Religion Today

Rabbinic Reflection: I Am Not Ready

I am so not ready for the Jewish New Year. I wish I meant that I am still holding onto summer; after all, it has been hot enough. I also wish I meant that I need to menu plan, shop, and cook for Rosh Hashanah meals; that would not be true, though. No, what I mean is that all of the ritual tools meant to help me prepare spiritually have not worked. For weeks now, I ...

 
 

Preserving Hope: Ordinary v. Extraordinary

Christians often discuss the concept of Providence. “The Westminster Shorter Catechism,” a concise summary of Christian doctrine, states, "God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing of all his creatures, and all their actions." In simpler terms, Providence is what distinguishes Christianity from Deism. Deism suggests that ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Holy shrines and standing ovations

It is not easy to make room for God in today’s world. Distractions, divisions, and drudgery are in opposition to awe and wonder. With mixed messages about the possibilities of the future, the present fills with work and stress, pushing aside recovery and gratitude. There are moments when it may be easy to feel blessed or to offer thanks, but too often those moments ...

 

Rabbinic Reflection: Distilling the story

Summers are full of stories. From vacation travels to family gatherings, we often leave home and visit other places and people. Sometimes these trips become their own traditions like time at the beach or the ballpark, and sometimes it’s more simply time at the pool or the ice cream parlor. The result of our summer experiences is that we have stories, rich in depth ...

 

Preserving Hope: God isn’t an object

There’s a fascinating story in 1 Samuel 4 about the defeat of Israel at the hands of the Philistines nearly 3,000 years ago. Israel met in battle with the Philistines in a location called Aphek, which is considered to be eight miles east of the modern-day city of Tel Aviv. Tragically, Israel was defeated and lost nearly four thousand people. For perspective, that’s ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: A voice in the wilderness

I just returned from a trip to Israel. Along the way, my tour group had a transformational moment in the desert. I was leading a group of college students on a Birthright trip. They hailed from West Chester University, Villanova University, St. Joseph’s University, Thomas Jefferson University, Lehigh University, Bucknell College, Franklin & Marshall College, and ...

 

Preserving Hope: Why should we work?

“Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:4–5, ESV) The Bible has many different genres. It has books of history and books of poetry. But it also has books of practical wisdom, which is what we find in Proverbs. As I was doing ...

 

Rabbinic Reflections: Parental relationships

How can we best celebrate Mother’s Day–and Father’s Day for that matter? We know that a “Day” in the course of a year means little if its values are not lived many other days of the year. We also know that parent-child relationships are often quite complicated in ways that a card can never capture. A healthy parent-child relationship ought to serve as a foundation ...

 

Preserving Hope: I shall not be greatly shaken

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” (Psalm 62:1–2, ESV) Tumultuous events can often shake us. Sometimes we are shaken by events on the news or on the international stage. But other times, we are shaken by tragedies in our own lives: a car accident, a ...

 

Rabbinic reflections: Seeing oneself in ritual

It is Passover, a Jewish holiday with so many meanings and also designed around questions. On this Easter Sunday in the middle of Passover which itself is in the middle of Ramadan, I wish all who celebrate a Happy Easter, a Chag Sameachand/or Moadim L’Simcha, and a Ramadan Mubarak. May your happiness and joy come from the celebrations and from finding yourself in ...

 

Preserving Hope: Why do Christians sing?

If you grew up in church, then congregational singing is something you may take for granted. It feels like a normal part of Christian life until you stop and think about it: singing is strange. Where else do you see people gathering to sing every week in modern society? Why is singing such a vital part of Christian worship? Many passages in the Bible address this ...