The Olympic Spirit

I am no kill-joy! I love watching the Olympics. I root and feel pride for my tribe (USA! USA!) all dressed in their Ralph Lauren designed outfits. I get goose bumps (with appropriate 1960’s self-consciousness) when our national anthem is played at the gold medal ceremony of one of our winners. But there is a truth about the Olympics that challenges those of us who believe in a universalism that can both include the best and transcend the worst of our particular cultural contexts and tribal loyalties. If we are honest, the......

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What's So Special About Self-Control?

Here’s an age-old question: What’s so special about the human species? Until fairly recently, the answer for many people was found in the Bible: We are made in the image of God. But it can seem (to some people) that the theory of evolution – what we now know about human beings slowly emerging and having evolutionary continuity with all of life – makes it a bit more difficult to define exactly what makes us so different from other creatures. In his recent book, The Gap: The Science of What Separates Us......

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When Being Out of Place Is Totally in Place

I received a picture and caption this morning and while very funny and specifically Jewish, it speaks to a deep wisdom about the benefits of being out of place, and certainly ones not limited to Jewish or even religion in general. In the picture a Jewish prayer shawl, typically worn at morning prayers, has been placed as a table cloth. The caption accompanying the image read, “This is what happens when your housekeeper set the table”. Let’s leave aside the presumption that people all have housekeepers to set their tables, as well......

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Video: CVS and Tobacco - Good for Our Bodies and Spirits?

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: This week national retailer CVS Pharmacy announced that beginning in October it will no longer sell cigarettes or any tobacco products. Is this a faith story? I think it is. Odyssey Networks tells the stories of faith in action changing the world for the better. Their stories explore a wise range of issues including peace, tolerance, social justice and the environment.? Visit Odyssey Networks at www.odysseynetworks.org....

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Beyond the Letter of the Law

If you want to know one of the many reasons why the fastest growing religious identification in America is “None” and why millions of Americans are suspicious of organized religion, look at the recent events surrounding Yeshiva University – a 116 year-old institution that is perhaps the pre-eminent institution of Modern Orthodox Judaism. In December 2012, accusations became public that Rabbis at Yeshiva University High School for Boys sexually abused students over a period of two decades and that the Yeshiva University administration knowingly tolerated the exploitation of teenage boys, neither threatening......

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Our Clothes, Our Selves

Does clothing really matter? That’s a question that I have come to take with increasing seriousness, especially as a parent of teenage daughters. Is clothing just the wrapping, and not to be confused with the real gift — the person wearing it? Or, could it be that things are a bit more complicated than that? Well, from a purely numerical standpoint, in the United States alone, the apparel industry employs over 4.2 million people, and is a 250 billion dollar a year business. So, if for no other reason, clothing matters. But......

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God at the Grammys

In 2012, after much pre-show debate about the wisdom of mixing God with the Grammys, LL Cool J opened the Grammys with a prayer that seared heart and soul as he offered comfort in the face of Whitney Houston’s tragic death the day before. The emotional highlight of this year’s Grammys was also a religious moment. Whether you were one of the 27 million people who watched or not, by now you have surely heard about the group wedding in which 34 couples gay and straight and of various ages and ethnicities......

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Our Soldier Heroes and Us

The most emotionally powerful moment in President Obama’s State of the Union address was also its most morally complicated.? As is often the case in these addresses, the Commander in Chief evoked a sense of pride and patriotism by recognizing a hero from the armed forces. The President introduced Cory Remsburg, a seriously wounded soldier who was sitting with the First Lady on one side and his father who has dedicated his life to helping his son recover on the other. The President described Cory as “a proud Army Ranger,” who “on......

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How We Find What Matters Most

Most people have a deeply intuitive sense about what matters most to them.? Once they learn to trust that intuition?- itself no small feat?- the real challenge lies in figuring out where and how to pursue it, to obtain and to deepen it. While there’s no single answer, I’m increasingly convinced that whatever it is that matters most to each of us, there are some helpful principles regarding how and where we’re going to find it. While specific tools, practices and institutions are all crucially important to finding what matters most, in......

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Video: The State of the Union and the Spirit of Citizenship

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: The most important message of the 2014 State of the Union address by President Obama was his use of the phrase “spirit of citizenship,” according to Brad Hirschfield. Odyssey Networks tells the stories of faith in action changing the world for the better.? Their stories explore a wide range of issues including peace, tolerance, social justice and the environment.? Visit Odyssey Networks at www.odysseynetworks.org. For more on the State of the Union, please read Irwin Kula’s reaction here.  ...

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