by: Brian O’Callaghan on April 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
The reality for many Trans people in Asia is far from utopian, but there is little of the overt discrimination and violence prevalent in other parts of the world. Historically, there has always been space for a third gender in Eastern cultures. Credit: Author.
To see more photographs from Brian O’Callaghan’s “Transitions,” visit the Tikkun Daily Art Gallery.
When I began photographing and interviewing Trans women in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I had to acknowledge to myself that I knew very little about the myriad of gender identities that exist. I had never really encountered positive Trans visibility until I lived in Asia. I began to see that my hetero-normative worldview was reinforced through the media and society at large. Even though I identify as an openly gay man, my notions about gender possibilities were policed. An essential lesson I learned from this project is that, there is not just one Trans story or experience. The women I interviewed wanted to share their stories in the hope of changing perceptions of what it means to be Trans.
by: Jeffrey Vogel on April 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
All living things, large, small, and in between, share in the precious gift of life on Earth. However, it is only we humans, with our large brains enabling us to be self consciously aware of this gift, that are the only creatures to celebrate Earth Day. As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Earth Day let us remember that this grand unifying perspective was made possible by one of our nation’s greatest gifts to the world, the first stunning photo of Earth from outer space taken during the Apollo moon missions. This awesome image of our beautifully round whole Earth, suspended in the vast blackness of space, is humanity’s crowning achievement on our long and frequently tortured path in trying to make some sense of our often overwhelming self-conscious existence; the climax of the long collective urge of humanity to explore our surroundings. This new perspective of the Earth takes our self consciousness to a whole new dimension enabling us to feel part of a much greater self — the whole Earth.
Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
As supremely self conscious beings, humans are acutely aware of their mortality and therefore face the question: Why am I here? Human history has been largely determined by humanity’s attempts to answer this crucial question. To find an answer we look for symbols to identify with, to give us a sense of connection and belonging. These symbols range from family to tribe, from nationality to religion, from political party to ethnicity, from wealth to power, from designer clothes to team loyalty. But these identifications and affiliations often devolve into intolerance, violence and warfare as the various groupings strive for supremacy.
by: Patrick M. Johnson on April 21st, 2015 | No Comments »
Blogs and social media have made it possible for isolated and discriminated-against people of faith to safely contend with the messages they encounter within religious discourse.
When you grow up in a religious environment, it has the potential to become a large part of your identity. It should be noted here that this is not the case for all people raised within a religious household, however it has the potential to become a way to identify yourself within society, as well as to help shape and form your moral and ethical guidelines and views of the world. However, this can occasionally conflict with other aspects of your identity, particularly when one identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community.
While there are religious denominations and beliefs that are very accepting of those within the LGBTQ community — the Unitarian and Episcopalian Churches are prime examples — this is not the case with all religious beliefs. While there is sometimes an easy knee-jerk reaction to proclaim that those who identify as homosexual should just switch their beliefs to a sect that is accepting (an opinion I have seen stated in more than one discussion about this topic), that is not always desired, as the core beliefs that come along with religious convictions are not (and should not) be that easily swayed. This represents the common way this debate is usually framed (especially among non-religious individuals or among LGBTQ individuals who are religious but belong to a very accepting church, such as Unitarian), which is the question, “How can you believe in a religion that doesn’t accept or tolerate your lifestyle?” It is seen as much easier to simply find a religion that fits your life and modify your beliefs to mold to that, rather than live in a state of cognitive dissonance where you know that your life and your religious beliefs are (at least on occasion) at odds with one another.
by: Amy Gottlieb on April 17th, 2015 | No Comments »
Anne Frank and the Remembering Tree
by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, illustrated by Erika Steiskal
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Skinner House Books, 2015
For over a generation, National Jewish Book Award winner Sandy Sasso has blazed a trail in the genre of children’s spiritual literature. While her work is steeped in Jewish tradition, her books are popular with readers of all faiths. She has a remarkable talent for rendering complex theological ideas into accessible narratives that appeal to a child’s sense of wonder. She has written about universalism (God’s Paintbrush), the human-divine encounter (In God’s Name), process theology (And God Said Amen), Edenic awe (Adam and Eve’s First Sunset), and eternal life (For Heaven’s Sake), to name a few. All of her books share the common theme of radical empathy, and in her latest work, Sasso applies this vision to a story about tolerance.
Shalom and Peace! Today on Holocaust Remembrance Day I would like to share a recent experience that changed my perspective in an unexpected way. My perspective about Jews, about the Holocaust, about myself. Sounds mysterious? I didn’t mean it to be. Let me go back a couple of weeks and start again.
Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish won the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Fiction Award this week. I have nothing to say about the book, since I haven’t yet read it. The writer’s name gave rise to my subject. Reading it released a memory rush that’s been cycling just behind my eyes ever since.
The author’s father, Gordon Lish, trails a huge reputation for his days as a fiction editor at magazines and publishing houses, for his own writing, and for his teaching at Yale and Columbia- as this Guardian piece attests. He’s also famous for flat-out pronouncements and slash-and-burn editing (most cited: excising half the words from Raymond Carver’s early stories, bringing Carver both success and ambivalence, as detailed in this 2007 New Yorker article.
I met Lish half a century ago in a high school classroom in Millbrae, California. He was one of two teachers whose kindness helped me survive four years as a strange, arty, activist teenager in a suburban world I found entirely incomprehensible. Both teachers are inscribed in my memory because they were the first adults I met who looked at me and saw something other than an annoyance or a perpetual misfit.
Throughout the ages, individuals and organizations have employed “religion” to justify the marginalization, harassment, denial of rights, persecution, and oppression of entire groups of people based on their social identities. At various historical periods, people have applied these texts, sometimes taken in tandem, and at other times used selectively, to establish and maintain hierarchical positions of power, domination, and privilege over individuals and groups targeted by these texts and tenets.
Proponents of the so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” (RFRA) recently passed in states like Indiana and Arkansas argue that these laws promote religious freedoms and freedom of speech – two tenets already covered by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court opened the flood gates for the enactment of new and enhanced RFRA laws in its 2014 decision Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. While human and civil rights anti-discrimination laws primarily have never covered bone fide religious institutions, the Hobby Lobby ruling extended such exemptions to “closely held” (where no ready market exists for the trading of stock shares) for-profit corporations when these owners claim that to follow anti-discrimination statutes would violate their religious beliefs.
Tikkun is hiring a new managing editor!
After seven deeply rewarding years here, I am relocating to the Detroit area. I plan to stay involved with Tikkun in some modified capacity, continuing to write periodically and to contribute new ideas for upcoming issues of the magazine, but as I move on, we need to find a new managing editor to work with Rabbi Lerner here in Berkeley, California.
This moment of transition is a time of exciting possibility for Tikkun. If we work together to reach out to all of our networks, I know we can find a great new managing editor to lead the magazine in fruitful new directions. Please do share the job posting with your networks.
Looking at the magazine’s archive page and scrolling through the thirty-one magazines that I’ve helped to create during my time here is a fun reminder of the years of creative energy that I’ve poured into Tikkun. Certain covers jump out: the beautiful iconic painting on the cover of the July/August 2010 issue on Queer Spirituality and Politics (the first themed issue that I dreamed up and commissioned articles for myself); the warmhearted mural on the cover of the Winter 2012 Restorative Justice issue, which taught me so much about alternatives to incarceration and punitive justice, thanks to the inspired editorial leadership of David Belden; the U.S.-flag-turned-border-wall on the cover of the Summer 2013 issue on “Embracing Immigration and Ending Deportation“; the colorful quilt on the cover of the Fall 2014 issue on Disability Justice and Spirituality; and the surreal landscape on the cover of our Winter 2015 issue on Jubilee and Debt Abolition. These were just some of the issues that I took a special role in creating during my time here.
by: Valarie Kaur and Cheryl Leanza on April 7th, 2015 | No Comments »
What do faith and religion have to do with net neutrality? Above, NYC Rolling Rebellion protests for net neutrality in New York. Credit: CreativeCommons / Backbone Campaign.
Last month, a handful of Republicans will hold hearings on the Hill to challenge new federal rules protecting the Internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassified providers who connect us to the Internet as common carriers and adopted strong rules banning them from blocking or slowing down sites and charging access fees.
The vote is already touted as among the greatest public interest victories in U.S. history, most vocally by the tech world. But also among those celebrating this vote are America’s Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and humanists. What’s faith got to do with it?
by: Luke Bretherton on April 1st, 2015 | No Comments »
From pictures of poor farmers in Depression era America to bloated children in Sudan, the contemporary aesthetics of poverty subtly reinscribe the ancient division between the children of the soil (chthonoi) and children of the gods (theion) familiar to us from the Greek and Babylonian myths.
Those who live some form of what is often deemed the ideal “Western” lifestyle look down from Olympus with sympathy on the sons and daughters of the soil and their visceral imprisonment to nature and necessity.
“We” who benefit from consumer lifestyles, technological advancement and decent sewers contemplate the photographs of stricken faces and think: “If only they can be more like us.”