Monday, June 29, 2009

The Armenian Jeweler

Once there was a Armenian jeweler, living in New York City. It was the roaring 20's. Imported items from all over the world came to his shop - carved jade from China, hand painted ivory from Persia, carved cameos from Europe, stones of all kinds from all over the place. Art Deco design was all the rage and so was extravegant cluster rings.

Well, that jeweler was my grandfather. And after all of these years, his daughter (my mother) passed away and all of those beautiful stones and jewelry came out of the safe deposit box. Yikes! Now it's in the homes of the three granddaughters and if I wore a different ring everyday, it would take me three years to wear them all. Amazing.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How close are we allowed to God

I'm back on the religion front. Still in my struggle over the politics and hierarchy of the Armenian Church and how leaving it because of politics becomes leaving your heritage. Theology-wise, I'm right there, generally. It's a Christian church and I believe in the teachings of Jesus and the Bible. But as an American WOMAN in the 21st Century, I'm really getting pissed off by the idea that females only have administrative or cooking roles in the church. Do the work - outside of the sanctuary, while the men partake in the ritual.

I'm not even going as far as women as priests, but we are not even allowed to STEP ON THE ALTER. Girls are not acolytes (alter helpers), they cannot get their feet washed during that ceremony, no women deacons. The only reason we can approach the alter is for communion, after confessing our sins.

When my daughter was 6 or so, she asked me point blank, "Why can't I get my feet washed? Didn't Jesus want to save me, too?" I looked at her and all I could say was, "I don't know?" Then I tried to explain the role of symbolism and tradition and it all became some kind of weird justification that I've been telling myself for years. She got confused. and so, there I am passing on that emotional baggage to her - inferiority.

Isn't your faith supposed to empower you? Make you strong and ready to go out into the world and stand up tall, fearing nothing can hurt your soul. But, I feel that my church hurts my soul by making me second in line to God.

Well, you say, then leave! Become an Epicopalian or something. And there is the rub! If I leave the Armenian Church, I leave my ethnic identity. I leave my family. It's like having an overbearing father that you love, but you know is bad for you to hang around.

Do I stay my whole life in this limbo? or do I make a stand for myself?