Kansas City

I have not been writing very consistently since I started. This is largely because I publish “personal” accounts only; I need some money to publish publicly. So it is that I plan to get a debit card on Wednesday so that I can 1) pay a doctor bill; 2) pay for an ad with Hadassah; 3) pay for publicly publishing WordPress.com. I hope to have some money left over to go to the bookstore with my friend Cynthia. However, looking over my bills and such, I had better not spend too much money at the bookstore… some of what I shall buy I shall buy in September. What I believe I shall buy is Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories and Cinderella Tales from Around the World by Heidi Anne Heiner. Angela Carter, I admit, is a bit on the dark side. While alive she was friends with Salmon Rushdie. It takes a lot in a writer for me to put up with views as anti-religion as hers. Yet the folkloric style of her work fascinates me. I guess you could call her work “dark fantasy.” As for Cinderella Tales from Around the World, I honestly believe there is no dark side here: I simply love folktales, and the history of Cinderella (beginning in Africa and ending in both Europe and China) is fascinating in and of itself.

However, there is more important news: on Tuesday I am going to Kansas City to talk to a surgeon. I have a precancerous cyst on my liver. I have been told that I shall not need surgery for fifteen years–and yet I am going to speak to a surgeon. I have also been told that we should delay surgery as long as possible, as surgery in and of itself can create cancer in my liver. Yet I am not as worried as I could be.

I believe that no matter what, God will be with me. If I need to have the surgery, God will watch over me, and even (though it is unlikely) if I die, I know God will be on the other side, waiting for me. There are projects I wish I was finished with, but I put all that in God’s hands, because some of what I wanted to do with my life is already done. Not everybody can say that. So many people put off what they want their lives to be about until later only for it never to get done. Me, I have a four-book set, The Bible According to Eve; Discovering Wonderland; and other novels (Faust in Love and Brazil) written. I also have books of short stories partially written (Poor Folk and Maybe the Meek Shall Inherit the Earth, the only two finished; Fraud on the Fairies; This Land is My Land; and Lost Tales). True, only the first book of The Bible According to Eve has been published… but I can hope beyond hope that the rest of the set shall be published, and that at some point they shall sell. As for Discovering Wonderland it was the beginning of a set of books in which I tried to write about my unhappy relationship with my father; Brazil is a rewrite of a Talmudic story set in a third-world country; and Faust in Love is an anti-Trump spoof… I hope it is not too late to do any good… I wrote it in his first year as president.

Anyone reading this–if there is anyone–keep me in your prayers. Both for when I see the surgeon (whether I need surgery or not) and after seeing him (the work I long to finish on my writing). I still hope to finish Oz Revisited and, about my Grandma, A History of Frances Westin Williams.

Why Did I Write ‘Eve’?

I wrote a book I’ve referred to before, “The Bible According to Eve.” I am sure people will ask me “How did you get the idea to write it?” or even “Why did you write it?” Of course, there is a certain amount of egotism in this: it has only today been advertised in Hadassah Magazine, including on Hadassah’s website.

Yet I do have a story. I was at work one day and the funniest thing happened–I have Bipolar Schizoaffective disorder, so perhaps it is not as weird as I wish I could say it was. I “saw” myself in a hallucination with one of my closer male friends. I saw God and Aher, as opposites. It was not Satan but “Aher,” the anti-rabbi of the Talmud of whom there are various stories about how he lost faith in God. Anyway, I wrote it all down as a poem, adding here, subtracting here. As I did I had the inspiration–if that isn’t saying too much–that I could write a whole book of all the Women of the Hebrew Bible. It would honor both God and Woman–and hence be necessary today in light of the challenge that modern feminism poses to religious tradition, resting as much of it does on male authority. So I wrote the book.

I have always believed, when taking on a task, that it is best to set my sights are “big.” As Teddy Roosevelt said,

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

I believe in writing–when I can–“big books” and not slim volumes.

I republished this because I wanted people to be able to read it on my author’s page with Amazon.com.

Jewish Identity

When I was converting, a rabbi told me, “According to a Midrash, all of the Jews swore allegiance to God at Mt. Sinai. This included not just all the Jews living then, but all the Jews who ever were or would ever be. More, it included converts. Because of that, if a person converts to Judaism, they are not just converting to something new but recovering their lost soul.”

I have often felt that whatever my childhood might have been, I have the nashama (soul) of a Jew. I know this sounds like a form of predestination. Yet I feel that God gives each person a destiny, and it is up to them to live up to it. I remember hearing Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson speak, and he said his Grandfather felt early on in his life a sense of vocation, a sense that God had a special task that he had to perform. I don’t pretend to be as noble as Gandhi–I know my limitations, I have needed credit for my writing to live in my imagination. Yet I believe in the poem Invictus,

Out of the night that covers me,   
  Black as the Pit from pole to pole,   
I thank whatever gods may be   
  For my unconquerable soul…  

It matters not how strait the gate,   
  How charged with punishments the scroll,   
I am the master of my fate:
  I am the captain of my soul.

William Henley was a World War I veteran, and this his best remembered poem (or rather, two stanzas in it). It was a favorite and quoted poem of both Churchill and Mandela.

However, to get back to my point–I felt in my bones that I must be a Jew. I also felt in my bones that I must write. That destiny, I believed, came from God. Well, at least the Jewish part. My writing may be self-willed.

So next month I will finally make it so my blog can be read by anyone–I have no money at the moment.

I am republishing this because I just got my webpage and authorcentral.pub page to work together instead of separately.

My Vocation as a Writer

I want to explain a few things pertaining to this blog. It will be a month until I can have this blog run through my author page on Amazon.com. This actually depresses me a great deal. Still, my finances are a bit crunched, so that is the way it is.

In the meantime, if anyone can read this, I am happy.

How did I become a writer? People wonder this. I think it all began before I even entered kindergarten. My Grandma used to read me stories, stories about handsome princes and beautiful princesses, but also stories of beneficent elves, helpful dwarves and wicked witches.

The morals in these stories were deceptively simple: they emphasized kindness, honesty, and hard work. The motivations are clear-cut, and for a child clear-cut morals are easier to understand than complex nuances. When a person is older they discover with Hamlet, “There is more in Heaven and Earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy.” As a young person they discover that it is wrong to lie, steal, or be cruel to animals. I heard a quote somewhere, “It is from the boy that the man is born.”

The plots were more complex–the task of saving a beautiful princess is given; the hero (the third son of an average family) waits for the chance to prove himself; while traveling the hero finds a beneficent dwarf; they eat together; coming to the castle the king finds his apples changed; they cure the Princess; the king wants a second task done, or a third; the beneficent dwarf helps him each time; finally the younger son gets to marry the Beautiful Princess, who has fallen in love with him.

To a child this is a complex, action-based plot. Yet there is a hidden meaning in it all: if you develop the characteristics of the hero, you too will win your Princess and find happiness. Or in my case, my Prince. The good times will come someday, says each story, you just need to be resilient. This resilience isn’t taught as much as it used to be; yet people need hope to live.

I mention fairy tales (the plot is taken from “The Little Iron Man,” probably a Grimm Fairy Tale). The reason is simple: before reading the children’s Bible I read at ten, I learned so many fairy tales–as an adult I found the main sources to be Perrault; the Grimm Tales; Hans Christian Anderson; and the little known English Jew Joseph Jacobs (who edited “The Three Little Pigs”; “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”; and “Jack and the Beanstalk”). The last one emigrated to America.

Listening to these stories I wanted to tell my own. I wanted to come up with the characters and what they would say.

Hadassah Alderson

Ah. Writing on Shabbat–that is, the Jewish Sabbath. That is a serious sin. Yet I have been negligent so long in working on the sales-side of this book. There are some things which may interest the reader of The Bible According to Eve, my book–assuming such a reader exists. I wrote my book believing that though the real Hebrew Bible is always relevant, perhaps in today’s society we have forgotten why. After all, the Talmud says that God speaks to each generation according to how they can hear God. One generation receives the Bible, another generation receives the Mishna, another the Talmud, and so on. And God speaks to each generation a little differently. Of course, I do not pretend that God spoke directly to me. Only that I wanted to say something unique about God.

One of my favorite philosophical books is Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed. It says–among other things–that God is Pure Spirit, and that when we hear such words as ‘a savory smell unto the Lord’ we are not to read it literally. However, I believe that without being obsolete, Maimonides is no longer at the cutting edge of Jewish philosophy–if such a thing be allowed to exist–but that while Jewish thinkers like Heschel speak, they speak in the Prophetic vein–very motivated by the morality of the Prophets, but less interested in preserving a place for the sceptics in the hearts of those who do not already believe.

Now, I do not claim that “The Bible According to Eve” has any evidence for the doubting soul about God’s existence. Yet it seeks to answer a question equally deep: what is the place of Womankind in God’s Word–if the Bible may be called that? Many feminists–or even women who simply work for a living–wonder what God can mean to them. They see God as Patriarchal, and yet they do not want to say that “there is nobody out there” or “there is no transcendence.” This book is for them. This book tries to find God in the Women’s stories of Scripture. However unfair the writers of the Bible appear at time towards Women, Women were relevant to the Biblical Writers. And perhaps in that the Bible is still relevant to Women, even feminists, today. Women pray as much as Men. They deserve to be honored as much.

This is a re-published piece because I have finally gotten my author’s page and my blog in line so one had the other on it.