|Hmm -- another self-publisher with a beard|
The God of the Old Testament did some terrible things -- smiting, plaguing, flooding, destroying cities with fire and brimstone, converting a woman into a pillar of salt, and more.
God also did a lot of good. I'm glad He (or She or It) created sunshine and water and lobsters and clams and tomatoes and friendly furry animals. I'm not so happy about asparagus, rats, mosquitoes and flies.
Apparently God is also an author, and a self-publisher!
In Jewish tradition, the book of life is opened on Rosh Hashanah (which started Sunday at sundown), when God begins an annual evaluation of everyone. Those who will be allowed to live stay in the book of life. Others are deleted. In the time of the Old Testament, God wrote on a roll-up scroll, or maybe a stack of stone tablets. Today, presumably the Book of Life is a PC with a multi-terabyte hard drive and a delete key. Or, maybe God uses a customized iPad with huge solid-state memory. It seems like God was the first self-publisher, and is now the oldest.
I'll accept that as an almighty endorsement of self-publishing. My name is an old Hebrew name that means "who is like God." If I publish what I write, maybe I'm even more like God than I thought. [Yes, I know that my name could be a question, but today's blog post works better if I ignore that possibility.]
The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (starting at sundown on 9/25) are known as the Days of Awe and also the Days of Repentance. This is a time to consider the sins of the previous year and to repent. It can't hurt for non-Jews to try it, too. You can also repent in February or August, or on every day. Off-season repentance may not buy you another year, but maybe it will help a bit.
God is said to have two "books"-- a book of life and a book of death, and He/She/It records who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. It is said that these books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter God's decree. The actions that change the decree are repentance, prayer and good deeds (usually charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur.
A common greeting at this time of year is L'shanah tovah ("for a good year"). This is a shortening of "L'shanah tovah tikatev v'taihatem" (or to women, "L'shanah tovah tikatevi v'taihatemi"), which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."
At this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the previous year. We are supposed to "right the wrongs" committed, if possible.
- People of the Book is a term used by Muslims to refer to non-Muslim followers of religions that have a book of prayer. The three religions mentioned in the Qur'an as people of the book are Judaism, Sabianism and Christianity. Muslim rulers and scholars have included other religions such as Zoroastrianism and Hinduism.
- Despite all of the rampant violence and evil, the Bible is known as the Good Book.
- In Judaism, the term "People of the Book" refers specifically to the Jewish people and the Torah (The Five Books of Moses in the Hebrew Bible, a.k.a. "The Old Testament")
There is an unusually high percentage of Jewish people who are writers, publishers and editors -- and lots of us have beards! (At least, the men do.)
Considering that the Jewish people constitute a mere one half of one percent of the world's population, it's pretty amazing that Jews have won (according to one list) 52% of the Pulitzer Prizes for non-fiction literature, and from 12 to 33 percent of the prizes for other forms of writing.
The prize was established by Joseph Pulitzer, a Jewish newspaper publisher. He left money to Columbia University when he died in 1911. A portion of his bequest was used to found the university's journalism school in 1912. The first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded in 1917. Recipients are chosen by an independent board. You don't have to be Jewish to win a Pulitzer prize, but it might help.