(This is Part 3 of a 3-part series. See Part 1 and Part 2) OFFENSE Jesus was most recently portrayed in celluloid form by a Portuguese model with great hair. I’m talking about The Bible, a miniseries broadcast on The History Channel. In it we learn that Jesus was gentle and strong; that Jews really [...]
During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we cast our sins in to the desert, freeing ourselves from their oppressive burden, unshackling our hearts and minds so that we can begin the year anew. Six months later another new year arrives (Exodus 12:12). After a period of enslavement we find ourselves once again loosening our chains and opening our souls, ready to reencounter that which we cast away.
(This is Part 2 of a 3-part series. See Part 1 here.) AUTHORITY There is another hot issue in a discussion about religion and the Bible: the question of who has authority over the telling of a narrative? How about The Bible miniseries on The History Channel? It’s a very confident little piece, isn’t [...]
Humor; humor is difficult. Religion; religion is difficult. They can both be reassuring, and discomfiting. They can affix labels, or they can liberate. They can be subversive, or they can uplift the dominant paradigm. Both can be thrilling and boring. They can be unifying, or alienating. Religion and humor both aspire to help us live [...]
If you’ve listened to NPR or read blogs like this one over the past six months, you’ve probably heard something about the Pew Forum’s latest study on religious practice in America. The survey confirmed statistically what has been conventional wisdom for quite a while. Mainline Protestants are losing members, more Americans are describing themselves as [...]
My Christian friend LeeAnne got the conversation about Faithful Advocacy started by reflecting on a passage from the Gospel of John: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth…” (14:16-17a). In LeeAnne’s reflection, she explains that advocacy—“speaking up for the [...]
While the sums are larger and the stakes are higher in recent times, the fear that money corrupts those in power is an age-old issue. As far back as the Hebrew Bible those concerned with justice warned against the powerful and dangerous effects of money in politics.
“A woman is acquired [in marriage] in three ways…by money, by document, or by intercourse.” This is how the first mishnah in the tractate Kiddushin begins. In just this sentence alone we gain a window into how women were seen in the world of the rabbis. As each subsequent generation—from the Talmudic sages of 600 CE to 20th century feminist scholars—probe this Mishnah, the meaning of this statement is investigated, challenged, and, ultimately, transformed.
I attended the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia. I was amazed by the preponderance of sacred fashion statements (the hats!), the number of New Age practitioners from the North American West Coast, and the ubiquity of the phrase “interfaith dialogue.” As former chair of the Union Theological Seminary Interfaith Caucus, a [...]
I just returned from my last final of the semester. It was…unconventional, to say the least. Instead of sitting in a wood-paneled classroom for three hours getting intimate with a blue book, I spent the last weekend sitting on a couch by a fireplace at a Mennonite retreat center in Michigan. This was my final. [...]