Thursday, October 02, 2008

New Humorous Autobiography

Back in July of 2006 I was asked to write an autobiography, with which I could be introduced before presenting a guest lecture.

I have again been asked to do so. Here is the updated version.

David Van Slyke was born in Orange County, California, way back when people could be both Jewish and Republican.

His parents decided that despite their religious differences, all the children would be raised Jewish. His mother was active in the local Reform Jewish community, at different times in her life leading the local Sisterhood, activities at the local Jewish retirement community, or activities at the local Jewish Community Center. His father was from a non-practicing Christian denomination that considered the "two or three gathered in my name" of Matthew 18:20 to be an upper limit, past which religion did more harm than good. Nevertheless, his father was so supportive of the family's Jewish identity that at one point he was asked to head the local synagogue's Ritual Committee.

David is the oldest of three children. His sister married a nice Jewish boy and they have two adorable children. His brother currently works for the California Tax Bureau, gently convincing large companies that certain items their lawyers described as loopholes actually are not. (His brother is well-established and still single, in case you know any nice Jewish young women.)

David's religious journey progressed through his Bar Mitzvah, when he learned to chant Torah and gave an important speech neither he nor anyone else remembers anything about. In college he took several classes in comparative religions, while in different years dating a Mormon and a then Jehovah's Witness.

In graduate school he met C., who would later become his wife. While dating her, through a complex set of experiences, books, and prayers of her friends and family, David discovered that the basics of Christian theology are true. This upset his mother's side of the family greatly but they were polite about it. (They refused to talk about it and bought him a set of Tovia Singer's tapes.) By this time his father had become a Secular Humanist, and was happy to have something new to talk philosophically about.

David and C. moved to Rochester, New York, for the sake of her doctoral work in genetics. There they joined their first Messianic Jewish congregation. David served the congregation in many ways: creating the children's curriculum, overseeing home groups, helping run a food pantry, and eventually as Intern Messianic Rabbi (a title quite similar to Assistant Pastor, but more confusing).

As with most Messianic Jews, David became more biblical in his practice of Judaism as he spent time in the Messianic Jewish movement.

When David and C. moved to Eugene, Oregon, in 2003, David met with the local Messianic Jewish leaders and they agreed that David was called by God to fill one of Eugene's needs: a Messianic Jewish congregation whose Jewish culture more-or-less resembled Reform and Conservative Judaism.

That congregation lasted four years. At the end of the summer of 2007 it merged with a similar congregation that had been started in Springfiled, Oregon. The merged group now meets under the name Sar Shalom.

David is now the househusband raising a five month old baby, Smiley. He also teaches math at Lane Community College, serves as an elder for Sar Shalom, and runs a discipleship ministry that works with local churches to help people better follow Yeshua by worshiping and by understanding the world as he and his earliest disciples did.

1 comment:

cayswann said...

(His brother is well-established and still single, in case you know any nice Jewish young women.)

How young? And which area of the country? *wink*