Night and Day

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.  God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” Genesis 1: 3b-5~

Evening and morning–the first day. That was how God measured days. We flip it around. In our minds, our days begin with dawn and end with sunset.

In that change, we show our preference for daylight. And we show it in other ways as well. Our brightly lit streets are illuminated to a degree far beyond our need to have a well-lit pathway. Our cities glow and flicker as business interests compete for our attention. We are like moths, and like moths, we find artificial light more attractive than natural light. And the more light we have the more we want–as in addiction.

In The End of Night, Paul Bogard takes a secular look at our desire for more and brighter light.

“As our surroundings grow brighter, we grow used to that level of brightness, and so anything dimmer seems extraordinarily dim, even dark. This is exactly what happened as artificial lighting developed through the ages. The once glorious oil lamps became dim and disgusting with the advent of wonderful gas lighting, which then became smelly and awful and unbearably dim the moment we saw electric light. . . . [O]nce our eyes get used to seeing brighter lights, we must have brighter lights.” Continue reading “Night and Day”

Elie Wiesel: Remembering horror in order to end it

Whether you return from war or elsewhere
when it’s an elsewhere
unimaginable to others
it is hard to come back.  Delbo, 256
I was a new teacher when I pulled Night off a bookshelf in my classroom.  It’s Elie Wiesel’s account of his concentration camp experiences as a teenager during the Holocaust. When I’d finished, it took me three days to feel normal again.
Years later, I had to read the book again in preparation for a grad level course in Holocaust Literature–a class I had accidentally signed into. After all, who would sign up for Holocaust Literature on purpose? Holocaust Literature would be depressing.
By the time I realized what I’d done, it was too late. The only other class that would fit my degree would have been filled by then. So I bought my own copy of Night and girded my heart.
The professor said the book would prepare us for the class. It did. The teacher was a Jewish woman. Her mother had survived Auschwitz. All she taught became so real. Continue reading “Elie Wiesel: Remembering horror in order to end it”

What Happens When the Incomprehensible Happens

In Elie Wiesel’s Night, a supposed madman comes to a Jewish community and tells the people that the Nazis are systematically killing Jews. The people’s reaction? Denial. Disbelief. Utter disbelief.
It is not until they arrive at Auschwitz that they understand that the “madman” spoke only truth. They hadn’t believed him because what was happening was incomprehensible.
It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around what happened in the Holocaust. It’s also hard to wrap our minds around child sex abuse. Continue reading “What Happens When the Incomprehensible Happens”