Religion Today

Exploring Hope: Two biographies on First Great Awakening

I encourage every Christian to read and study church history because it is helpful to see the successes and failures of past generations. This fall, in particular, I would encourage you to pick up two biographies about two men during a remarkable period called the First Great Awakening, which was a revival of true gospel Christianity between 1720 and 1750. The first ...

 
 

Rabbinic Reflections: Gaming time

Summertime is a different time. With graduations, step-up days, the shift from school to camp, taking vacations, and so much more, time counts differently. It is not just that there are more hours of the day, something in our mindset changes, too. For me, baseball becomes prominent, and something about the game resonates deeply with Jewish wisdom that speaks to this ...

 

Preserving Hope: Consumer or missionary?

There is a spiritual disease in modern America called “consumer Christianity.” This disease is rampant among evangelical and reformed believers, especially in wealthy suburbs like Garnet Valley and Chadds Ford. But at its root, consumer Christianity is an unbiblical mindset that turns Christians into consumers and churches into businesses. So here’s my question: Are ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: American and

Melting pot or tossed salad? I grew up when American society seemed to shift from thinking about itself as a melting pot where immigrant identities blended together with American culture, adding some flavor by contributing to a relatively homogeneous fondue. The shift was toward what was then called multiculturalism in which racial and ethnic identities were seen as ...

 

Preserving Hope: Why we pray before meals

Why do we pray before meals? Is it simply a valuable practice of mindfulness, as Emily Heil seems to indicate in a recent Washington Post article? Is it merely a quaint ritual or a man-made tradition? And most importantly, what does the Bible teach us? First and foremost, we pray before meals because of the example of Jesus. In Matthew 14:19, Jesus “looked up to ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Stepping back or backward

One step forward, one step backward. Is that the beginning of a total of two steps back? Or is it the beginning of a cha-cha? Robert Brault calls someone who thinks the latter an optimist. In thinking about so much of our world at this moment, especially with regard to the pandemic, I confess that, despite my usual optimism, I am much more in the two-steps-back camp. ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: My Jewish Christmas

It’s been 11 years since Christmas last fell on a Saturday. It is the longest stretch in a cycle of Christmases on Saturday, falling every six years, then five years, then six years, then 11 years. It is little wonder then that this year is throwing me for a loop. Like many American Jews, I have inherited traditions to make the most of Christmas. My family spent ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Thanksgiving rest

I have been seeking holiness of late. In the busyness of life and in the discordance of the airwaves, I have been seeking a rootedness, a stillness to make meaning of it all. Sometimes we just need to cease in order to be. This Veterans Day, the sound of silence meant so much to me. For one, I learned, for the first time, a passage from Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Iconoclastic questions

How would Hollywood tell the story? In its season opener, Saturday Night Live had a skit poking fun at the billionaire “space flights” of this past July through the lens of Star Trek. As a fan of sci-fi, that got me thinking about imaginative leaps, barrier-breaking ideas, and social commentary. My favorite Bible story is an imaginative leap, not actually in the ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: A good new year

We don’t say “Happy New Year” on Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. Well, some people do, but the traditional greetings translate to “Have a Good and Sweet Year,” “To a Good Year,” or “A Good Holiday.” Yes, many people understand “good” to mean “happy,” but even when we mean that our mindset is more about health and fulfillment than joy. The Jewish New Year is not ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Setting it right

“We are loved. We are loving. We are loved. We are loving.” Say it again with me, “We are loved. We are loving.” This mantra is at the heart of righting a major wrong. You might think that the Jews committed to God and goodness at Mt. Sinai, and the rest was history. The commitment was rash, it failed, and the trauma of the Golden Calf and more ensued. To recover, ...