Spirituality & Faith


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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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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