Archive for April, 2006

Jews & Jesus

This is an issue that hits a soft spot for me: Jesus and the Jews. If one more person asks me, "The Jews killed Jesus, right?" I may slap them! So… let's just get this straight.

The New York Times Magazine featured an article in which New York Knicks point guard Charlie Ward was quoted as telling a Jewish reporter, "Jews are stubborn. … But tell me, why did they persecute Jesus unless he knew something they didn't want to accept? … They had his blood on their hands." When pressed to defend himself, Ward told reporters, "If you want to read abut it, it's in the Book of John or any of the Gospels. I'm just the messenger."

Ward was not lying…they do have textual support in the Gospels. In the Gospel of John, the phrase "the Jews" is used at least nine times to denote those who encouraged and assisted in Jesus' execution. In the Book of Matthew (27: 25-26) the Jews accept responsibility for the execution. When the Roman governor Pontius Pilate hesitates over deciding Jesus' fate, the Jews assembled before Pilate demanding that Jesus be crucified, proclaiming "His blood be on us, and on our children."

Lest I dare look at these chapters in light of the context in which they were composed! Most scholars agree that the Gospels were written some 40 to 70 years after the crucifixion (which occurred around 30 C.E.). If you are familiar with what was happening around 70 – 100 C.E., the nascent Christian sect was trying to distinguish itself from its Jewish roots. The main reason, the Christians wanted to attract gentile converts. Also, because the Jews were rebelling against the Romans, a repudiation of Christian kinship with the Jews could be politically advantageous. It is for these reasons, that the Gospels 1) assign primary blame to the Jews, not the Romans; and 2) sympathetically portray Pilate, who is described in other ancient texts as cruel.

But the evidence is compelling that the New Testament either gave "the Jews" a bum rap or, at minimum, was written in a way that left it highly susceptible to misuse. If, as most scholars believe, Mark is the source for Matthew and Luke, the authors of those later Gospels sure seemed to add a lot of new, incriminating detail mysteriously missing from Mark, fueling the notion of Jews as Christ-killers. For example, Matthew adds the line from the Jewish mob, "His blood be on us and on our children!" But perhaps the most distressing addition to the Mark account is found in John. It is the single word "the." John shifts from talking about specific Jewish leaders (which, I admit, had a say!) and individual people to using the broad term: "the Jews." He uses this formulation repeatedly and devastatingly. Did someone go a bit far from Mark's version?? John? Matthew? I see that guilty look!

Often times, I hear the response to this by Christians that the Jews wanted Jesus dead because he was (in Jewish eyes) blasphemous. While I am sure there were many Jews of the time who has serious concerns as to Jesus' mental stability (even Jews who happen to hold political office at the time — mind you, at that time Jews could not hold absolute political office!)… there were much bigger threats to Judaism at the time (like a gazillon different Roman political figures!).  Jesus' identity as a political subversive, would explain why the Romans chose a means of execution, crucifixion, usually reserved for insurrectionists – so much more realistic. Let's face it, the Jews were not the people on power at that time and place – the Romans were and they were the ones with an established criminal justice system (although, not one that Amnesty International would approve of!).

Somebody is wondering though, WHY?? WHY JOHN?? WHY MATTHEW?? WHY?? Well… let me address that…

There are many Christian scholars who address why… but lets stick to my favorite: late Rev. Raymond Brown, a respected right-of-center scholar who has defended the Passion narratives. He writes that John's vituperative anti-Judaism likely flowed not so much from the events of the Crucifixion (aka; what actually happened to Jesus) but rather from what happened to Jesus' followers in the subsequent decade. The first Christians were persecuted, harassed, and questioned by the synagogue authorities, leading to bitterness on the part of Gospel writers. (Would you not have been bitter?) John really was "anti-Jewish in a qualified sense," Brown writes in An Introduction to the Gospel of John. "Uncomfortable as that may make modern readers because of the horrible history of anti-Jewish persecution in subsequent centuries, it is what John meant."

Fact is, most Christians are not even aware that a bunch of different Christian authorities have taken a stance against the accusations of Jews killing Jesus. In 1965, the Second Vatican Council issued the "Nostra Autate" statement, which declared that "what happened in His [Jesus'] passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today." (I do love John Paul II!) In 1964, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church declared, "We reject the charge of deicide against the Jews and condemn antisemitism." Others, including the Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Alliance of Baptists, while not directly addressing the charge of deicide, have issued statements regretting "interpreting our sacred writings in such a way that we have created enemies of the Jewish people."

Yet its this hot topic – because who can call themselves a religious Christian who believes that the Bible is "THE WORD" and then admit that some of the info there may have a bias based on the political pressures of the time? It's a bitter pill to swallow. History, however, is tanted by politics and the Bible is a history book (from G-d, or John, or anyone else).

What I am getting to is this, though… It's not very Christian to get all hot about Jews being Christ-killers. (And yes, I know that this is not who you wanted to hear that from!) And I don't mean merely in the sense that Jesus taught forgiveness, or that it's not nice to promote genocide, no matter how angry you might be. Rather, that non-believers (and liberal Protestants) miss the point of Christianity by focusing on only Jesus' moral teachings, as if he were just a really dynamic ethics professor. The point, or at least one of the main points, of the religion is that Jesus died for humanity's sins. The symbol of the religion is the cross, not a Good Samaritan icon, because the Crucifixion and subsequent resurrection were what proved his divinity and redeemed humankind. Most Christians believe that many of Christianity's blessings flow from the fact that he was crucified.

So I will stop saying, "Yeah, we killed him and you're welcome!"  If the 'Jews are Christ-Killer Christians' can stop asking me that irrelavent question!

Fact is, if you're a Christian who believes that the Bible was written by or fact-checked by G-d – it should still not matter who killed Jesus. But his crucifixion was essential to his purpose on Earth (or so you believe). And if you are a Historian, interested in interpretations that are sensative to the political context of the times… you can clearly see the issues that John and Matthew faced. And if you're Jewish… well… we still have 8 days of presents, and they don't!

So, we're all good! 🙂

 

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April 28, 2006 at 10:20 am 6 comments

Lunch with Julia.

Soup

Ra-myoun with egg

Kimchee

Homemade Kimchee on the side

 Soup No More

 That's lunch with Julia!

April 22, 2006 at 11:49 am 8 comments

Cultural Exposure

When I was growing up my father's parents were still living in Flushing, NY in the summers. When I was school age — Asians (mostly Koreans) started moving into Flushing like Jews had in the previous wave of immies. Soon, Sonia and Herman moved to Palm Beach full-time and in moved Mr. and Mrs. Kim (not real names) nextdoor to Bubbe and Zaddie.

After Mr. & Mrs. Kim found out that I was the granddaughter to their neighbors they no longer liked my B & Z. My B is not one to let such a thing slide and immediatly accused the Korean couple of being anti-semitic. Word got around town of the anti-semitic Koreans and the slave-bearing Jews and B marched nextdoor to save her Flushing reputation.

B approached the situation from the anti-semitic stance. Mrs. Kim's reaction was, "how can you say that when your son has one of my peoples as a slave child!" My Bubbe clearly established herself as victim (her specialty!) and explained that she is a Holocaust survivor — a slave most her life — and that her son, while she disagreed with him, adopted me for humanitarian reasons.

Mrs. Kim and Bubbe became fairly good friends from then on out (they were an odd couple!) — finding a similar ground on the fact that Jews should NEVER adopt Koreans.

But since the crime was already committed — I do thank Mrs. Kim for shoving kimchee down my throat on our visits to Bubbe's house. She never did talk to my father and mother and she refused to speak to me in English — but I remember loving the smell of her house as if it was "home." I loved sitting on their shared porch with my Zaddie on one side of me and Mrs. Kim on the other side — peeling and eating lychees.

In any case — having uncomfortable experiences with "my race" had some positive outcomes for me. It's not always a negative in the long run.

April 20, 2006 at 10:20 am 4 comments

I have no pride.

A few days ago that woman at the agency with the "Latino" daughter (see previous post: Wrong!), asked me "do you have more pride for the U.S. or Korea?"

I was a bit caught off-guard and said, "umm… what?"

She continued (although I wish she would have stopped!), "I mean, are you proud to be an American? To have freedoms and rights? Or would you rather be in Korea with your own people?"

"My own people?"

I was annoyed by that – but I decided to ignore it for the moment and replied with, "I'm from South Korea."

"Latino" Mommy: "I know."

Me: "North Korea is the place with no freedoms and rights. I am not from there. I am from South Korea, where there is plenty of freedom and rights."

"Latino" Mommy: "So I guess you feel more pride for Korea."

At that point I assumed she was trying to make me feel bad. Or trying to prove her own internal concern than an INA (International Adoptee) is not as American as she is.

But the fact that I have very little "American pride" has nothing to do with the fact that I am an adoptee. It has everything to do with the way I was raised. (And to prove it – ask this same question to my sister!) And I am so glad that I was raised this way – I think it makes me a more open and diverse person. Fact is, as well, that I have very little pride for Korea as well.

And it's not because I dont like these places. I just feel that these things are not a result of who I am or what I have done. And I am a believer that you should not be proud of things that "just are" but rather your own accomplishments.

April 19, 2006 at 7:55 pm 4 comments

I confess…

When my sister and I was younger, my family took our yearly trip down to West Palm Beach, FL to visit my dad's parents during our "Spring Break." Having two kids in the family – flying was always an issue because of the plane seating being two rows of three seats (or three and two). My sister and I always hated having to sit next to strangers and we always seemed to get the three together seats and one alone seats – we would fight for the seat near our parents. (Why my parents could not take the loner seat we will never know!)

The year that I was 8, I won the seat next to my parents on the way down to FL. I got to sit smack in the middle of my folks while Sara was in the isle seat next to us sitting next to two random strangers. Before take-off the flight attendent came up to me and said, "young lady – are you traveling alone?" My parents, outraged at the assumption being made, immediatly said, "No! She is with us! She is my daughter!" and the attendent was a little taken aback, unsure if it was a joke or if she really insulted someone. I figured this was a good time to use this to my advantage and mustered up some tears. "This is why I hate sitting alone," I started. "Everyone always thinks I'm alone."

It hit a nerve with my folks and I got to sit between them on the ride home too.

The following year Sara made a big stink about how I am favored because I am adopted. (She was now about 15, mind you!) So she won the seat next to my folks. On the flight there… I sat next to a very large man and his wife with way too much perfume — I knew I needed to pull the adoptee card or else I was doomed to ride solo on the ride home too. When we got to FL, I waited til we were a good distance from the fat/smelly couple and told my parents that the guy had called me a "chink." What I didn't expect was my father took off and tracked down the guy at the baggage claim and with a very red face told him, "where do you get off throwing your insults at my daughter?" The guy had no clue what was going on. My father threw his crumpled up napkin at the guy's face and he ducked as if my father was about to take off a piece of his face. I never saw him so mad.

I got to sit between them on the ride home. But I've always felt bad about that.

April 14, 2006 at 5:10 pm 2 comments

If your adopting…

It's come to my attention that a bunch of folks considering adopting or just recently adopted are reading my blog. Well… I am truly honored to have the opportunity to speak to APs about being an adoptee – part of the reason why I am really enjoying my internship as well. Thanks APs! I'd love to hear your feedback (and other adoptees too). (juliasworldny@yahoo.com  – if your shy about comments — but please do leave comments too!!)

So, this weekend I had an interesting agency experience with a man and woman in their early 30's surrendering their baby in an open adoption – healthy baby… happy couple. This happened in an area that was pretty far away and so I had quite the travel time prior to the actual "surrender and placement." So, I decided to re-read an excellent book. I highly, highly recommend it to ANYONE considering adopting or who have adopted. I think it is a life-saver for adoptees as it really is a great way for APs to understand adoptees and why they do what they do. It's called "The Primal Wound" and it is by Nancy Newton Verrier. She's an adoptive mother and clinical therapist. I promise … it's not the story of a bitter adoptee! It's a cheap book ($9 – new on Amazon). Here is what to look for….

 Primal Wound

John teases me that it is my "Torah" — but I have to say – it's a hell of a lot more useful for APs to read than the Torah (no offense to the Tree of Life).  In any case… I really wish I could meet Nancy Newton Verrier – I'd have an awesome convro with her!

Back to my experience… once I got back into my cab after an extremely emotional time of the birth couple saying goodbye to this infant whom looks unaware – but is totally having his life changed and believe me HE KNOWS (don't believe me? read the book!) — and this extremely happy new couple saying hello to this tiny stranger — I called John. John asked "so how'd it go?" and I didn't really know how to sum it all up. Was it "good??" no not really …. was it "fine?" — I have no idea. So I just said, "it went ok." "Just okay?", John responded. "Well, you know… " and before I could continue John softly said, "yeah I know." And he does. As an adoptee, he does. And even if he was a newborn when he was placed (which he wasn't – he was a toddler) he would still know. And it feels so good to be understood.

I love my parents. I feel extremely well bonded to them and lucky to have them. But that doesn't change the fact that I often think about that young girl who gave birth to me… and the gap in my life that she made by making the choice to let my life be taken over by fate has become this "wound" that all adoptees have. How it affects them is pretty varied … but I truly believe we all have it.

Once, late at night, John and I were talking on the phone about birth mothers and searches. He asked me if I wanted to find her. I told him that I really want to find her 22 years ago. I want to see her when she was a young girl who just gave birth to me. I feel like I know her face then – maybe it looks like mine now – even though I could never draw it for you (but could I pick her out from a crowd? hmm… maybe… wouldn't that be freaky??). But I don't want to see her now after all these years apart and everything we've been through. And I don't want to hear why. Maybe she doesn't want to tell me either and maybe she doesn't want to meet me now too. Maybe she is wishing and hoping for one last time to hold that tiny newborn in her arms — like I wish we could do just once more. I just want to look through that window of the hospital room and see her. For the first time in many years… I had tears running down my face when I told John this. I don't think he knew and I'm glad he didn't at the time. That gap … that wound…. that adoptee space.

John said, "I hear ya." Thanks for that John!  

And the solution isn't to search and find .. not for me (maybe for others). And the solution is not that I would have never been adopted – I don't think I would have rather never been adopted. There is no solution. However, it sure as hell helps to be understood. And it helps when an AP can acknowlege the reality of a "primal wound." It means more to me (and to other adoptees I know) than anything else. More than the Korean food and the pretty hanbook and bracelets from Korea. More than the role models and the asian dolls. More than the books and the movies. It means more than the photos from "before we knew you." It makes me feel like I do belong here and that I am understood here.

So read that book and let me know what you think, OK?

April 10, 2006 at 9:00 pm 3 comments

My Favorite Boy

Thinking

 

April 7, 2006 at 2:29 pm 3 comments

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Julia’s Jam

It’s just not that black & white. Not because I am taking a stand against. Just because, the issues I face are somewhere in the grey area and to weed through them, I blog. I blog. ~

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