Q: What does faith believe with regard to life on other planets? Reports of fighter pilots viewing strange activity makes you wonder. -- From M on Long Island, N.Y.
A: Now that the government has brought the study of UFOs out of the whack-a-do shadows and into the we-need-to-study-this-more-closely realm, your question is both relevant and ...Read more
Q: How do we know that the one true God, rather than a false God, is the recipient of our prayers? -- From J in Wilmington, N.C.
A: "Amen" is the word we say to conclude all our prayers. Amen comes from the root word meaning "trust." When we conclude a prayer with Amen, we are not saying "please." "Please" would make praying an act of begging, ...Read more
Many, many, readers weighed in on the metaphysical/theological/athletic question of the decade: "What sport is most like life?" Understanding our answers helps us understand life and why sports are such an important part of life for so many people. I always thought that life was obviously more important than sports because you could decide not ...Read more
Q: There is evidence in the Bible that sex (not an apple) is the forbidden fruit tempting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. What do you think? -- From R in Berkeley, Calif.
A: I am not on board with the interpretation of the forbidden fruit as sex and thus with the conclusion that God has a hostile view of sex. Let's go back to the Garden,
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday, dear Buddha
Happy birthday to you!!
Wesak (or Vesak) is the annual (well not exactly annual since there is no Wesak in 2020) birthday celebration of Siddhartha Gautama, the first and best of all Buddhas who lived from the sixth to the fourth centuries before the common era. The ...Read more
My synagogue is 50 years old this year, and I have been the rabbi at Temple Beth Torah for almost 40 of those 50 years. I know some synagogues are older and some rabbis have served longer, but 50 years is definitely old enough to have left a mark on my soul and on my community. I want you, dear readers, to understand just some of the reasons why...Read more
"What seems to us more important, more painful, and more unendurable is really not what is more important, more painful and more unendurable, but merely that which is closer to home. Everything distant which for all its moans and muffled cries, its ruined lives and millions of victims, that does not threaten to come rolling up to our threshold ...Read more
I love God and my country and my family and my friends and my synagogue and my writing and I also really love golf. Two bad knees and the rehab after their replacement have put a crimp in my game, but I am slowly returning to the links. This is why Tiger Wood's victory at the Masters after over a decade of physical and emotional challenges was ...Read more
I sent along my Passover/Easter meditations and greetings last week to give you all time to consider these immense springtime liberation/salvation holidays. If you read this column before Passover and Easter I am including a spiritual meditation to help you go a bit deeper than brisket and ham in your spiritual ...Read more
Every springtime when we wrote this column together, my partner Fr. Tom Hartman would write about why he loved Passover and I would write about why I loved Easter. Since Tommy's passing we cannot do that anymore. So I offer to you, dear readers, a menu of questions to go along with the holiday food. I hope you will send me your ...Read more
Q: Recently you wrote about God and 12-step programs, particularly Alcoholics Anonymous. In their statements they refer to God as "He." In my work with women in prison and in reproductive justice, I stress that since women and men are both created in God's image, God does not look like people. And even though the Hebrew Bible used 'He' (being ...Read more
Q: My daughter is Jewish and is the grandchild of Holocaust survivors. She has assured me that after they marry, she and her Catholic boyfriend will have kids who are Jewish. However, her boyfriend wants his children baptized. As long as they are baptized, he agrees that the kids will be Jewish. That seems contradictory to me. If it is a boy, he...Read more
"The righteous of all nations will have a share in the world to come." -- Rabbi Yehoshua from the commentary to the Talmudic tractate Sanhedrin 13:2
Rabbi Yehoshua taught about Heaven to rabbis who taught rabbis who eventually taught me. They taught me that death is not the end of us. They taught me that the World to Come is the reward for the ...Read more
We are in the midst of a rabbi/reader dialogue on what we think dying is like. Thank you for your spiritually sensitive thoughts about the mystery of human finitude that awaits us all and frames our faith and our futures.
-- From G:
I want to share the belief of the Northern Cheyenne ...Read more
Q: I am Catholic but I read your column every week. Why don't you do a column on how 12-step programs, particularly Alcoholics Anonymous, have benefited both Christians and Jews? -- From C
A: I admire and respect 12-step programs as the most effective rehabilitation programs for substance abuse (and gambling addiction). I think one of their ...Read more
Q: A Catholic priest told me that the Ten Commandments are for Jewish people. Is this true? -- V from Buffalo, N.Y.
A: Get a new priest. Perhaps it is time to revisit the Nine Commandments. Yes, nine!
Here is the Jewish (and Anglican) counting:
1. I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD
2. NO IDOLATRY
3. DO NOT TAKE GOD'S NAME IN VAIN
4. KEEP THE SABBATH
Q: Can you imagine the horror of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when God slaughtered the animals there to make the clothing for the couple? Most people see God in a theophany that shed the blood of the animals in their stead; however, the horror of the animals must have been profound. What is your take on this matter? -- From S
A: "Unto ...Read more