Sunday, December 20, 2009

Child abuse as magic, divorce vouchers for Christmas, and Jewsmas


Jewish date:  3 Ṭeveth 5770 (Parashath Wayyiggash).

Today’s holidays:  Fourth Sunday of Advent (Roman Catholicism).

Topic 1: “Brazil police: Needles in boy reportedly a ritual” and “Brazil needle victim recovers, outrage at cruelty”.  I have already been bugged about this story.  Thus is it written what this is about:

A Brazilian toddler is making a good recovery after surgery to remove the first of 31 sewing needles pushed into his body by his stepfather in a cruel act that has enraged locals, the hospital said on Saturday.
The 2 1/2-year-old boy, underwent a nearly five-hour procedure on Friday to remove two rusted needles from near his heart and two more from one of his lungs.
His stepfather, 30-year-old Roberto Carlos Magalhaes, has been arrested and confessed to putting the needles in the boy's body at the behest of his lover who said the act would help the two to stay together, police said.
The pair were guided by a local practitioner of an African-Brazilian religion, candoble, and Magalhaes inserted the needles into the boy at his lover's home.

I frankly do not know much about Candomblé, but I am rather puzzled how this acupuncture gone horribly wrong is supposed to work.  If the stepfather wanted to be together with his lover, he should have divorced his wife, the boy’s mother.  Using the boy as a pincushion did nothing to get rid of the mother and has done rather a lot to enrage large numbers of people who have found out about it.  If anything, the ritual has horribly backfired.  The mother may well now divorce the stepfather, but that does not help him be together with his lover if he ends up in jail.

Topic 2: “Happy Christmas honey - here's a divorce voucher”.  Thus is it written:

Stuck for Christmas gift ideas? Is your marriage or a friend's going through a rocky patch? How about a divorce voucher?
In an unusual take on the season of giving, a London law firm is offering Christmas gift vouchers for divorce advice.
I do not suppose these people have read Matthew 19:3-12, in which Jesus displays a severely anti-divorce attitude.  It is an attitude based on questionable exegesis and nullifying any claims that Jesus might have to being a true prophet, given that he claims that Mosheh falsified the Torah.  But still Jesus’s attitude is dead-set against divorce for anything except perhaps adultery, and thus there is something very odd, if not downright anti-Christian, about pushing divorce vouchers as presents for a holiday celebrating Jesus’s birth.

Topic 3:  Jewsmas.  This site, suggested to me by Erin, complains about any and all attempts to interpret Ḥanukkah as “the Jewish Christmas”.  In this it is correct, because Ḥanukkah and Christmas has little in common other than they both fall at roughly the same time of year.  Ḥanukkah celebrates a Jewish victory over an attempt to impose a Greek way of life on Jews.  Christmas is supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  In an attempt at humor, this site proposes that instead of forcing Ḥanukkah in a role that does not fit (e.g., through giving presents and putting up “Ḥanukkah bushes”), we should institute a true Jewish Christmas.  The proposed holiday, Jewsmas, from its description comes off as rather shallow.  Participants play a dreidl drinking game, refuse to eat ham, mumble carols, and ogle non-Jewish women.  Noticeably none of these practices have anything really to do with each other; three of them are just things people might like to do and one is completely pointless.  (Why bother buying a ham if you are never going to eat it?)  If anything, this is a commentary on the sad state of Christmas in the United States.  On television, in the movies, and in people’s front yards the emphasis is on bright, shiny things, commercialism, presents, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, snow, and carols.  Some people put up Nativity scenes, but the birth of Jesus, what Christmas is really supposed to be about, is easily lost or ignored completely among the glitz.  Even if Judaism did not have any problem borrowing from idolatrous and polytheistic religions (which Christianity is a little of both), a version of Christmas which is all sugar and no substance would be a holiday completely unworthy of borrowing.

Peace, and may whatever holiday you celebrate at any time of year be a meaningful one.

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