Health & Spirit

How an atheist can reconcile God's part in 12-step programs

Religion / God Squad /

Q: I am an alcoholic and I have been attending Alcoholics Anonymous for many years. I know the 12 steps and I have tried to follow them but I have failed. I have not failed in getting sober. I am sober now and have been for 10 years, but I have a problem with the God part of the 12-step program as I learned it. I just don't believe in a God who ...Read more

The four kinds of prayers we say to God

Religion / God Squad /

Q: I remember reading an article of yours that said there are four things we say to God. I sort of remember one of them was "oops," but I don't recall the others. Appreciate any clarification you can provide. Thanks! -- From J

A: So you only remember a quarter of what I write? That is often a quarter more than I remember, and I write it. You ...Read more

What it means to be made in God's image

Religion / God Squad /

Q: I don't understand the biblical statement that "God created man in God's image." That makes no sense to me at all! It cannot mean physically, because God seems to be a spirit and not a defined physical being. I do not believe it could possibly mean spiritually, because while mankind is capable of wonderful acts of kindness and self-sacrifice,...Read more

A suggested start to make America whole again

Religion / God Squad /

Individually and as a country we need to believe in the mezuzah.

The commandment to bind God's words to the doorposts of our houses is biblical, but as with so many biblical laws, the details of how exactly to do it are omitted. How to bind them is never explained in the Torah. This produced a dispute in the 11th century about how to affix the ...Read more

These Jewish values can help save America

Religion / God Squad /

Every year around this time I share an abridged version of my High Holiday sermon (minus the jokes). Here goes ...

You know and I know that there is an elephant in this room today, and that elephant is your secret desire to have me preach a sermon about President Trump. Let me apologize to all of you right now. I am not going to dance with the ...Read more

God completely heals holes we can merely patch up

Religion / God Squad /

Lots of comments on my answer to the question, "Is there an unforgivable sin?" Here is a good one from E:

Q: You said murder is an unforgivable sin because the dead person cannot forgive you. It doesn't matter if people can forgive us, but only if God forgives us. We have a gracious God who forgives us over and over for all the many sins we ...Read more

Finding comfort and compassion in the aftermath of a disaster

Religion / God Squad /

My views about Hurricane Harvey are informed by my time as a religion and ethics correspondent for "Good Morning America" with Tommy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. We would be interviewed periodically about religious holidays, but we were called in constantly after some natural disaster to defend The Boss from the charge that a good God ...Read more

Take time this Labor Day to reflect on the importance of our work

Religion / God Squad /

Labor Day is one of the many American holidays with a great story and deep meaning that has sadly been buried under a mountain of hot dogs. Memorial Day is about our soldiers' ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and a debt to them that can never be repaid. Do fireworks really give us a sense of the genius of the ...Read more

Correction to 8/31 God Squad

Religion / God Squad /

A new version corrects the year in graf 2. It should read 1894. Please use the corrected version.

Reconciliation through the mind of Einstein

Religion / God Squad /

Q: I was raised a Southern Baptist but now consider myself to be mostly agnostic. Most of what I hear coming from religions flies in the face of science and logic as I see it. I have to agree with Einstein's comment about rejecting a religion that required him to check his brain at the door. If the Judeo-Christian god does exist, as they preach,...Read more

A Gellman the Dog sighting

Religion / God Squad /

Q: Hello, Rabbi Gellman, My name is N ... and a friend recently gave me a copy of your column from the Raleigh News & Observer, May 7, 2017. I am a puppy walker for the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and I was the starting home for a puppy named Gellman in the summer of 2014. I knew he had a sponsor, but never knew the origin ...Read more

Further understanding sin and forgiveness

Religion / God Squad /

Lots of comments on my answer to the short but perfect question, "Is there an unforgivable sin?"

B wrote:

Q: I read your recent article on unforgivable sin. I found it both thought-provoking and somewhat disturbing. If someone who committed murder approached you, and this individual was repentant and seeking redemption, what kind of pastoral ...Read more

Thankfully, sacred goats still pace the earth in droves

Religion / God Squad /

Q: You once told a sad and poignant story about a goat whose magnificent horns were given away, piece by piece. I think you attributed it to a particular Hasidic rabbi. Would you please remind me where that story comes from, perhaps point me to a source? -- S from Melville, N.Y.

A: I often say about different stories, "This is my favorite story...Read more

A look at unforgiveable sin in a couple forms

Religion / God Squad /

Q: What is the unforgivable sin? -- From B

A: Every religion has a deep understanding of sin, which is the way we go wrong; repentance, which is the way we admit it; and forgiveness, which is the way we are graced to begin again. The central spiritual revolution of the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is the belief that sins ...Read more

There's no use waiting on Superman

Religion / God Squad /

There have been lots of very kind notes from many dear readers who appreciated my words to T a couple of weeks ago. T is dying from ALS and T is very angry with God. What struck me deeply is how many of you were willing to write to T or call T or to offer prayers and comfort in any way that might help him bear his burden. I always knew I had the...Read more

Descendit ad inferos and the dawn of Christianity

Religion / God Squad /

Q: In the prayer the Apostles' Creed. Why does it say after Jesus was crucified, died and was buried that: "He Descended Into Hell'? Some believe that hell is a place where a person will go when he or she sins against God, so why do we say in The Apostles Creed that he descended into hell until the third day and rose again? I know you are not of...Read more

A prayer for hope in the face of anger and suffering

Religion / God Squad /

Q: I have a conflicting dilemma. I was diagnosed with ALS/Lou Gehrig's disease. I spend my life in a wheelchair, unable to speak, essentially waiting to die from this fatal disease. I am extremely depressed and cannot get over my anger with God. I know it's not right but my life that God has given me has virtually been cruelly taken away. I've ...Read more

This Fourth of July, be thankful for the sacred truths of America

Religion / God Squad /

This July Fourth I want to utter a prayer not only for our founding date but also for our founding document -- the Declaration of Independence.

A famous Bible scholar once said that one of the reasons it is so hard to read the Bible with all our critical faculties intact is that we read it with what he called, "sacred inattention." What he ...Read more

Our paths to liberation are rooted in scripture and history

Religion / God Squad /

Q: Forty years ago I took a course on what happened to be my last week in the convent after 11 years living in that life. The course was titled "The Exodus Experience in the Consciousness of Christ." During the one-week class we were assigned to journal on our life experience. My "exodus" reality was so profound that I transitioned from ...Read more


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