Health & Spirit

The time is now to fortify our houses of worship

Religion / God Squad /

Q: With the recent shooting at a Texas church, I was wondering your opinion on churches having armed security, or having congregants carry their personal weapons. This question has been on the front of many conversations across the U.S. lately. Some people I have spoken with have expressed concern that weapons in a place of worship would be ...Read more

Keep these events in mind this Hanukkah

Religion / God Squad /

Hanukkah arrives Dec. 12 at sundown.

Jews around the world kindle on that night and every successive night until the eight-branched Hanukkah menorah is fully lit. Actually, the menorah is nine branches but one of them is for the lighting candle -- the shamash.

On the first night of Hanukkah...Read more

Famous examples of the four types of prayers

Religion / God Squad /

Q: I read with much interest your recent column that includes the four kinds of prayers. I have never been a confident pray-er and enjoy some helpful prayers of others. May I ask if you could give me an example of each one of these types of prayer? Thank you very much. -- M, from Harrisburg, Pa.

A: Glad to oblige. Here are some famous examples ...Read more

Add a helping of balance to your life this Thanksgiving

Religion / God Squad /

What if you could enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers all year long?

The turkey and stuffing will go bad in a week. Same for the pie. You might get a month out of the cranberry sauce, but that's pushing it. I know you must be thinking that I added a bit too much bourbon to the pecan pie. Surely nothing from Thanksgiving ...Read more

On this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for ...

Religion / God Squad /

My annual custom is to give thanks for things and people that are not usually thanked (I am still getting comments on the list that included my thankfulness for squirrels).

On this Thanksgiving I am thankful for ...

Vegetarians at the Thanksgiving table. Let's face it. The traditional Thanksgiving ...Read more

Give thanks for the holiday that brings us all together

Religion / God Squad /

This year I am taking two weeks to help us all get ready for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday (that would be Passover), but it is my favorite holiday that we can all celebrate together as Americans. Thanksgiving is one of the most significant rituals that helps make...Read more

Why I'm convinced 'Why?' prayers don't make the cut

Religion / God Squad /

Q: Your column is always very interesting to me. However, in a recent column explaining prayer to children you listed, "The four kinds of prayers we say to God." They were 'Thanks, Gimmie, Oops, and Wow!" I believe you missed a fifth type of prayer. Taking up your sense of simplicity, I will call them the "Why?" prayers:

Why did God take Auntie...Read more

Diwali shines a guiding light on togetherness

Religion / God Squad /

Happy Diwali!

Unfortunately, regular readers of this column might conclude that the only religions in the world are Judaism and Christianity, with an occasional nod to al-Islam. I call these religions the Abrahamic faiths because they come from a common biblical root and have formed Western religious thinking for over 2,000 years. Even though ...Read more

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


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