Monthly Archives: April 2008

e-Migration

I am moving my blog. Subsequent updates will take place at http://www.zathe.com.

And speaking of zathe, and feeling thankful, let me thank my folks as well for giving me such a wonderful idea for a website domain name.

Zathe, the “Z” in “The Big Z,” is my middle name, and it also has a funny story of its own.

Zathe, you see, is a mispelling of the family name, Zatha. Dad’s favorite cousin was Fred Zatha Daniels, Jr., son of, you guessed, it FZD, Senior. He was named after some other “Zatha Daniels,” way on back in the family line. I had a photo of Zatha once, given to me by my grandmother, blessed be her name. But, blessed be her name once more, what in heck was she thinking giving such a precious thing to a 16 year old who can’t remember where his car keys are?

When it came birthing time, and more importantly, when it came naming time, Dad just “knew” that the name ended with “e.” It had to do with the way folks in the family, New York’s equivalent of “rednecks,” pronounced the name. Up there, it ended with the ever famous shwa sound, and I suppose from there, the confusion about an “a” or an “e” ending. It shows up in the Bible under “Vaizatha,” (“strong wind” or “evil wind”) one of the sons of Haman in the book of Esther. Again in the New Testament under “Beth-Zatha” (KJV), supposedly translated “house of mercy.”

I guess it’s a fitting name. “Nice guy. Full of hot air.”

The misspelling, however, is the real genius of the thing. Toni and I once, walking in a country town in Pennsylvania, talking about names for children, debated whether or not we would use the name Zathe. I, some 9 years ago, told her, “Never. The name is a mistake. It’s Zatha or it’s nothing.”

Well, it is not an appellation sitting on a child, but it has made it to a website. And Zathe, rather than Zatha, wins the day.

Why? Because “mistakes” are gifts, once you figure out how to unwrap them.

Anyhoo, sorry for the bookmark changes and such that will need to happen, rss feeders, and all that. Hope you stick with me. See you at zathe.com

matt

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Migration

My Uruguayan identity document is set to expire in a week. Back to immigration, renew the paperwork, get residency for three more years. What an amazing nation. In spite of everything it’s citizens complain about. What an amazing nation. I don’t take my “guest” status here lightly. Every three year period that clicks by, each time immigration gives me that little certificate, I remember, with love for all that is good about my own origins, that the world is a wonderful place with wonderful people, and this little corner of it that 4 million people call home, is a gem in its own right.

Thanks.

God-sponsored Genocide

I dropped an email to a friend yesterday whose son is wrestling with the big-picture issues regarding his Christian faith. I wrote

I was reading Joshua this morning and just picture Joshua and the lovers of God this morning storming Jericho, picking up rocks and beating 2 year olds with them, grabbing swords to cut off the head of some little girl who had Allie’s size and personality, and beating some poor vegetable seller senseless. Perhaps the vegetable seller was against the Jericho king’s evil and wicked ways, but because he wasn’t in tight with the whore and her family, he didn’t get saved.

If I finally had the permission to really pissed off with the author of that genocide, I would certainly be considering a divorce, or wanting to know if I could get God in for some psychiatric observation before I moved forward in the relationship.

Last night, in a separate conversation, I was talking to my wife about this (wo)Man who is now pregnant and going to have a baby. I was shocked and horrified not just that a person would despise their sexuality so much as to change it (I don’t know that I would ever give up being a woman if I was one…), and not that they would enter into a relationship with another consenting adult and take on the “Dad” role of the others’ teenage kids. It wasn’t that they were going to bring a human being into the world and pass off such transformations as “normal” (would that have been considered mental abuse in another era?). It wasn’t that all of them could appreciate good-naturedly the “change” and live the new lie, nor that the… I don’t know… heterosexual (?) wife would be down with the lack of a complete sexual change.

What was it?

Maybe it was us. Maybe it was our “front page news”-ness about the whole thing. Maybe it was the fact that we dig it so much.

As I was talking with Toni about it, it suddenly dawned on me how sick and sickening our whole stinking world can become at times. What at some times in human history would only be fodder for sensationalist rags (“Enquiring Minds Want to Know”), now only merits polite, well-meaning sensibility… “Oh, I see… how nice… how, hmmmm, interesting.”

Then I thought about God, clicking on bbc.com, reading the whole thing, and I was a bit more sympathetic to his occasional choice to wipe out vast swaths of humanity.

Sorry, if you were hoping for a theodicy here, you will have to come back another day. I will however, for your reading pleasure, or for your criticism, place the rest of my email comment to my friend here below.

I still can’t get my heart around God-sponsored genocide, but having fought that intellectual battle and surrendered to a very real psycho-spiritual (heart? spirit?) encounter with the living Christ (or whoever it is that I have by faith chosen to believe is the living Christ of the Bible), i can say, “Joshua and other genocides blow all my capacity to understand you, but nevertheless, there is no better explanation than yours for the way things are, you have drawn near to me, sung over me, called me the Beloved, and even now hold me in whatever mental/emotional chaos I enter. I surrender to you and your ways. Please don’t unnecessarily kill anyone else. I trust you.”