I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Not Your Bubbe's Seder
Passover is like my favorite holiday. I think it should be a national holiday. It’s got everything – a great story, great songs, weird but tasty food. But then my second choice would be Mardi Gras, and then probably Ramadan. Now, to give my religion-of-origin its propers, I’ve got no quarrel with Christmas. But everything I would REALLY like about Christmas – the caroling, the pageant, the sleigh ride – went out with Currier & Ives. I guess if I could have a nineteenth-century Christmas then it too would top my list.
So I strong-armed Jaclyn, my half-breed gal-pal who has lately been exploring her Jewish birthright, into throwing a seder and invited myself and Cheryl, the other third of our childhood crime-fighting trio (I, of course, am Farrah). Although husbands and parents were also present, this is not -- you can imagine -- your Bubbe’s seder. Joining Elijah at table were gadflies and rabble-rousers in various states of doctrinal undress – some affecting the American hodgepodge of Jewishness; some clad in alternative spirituality; some unabashedly naked of any religion whatsoever.
I mostly wanted this for Girl. I wanted her to see this. My beloved stayed home and watched “The Ten Commandments” on Tivo with Jones.
My beloved counts himself among the believers but has such a strong reaction against organized religion that he can’t stand to be around even a postmodern take on it. In this, I would say he’s like most of our friends. He will say, drawing his index finger heavenward, back down toward his heart, and up again, “This? I’m ok with. G*d and I talk. But this?” Drawing a circle from self outward to indicate a church congregation, “This? Gives me the creeps.”
Me, I’m the opposite. I love this – the circle, the congregants, the community. But I don’t believe there’s any this – pointing to heaven, prayer, intercession, G*d – behind it. (My father is a deacon and I give him fits, but that? Is a whole other talk show.)
The seder did not disappoint. The food was spectacular. The company magnificent. We even had one of those great moments (I see them as classically Jewish) where the paterfamilias declares the whole thing fairy stories and bunk and the mother argues that there might be some things in heaven and earth that are not dreamt of in our snarky 21st Century philosophy and we the kids all have our take and there’s shouting and interrupting until the referee blows the whistle and reminds that if we keep agonizing over every doctrinal point we’ll never get to the part where we nosh.
This is mostly the part that I wanted for Girl – that she see this life of the mind. Grown-ups fight like cats and dogs over this stuff and that’s a good thing because wherever you come down on this stuff, it doesn’t pay to be too precious about it.
I hope I’m not hurting Girl’s brain too much. I often fear that I am as rudderless as Christine Lahti’s professor single mom on “Jack & Bobby.” This pantheist string of field trips and Veggie Tales clips is no doubt a poor stand-in for Sunday school, but it’s what I’ve got.