif.” And then we wish each other an easy fast. And a common reply as we ponder not eating for 25 hours is “I hope so!” Everyone from Desmond Tutu to Albert Einstein to another 10,000 quick find entries has a comment about the idea of hope. Mumford and Sons, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, John Longmire and Jason Day…everyone has a hope and a dream and a quote on Wikipedia, or so it seems.

Ask for a quote on emotion or Sydney Swans, or a quote on wisteria or bottle brushes and you will find hundreds, but type in ‘hope’ and this request will garner 10,000 before I can even finish clicking my computer’s “Find” button. Here’s one: “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King, Jr. And another from the wife of the current US president, “You may not always have a comfort…

Under construction (not this blog)

Major cities, even lesser cities, are experiencing the pain and discomfort of road closures, of widening current avenues, and making our paths from point A to point B that much easier. But in the meantime, it's not easier. Nothing about construction zones is easy.

Not only on roads and bridges, but on rooftops and building sites across the country, the tough have to keep getting tough and climbing on ridiculous angles, helping shape the architecture of the next quarter-century.
24 hours from now, I will be gathering with Jewish people in Bondi here in Sydney. And it will be time to hear Kol Nidre and to enter into the 24 hours of the Day of Atonement (See Leviticus chapters 16, 17 and 23 for more infoamtion) This is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a day to reflect on our sins and God's awesome love and desire to forgive us. Does He? How do we appropriate this?

Of course, to be repaired on your roof, your roadway, or your reprobate mind, you have to admit a need firs…

Repeating. Did I say that already?

It was common for actors in the 16th Century, in Shakespearean companies to play different roles each night. A band of actors would travel from one city and village to the next, and in each location to perform another of the Bard's great plays. I have a friend here in Sydney who runs an opera company. And opera fans have seen the same companies perform different shows each night for weeks, while the cast remains the same, but change roles each day.

In this painting by Caravaggio, the setting is clearly the ancient story of Narcissus, and this one features some similarities to other paintings by the artist.

It has been questioned by art scholars, whether the painting Narcissus was actually painted by Caravaggio. Elements in the painting’s style and iconographic creativity has led to the acceptance that it actually was one of Caravaggio’s creations. Caravaggio, a young and poor artist, was known to reuse models and costumes repeatedly, in order to save money. The facial features…

Law, laws, and where is grace?

It can be so confusing. Reading the Bible, which is an exceptional albeit ancient book, can be challenging. You have to be thinking about a culture which is agrarian, where there are kings and prophets, where God seems to speak with individuals and miracles happen once in a generation. This is almost Lord of the Rings stuff, or could be fodder for Harry Potter's next book. But it's not. It's historical and reliable. It's a poetic epic with the book of Psalms clearly some of the most heartfelt lyrics ever written. The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom for any people, of any generation. But, there are some apparent contradictions. Don't kill, but go kill all those Jebusite and Hittite possessors of the Promised Land. Love one another, but Levites killing all those Jewish people who worshipped the Golden Calf.

At times it's clearly confusing in regards to how seriously we are to take it. For whom is it really written? Is it for us in 2016? Is it for Jews only o…

L'shana Tovah

It's 5777... time to think new thoughts, new hopes, new dreams, and sing along with Billy Joel.

Sometimes I wonder
Why are we so blind to fate?
Without compassion, there can be no end to hate
No end to sorrow

Caused by the same endless fears
Why can't we learn from all we've been through
After two thousand years?

There will be miracles
After the last war is won
Science and poetry rule in the new world to come
Prophets and angels
Gave us the power to see
What an amazing future there will be

And in the evening
After the fire and the light
One thing is certain: Nothing can hold back the night
Time is relentless
And as the past disappears
We're on the verge of all things new
We are two thousand years

End of an era

The sun is setting today, Sunday 2 October 2016. I'm in my lounge room thinking about Grand Finals and another beautiful day in Sydney. The Jewish people worldwide are gathering, many in family homes, and others in synagogues; most are dismissing the new year 5777 as 'just another day' and needing no relevant consideration. Eras do come and eras go; what we do with them, and with our lives as we consider what lies ahead... well that is what makes us rational, thinking people.

The Western Bulldogs claimed their first premiership since 1954 after defeating the Sydney Swans by 22 points in the AFL grand final at the MCG on Saturday. And in a short while either the Cronulla Sharks (also waiting for 50 years without a premiership) or the Melbourne Storm (in their 500th game) will claim the Grand Final flag in National Rugby League (NRL) championship being played at ANZ Stadium in Sydney's Homebush.

Eras come and eras go. I watched the German tennis great Angelique Kerb…