Black/Romanian Jewish in Chicago/Ann Arbor

Beauty Standards/issues: I have absurdly thick hair, and I tend to get pressured into straightening/relaxing it. Relaxers, for those who don’t know, are chemical treatments used to make naturally curly hair more “manageable”.

Daily struggles: Strangers on the street will stop me and ask what the heck race I am. Not a frustrating question on its own, but having random people flag me down to learn about my heritage builds up over time.

Dating and Relationships: My mom once told my sister and I that we need to date black men, or else the melanin in our family line will die out completely. And yet we’re both dating nice Jewish boys, just like she did. As far as friendly relationships go, I’ve had several white folks call me their “black friend,” because apparently half is all they were comfortable with.

Holidays: Christian holidays are the most important to my family because that’s the majority religion in our household. We only celebrate the “fun” Jewish holidays, like Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, and Passover. Somehow we never get around to Purim. We also celebrate Kwanzaa, but more out of novelty.

Identity issues: I’ve had white folks tell me that I’m not white enough to belong and black folks tell me that I’m not black enough. I tend to refer to myself as a zebra, since I can never tell if I’m white with black stripes or black with white stripes.

Misconceptions: Not everyone who’s half black and half white has ‘mocha’ skin. Genetics are a free-for-all. My sister and I can pass for white, but our brother has darker skin and hair.

Region: In Chicago, I am pretty much instantly recognized as mixed race, because there’s so many of us. From white folks I get a barrage of questions about my specific ethnicity, from black folks I get nods and the occasional “hey, sista!” In Ann Arbor, which is much smaller and whiter, most white folks assume I’m white until I mention otherwise. Then I get shock and sometimes disbelief, the latter of which can range from a simple “No way!” to the infinitely more frustrating “Haha no you’re not, quit kidding.”

Religion: My Jewish dad isn’t devout enough to fight over what faith to teach his kids, so my Black Catholic mom won out. After running away to college (and getting in touch with my queerness) I realized the Catholic church wasn’t for me, so now I identify as Episcopalian, but in terms of beliefs I don’t belong to any particular denomination. When I told my mom I wasn’t Catholic anymore, she shrugged and said it was okay so long as I was still Christian. If I was Hindu, she said, there’d be more trouble.

Self-esteem: Thick hair, round face, big nose. Not really Western society’s epitome of beauty, so I find my own.

Things you’d like to see less of: Fetishizing and accessorizing anyone who’s mixed race. Especially babies. Leave the dang babies alone.

Things you’d like to see more of: Emphasizing Judaism not just as a religion but as a deep-rooted culture and heritage.

In Sanskrit the word is namah + te = namaste which means “I bow to you” - my greetings, salutations or prostration to you.
The word ‘namaha’ can also be literally interpreted as “na ma” (not mine). It has a spiritual significance of negating or reducing one’s ego in the presence of another.

Study Reveals Most American Pastors Silent on Current Issues Despite Biblical Beliefs

Most pastors believe that the Bible addresses the current issues of the day, but few speak about them from behind the pulpit, according to a recent study from a prominent research organization.

George Barna was a guest on the American Family Radio program “Today’s Issues” on Thursday, where he explained a research project that he has been working on for the past two years. In his study, Barna’s organization asked pastors across the country about their beliefs regarding the relevancy of Scripture to societal, moral and political issues, and the content of their sermons in light of their beliefs.

“‘What we’re finding is that when we ask them about all the key issues of the day, [90 percent of them are] telling us, ‘Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues,” he explained. “Then we ask them: ‘Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues?’ and the numbers drop…to less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it.”

Barna’s group also polled pastors about what factors they use to gauge whether or not a church is successful.

“There are five factors that the vast majority of pastors turn to,” he outlined. “Attendance, giving, number of programs, number of staff, and square footage.”

“What I’m suggesting is [those pastors] won’t probably get involved in politics because it’s very controversial. Controversy keeps people from being in the seats, controversy keeps people from giving money, from attending programs,” Barna said.

Pastor Chuck Baldwin, a radio broadcaster and former presidential candidate, commented on the study in an article published on Friday entitled Odds Are that Your Pastor is Keeping the Truth from You Instead of Preaching It. He opined that Barna’s research shows that most pastors deliberately choose not to speak on the issues of the day despite knowing that the Bible speaks to them.

“That 90% of America’s pastors are not addressing any of the salient issues affecting Christian people’s political or societal lives should surprise no one,” he wrote. “It has been decades since even a sizable minority of pastors have bothered to educate and inform their congregations as to the Biblical principles relating to America’s political, cultural and societal lives.”

“Please understand this: America’s malaise is directly due to the deliberate disobedience of America’s pastors—and the willingness of the Christians in the pews to tolerate the disobedience of their pastor. Nothing more! Nothing less!” Baldwin continued. “When Paul wrote his own epitaph, it read, ‘I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.’ (II Timothy 4:7) He didn’t say, ‘I had a large congregation, we had big offerings, we had a lot of programs, I had a large staff, and we had large facilities.’”

“It is time for Christians to acknowledge that these ministers are not pastors; they are CEOs. They are not Bible teachers; they are performers. They are not shepherds; they are hirelings,” he said. “It is also time for Christians to be honest with themselves: do they want a pastor who desires to be faithful to the Scriptures, or do they want a pastor who is simply trying to be ‘successful?’”

I had previously posted an article which showed that 83% of Americans claim to be Christians but only 9% of adults and less than 1% of teens/young adults have a true biblical worldview, and now after reading this new article I can see how that’s even possible.

How is it a surprise that there’s so very few true Christians around when only 1 in every 10 religious leaders aren’t willing to talk about the hard topics? How can people get their fill of the Word of God if the church they are going to is leaving them hungry?

All these 90% of our religious leaders only preach about a loving God. A God who will shower them with great life, well-being and prosperity. No one dares to say they will be hated for being a Christian. No one dares to say they will be persecuted and killed for being a Christian. No one dares says their own family will be against them and that they will have to choose between their family/friends or Christ. It’s like the passages which talk about all of the hardships that come with being a Christian just don’t exist.

Most religious leaders these days will only talk about a loving and caring God. We all know God loved us so much that Jesus died for us, but isn’t there more to the story? Will anyone ever talk about a God that will send people to hell if they choose to live life as they see fit? Basically the whole Old Testament and certain passages of the New Testament just don’t exist to these religious leaders because people don’t care to hear anything other than “God is love.”

I can only imagine the vast majority of today’s preachers reacting to some passages of the Bible:

1 Samuel 15:2-3
This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

  • "A God that commands Israel to the killing of men, women, children and even animals? Israel having the right to defend itself, and even kill, anyone else occupying the land which was given by God to Israel? Nope, not in my church! There’s way too many passages in the Old Testament where Israel is commanded to kill men, women and children so they can have the land given by God. I’m not touching Deuteronomy, Joshua, Isaiah or any of the Old Testament for that matter because no one likes to hear about how God fights for Israel, even commands the death of people at the hands of the nation of Israel. I can’t talk about Joshua 10 which showed God actually killing most of Israel’s enemies, Himself. God shouldn’t get to decide who lives or dies. I’m sorry, but the truth is that if we don’t support Gaza and the so-called Palestinians we lose money. I can’t tell the congregation that God has promised Israel a land which is currently being occupied by Gaza, West Bank, about a fifth of Egypt, a third of Saudi Arabia, half of Iraq, over half of Syria, a third of Kuwait, all of Jordan, all of Lebanon and a small part of Turkey. We can’t tell Christians to support God in such a way. We can only support God so much.”

Malachi 2:16
"For I hate divorce!" says the Lord, the God of Israel. "To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty," says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. "So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife."

  • "I can’t say anything against divorce, half of the people here have remarried several times. People these days marry and get divorced too often to talk about that topic. If I condemn divorce I’ll annoy way too many people."

Luke 12:51
Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.

  • "I can’t talk about a Jesus that doesn’t bring peace and unity to all mankind. I only preach about how God is love and how we’ll all be united in love and that we will all coexist in peace with everyone else regardless of their beliefs."

1 Corinthians 5:12
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?

  • "Whoa there, judging fellow Christians is a slippery slope, we all sin. If I rebuke a brother to try to open his eye then he might do the same to me and I don’t want to change. I can’t say that we are actually commanded to judge in the sense of rebuking those brothers that sin so they can stop following their own hearts. The world is set on the ‘Don’t judge others because they sin differently than you’ mentality, so it’s best to let this one slide and allow people to keep sinning."

John 14:6
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

  • "I rather not talk too much about this. So many religions out there. I rather tell people that God is love and not be talking that unless people believe in Jesus, they will go to Hell. It’s best to do like Pope Francis and tell Atheist they can go to Heaven when they die, even if they never believe in Jesus, as long as they are good people in this life. Saying people will be going to Hell isn’t something that’s well received. It’s best to not go against the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Catholics, Mormons and all other religions that don’t believe in the Lord or even some Christian religions that don’t believe that He and His Word alone are enough for us. I rather to just preach that we should all coexist, after all God is love and I’m sure He won’t mind if people aren’t following His Word."

1 Corinthians 6:9-10
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  • "A God that will keep people from entering Heaven based on actions so many people think it’s perfectly acceptable in today’s society? Are you crazy?! I might as well close down my church! Too many people cheat on their spouses, drink beer, sext, use cuss words and have homosexual relationships these days. I can’t go around talking about these topics or else too many people in my church will just go to a Joel Olsteen church to have their ears tickled."

Time and time again Jesus turned down potential disciples because He would rather have quality rather than quantity. We live in an age that quantity speaks volume for the church, after all the more people contributing and tithing, the more money that church is cashing in and it’s all about the money for most of today’s preachers. We have religious leaders that care about money and enjoy their celebrity status too much to be risking telling any kind of truth that might upset the people listening to them.

The internet and television are wonderful tools to spread the Gospel, but these are just another source of revenue for these preachers to prey upon. So many of these weak and greedy religious leaders use these tools to spread a diluted Gospel of acceptance to all that is wrong only to cash in and get more followers, after all “God is love”. Just as we are told in Luke 11:43, these preachers remind me of the Pharisees as they “love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as [they] walk in the marketplaces.”

How can it possibly be a surprise that less than 1% of all teens/young adults and 9% of adults in America, as reported in a previous research, don’t believe in all of the Bible if their spiritual leaders are too weak and/or too greedy to tell them the truth? It’s not surprising at all, that’s the truth. I can only hope that in their hunger for the Word the people attending these churches start to read His Word by themselves and abide to It, and subsequently find a good church that will talk about the hard topics rather than stay in a church that will just tickle their ears. Stop hiding behind the “God is love” flag and actually learn His Word and follow His commandments.

We can’t always be walking on eggshells when interacting with people regarding the truth of the Gospel. There’s times where we must be humble, and there’s times to be firm and rebuke, always in a loving and caring manner whenever needed, as Paul showed:

2 Corinthians 10:1-6
I plead with you—yes, I, Paul—and I plead gently, as Christ himself would do. Yet some of you are saying, “Paul’s letters are bold enough when he is far away, but when he gets here he will be afraid to raise his voice!”

I hope I won’t need to show you when I come how harsh and rough I can be. I don’t want to carry out my present plans against some of you who seem to think my deeds and words are merely those of an ordinary man. It is true that I am an ordinary, weak human being, but I don’t use human plans and methods to win my battles. I use God’s mighty weapons, not those made by men, to knock down the devil’s strongholds. These weapons can break down every proud argument against God and every wall that can be built to keep men from finding him. With these weapons I can capture rebels and bring them back to God and change them into men whose hearts’ desire is obedience to Christ. I will use these weapons against every rebel who remains after I have first used them on you yourselves and you surrender to Christ.

Jesus was not afraid to lay it on people that deserved it either, as we see in Luke 11:37-52. I love how Jesus got invited for a meal by a Pharisee and I can only picture everyone’s faces as Jesus was just laying the hard truth on them. Then at one point a scribe (experts in the interpretation of the Mosaic law who worked closely with the Pharisees) goes “you have insulted us, too, in what you just said" and then the Lord starts rebuking, or "insulting", the scribes too. It puts a smile in my face every time I read that one, just imagining that scribe’s face and his regret for trying to rebuke Jesus for His rebuke of the Pharisees. The Lord was dishing it out the hard truth, which those religious leaders saw as "insults" because the truth always looks like hate to those who hate the truth.

People nowadays are so politically correct. We live in a world where we might be “intolerant” or “hateful” if we dare to speak the truth. The command to tell us to correct a brother gets buried so deep beneath the “don’t judge someone because they sin differently than you” mentality that we end up never correcting a brother in need, even though we are commanded to correct them and in some cases even avoid them completely (Matthew 7:15-16, 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, John 7:24, Romans 16:17-18, etc).

Revelation 3:19
As for me, I rebuke and discipline everyone I love; so exert yourselves, and turn from your sins!

Telling the truth and rebuking those in need doesn’t mean we get to be rude or crass about it. What did Jesus tell His disciples when He sent them out to the world? Matthew 10:16 tells us exactly what the Lord said, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." We are to be cunning/wise/bold as the lost people in this world BUT as harmless as doves. We correct, we rebuke and we instruct in love, after all Jesus told us the second greatest commandment is to "love your neighbor as yourself.” How true can our love really be towards another person if we embrace and encourage someone’s sinful lifestyle which ultimately will lead them to Hell? We are always to be kind and respectful but bold in truth regarding the Gospel.

The world has nearly lost all of its moral compass as more and more people drift away from the Lord. How then can a person be saved? Being sinless perhaps? There is NO such thing as a sinless human being. The only sinless human to have ever walked on Earth was Jesus Christ. Paul perfectly described our sinful human nature in Romans 7, “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things." How then can you fight against your own nature? Prayer, continuing obedience and repentance. Yeah, you will always sin but you can’t ever be okay with sinning and thinking you don’t need to ask God for forgiveness. Obey Him always, regardless of how much it goes against your very nature. Acknowledge your sins and pray for strength to do what is right in His eyes rather than to follow your sinful nature.

Acts 3:19
Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.

Being a good person doesn’t mean absolutely anything if it’s without faith. Not a single one of us are “good”. Every single one of us deserve to suffer in Hell for all of eternity for the sins we’ve committed against our Creator, after all our bodies do not belong to us but to Him, yet God so love us despite all of our sins and imperfections that He sacrificed His only Son so we can be saved if we choose Him over ourselves. He offered us a way out of Hell if we are willing to accept it. Let there be less of you and more of Him in your lives. Accept the Lord, obey the Lord, repent of your sins and be a new creation. As Paul said, “The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

This is a sad age we live in. So many preachers lie, mislead and are afraid to speak the truth because they know the truth will cause the world to hate them. Yet, already predicted by Paul:

2 Timothy 4:3
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

That time has come, Paul. I’m glad you aren’t here to see this. 

Be good and refrain from evil. Behave in such a way that in your absence, people talk of you as you wished, and abstain from what you do not like people to attribute to you.
—  The Messenger of Allah (ص) Nahj al-Fasahah p. 37
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