Happy Birthday Jesus and Isaac Newton

The title may appear glib or snarky to some, but that is not how it is intended.? It simply reflects the desire to see us all open our hearts and minds not only to an ever wider understanding of wisdom, but also to seeing the deep inter-relatedness of various wisdom systems and teachers. According to tradition, both Jesus and Isaac Newton were born on December 25th, something I find quite interesting and even inspiring.? For me, each are world-transforming teachers who shaped the world for the better, no matter what faith we......

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Patriotism and Protest in Song

Did you know that folk singer Woody Guthrie wrote “This Land Is Your Land” in 1940 as a reaction to Irving Berlin’s classic anthem “God Bless America” (originally written in 1918)? It’s one of the many fascinating facts about the beloved tunes found in John Shaw’s book This Land That I Love. Guthrie reportedly found “God Bless America” jingoistic and uncritical; using a melody borrowed from the old Baptist hymn “Oh My Lovin’ Brother” he wrote a six-verse protest song. The final three verses of “This Land Is Your Land” (which are......

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"What If?": Inside Llewyn Davis

I walked out of the theater after seeing?Inside Llewyn Davis,?the Coen brother’s phenomenal new film feeling as I always do after seeing a Coen brother’s film: humbled, dazed, out of breath at the mysterious, subtle, and unpredictable relationship between our own individual stories and dramas with all their twists and turns and the cosmic, metaphysical reality which we have absolutely no control over. With their unique attention to detail, aesthetic, and character, the Coen brothers invite us to reflect upon the meaning of life in general and of our own life in......

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Standing Your Ground

How many opportunities do we lose out on, and how much time do we waste worrying about where we aren’t, instead of genuinely appreciating where we are?? How much energy do we expend agonizing over who we aren’t, as opposed to celebrating who we are? None of us is perfect, and I believe that striving to be more and to be better is a crucially important part of a well-lived life.? So too is feeling the rich possibility and potential of who we are, as we are, wherever we are.?? In fact,......

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Jesus the Rabbi

Jesus, First-Century Rabbi continues a recent trend of books trying to better understand who Jesus was by placing him in the context of first-century Judaism. ?This admirable work, written by Rabbi David Zaslow, is a particularly accessible and loving effort, one which has the potential to ease tensions felt? between (some) Christians and Jews. The spirit in which the book is written – whether one agrees with the conclusions or not – provides a truly a beautiful lesson for interfaith encounters. However, I would offer two cautionary notes, also inspired by the......

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Video: Moving From Mourning to Memory

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: “Last week the world paid tribute to Nelson Mandela, who died on December 5th at the age of 95.? As mourners gathered and tributes from around the world were made, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield reminds us that “Memory is a choice – we choose how to remember,” and there are many Nelson Mandelas to remember – revolutionary, prisoner, peacemaker, symbol, healer.” Odyssey Networks tells the stories of faith in action changing the world for the better.? Their stories explore a wide range of issues including......

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Santa Is White, Really!

You can’t make this stuff up. FOX News’ Megyn Kelly reassured her viewers that Santa really is white. At first, at least, it sounds nuts. Where to begin? The claim that a mythic figure is “really” anything? Ms. Kelly’s need to reassure people that a much loved icon could be anything other than white? It really is hard to know where to begin. And then I wonder, if in addition to those serious questions about the sanity and ethics of Ms. Kelly’s assertions, something quite sane and more than a......

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Stars of David

Over the weekend I went to see the off Broadway musical, Stars of David, based on Abigail Pogrebin’s best-selling book of the same name.? The show is great fun and reveals and celebrates the Jewish identity of some of the most well known Jewish personalities in America including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Leonard Nimoy, Michael Feinstein, Norman Lear, Joan Rivers, Kenneth Cole, Tony Kushner and more. The 16 songs, composed by a who’s who of composers, are touching, humorous, insightful and moving. Stars of David is for any of us questioning the value......

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Can you believe Keith Richards turns 70 this coming Wednesday? I saw the Stones for the first time 40 years ago and have tried to see them at least once every time they have toured since. We all feel a certain way about the music that first made us feel a certain way about ourselves and the Stones were the first to make us feel sympathy for the devil. In honor of Keith’s 70th, here is some wisdom in his own words.   “For many years I slept, on average, twice a......

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Beauty in the Eyes of the Beholder

How do you react when you see a physically disabled person? Do you stare? Do you avert your gaze? What do you feel – discomfort, shock, fear, anxiety, curiosity, compassion? Has the way you responded to seeing the physically disabled changed over time? Research shows that viewers of positive portrayals of the disabled on television programs and in the movies are more likely to perceive discrimination and less likely to have negative emotions when encountering people with disabilities. There is what researchers call the “novel hypothesis”. Not only are people who are......

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