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I have an odd relationship with the Macabees.

On the one hand, they’re my kind of miracle workers. Mountain rebels, of the scruffy, long haired freedom fighter variety. Romantic, idealists. And they sure as hell knew their symbolism. That some times, what you need is a candle in the darkness. That the light never truly goes dark. That it can be the smallest victories which are the most significant. That if you do what you can, where you can, sometimes the rest just falls into place.

And on the other hand.

They cleansed the temple of idolatory. They fought Hellenestic Jews; Jews subscribing to a really quite similar flavour of heresy to my own: that blood is one thing, and belief another, and place another again, and each has its own theological significance.

And those idols? This is Apollo, we’re talking, and Athena. And suddenly I’m wondering if this is my kind of miracle after all. And not more a case of My god of light shines brighter than your god of light. My eternal flame never goes out.

So you see, Hannukah gets theologically complicated for me, on occasion.

(Candleflame
Firelight
Keep me safe
Through this dark night)

I light the candles. And I remember. A mixed metaphor. The fear of assimilation; and the fear of faith. A double-miracle, bitter-sweet, this fire burns in me.
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July 2011

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