Spirituality & Faith


Microsoft Celebrates Christmas Without God

Can one really celebrate Christmas, or any other religious holiday for that matter, without at least some acknowledgment of God? Well, that depends on what you mean by “really”, but my answer to that question is, “Of course you can!” Just ask the tens of millions of Americans who do so, not to mention the folks at Microsoft, which released a new Christmas ad designed to do just that — and it does it with genuine beauty to boot! The ad is causing some real consternation, probably because it is genuinely beautiful......

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Suing Over White Jesus

In the category of “you can’t make this up, but wish you were” comes the story of Manhattan author, Justin Renel Joseph who is suing the Metropolitan Museum of Art, demanding that they remove “racist” paintings that depict Jesus as a fair-haired Caucasian. Specifically, the plaintiff seeks the removal of four works of art for “offensive aesthetic whitewashing” – itself a rather ironic term in this particular case – and the “extreme case of discrimination” created by their presence. Mr. Joseph contends that the presence of such works of art create stress,......

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Shining a Light on Being Too Tired to Care

Bombarded with news stories of gun violence, and racist and Islamophobic rhetoric from politicians, I’ve begun to notice a numbness overtaking me. It’s a natural response to move away from pain, as from a hot flame. But even when I turn off the radio, or avoid reading official news sources, the pain of the world trickles into my social media feeds. Ideally, I want this pain to move me to act for change, but have begun to feel overwhelmed, to shut down. According to Dr. Joan Cook at Yale University, those of......

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Using the Holidays to Re-evaluate Priorities

Our stores and streets seem transformed: has the population suddenly doubled or has the clock suddenly switched to some kind of double time? There is a sense of frantic haste in the stores and streets. It’s that time of year. The time of year people leave their families at home while they spend hours scouring stores to buy mountains of gifts for those very people they left at home. The time of year when consumer products vaguely related to the holidays to which they refer cloud the spiritual traditions that inspired those......

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Is Chanukah Becoming Too Commercialized?

I was invited to appear alongside Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Fox News’ show, Spirited Debate, to discuss the commercialization of Chanukah. As we discuss, I don’t think people should be defined by what they spend on any holiday, whether it’s Christmas or Chanukah. It’s about announcing a miracle, so go for it. But one shouldn’t be measured by how they celebrate, or ashamed by it either. What do you think? Click here to see our discussion....

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When It Comes to Holiday Greetings, Assume the Best

Back in 2009, Gap released one of my favorite holiday commercials. It featured a group of happy, sweater wearing, scarf-clad people dancing while chanting the following: Two, four, six, eight ’tis the time to liberate! Go Christmas! Go Chanukah! Go Kwanza! Go Solstice! Go classic tree! Go plastic tree! Go plant a tree! Go without a tree! You 86 the rules. You do what just feels right. Happy do whatever you wannukah and to all a cheery night! My then eight-year-old daughter loved the commercial as well and quickly memorized the lyrics.......

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Chanukah Wants You!

Do you find yourself longing for greater peace, and a bit more light, in what often feels like an increasingly dark and confusing time? Given the events of the passing days, weeks and months, that’s not surprising. In fact, how could it be otherwise? That is why the holiday of Chanukah has never been more important than it is this year. Since Rosh Hashanah, we have experienced carefully orchestrated mass murder in Paris and Mali , rising violence by seemingly grass-roots terrorists using knives,......

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Is Any Holy Book Worth $100,000?

If you suddenly had an extra $100,000, what would you do with it? Would you pay off outstanding debts for education or on your credit cards? How about getting out from under your mortgage? Gifts to those you love? Save for the future or give to causes in which you believe? Good arguments can be made for all of those, but now let’s shake up this little thought experiment with a story from this week’s news. Calvary hospital in the Bronx has been permanently loaned a 19th century Czech Torah scroll that......

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The Starbucks Cup: It's About Conversation

To paraphrase a famous statement, nonsense is nonsense, but the reaction to nonsense is worth looking at. What was at the bottom of the Starbucks cup controversy for me is not what it said about Christians and Christianity, but what it means for those of us who strive to make meaningful connections between religious traditions, rather than reinforce barriers. At issue here is not watering down what is Christian to avoid offending someone who is not Christian. What is at issue is maintaining spaces that can be conducive to meeting on equal......

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Stolen Wisdom, Shattered Trust

I was raised by two teachers. My parents taught me to respect and trust authority; to question with appreciation and understanding for those before whom I stood. They also taught me to be wary and discerning of people who might hurt or take advantage of me. Sadly, recent news reports have revealed chilling stories of clergy allegedly using their positions of power to sexually abuse members of their flock. Even as my parents cautioned me about the danger that might lurk in any human being, they stressed that in order to progress......

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