Spirituality & Faith


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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Heaven Help Us: The Public Prayer Debate

Here we go again. On Monday, a narrowly divided Supreme Court upheld that decidedly Christian prayers are allowed at the start of local council meetings, declaring them in line with long national traditions. The court said in a 5-4 decision that the content of the prayers is not significant as long as they do not denigrate non-Christians or try to win converts. Interestingly, the Obama administration backed the winning side, the town of Greece, N.Y., outside of Rochester. Not surprisingly our culture warriors lined up. Senior counsel David Cortman of the Alliance......

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Video: Is Humanist a Religion?

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record video series: The U.S. Army announced this week that active duty personnel will now have the option of claiming “humanist” as a religious preference. According to the American Humanist Society, humanism is a philosophy that “without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.” Some people of faith may take issue with the decision, but I see this as a victory for people of all faiths. When it comes to matters of the......

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When You Believe

Have you ever seen the DreamWorks animated film Prince of Egypt? The scene when the Israelites leave Egypt is scored by a beautiful ballad, “When You Believe,” sung by Michelle Pfeiffer and Sally Dworsky. The version recorded by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, seen here, won an Oscar in 1999:   When the Exodus story is being chanted as a central practice of the Passover holiday, people are invited to experience the “miracle of being redeemed” – of moving from slavery to freedom. Whether historically true or not, the Exodus is one......

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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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