Saturday, November 06, 2010

November 6, 2010

hi! I'm ellen-- the lower-cased bold one from florida and sometimes new york!

Hi! I'm Ethel. I'm simply "arial" but my cases are mixed. O yes, and I live in Silicon Valley at the south end of San Francisco Bay. No matter how you look at us, we come from different worlds.

if you understand understatement, you should have no trouble at all telling us apart!! I’m the calm, sensible one…

Ha! Yes, the delusional one! But it is true, our worlds color our thinking and our ways of expressing ourselves, but we DO have much in common.

husband, kids, grandkids—all separate, of course! but lots of shared friends we’ve picked up along the way..

We're both writers and dearly love to pick one another's brains, especially on controversial issues

that's what they call being dialoguists. we've collected tens of thousands of e-mail pages over the past decade, with our discussions on every topic from faith to friendship…and on further up the alphabet…

Religiously, we grew up in very different boxes.

i'm what they call a secular jew, jewish by birth, and by choice, but not necessarily by anything I know or that’s been included in my education. I never went to Hebrew school, or hardly even synagogue until I married someone a little more into it than i…even then I managed to stay pretty well ignorant of most things religious until ethel came along, i rarely even thought about god—I felt that if my life reflected the golden rule, “do unto others…” and a fair sampling of the 10 commandments, I’d probably be doing alright…

And I came from an evangelical Christian background. God is the very center of my life. All I do and say and think I relate to Him. I'm on an adventure to learn the difference between all I've heard in church and all that God has to say.

When we got together just about 10 years ago, now, it seemed to each of us that we had an incredibly unique opportunity…to hear how someone outside saw us when they were willing to be deadly honest, and to explain our ideas and feelings, and thoughts to someone who could and would hear them, absorb them and discuss them as intellectual concepts, without threatening or being threatened by the spectre of conversion…naturally, we have “illusions”of grandeur…and we want to have the incredible things we’ve learned and seen, spread as far as the world is wide; we want people to have the chance to know what we’ve come to know. We’re excited to share all that we can, and all that others are willing to get into it with us!

well, look, now…we know we’re not going to change the world, but if we could put a little NICK in it…!!

WE think the way to do this is to cut through the superficialities that separate us and get to know one another…COMMUNICATE…the subject is not nearly as important as what we have to say about it…when ethel and I began the one simple promise we made each other—even though we were virtual strangers; all we had in common was our love of words and of communication. and so we promised each other simple HONESTY…and, of course, RESPECT…

sometimes a question would be asked that a “white lie” would’ve felt much less scary in the answering…but it wouldn’t have been true…at first that was hard because neither of us knew what honesty would bring. and we found that if it was brought gently, what it brought was two people closer together each time they had to jump out of that tree and hoped to be caught! we no longer worry whether hands will be there to catch us…we now know it, as we know the sun will come up each day, whether we see it or not…

That’s true, and the kinds of topics we’ve talked about –often over and over again, have been politics, crime, religious hypocrisy, as well as the all important raising of kids and every now and again Ellen needs to bring up the subject of rice pudding, simply because it’s close to her heart…

well, you know that man cannot live by…oh, well, I guess that doesn’t work in this discussion does it…but rice pudding is a very important topic, unless there’s no raisins, I’m thinking…sorry…carry on…

Just ignore her when she goes off like that…we’ll try for a slightly higher plane. And what we really hope is that YOU will open up the discussions…some of them, most of them; whatever you like; we’ll follow your lead…if you can think of it, or if we can—like, why do Christians have so much trouble trusting God?

like, why do they feel they need to “convince” god of the rightness of their positions by means of fervent prayer meetings, and other extreme beseechments…?

anyway, I think we’ve told you everything you need to know…join us, please! let us know what’s on your mind, and we’ll see if we can get you as excited about all this as we are.

after a short time you’ll know us by our voices, and hopefully, we’ll know you by yours…welcome to our world!!!

* * *
For starters, here's the first dialogue we want to share with you. We kind of thought if you're going to join us on the rim of our boxes, we might do well to talk first about what those boxes are. So, here are our descriptions... read them and then tell us how you see boxes--what are the things that have YOU boxed in, in your life?

Boxes are basic beliefs, paradigms,
philosophies and prejudices--
the baggage we each bring with us
to our lives-- and dialogues.

boxes are confining structures
in which we're fed rules that we are to follow,
most, blindly...
we can't see out of them,
so there's no point in asking questions...
just do what we're told.

Boxes give us structure
and shape our thinking and decision making processes;
provide a sense of security in a volatile world,
and shelter when we’re
pushed to a point
where we can’t handle challenges and confrontations.

They deaden our curiosity while feeding our fears of the unknown.
They deliver us from our passion to ask questions--
They narrow our viewpoints, and keep us from taking risks.

As we gain new confidence--mature,
and move out into new frontiers of thought and action,
boxes tend to collapse.

“When God collapses our box walls, He turns them into dance floors.”
Author Unknown



M Bruce said...

I like the entire idea of this blog. The ideas expressed are balanced and give one a lot to think about. The ideas are also expresed in a light way which is difficult for a topic that is potentially contentious. I hope that you address many issues that we think about but do not discuss publicly.

From the Rim of the Box said...

That's what topic! Yikes, I messed that one up.

M Bruce said...

The topic that I was referring to is religion. It is a topic that make many people uncomfortable because, as lay people, they are not adequately prepared to explain or defend their own belief system. Some people are intolerant, arrogant or narrow minded. This makes your aim of encouraging an open discussion of religion a challenge. If you succeed at encouraging a discussion and providing insight into each of your worlds, you will have provided an important benefit.

From Mary's Pen said...

Is there a "Love" button? Oh, nevermind, this isn't facebook...

Well, I do love both you beautiful ladies. I am so excited to see your dialogue reaching out to people who so need to see what civil discourse, respect, honesty and friendship are about.

Love you both. Can't wait to see where this goes.

Rejoicing in the day,

Jennybean said...

while the topic is outwardly about religion, it's also about breaking free of the robotic notions of 'doing because that's what is done.' it's about choices and questions, and finding your own voice. the format is great! and i love how you describe the boxes themselves. boxes have purpose. they exist for a reason. what we don't always remember is that those purposes and reasons don't always benefit the one inside the box -- most often the beneficiary is the one outside of the box, standing guard.
oh, and i'm with Mary -- LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

(and yes, i am my mother's daughter ... bold, when I have the option, and lower-cased!)
yay to mom and ethel!!!

From the Rim of the Box said...

You got the message so well! Yes, yes, our boxes have reasons. Actually, they help us to become functioning human beings with manners and concern for others. Great for basic structure, and sometimes they save us from total disasters.
But they have their limits as well. I met a woman in Costco today who had a variety of bird feathers pinned on the brim of her hat. When I commented about them, she told me how she loved collecting them. Then she told me that in her way she was an odd person. We agreed that we all need to be odd in our own way. That's what makes us interesting and fun and what makes the world such a neat place to be a part of. What does this concept do to our box walls?

Jane Carlile Baker said...

We have joined a church that encourages me to think in ways that I've not thought before in any church. I guess that's on the rim of a new box. I'm allowed to admit my faults and have help with them in this church. I don't have to wear a pretty face.
I need to say that prayer, to me, isn't telling God what to think or do, but asking Him about my life, what directions to take. What things I should do. I love your blog.

Mimi Moseley said...

Oh, my goodness! I SO wanted to jump in the conversations about 30 times. These are great. Y'all made me laugh; sigh and even growl a couple of times. Well done, ladies!