I know I should be angry

We get comparatively low pay for more work than other specialties. The health care system is broken (even with the death panels!). But just today I saw two patients of mine in the hall, and I was happy to see them. I think they were happy to see me. And I get paid for this - a lot more money than other professionals get paid. Maybe I should get angry, but I'm not sure that would help.


X marks the spot

I take issue with Jay Michaelson's premise, well expressed though it is:

Fundamentally, religion works by saying that “if X, then things are okay."

Jay's a spiritualist, so wherever he drills in the rock of religion he finds spirituality. The gut shall rule forever and ever. But plenty of religious people actually believe X. They think X is the real thing. It's called eschatology.

You can psychologize their claims all you want, but there are people out there who believe what they say they do. It would be great if Locke's claim were in accord with the facts on the ground, and we could stick our heads in the sand until the nutsos go away. But - whoever the nutsos are - some of their claims are to be debated on face value. Gay marriage is great. The world was not created in six days. Our Israel policy is not determined by Revelations. And so on.


Tweet, whither wilt?

Half the time I can luxuriate in social media, buoyed by the multicolored sea of human interests & talents. The other half I scroll glumly through lmfaos and #wakeupyourfaceisonfire, thinking that all this is dust.

Hey! Over here! Poetry! Hey! Cold beer! Peanuts! Programs!

I feel like the Academy of American Poets' website focuses on poems and poetry, while the Poetry Foundation website is a bright poodle which has got hold of your pant leg. The Poetry Foundation twitter feed is a poodle which yip-yaps away distractingly at all hours about any text string which includes the word "poetry." A Google poodle.


Just because a thing can be well explicated

...whatever the thing is (poem, movie, course of treatment, political philosophy) doesn't mean it's any good.



I turned the stick into a snake.
He said There must be some mistake.

I sang the suffering servant song.
He licked my heel with flicking tongue.

I rent my robe and loudly laughed.
He said I'd rather be a staff.

He crawled away and hissed So long.
I don't know what I'm doing wrong.


What happens if the Sabbath is boring?

Judith Shulevitz says in her new book - and everywhere else she makes her thoughts known - that the Sabbath is an island of tranquility, balm to the torn soul, etc., etc. Yes, but what happens when the Sabbath is boring?

I wonder if the Sabbathian (that's the person who can operate within Shulevitz's permissive, suggested boundaries) has a better answer to the question than the Sabbatarian (that's a more law-bound Sabbath observer, like me). The Sabbathian can say: if you're bored, that's the point! Boredom is something modern people try to escape from, while the Sabbath reminds us that boredom is the absence of things that should not be there anyway. We should not be buzzed and pinged, and their absence should leave space for a mysterium tremendum, not a grande ennui.

But - on the other hand - maybe the Sabbatarians have a better answer. If the Sabbath is boring - well, that's your fault! (Im davar reik hu - mikem: if it's an empty thing, whose fault is that?) The point of the Sabbath is finally eschatological, not sociological. There can be societies which are just, pure, and balanced, and wholly secular, without any need whatsoever of some artificial day of rest. (Indeed, secularists in America and Israel might legitimately scoff at Shulevitz's Rousseauvian naivete.) But no society - on the mystical Jewish view - can have the piece of eternity which the Sabbath affords. Only eternity itself, which is entirely Sabbath.

If you are mystical enough, that eternity could be vouchsafed even if you are on Blogger and Twitter and all the rest of them all the time. As long as you have a direct connection Upstairs.