Megillat Esther, which we read on the holiday of Purim this week, is a flamboyant, even farcical tale of good and evil. Its characters on the face of it are caricatures of human virtue and vice: Achashueras the foolish king who sits on the throne but exercises no true leadership or authority.
On any given Saturday, people join Habitat for Humanity teams and commit to work to help eradicate poverty housing. The individual volunteers give of their time, energy and physical ability because they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
This Shabbat, the weekly Torah portion embraces the consecration of the priesthood to God, and the special designated Torah reading for the Shabbat prior to Purim, known as Shabbat Zachor, commands us to remember/not forget our encounter with Amalek, who sought to destroy us.
What would happen this Lent if we reflected not just personally but corporately? Quickly, we'd be pushed to consider how our use of the earth's resources will make life exceedingly difficult for future generations.
Although Christianity did eventually emerge as a separate religion, similar falsifications of biblical history are rampant in collections of Renaissance art spanning hundreds of years. These distortions were not harmless. They imposed a dangerous division between Christians and Jews that lingers today.
The main reason I resist it is that I reject the very premise of the holiday: choosing an arbitrary time for the compulsory enunciation and celebration of love. After all, do I love my spouse, my mother, and other family members any more on February 14 than I do the other days of the year?
Lawmakers in Oklahoma are seemingly in the process of enthusiastically banning Advanced Placement U.S. History classes in Oklahoma schools because they don't teach American "exceptionalism."
Dr. Ben Carson claims that our war with ISIS shouldn't have any laws, because rules of war are "politically correct." But does he realize that many of those rules of war have their origins in Christianity?
Horrific as ISIS may be, it by no means stands outside the circle of humanity. It seems to have arisen and found nourishment out of countless factors, including the interventions of our own government. Violence has a way of pulling us all in. Somewhere the cycle has to end.
If one believes in the doctrine of creationism--that God created man--one should also embrace its corollary: that God's creation of humans includes the manifestation of human intelligence to improve life on this planet.
This week's Torah portion, Mishpatim, comes on the heels of the Ten Commandments and begins delving into more detailed prescriptions for our actions. In some cases, its behavioral requirements seem immediately accessible and relevant.
Only 0.6% of the population in the United States is Muslim. Most of us in the 99% haven't even held a Quran in our hands. Yet, remarkably, we are a country full of Islamic experts; many of whom are self-professed Christians.
In a time when renewed engagement is desperately needed, it is difficult to have dialogue when a vast majority of whites cannot empathize with the experience of communities of color, or, in some cases, acknowledge that there is a problem at all.
The Bible as Literature was part of a senior humanities English course that began with the Greeks and critical thinking, continued with the Bible, and concluded with a survey of British literature and an in-depth study of Hamlet.
What I have to say next applies to both Jews and Muslims; I say it to both. You live inside a bigger world. Not everyone is your enemy. There are plenty of Midianites out there, outsiders to your particularity, who wish you well.
First the good news: After four months of preparation, I have officially started my year-long quest to more seriously understand what it means to follow Jesus, aka "My Jesus Project." And now the bad news: After today I still have 363 days left of this. Turns out Jesus stuff is hard.