The God Squad: Eat what grows best where you live

Rabbi Marc Gellman, Tribune Content Agency on

Sometimes readers get exactly what I was trying to say.

I want to say that I absolutely love your answer to R of Pennsylvania, who was stuck with the Bible verse of John 14:1-6. I believe God loves all His children, even when sad or angry about our behavior. That love is endless, and it is not limited to one group over another. But I have never had a good response to how people interpret that verse. Your comment about God's covenant with the Jews, through Abraham, being binding and superseding to the promise of salvation to those not included in the prior covenant is so enlightening and encouraging. I also love the question of interpretation of the verse: “no one comes to the Father, but by me” and the fact that might reference ONLY the sacrifice of Jesus as the means of salvation and not the belief in that sacrifice.

God's love is so much more powerful than human understanding, and the things we sometimes take stands on, or tie ourselves in knots about, are trifling to God's power and love. Thank you so much for sharing this interpretation!– (From L in West Hempstead, NY).

Having been raised by an atheist and a lapsed Lutheran, I took a non-credit college class in comparative religions. I think it was taught by the Christian chaplain. I now attend and sing in the choir at an Episcopal church. After college, when I was teaching in a public elementary school, we would celebrate every holiday I could find, I would introduce my class, not indoctrinate, to many of the world’s religions. All have the same basic premise – there is a God and treat people with kindness. If you don’t believe in God, or are unsure, treat people kindly. You have said that and I agree. – (From N on Long Island)

MG: Thank you, dear L and N, for your very kind words. They remind me of the words written by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in a foreword to one of our books. I include them because I was so honored to have him write a foreword to our book, “How Do You Spell God?” but also because May 23 is Vesak, the Buddhist holiday that celebrates the day that Buddha was born, the day he was enlightened, and the day that he passed away. Tibetan Buddhist believe that the Dalai Lama is a reincarnation of the Buddha … and I agree.

All the world’s religious traditions are similar because they help us become better human beings. For centuries, millions of people have found peace of mind in their own religious tradition. Today, the world over, we can find followers of many faiths giving up their own welfare in order to help others. I believe that this wish to work for the happiness of others is the most important goal of all religious practice.

Human beings naturally possess different interests. So, it is not surprising that we have many different religious traditions with different ways of thinking and behaving. But this variety is a way for everyone to be happy.


If we have a great variety of food, we will be able to satisfy different tastes and needs. When we only have bread, the people who eat rice are left out. And the reason those people eat rice is that rice is what grows best where they live.

Because the important point of all the different religious traditions is to be helpful, we must maintain harmony and respect between them. This will benefit not only the followers of each religion but will make our own neighborhoods and countries more peaceful.

To do this we need to understand something about the world’s different religions. Therefore, I am very happy that my friend Rabbi Marc Gellman and Monsignor Thomas Hartman have written this book that explains in a clear and easy way what the world’s religions are about.

For most of us, our religion depends on our family and where we were born and grew up. Usually, I think it is better not to change that. However, the more we understand each other’s ways, the more we can learn from each other. And the more easily we can develop respect and tolerance in our own lives and in our behavior towards each other. This will certainly help to increase peace and friendship throughout the world, which is one of the aims of all major religions.

(Send ALL QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad via email at Rabbi Gellman is the author of several books, including “Religion for Dummies,” co-written with Fr. Tom Hartman. Also, the new God Squad podcast is now available.)

©2024 The God Squad. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.





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