Religion in Four Minutes?

Many Americans today who are asked about the role of faith in their lives identify themselves as “None” – no religious identification.? For me, if I’m honest, religion alone is increasingly not getting the job done (that it used to) of nurturing the virtues we all need in life to flourish: awe, wonder, humility, transcendence, responsibility, kindness and love. As an eighth-generation rabbi, this is a significant challenge! Lately I’ve been looking at the intersection of popular culture and science for new “sacred” wisdom that works to evoke and nurture these qualities.......

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Honoring Our Veterans Isn't Just One Day

Today is Veterans Day and whatever our politics or opinions of war, we need to respect, honor and most critically, care about our veterans. In reflecting upon the importance of Veterans Day, I came across some surprising and even shocking facts on the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: More than 6,600 dead. 2.5 million men and women have been deployed in these two wars – over 400,000 have done more than three deployments. If you do not know anyone who has served it is because we have made an......

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A Practical Approach to Finding God

Wait! Before you skip over this post because you may not believe in God, substitute a term that does fall into your beliefs: “awe,” “wonder,” “inexplicable beauty,” or “a moment of transcendence.”? Don’t let the words get in the way.? Now ask yourself: Where do you find those things, and where are you when they find you? It turns out that we often discover the transcendent in the most unexpected or idiosyncratic places. It can literally happen any place. That’s actually really promising – because if God (or whatever) can be there,......

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The Ethical Issues of Ebay Selling Holocaust Memorabilia

As the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht approaches, Holocaust-related stories surface more often and resonate more deeply.? Of particular note is Ebay making Nazi artifacts available for sale. As the last survivors of the Holocaust perish, the ethics of memory — what this story is really about — becomes entirely our question to deal with. This is a far more complicated issue than most people realize, even though I share most people’s initial revulsion at the crass commercialization of the Holocaust by turning tokens of unspeakable horror into high-end collectibles. But because I......

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Sights Unseen -- The Monkey Business Illusion

Before you read on, watch this video that was an Internet sensation. I guarantee you will be surprised.   If you are like the majority of people, including myself, who have watched this video you missed something that was right before your eyes.? You experienced the phenomenon called “inattentional blindness”. It turns out that we consciously see only a small subset of our visual world, and when our attention is focused on one thing, we often fail to notice other, unexpected things around us — including very major things going on right......

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Air Force Goes God Optional

The United States Air Force has decided to make God an option; at least as far as the service or enlistment oath is concerned.? The oath is older that the United States itself, dating back to June of 1775, and has been administered in its current form since 1962, as follows: I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey......

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Parents Playing Favorites

It’s easy to say that parents should never play favorites.? But if we’re honest, it’s a lot harder in practice. We are all someone’s kid, and many of us are someone’s parent.? In at least one of those roles most of us have experienced favoritism – either showing it, or experiencing it as a sibling.? It’s not that we don’t love all of our kids, or that our parents didn’t love all of theirs. For a moment, let’s assume love is not the issue. ?Sometimes though, we simply mesh better with some......

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Why Be Negative When You Can Be Positive

I just saw Liberal Arts, a nostalgic coming-of-age indie film directed by and starring Josh Radnor (of How I Met Your Mother) that tells the story of Jesse, a 35-year-old college admissions officer in New York City who loves literature and language who has a romantic relationship with Zibby, a 19-year-old college student. ?The film deals with the addictive pull of nostalgia for our youth but there is a line in the film that caught my attention. Jesse is overly negative and judgmental and at one point after dissing a book Zibby......

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Using Gladwell's Insight to Inspire Those Who Need It Most

I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.? Like Gladwell’s prior books this one is entertaining, with great story-telling that explores one counterintuitive thesis. ?Blink compelled us to trust our guts. ?The Tipping Point suggested we seek out and invest in “influencers”.? And in Outliers, Gladwell posits that it isn’t talent, but rather luck and hard work that are far more important. As always with Gladwell you need to read him while understanding that what he “proves” is always more true......

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Why a Controversial Baseball Play Should Be More Than a Metaphor

For the first time in baseball history?- and in the World Series no less?- a game ended because the umpire called “obstruction”.     Will Middlebrooks, the third baseman for the Boston Red Sox, lunged for a throw from the catcher Jarrod Satalamacchia but could not reach it. He fell, and while lying on the ground he tripped Allen Craig who was rounding third base trying to score. Though Craig was out at the plate with plenty of room to spare, Jim Joyce the umpire, immediately called obstruction. According to this rarely......

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