Spirituality & Faith


Video: Passover and the Importance of Questions

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record video series: The American Bible Society and Barna Group just released their joint annual study of Americans’ behaviors and attitudes towards the Bible. In it, they found that the number of skeptics, those “who believe the Bible is ‘just another book of teaching written by men that contain stories and advice'” has nearly doubled in three years. Now 19% of those questioned put themselves in that category, which is equal to the number who define themselves as “Bible-engaged”. But this is a flawed comparison. Skepticism......

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The Online Search for Grief Support

If there’s one thing religion has historically been good at, and its clergy and institutions used for, it is death management. Well, these days, with “None” the fastest growing religious identification? (more than 20% of all Americans, and more than 30% of those under age 32, so identified) it shouldn’t be surprising that close to a third of all funerals in America happen without any clergy. Obviously, people are having funerals and mourning for loved ones. So what are they doing? Rather than engage religious authorities and institutions – the “cathedrals” –......

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Celebrate Passover with Braveheart, Roger Daltry and Martin Luther King, Jr.

This week is Passover, and its promise of freedom is for all people and taught by many kinds of teachers in many different ways. Here are three people – none of them Jewish, by the way – who never met each other, but meet in my head and heart this Passover. Each inspires me with their unique voice, and each invites us to ask what freedom means to us. Watch and see. Why is William Wallace’s speech so powerful?? It’s more than Mel Gibson’s delivery, or even the cornflower blue face paint......

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Wanting it All and Always Finding Enough

There is a well-known song sung at every Passover Seder – a meditation on gratitude – called Dayenu, which means, “It would have been enough”. The song acknowledges 15 major biblical events inviting people to sing “dayenu” after each one. If the Israelites were liberated from Egypt but the sea didn’t divide – “dayenu” – it would have been enough. If the Israelites got through the sea but had no food in the desert, dayenu…if they had food but didn’t make it to the promised-land, dayenu. But would any of these really......

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The Message and Blessing of Seder

One of the four questions at the Passover Seder – the most celebrated Jewish practice in the world – is why we need to dip food into some condiment twice during the Seder when most meals we don’t dip our food at all? First, we dip a green vegetable into the salt water and then we dip the bitter herbs into the haroset – a pasty mix of apples, walnuts, and wine. The great 12th century sage Maimonides teaches that dipping is a sign of wealth, and wealth when recognized as a......

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Video: Noah Brings in the Box Office and the Controversy

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record video series: The movie Noah, starring Russell Crowe, continues to attract money (it’s earned over $178 million in its first two weeks of release) and controversy. Everyone seems to be talking about it, from the Vatican to Jon Stewart, and it’s been banned in some countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. Both the critics and the critics’ critics are looking to “see what they already believe when they look at the Bible,” but maybe they should be looking for something else. Be sure to also......

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Who is Crazier - Noah or God?

I saw the blockbuster film Noah this past Sunday. Despite the deluge (sorry) of commentary about the film – inevitable for a biblical film in culture war times – I can’t resist offering my take. Most of what has been written about Noah has centered on the film’s fidelity to the original story, which really means fidelity to the way a particular critic heard the Noah story when he was a child, or the way his particular creedal community understands the story. Watch this segment from The Daily Show as proof. The......

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What Religions Can Learn from Microsoft

Big news from Microsoft – it has finally decided to make its Office software, specifically its suite of applications including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, work on all computing devices including those made by its competitors, Apple’s Ipads and Google’s Android operating system. I think there’s something that religions can take from this, especially if they want to compete in the marketplace of wisdom and practices that help people flourish. This news is a break with Microsoft policies of keeping its software services locked to Windows devices. If the world wanted Office, they......

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The Ten Commandments Were Just the Beginning

I am part of a new series, The Bible Rules, on Sundays at 10pm ET on the History 2 (H2) Channel. Taping The Bible Rules was a particularly grueling experience – I mean for TV. It wasn’t like wandering around the desert for 40 years or anything, but it was definitely the first time in my life that I was interviewed for that many consecutive hours. You can watch for yourself and see, but I already know, based on the time I spent with the producers, that they’ve done something quite amazing.......

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God and Basketball

At an NBA Oklahoma Thunder game you can expect the usual hoopla of lights and noise and dancers. But for at least a couple moments preceding each game, the lights are dimmed and people are asked to rise as the arena is turned into a mega church and a local minister or priest (and very occasionally a rabbi or Native American spiritual leader) offers a stadium wide prayer to God – “non-denominational” of course. The Thunder pre-game prayer tradition began a number of years ago with an owner promising that if he......

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