Rethinking Religion

Books

Torah Stories for Young Children

Alison Greengard and Carol Racklin-Siegel’s series of Bible stories is a thoughtfully laid-out reading experience, but one that also comes with limitations. In contrast, The Bedtime Sh’ma: A Good Night Book and Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book, both adapted by Sarah Gershman with illustrations by Kristina Swarner and also published by EKS, are lyrical and engaging books for both the youngest listeners and early readers.
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Christianity

Whose War on Christmas? The Corrosive Power of Cheer and Commerce

Here we go again. “School Bans Santa over Religious Concerns.” “Christmas Concert Cancelled in Hawaii.” “Charlie Brown Violates U.S. Constitution?” The War on Christmas is afoot! Fox News is correct – there is a sustained effort under way to discredit the sacred truths of this holy day. The only problem is that they have fingered the wrong culprit.
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Interfaith

Beyond Interfaith Marriages to Multifaith Marriages

Self-definition is that glorious arrangement of you being you. “Interfaith” is not something a marriage or a person can be. We are still in the twenty-first century and we have parochial homes. A cradle Christian doesn’t stop being a Christian because she marries a Jew nor vice versa. Self-definition is normal, possible, obvious—and intimately necessary.
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Spiritual Progressive Analysis

Beyond Frankl: Towards a Meaningful Life

While Frankl left us with a theory about meaning, it is hard to piece together any practice to help establish a sense of meaning in life. Is meaning given to us from God, or do we pretend to have some real purpose in life in order to make it through the day?
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Spirituality

Life Is A Master Class

We live as artists of Torah in a place that contemporary culture has no room for. In the self-identified Torah-world, Torah living is no longer an art; it’s a sublimation. The question to ask ourselves is “How are we living our lives?”
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Christianity

Crucifixion and the Blues

Some say the crucifixion is abhorrent—too bloody, too brutal, too cruel to contemplate. We have to shield our eyes and look away or—as in Mel Gibson’s blockbuster movie The Passion of the Christ, stare fascinated through our fingers at the spectacle. In either case, we avoid reckoning with the real power of the crucifixion, which is a blues power, a truth-telling power that not only holds a mirror up to the blood, the brutality, the cruelty that is our daily fare, but also opens up a way out of the carnage.
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Christianity

An Evolutionary Integral Understanding of the Cross

The idea of substitutionary atonement ends up saying that Jesus saves us from God—Larry Swaim article on “The Death of Christianity” is right. That’s a pickle for Christians who are supposed to believe that God is love and not vengeful retribution. Here is the question: “If Jesus preached we are to love our enemies, does God practice what Jesus preached?” If you are a follower of Jesus, you would think that the answer must surely be, “Yes!”
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Christianity

Moving Beyond a Cross Fetish: The Empty Tomb and Creation Spirituality

There can be no question that, because the cross has played so one-sided and dualistic a role for centuries, it must be let go of in order to re-emerge in its fuller meaning within the dialectic of tomb-cross.
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Christianity

A New Symbol for Christianity

In my understanding, Jesus died the horrific and disgraceful death of a political criminal because he preached that “the last shall be first.” Those in power were so threatened by that message, and by how Jesus lived it out, that they had to kill him. If the cross as symbol has given anyone the idea that the violence that killed Jesus was good—or, worse, that it was God’s will—then I am all for abandoning that symbol.
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Christianity

A Call for Redemptive Rhetoric

A mentor of mine recently told me that a huge divide is on the horizon for those of the Christian faith—one that centers on the meaning of the cross and the message of atonement. Even the act of verbalizing that thought out loud is considered sacrilege by many in my Christian tradition. To question something as integral to Christian religious history and heritage as the cross will result, to put it mildly, in a variety of responses from a variety of perspectives.
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Christianity

Could the Christian Church Contend with a Living Jesus?

It is hard to imagine any inducement that might draw Jesus—that dangerous Jewish prophet—to affiliate with the Christian Church. For the life of me, I don’t know why Jews don’t take Jesus back. We Christians have made such a mess of it.
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Christianity

Legacies of the Cross and the Lynching Tree

The lynching tree is a metaphor for white America’s crucifixion of black people. It is the window that best reveals the religious meaning of the cross in our land. In this sense, black people are Christ-figures, not because they wanted to suffer but because they had no choice. Just as Jesus had no choice in his journey to Calvary, so black people had no choice about being lynched. The evil forces of the Roman State and white supremacy in America willed it. Yet, God took the evil of the cross and the lynching tree and transformed them both into the triumphant beauty of the divine. If America has the courage to confront the great sin and ongoing legacy of white supremacy with repentance and reparation there is hope “beyond tragedy.”
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Judaism

Sabbath Practice as Political Resistance: Building the Religious Counterculture

One thing Abraham Joshua Heschel and Karl Marx had in common, aside from having both been spectacularly bearded Eastern European Jews, is the shared insight that time is the ultimate form of human wealth on this earth. Without time, all other forms of wealth are meaningless. It is this insight about time—patently obvious but frequently forgotten—that makes keeping a Sabbath day both spiritually profound and politically radical.
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Rethinking Religion

A Yom Kippur Sermon: Gay Marriage and Our Evolving Relation to Torah

If you want to use your energy and soul to prevent gay marriage, that is a personal choice. But loathing, judging, and preventing gay, lesbian and queer couples’ marriages is not supported anywhere, in any way, in Reform Jewish ideology or practice.
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Rethinking Religion

Coming Out on Yom Kippur

The moment I put the tallis around my shoulders, my service started. Immediately, I was taken up in the embrace of the rich cloth, the whole texture, the weave of my life, my family, the renewal of New Orleans. As soon as I felt the cloth on my shoulders, and the fringes between my fingers, I knew that the tallit is for both men and women. As I sat there, I felt every bit a woman, a beautiful Jewish woman in a beautiful Jewish tallis.
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