Rabbi Katy Allen teaches that Hanukkah is a time to rededicate ourselves to the holy and hard work of responding to climate change. She writes that we "increase our holiness by rededicating ourselves to reducing our carbon footprint."
And King Herod's appearance in Matthew 2 explains the context of Jesus's arrival on earth. But these and many other central facts about the Bible's narrative escape the modern Bible reader.
It is helpful to think about common misconceptions that people have about the Bible so that we can read it better.
On December 8, an Orlando-area police officer shot Cedric Bartee, an African-American man, while he was unarmed and allegedly standing with his hands in the air. The sheriff asked the public to trust that the justice system will discover the "truth."
Perhaps what makes Exodus an engaging film also makes it a dangerous one. The drama becomes secondary to the lesson. War prevails over wisdom. The sensational replaces the scholarly.
The landscape of this film is colossal! If you get a chance, watch this on the big screen.
We have no way to ascertain whether Moses personally suffered from trauma. He lived long before history was written down in Israel and the stories about him are shrouded in centuries of later tradition.
"Exodus: Movement of Jah people! Oh-oh-oh, yea-eah!" chants Bob Marley. In his rousing three-minute song "Exodus" he presents a more spiritual feel for Moses than Ridley Scott's 154-minute, whitewashed sword-and-sandals epic.
Reading Tamar's story in light of recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island, as thousands of people take to the streets to demand changes in our justice system, the Torah poses to us today this question: What happens when those in power fail to acknowledge their errors?
When God calls you to some holy task, you might expect a contemplative path, a quiet life of service and love of neighbor. You might expect a comfortable life of piety and hopefulness, grace and caring. But true prophets know better.
Vayishlach begins with our hero on the run. Recall that Jacob emerges from his mother Rebekah just moments after his twin brother Esau; in adulthood, with his mother's help, he tricks his blind father Isaac into giving him the blessing intended for the firstborn.
I am interested in the intersections between spirituality and healthcare because my own religious beliefs inform my choice of career. My passion for medicine stems from a declaration in Islam and various other traditions that saving one person's life is equivalent to saving all of mankind.
For the next 14-18 months, I'm doing a sort of "Human Experiment" project in which I try to figure out what it really means to follow Jesus in the 21st-century Western world.
In the Messiah the Jesus story begins with Israel's prophets. They anticipate the savior's arrival, which finds its fulfillment in the gospel stories. Israel's anticipation and Jesus as its fulfillment: that makes the story.
While we might look at that confession and question God's fairness, this probably came as a word of hope to the exiles. There is a sense of vindication in God's confession, and with that vindication, comes the confidence in a God who holds the power to make things right.
Now is the time, and we are the ones, to release and liberate ourselves from bondage to racism, to repair what is broken in our nation, to restore peace born of justice in the streets.