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Archive for April 3rd, 2010

  • Day 35: Dying, Rising and Being Passed Over

    Date: 2010.04.03 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 3

    Slightly freaked that I haven’t posted in five days. It’s a sugar addict trait to get wildly enthusiastic about something, throw yourself into it and then, as my Jewish friends say, feh, you lose interest.

    But if I abandon this blog, I may go right back to candy and I won’t make my goal. Also called not following through.  Like you start the swing, you start the pitch – but you don’t fully commit to it.  Ergo, no home run – ever.

    So let’s just put it out there.  If I drop this blog, or just post half-heartedly, that means I’m dropping myself and doing life half-heartedly.  Which is OK, but I want more out of myself.  So we’ll see how that turns out.

    Let me just adjust my crown of thorns because it’s itchy. I’d also like help dragging the cross through this post because my right shoulder is sore from carrying the weight of the world.

    I have made it through One of the Most Dangerous Weeks (so far.)

    It’s “Joyeuses Pâques” in France.  (Check here for some French Easter traditions.) All the master chocolatiers outdo themselves in an effort to make my life a living hell.  Mouth-watering tableaus of exquisitely-crafted dark and milk chocolate rabbits, velvety smooth-skinned chocolate eggs and all manner of delicious creatures peek out from meticulously-arranged displays in glass windows.

    I pass them by, as I did tonight in front of the above window at Maison Auer in the Old Town in Nice, France.  Maison Auer has been here since 1820, turning out these chocolates and candies since 1820.

    I did not make the sign of the cross as I passed by, nor did I sense nails being hammered into my hands or feet.   I’m not quite at the point where self-denial feels…hot,  like some new recruit to Opus Dei, nor am I miserable without candy.

    Five weeks tomorrow without candy. About five days ago, something hit me.  Why do I feel so happy?  Nothing’s changed that much in my life – except giving up candy.  It’s as if those years of sugar lay like miles of dirty snow inside me, bringing me down and I didn’t even know it.

    So I won’t be biting the head off a big chocolate rabbit tomorrow – or devouring candy eggs, marshmallow peeps and jelly beans.  But I miss the Easter of my childhood, when there was an Easter egg hunt in my house every morning – and no thought to self-denial.

    Without the fun, I’ve been thinking more about the drama.  Coincidental, isn’t it, how Easter and Passover come near the same time as each other, especially this year. Weird, too, how the word for “Passover” is the same as the word for “Easter” in many languages, including French.  They call it “Paques Juives” in France.

    Are there any other twinned holidays borne of such blood and guts, life and death that they sound dreamed up by Stephen King, Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson?

    Jesus being nailed to the cross seems like a big deal, but back in the day crucifixions were the electric chair and lethal injection of that era.

    But dying and then rising again – well that was original.  The ultimate happy ending – way before Hollywood.

    Passover is also about good following bad.  It’s a more subtle concept because at first, being passed over doesn’t sound like a good thing.

    Both Easter and Passover start off pretty dark. The Israelites are stuck in Egypt under the brutal thumb of the Pharaoh.  God makes them a deal to get them out so they can serve him but the Pharaoh plays hardball and says no, he won’t let the people go.

    So God prepares to send 10 plagues raining down on Egypt.  The Israelites avoid the pestilence and frogs by bringing a “Passover offering” to the Angel of Death so he will pass them over while he shows Pharaoh & Co. who’s boss. They are told to leave the blood of a freshly-slaughtered lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their home.  They do this, and God “passes over” their homes.

    Egypt takes such a hit that the Pharaoh sucks it up and lets Moses’ people go.

    The Israelites escaped! It was like a scene in one of my favorite movies, “The Bourne Identity” when Jason Bourne’s back is to the wall and you think there is no way out.  But. There. Is.

    The Israelites split so fast they didn’t have time to wait for their bread to rise. They packed it unleavened. Now the modern world has matzo ball soup. There’s always a silver lining! That – along with knowing liberation is right around the corner.

    Jesus, though, took one for the whole team.   Everybody else was stuck here on earth but for the faithful, well, the promise of eternal life doesn’t suck.

    I was doing a lot of stories last week on the sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church.  I spoke to several great priests – Fr. Steve Josoma in Dedham, Mass. and Fr. Liam Hoare in Dittmer, Mo. to name two.

    I’ve talked to abuse victims, their lawyers, muckracking journalists, ex-priests – so many people who were on the receiving end of the bad stuff in the Catholic Church.  After I interviewed them, I’d ask them at the end of they still considered themselves Catholics.

    All but one person paused for a minute after I asked the question. Some of them sounded conflicted but in the end they all said, yes they still consider themselves Catholic.  Andrew Madden, who in 1995 was the first person to announce publicly in Ireland that he had been sexually abused by a priest, said he is no longer a Catholic but believes in a higher power.

    It was refreshing, this past Friday night, to reconnect with my old friend, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach a.k.a. “America’s Rabbi.”  I called him for comment when a senior Vatican priest compared the bad publicity the Pope and the Vatican have been getting over the sex abuse scandals to anti-Semitism.

    Shmuley was in Fort Lauderdale with his wife and nine kids and it was so good to hear my favorite rabbi’s voice.  He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met and I was relieved to be talking to a Jew about this story after weeks of talking to Catholics! Shmuley wasn’t happy about the Vatican’s take but was diplomatic when saying so. He’s gotta be, he’s America’s Rabbi!

    Shmuley’s a true believer.  Love that.

    A couple of years ago I was teasing someone who I knew very well had renounced all religion and never looked back.   “So, do you believe in God?” I asked her one day on Lafayette Street.

    “No,” she said fiercely. “I believe in myself.”

    Another true believer.   Loved her too.

    Don’t love the hypocrites.

    Speak truth to power Sunday  and don’t pass yourself over.

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This American candy addict/journalist in France writes about quitting candy – and all desserts – for at least one year beginning Feb. 28, 2010. Follow my progress – or relapses – as I delete candy corn, moelleux au chocolat, peppermint patties, Carambars, tarte tatin, After Eights, crème brûlée, Nutella, tapioca pudding, mint chocolate chip ice cream, Haribo Polkas, M & Ms and more from my life. Learn about the evils of white sugar and its effects on mood and health from my interviews with experts and friends! Let the sugar fog lift!

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