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Microwaves hum. Planes and cars hum. Generators hum—humming fills worlds of science, electronics, entertainment, and finance, often wall-papering the background of whatever draws our attention. Rare is silence sought after.

Yet, humming is integral to our humanness and still appears within classical music, jazz, and R&B. Their listeners, in search of distraction from spine-binding tensions, flock to venues hosting such events and pay handsomely. I was among them.

Somewhere within my long labyrinthine life, I stopped humming—Too many rules and regulations of adulthood had squelched its practice and cramped my imagination. True, classical music did quiet much of the turmoil, but as ovations of audiences subsided, hollow voices returned, until the next concert, with its reprieve. I’d also considered eastern chants, but never practiced them—too taxing upon my breathing. 

However, an overview of The Humming Effect – Sound Healing for Health and Happiness (2017) by Jonathan Goldman and Andi Goldman produces valuable suggestions for a more responsive care of our body-mind-spirit. Their experience convinced them that few realize the healing properties of humming: Engaged in consciously, their fruit is exponential: physically, humming raises oxygen in the cells, lymphatic assimilation, and levels of melatonin; it lowers stress and blood pressure and heart rates. 

Spiritually, humming interfaces with the Sacred in our depths and provides support and direction in the midst of trekking the impossible. It keeps in mind our immortal destiny and who we really are. Such was the experience of death camp survivors in the last century.

Mentally and emotionally, humming empowers us to alter attitudes and moods and concentrate on the present experience, with its new learning. Humming is also fun. 

And in my present circumstance, I‘ve still much to learn in the ensuing silence…

Greed has horrific expressions but none so despicable as found in the novel Before We Were Yours (2017) written by Lisa Wingate, based upon an actual child trafficking case that continued, undetected, for three decades, until its exposé in 1950.  

The abuse took place at one of the boarding homes of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis, Tennessee; its director, Georgia Tann. Widely touted as the Mother of orphans and unwanted children—even drawing the notice of Eleanor Roosevelt—she was far from that—cunning, manipulative, and money-hungry. Her accomplices were ever on the lookout for stray, unwanted children; lovely ones were ripe for adoption with lucrative fees.

The story stood by itself until the author fleshed it out with Depression-era river-rats snatched from a houseboat moored at Mud Island near the Mississippi River. Only after having been subdued and driven to Memphis were the Foss kids locked inside the sprawling white-columned home, in great disrepair, and forced to comply with the mean-spirited staff, including the sexually abusive janitor, and stinking accommodations. 

Suspense glistens on every page of this novel, Before We Were Yours. Seasonal changes, so integral to the plot, waft authentic colors, smells, and sounds into the southern panorama. Silence has never been more silent, nor sinister. Only an intrepid heart can follow the abrupt emotional and physical changes as the Fosses work out their destiny; their cat-and mouse stratagems with their jailers left me breathless.

Never having been involved with a child-victim of trafficking, I was deeply moved by Lisa Wingate’s brilliant handling of this material. Before We Were Yours is a must read.

Restoration specialists use precise tools to remove accretions of paint-overs, dust, and discoloration.

Such a specialist in the academic world is Reza Aslan, author of Zealot – The Life and Times of Jesus (2013)—research, his tool to fashion the historical Jesus within first-century Palestine, a large swath of the Roman-occupied Middle East filled with messiahs and Jewish bandits, and their subsequent executions.

Aslan’s skill as a writer enhances this narrative. Each chapter’s accompanying notes, index, bibliography, maps, and chronology facilitate the readers’ tracking and amplifying his conclusions. And they are startling, in some instances major corrections to my sense of Jesus, illiterate day laborer and itinerant preacher with his followers. The violent backdrop of this story bristles with suspicion and terror—a world, like our own.

Roman history only records Jesus’s birth in 4 B.C.E – 6 C.E., and his crucifixion and death as a seditionist at the hands of Pontius Pilate in 30 – 33 C.E. In its aftermath, a handful of Jesus’s followers banded together beneath a portico in the Temple’s outer court to remember and share the story.

Further complicating this incipient picture of Jesus comes Paul of Tarsus in 37 C.E., self-proclaimed as the “first Apostle.” His preaching and letters to Hellenistic communities clashed with the “unsophisticated” Church of Jerusalem, then, headed by James, the brother of Jesus, another surprise.

For decades, oral tradition continued carrying Jesus’s story until 70 C.E when Mark first wrote his Gospel expressed in rudimentary Greek; the other Gospels Mathew and Luke, written separately from each other, between 90 and 100 C.E.; and John’s with a mystical bent, between 100 and 120 C.E. Among them, differences abound. Later during those first centuries, what others thought they had heard became woven into other varied canonical and non-canonical texts collected by copyists.

As the story of Jesus spread, so did the need to downplay his ignominious death on the cross and to cookie-cutter a more presentable Jesus for the Christian Church, thus its politicization under the fourth-century Emperor Constantine. But what Aslan produces is a zealous adherent of Torah teachings and practice—Jesus of Nazareth, caught within the cross-hairs of Imperialistic Rome and its sycophants in first-century Jerusalem. His spirit and teaching live on—it’s still about conversion of the heart.

Available on Amazon

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