29. Giver Prayer: Cleansing Beauty

I was riding with a guy from the Straight and Starchy Church.  He was irritating me, so I decided to go carnal and return the favor.

We were in a rough neighborhood, and I spotted a woman who most likely was a hooker.  I commented to him that she was beautiful.

He rose like a trout and romped on me for lusting after her.  I calmly pushed back and said I was actually worshipping, celebrating the fact that my God, the Master Artist, had created a remarkable face.

He was in no way prepared to see any traces of God in a hooker.  I staunchly defended the fact that God was there first.  I insisted that her misusing her treasures didn’t change the fact that she had been exquisitely designed by God in eternity past, and I had no hesitation at worshipping God in the midst of the ‘hood.

The poor guy is probably still in counseling after that encounter with me.  Someday I should probably repent for messing with him, but I am still enjoying my carnality today, years later, so repentance will have to wait a bit longer.

Prostitution is wrong.  And so is lust.  But beauty is still beauty regardless of how it is used.  We tend, however, to not be able to see beauty when it has been misused.

Take Monica Lewinsky for example.  Can anyone even see her face?  Her story stands so strongly in front of her that it is hard to see her.  I did a little reading about her on the web, just to see if I could “see” her.

It was fascinating to ponder her grandfather’s escape from Germany as a Jew, fleeing to Central America.  Another ancestor was a Jew from Russia.  And another from Lithuania.  One Jewish ancestor was born in Tianjin, China.

Her father was an oncologist who became wealthy.  She was raised in privilege in Bel Air and Beverly Hills.  She endured the acrid emotional climate of her parent’s divorce.

Does that make her famous misbehavior any different for knowing that?  No.  Sin is sin.  But it makes HER different in my eyes by seeing a little bit of humanity around her.

I wonder how I would respond to life’s temptations if I had been raised in a life of immense privilege and entitlement.

I wonder how I would respond to life if I had witnessed my parents’ abject lack of capacity to resolve life’s issues.

So I still think she is wrong in what she did and didn’t do, but I can see her a little bit now.  If I lived next door to her now, would I consider her a good neighbor who has learned much from the hard lessons of life?

If I had gone to school with her, would I consider her a beautiful person or a brat?

If I had worked with her, what kind of beauty would I know about, that can’t be seen from a distance?

I raise this issue because of the Giver gift of the Jewish people.  I am appalled at the thread of anti-Semitism that runs in our tribe.  Whether it is in e-mails or casual conversation, a person’s negative behavior is described and then the casual statement, “He is a Jew, you know.”

So being Jewish, one could only expect negative behavior from him?


Put it in terms of American racism.  Suppose a liquor store on the rough side of town is held up at gun point.  There is a ruckus and the suspect is caught.  The press reports it.

If the gunman is Black, the press will be sure and mention it.  In passing.  But they will mention it.

If he even appears to be Islamic in faith, they will be sure to mention it.  Prominently.

If he is White, there is no mention of that at all.

The message:  Black genes cause crime.  White genes don’t.  When a White guy commits a crime, it is because his parents did a lousy job with him.  Has nothing to do with race.

Such rubbish.

And this same slanderous assumption is applied whenever someone says “He is a Jew, you know.”

So, like Monica, their past hides their beauty.


Even in our tribe.

So what is their beauty?

-They are God’s chosen people.  No one else was ever offered the history they have with God.  Not even close.  The one and only.

-They gave the world Davidic worship.  Up until then, there was essentially no music with the worship of God.  David introduced the entire concept and it has been with us ever since.

-They gave the world the written Word.

-They gave the world the Living Word.

-They gave the world redemption.

-They gave the world more wisdom and excellence than any other tribe as evidenced by the percentage of Nobel Prizes they have generated.

-They have created value-added businesses that have employed hundreds of millions of people over the millennia of human history.

-They have graced the halls of education, medicine and politics with extraordinary wisdom, hundreds of thousands of times.

While all of that is impressive and any one of those knocks most people groups out of the game altogether, the thing I admire immensely about them is their ability to survive.  They can assimilate into every culture without losing their heritage.  We have Russians Jews, Japanese Jews, Brazilian Jews and American Jews.  But 2,000 years after the Diaspora, they are still Jews.

By contrast the Jebusites, Amorites, Hivites and a whole lot of other ‘ites have long since been assimilated since their political structures were shattered.

And that is amazing that the Jews are still Jews, with a Diaspora that is staggeringly wide and long.

I have junk in my life story.  Some people still only see the junk.  Some see the beauty in spite of the junk.

We can’t control everything about how the Giver tribe is seen.  Some people are deeply immersed in a culture of celebrating the junk, not the beauty.  But we can tip the scales somewhat, by warring to cleanse the beauty.

I invite you to join me.

29.  Giver Prayer:  Cleansing Beauty                                              Redemptive Gift of New York

Copyright June 2016 by Arthur Burk

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12 Responses to 29. Giver Prayer: Cleansing Beauty

  1. lolwheal says:

    Reblogged this on lolwheal.

  2. Jim Alseth says:

    The reality of beauty touches me in a very, very deep place. Thank you for this Arthur. It is one of your best works. I especially appreciated your messing with the starchy guy…

  3. David Brown says:

    A well crafted call to Godsight, to seeing people as God sees them. Your prayer is as inspiring as your article. At some point in the prayer, I thought of how sometimes we have labels over us in the spirit. Father, please forgive us for our racism and our focus on people’s junk instead of seeing them as you see them. We plead your blood over the labels that our judgements and negative focus contributed to forming or reinforcing. Please vaporize those judgement labels and restore to prominence your truth to be broadcasting over those people. As a set of our will, we forgive those who judged us. Now, Father, please also vaporize the judgement labels over us and restore your truth to be broadcasting over us..

  4. katshea says:

    The Monica Lewinski story sands out to me as a classic example of the “Woman caught in adultery”. The man, somehow, got to blame her, just as the media blamed Monica, and Adam blamed Eve. . . “The woman you gave to me, SHE is the one to blame. . . ”

    I guess, technically, Bill Clinton took some heat too, but he had the power to manipulate the new facets of the emerging internet to scapegoat this starry eyed 22 year old intern, who had the misfortune of being mesmerized by a master seducer with a vicious tendency for revenge.

    Even you, Arthur, called it “her famous misbehavior”. . .Who is more culpable in a situation with this kind of power differential and age difference?

    But you are such a champion of dignity, that you also wanted to know her–what is her humanity, and her generational legacy, and that is more than most people who just get fed the barrage of gossip that passed as news, so we could also pass judgment on her, in spite of ourselves not being without sin, and in many cases, the same sin–of making poor relationship choices in our 20’s. . .

    So here is Monica’s own voice in a 22 minute TED talk, telling her side of the story 10 years later, with some of the most poignant dignity I have ever witnessed in someone so profoundly shamed. It brought me to tears. Maybe this is another expression of the Jewish resilience. . . and it surely cleanses her beauty.

    • SLG says:

      Kat, regarding my comment on her “famous misbehavior,” I do absolutely put major blame on Mr. Clinton. Before her and after her, he has apparently been prolific in his sexual pursuits. However, the data from her previous five year affair with another married man — before Clinton — and the aggressiveness with which she leaned into that affair, suggests to me she was not completely the naive, victim of a seasoned predator. Hence my choice of words.

  5. Linda Mullen says:

    The best line…..”God was there first.”

  6. Janis Leal says:

    “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.” (Deut. 7:6) “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3)

    The Jewish people are precious to the Lord, and so should be precious to anyone who says they love God – It’s a natural outflow of knowing Him. If I say I love the Lord, and the Lord says He loves Israel, then it follows that I will, too. It’s God’s very heart, they are “the apple of His eye.” Plus, in passages like Jer. 31:35-37 it’s clear that the perpetuation of the Jewish people must be pretty important to the Lord – a covenant more unbreakable than His covenant with the sun, moon, and stars — that’s how special they are.

    It’s beyond understanding how someone can miss what’s not only in Scripture plainly, but what’s blatantly apparent in the wonderful contributions to humanity (“…in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”) they have given (some of which you list in the article). What they’ve done for the world is astounding. Not only that, they have been among the most persecuted as a group and as individuals throughout all history, if not the most persecuted, yet they have not given in to bitterness, don’t seem to have a sense of entitlement or make demands, and so have not been defeated or ineffective — they still survive and thrive in their fruitfulness.

    Bless Your people, the Jews, Lord, and open our eyes to see what You see in every individual and group.

  7. jane62 says:

    Starting seriously … this post synchronised beautifully with my decision this morning to dig into the honour concept again. And I loved all of it.

    Other than that I laughed and laughed and my funny bone is still aching.
    Must be the quarter Russian Jew in me.

  8. Joan Westaway says:

    Well said! And yes, I’ve messed with a few… maybe not as elegantly! But there are the many for whom I need to cleanse my lense!
    Reminding me of those ‘labels’ that the enemy puts on people, with generational sin as the velcro… the name tag , for example- of ‘traitor’ obscuring the real person, as comes in one of the teachings.
    But it is US putting the on labels! Double velcro? Ouch!
    Seeing some fun coming up! Let’s ‘Go, Be Dangerous!’

  9. Julia Smith says:

    Thank you Arthur My prayer is ‘ Open our eyes Lord to all the racism hidden in us and heal us’

  10. Maggie says:

    So well said ..thanks Arthur….God is awesome in beauty and His creation displays the wonder of his works: that Truth cannot be destroyed or tainted; true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth, not the creature of beauty, who is often judged before she gets a chance to repent , then thrown to the wolves . He said “neither do I condemn you…GO AND SIN NO MORE”. There is a move afoot amongst church worship teams in this hour to forget the second part though, to not even hear it. Bring back Truth AND Beauty, Lord.

  11. I never thought about David being the one to introduce music in a worship service before. Somehow that eluded me. Thank you for this reminder of all that was given to us from the Jewish people.

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