Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Dynamite Test, or as JJ Walker might say, the "Dyn-o-mite!" Test

Apologies for the delayed posting, but being the incredibly religious gal that I am--stop snickering--I was actually in synagogue today! Well, it wasn't really synagogue, it was the concert venue, the Hammerstein Ballroom, but it was repurposed for use by Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, better known as "that gay synagogue in the Village." Or, as I like to call it, "Congregation I Love My Son's Boyfriend."

I started going to high holidays at CBST a few years ago when I learned of their gracious open door policy which encourages anyone who wants to come to attend their services free of charge. How horrendously stereotypical did that just make me sound? But I digress..

The interesting thing about today's service--aside from the fact that I attended with my hot waterpolo-playing friend, Jay Dyckman, who got cruised during the Torah portion--was the rabbi's sermon. This rabbi, Sharon Kleinbaum, the woman who single-handedly united Christians, Jews and Muslims in Israel (in a campaign of hate when she tried to organize a Gay Pride March in Jerusalem) related the story of Alfred Nobel to make us think about how we might want to change ourselves for the better in the new year to come.

Rabbi Kleinbaum first posed this question: How many of us knew that Alfred Nobel had been the creator of dynamite? Well, of course Jay and I raised our hands because we're both very smart and are eager to show this off. However, it didn't seem like most of the others present were aware of this fact. Trying to make the dummies feel better, I suppose, Kleinbaum went on to say that it was good most people didn't know this because Nobel had made a very concerted effort in his life so he would not be remembered as the person who created a device that could kill the most people in the shortest amount of time. He wanted--and clearly succeeded--in being remembered as a celebrant of peace first and foremost.

The story goes that when Alfred's brother, Ludwig, died, a newspaper accidentally printed his obituary instead. But Kid Dyn-o-mite was doubly distraught when he saw this because the headline read: "The Merchant of Death is Dead!" It was apparently at that point that Nobel said something to the effect of "Oh no she dit'n't!" and determined that he would improve his image as best he could.

Devoting a tremendous amount of his personal fortune to establishing the peace prize and other awards that improve the quality of life, Nobel essentially got to rewrite that obit, and now most people first think 'peace prize' when they think of him (except Jay and me).

So Rabbi Kleinbaum left us to think about this: how is it that we will be remembered, is this acceptable to us, and, if not, what can we do to change it? Good question, Rabbi!

I think for me, part of the answer will undoubtedly include my uncanny, Gumby-like flexibility, my ability to leave things on the floor even after I trip over them repeatedly, and my addiction to Tasti-D-Lite. I'm actually okay with this, but just to prove I'm anxious to keep evolving as a human, within the next year I'd also like to become known as a Nobel Prize winner. I don't necessarily have to win the award, I'd just liked to be remembered that way.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Shorter = Better?
I have converted Jason Salas into the a fan for the short blog post crowd . Where do the rest of you stand? Would you rather have fewer posts with more depth or frequent short posts with high value information? ...
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October 04, 2005 6:39 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

Clearly the answer is "no," Anonymous, shorter NEVER = better. Can I get an "Amen" from the gay chorus at CBST?

October 05, 2005 8:55 AM  
Anonymous jay said...

preach it, sister.

October 05, 2005 12:15 PM  
Blogger Caryn said...

Very thought-provoking. Of course, I think I'm too often concerned with how I come across to others and am constantly trying to improve my image, usually only succeeding in muddying it up more. Most of my worst moments have come from trying to please others.

October 05, 2005 4:22 PM  
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