Spirituality & Faith


Widen Your View and Pay Hope Forward

When you look at the image above, what do you see? What does it make you think? How does it make you feel? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? In each case, what we see, and how we think about these images, can create remarkable opportunities and possibilities for us – if we dare to let it be so. I’m thinking a lot about that as I, along with family, friends and millions of others (not all of them Jewish, by the way) celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish......

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Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

Sam Harris, one of America’s greatest skeptics and critics of religion, has just written a fascinating book – Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. Are you one of the growing number of Americans (as I am if I am really honest) who increasingly finds organized religion unsatisfying, yet at the same time, you want to seriously talk about questions of meaning and existential hopes and fears? Are you a person who knows that the transformative experiences of self-transcendence, oneness, surrender, bliss, grace, unconditional love, are not only real but critical......

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9/11: How We Feel Today

As we observe the 13th anniversary of 9/11, we feel a range of emotions. We feel sad and heartbroken for those who lost loved ones. We are grateful, if not surprised that there have been no terrorist attacks on our soil. We feel betrayed that after all the lives and treasure sacrificed to fight Islamic terrorists, there seems to be more terrorists, terrorizing more people, doing more terrifying things. We are confused about what we should do, politically, militarily, and morally as historical fault lines unravel and failed states become sites of......

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The End of the Gratitude Discount

Do you pray before meals? Do you take a moment before eating to be grateful for the food you are about to enjoy? A restaurant in North Carolina is in trouble for offering customers a 15% discount if they pray before their meal. Obviously, this is perfect culture war material with some people praising the promotion of prayer and others criticizing the deal. Here is the story. For the past four years, Mary’s Gourmet Restaurant in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, had been surprising customers with a 15% discount if they prayed or meditated......

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The Spirit's Irrepressible Impulse

In the words of Bob Dylan, “It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” English philosopher Roger Scruton’s wise and beautifully written The Soul of the World makes the case that, despite the brashness of the New Atheists and the increase of “Nones” (those with no religious affiliation) there is a “fundamentally religious impulse” – what we call “the sacred” – that is irrepressible. Scruton explains faith as an “attitude of openness to meanings” (experienced in love, art, nature and morality) that......

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How a Fashion Photo Inspired Hope in the Jewish and Muslim Communities

Meet sisters-in-law Mimi Hecht and Mushky Notik. Struggling to find clothes that were stylish but still as modest as Orthodox custom requires “they took matters into their own hands and set out to create the ultimate pieces they needed for their wardrobe” and founded a small clothing line Mimu Maxi in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. (Interestingly, they let their “com-MIMU-nity” of women help vote on designs – not exactly what one expects from traditionalists!) Now meet Summer Albarcha, a popular Muslim fashion blogger who goes by the name “Hipster Hijabis“. She promotes trendy......

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Video: The Roman Catholic Cardinal with a Jewish Mother

From Odyssey Networks’ Faith on the Record series: This week The New York Times told a surprising story about the former Archbishop of New York, Cardinal John J. O’Connor – his mother was born Jewish. This story raises questions about religious identity and suggests a discussion of what “dual citizenship” in the realm of faith and spirituality might mean. 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......

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Eddie Izzard's Acts of Gods

Oscar Wilde once said, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh or they will kill you.” Eddie Izzard, the surreal, free-associative, British comic embodies this wisdom. I saw this self-described “action transvestite” at a wildly crazy, funny show on the New York stop of his 2014-’15 tour, Force Majeure – a title derived from the French for “Acts of God.” Force Majeure deals with grand philosophical ideas, but if it has a theme, it’s simple: There is no God! Izzard hilariously reflects on the bizarreness of god-demanded human......

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Telling the Story of September 11

Where were you the morning of September 11, 2001? What was the cycle of thoughts and feelings that churned through you that day? How do you tell the story of those events today? While many people say that it was a day that “changed everything”, do you think it really did? These are just a few of the questions I find myself thinking about as New York City’s September 11 Memorial Museum has its official opening today and opens to the public next Wednesday. Given the various needs and expectations which this......

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Video: The Supreme Court and Public Prayer

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record video series: This week the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the rights of a local town council in Greece, NY to open their meetings with a prayer, saying it did not violate the constitutional prohibition against government establishment of religion. In this week’s video, I discuss how we got to this place, how the court rendered its decision and how we can move forward in as healthy a way as possible from this decision. Please be sure to also read Irwin’s take on......

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