Religion Today

Exploring Hope: What’s your authority?

A little boy tells his friend that unicorns really exist. "No, they don't,” says the friend. “Yes, they do. My mom said so.” “Well, my mom says they don't exist." “Your mom is stupid." Now, what's going on in this story? Well, there is a battle over authority. Neither child has enough life experience to settle the question empirically. Therefore, the only thing they ...

 
 

Exploring Hope: Spiritual productivity

I'm a fundamentally disorganized person. My dad is an artist. Everyone in my family is an artist. So, I wasn’t known for being structured and methodical. However, I went through a crash course in productivity when the Presbyterian Church in America sent me out to plant a new congregation in Garnet Valley. And as every business owner knows, starting anything new is ...

 

Exploring Hope: Why read the Bible?

The Bible is boring. The Bible is irrelevant. The Bible is offensive. The Bible is false. These are all possible reactions to the Christian Bible, which contains 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. Some of you are indifferent to the Bible and others of you are hostile to it. But there is an old saying among scholars: “If you haven't read ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Book People

Do you love to read? I do. Can you imagine being a book, not just a bookworm? You read that correctly, can you imagine being a book? For all that Jews are called “people of the book,” referring to our roots in the Bible’s Hebrew Scriptures, once upon a time, there were rabbis whose job was to be a book. I remember clearly the class in rabbinical school where my ...

 

Exploring Hope: A joyless Christmas?

Joy is one of those words that has become a “Christmas cliché.” We see it plastered everywhere from Christmas cards to wrapping paper. We sing about it in our carols but simultaneously feel very little "joy to the world.”  So why all this talk about joy at Christmas? Well, it wasn't invented by a marketing team at Hallmark or a clever carol writer. Rather, everything ...

 

Exploring Hope: Believing the virgin birth

If a pregnant woman came up to me and said, “I’ve never had sexual relations with a man, but I conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit,” I’m not sure what I would think. After all, women don’t generally get pregnant without a man’s sperm, even in the age of science. So, based on Occam's razor (the idea that the simplest solution tends to be the correct one), most ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Ready and not

Be afraid; be a light. Never again; choose life. Be proud; expect security checkpoints. Jews today live in a strange place. We have achieved high degrees of success, and we have felt increasingly vulnerable. We have tried to make the world a better place, and we have been blamed for almost all of its ills. The experience of these polarities is enough to drive just ...

 

Exploring Hope: A tale of two stories

As a pastor, part of my job is helping people connect the dots between two true stories. The first story is the nitty-gritty reality of our individual lives. Every single person has joys, struggles, and hopes for the future. Within my congregation, I know people who are struggling with profound health conditions. I know other people who are mourning the loss of loved ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Getting grounded

Whiplash seems to be the reality these days. Liberal or conservative, politics have taken abrupt turns this past month. Here in the Brandywine Valley and certainly in the Florida panhandle, weather has shifted dramatically, hot and cold, category 2 to 4. Jewishly (and for schools closing for Jewish High Holy Days) life was filled with stops and starts as the holidays ...

 

Exploring Hope: How to be more adventurous

This month’s Exploring Hope column is a guest submission by Jonathan Hatt, a pastoral intern at Hope Presbyterian Church where regular columnist Will Stern is the pastor. I was never an adventurous kid. I didn’t learn to swim until I was ten, which really isn’t shocking until I add that I lived on a resort island in Florida. Furthermore, I still refuse to step foot ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: It’s your call

Let’s reschedule Rosh HaShanah. I know the calendars all say that it begins tonight and will stretch through Tuesday; after all, it is also known as yoma arichta (the long day). Rosh HaShanah is too early this year; it is too hot still, and school has barely started. We should reschedule it. To be clear, the ancient rabbis said we can. In fact, in one infamous case, ...