“Everyone needs a rabbi!” is the self-serving slogan with which I open my favorite three hours of the week every Sunday afternoon on KSFO. It still delights me how callers of every persuasion announce to me ‘You’re my rabbi.” Do they know that a rabbi doesn’t necessarily mean someone serving a congregation? He is someone with a little familiarity of Scripture and sources of ancient Jewish wisdom, that’s all. Some rabbis serve conventional congregations as I did for fifteen years in
Let me tell you this: I am not a “man of God.” Tell you the truth, I don’t even know what that term means. I am a child of God…just as you are. When people say “man of God” I suspect they usually mean some sort of other-worldly guy who spends all his time contemplating heavenly questions. Perhaps eating only bread and water, and those only when absolutely necessary. Boy, that is so not me. I like my steaks, cigars, and chocolate milk-shakes. And that only covers my tummy appetites.
I believe that the good Lord created us to live somewhere between the two extremes of grabbing absolutely everything our bodies yearn for and utterly rejecting those delightful pleasures. It is harder to live between two extremes. That is why many people use the term ‘extremist’ as an insult. I think they are on to something. It is just plain easier to be an extremist than to be a middle-ist.
Let me give you an example: For folks with a bit of an alcohol problem, it is far easier to avoid alcohol entirely. That occasional glass of wine with dinner could spell doom. It is actually easier to have no alcohol at all than to confine oneself to just an occasional sip. Needless to say, it is also easier to become a wino. Keeping to that middle ground of enjoying the pleasures of life but neither being overwhelmed by them nor rejecting them altogether is the trick.
The point is that God created us as body and soul. Not only body, as many hedonists mistakenly suppose. And also not only as soul as believed by folks who reject the world in a gesture of mistaken piety. The challenge of being a child of God is not to move to either extreme. Too much body and we fall off the cliff of self-destruction. Too much soul, and we lose touch with the reality of who we are and what we are meant to become. See you Sunday afternoon!