Thursday, April 24, 2014

Transforming multi-cultural fears. Building more beneficial beliefs.

French commercial that says it all.  "Look!" exclaims the child.

Isaiah 11:6 reads:
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.
 Verses 7-9 continue:
The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

May we re-build this world now, grounded in Divine Love, correcting one ignorant assumption, or fearful expectation, at a time. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Muslim Women Vote!

                        Despite threats from the Taliban, 

                         women in Afghanistan lined up 
                     in record numbers to vote last Saturday.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Creating Peace Together - Musically

                        May each of us do what brings us Joy!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Building Bridges, Not Borders

Award-winning Taizhou Bridge in China - still under construction

Thanks to Merrimack College, their interfaith program, and Prof. Padraic O'Hare for these reflections:

      1.)  Other faiths are not a threat.  We are spiritual companions.

      2.) God dwells in the connecting silence behind our divisive chatter.

      3.)  When I cross your bridge, I am met by your faith's richness.  I find in your tradition and culture things to admire, to emulate, to integrate, and which resonate within my own spiritual experience.

      4.)  We share common ethical commitments.

      5.)  God is greater than religion.

      6.)  The Love of God embraces us all.

      7.)  Studying our sacred texts together we discover our true inner lives!

      8.)  Amidst our individualism beats the common heart of the world.

                            Recommended reading: The Life Of Pi 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Judaism & Education

Jewish teachings encourage the actions of individuals such as Malala (see previous post.) The great sage Hillel said: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me.  And when I am for myself, what am I?  And if not now, when?" (Avot 1:14).

Rabbi Laura Geller, the 1st female rabbi, was ordained in Berlin in 1935 and was murdered in the Shoah (holocaust) in 1944.  She says, "God has implanted in our breast abilities and callings regardless of gender.  Everyone has the obligation, whether man or woman, to be effective according to the gifts God has granted."

TEACHING AND EDUCATION ARE CENTRAL TO JEWS, as evidenced by the names of Judaism's major texts.

Rabbi Michael Strassfeld in his Book Of Life: Embracing Judaism as a Spiritual Practice,  writes, "If one word is the most essential word in Judaism, it is the word Torah.  It literally means 'teaching.'"

The oral Torah, which was recorded around 200 C.E., is the Mishnah.  The Mishnah is the first part of the Talmud.  Mishnah means "repetition" and comes from the Hebrew root shanah, which means "to study and review."

Talmud means "instruction, learning" from the root lmd, "to teach, study."  The entire Talmud, the first part being the Mishnah, and the second part, the Gemara (c. 500 C.E.), in standard print is over 6,200 pages long.

Many passages in Torah support education for all, including the following:
Deuteronomy 5:1 - Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them: "Hear, O Israel, the laws and rules that I proclaim to you this day!  Study them and observe them faithfully!"  The commentary points out that Moses is stressing the importance of studying for everyone in the covenant.

This 2nd verse is central to worship and is recited in all synagogues: Deuteronomy 6:4-7 - "Hear O Israel, The Eternal is our God, The Eternal is one."  (This is one of the few pieces of Torah that everyone recites as is and tends to agree with.  It is often called the core of worship.) "You shall love your God, The Eternal, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.  Take these words that I command you now to heart.  Teach them intently to your children.  Speak them when you sit inside your house or walk upon the road, when you lie down, and when you rise."

Rabbi Strassfeld's rendering of a familiar Talmudic passage: "The world rests on three things: Torah, avodah, and gemuilut hesed: the study of Torah, worship, and deeds of loving kindness [Ethics of Our Ancestors 1:2]"  In other words, Torah study conducted in synagogues and halls all over the world is as central a practice to Jews as worship.  Jews consider Torah study a form of worship.

While it is important for the individual to act, it is not any one person's sole responsibility.  From Avot 2:21 (another Talmudic passage, attributed to Rabbi Tarfon): "It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it."  See our next posting for all three faith tradition's views.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


"One of the main functions of formalized religions is to protect people against a direct experience of God."  Carl Jung

This Fall we will be lifting from our three Scriptures what resonates with (or what offers contrast to)  The Teachings of Abraham, brought forward by Esther and Jerry Hicks.

In the Christian New Testament, Jesus says, during his Sermon On the Mount, recorded in Matthew 7:7: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." This fits beautifully within the principles of the Law of Attraction.

In the Qur'an God approves of people asking for things.  Everything is available to humanity on earth.  As was noted in our last posting, the mercy of God comes from the same root as womb.   All of creation is nourished.   It follows that in the Middle East the ancient healing art of herbalism is honoredIn contrast, western science has created a split/separation.  Historically herbalism has been looked upon with suspicion, as the occult, anti-science.

In Judaism there are many examples where all is provided, as in in Exodus 16:15  - the heavenly bread fell, and “when the children of Israel saw [it], they said to one another, ‘It is manna,’ because they did not know what it was.”  God's gifts are plentiful and mysterious.   (Even on the sabbath, on Shabbat when no work is done, all has been made ready... everything was prepared the day before.)  The kitchen table becomes the altar. 

 Women are largely responsible for carrying out the religious traditions as Jewish families make Shabbat at home.  After the Temple was destroyed, all Jews became priests.  Famous Jewish scholars remind everyone that God is in the doing!

Mother Teresa echoes this when she says, Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do… but how much love we put in that action.

One of the most important aspects of Islam is that there is no intermediary needed between humankind and God. 

Do devout seekers in all three faiths recognize their personal freedom and their individual spiritual responsibility to co-create?  Is that the underlying message in the troubling story of the binding of Isaac?  When we face what makes us uncomfortable, how do we react?  Do we speak out, act or choose differently?  Perhaps God asks us to: question what we do not understand, even in the face of seeming authority.