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.
'Gatekeepers of redemption' -- that is what I call them -- are the decision makers in capital punishment. Yet as I think about the death penalty movement and the shift that seems to be occurring within it, I am beginning to see an inkling of hope.
My view is that when people really want to make something work, it will work. Community policing is proactive outreach: It asks officers to visit neighborhoods and families who are especially in need of help, and to do anything they can do to assist these people.
The Greek view of the ethical life is an interesting contrast to that of the Bible's. A different tone and mood pervade these aphorisms than what one finds in the Old and New Testaments. More significantly, the motivation for leading an ethical life is worlds apart from that of biblical morality.
Common wisdom has it that much violence in the world is driven by religious passion. Though there is good reason for this claim, deeper reflection reveals a more complex picture of what religions have to say about relationships with the enemy.
Eastwood's Kyle an American hero? No doubt. But Eastwood's Kyle increasingly shows us that what has become equated with "American" is increasingly dangerous, naïve, and ignorant.
Every once in a while someone asks for advice: "How do I learn more about the Bible?" In church we act like the Bible is important, but few among us feel confident we understand it -- or even that we know what's in it.
Americans enjoy football because football reflects the values of strength, courage, strategy, self-discipline, teamwork, and celebrity that American culture holds dear. It's also refreshing to watch someone else get crushed by a 260-pound linebacker after you've had a lousy week at work.
This mythological framework explained not only the events in his life, but also those of the universe. The creation of the world, the change in the seasons, and natural disasters were all explained by the myths. He need never search for an answer.
The hardening of Pharaoh's heart is one of the most confusing aspects of the Exodus story, but has perhaps the most to teach us about freedom and oppression in our world today.
I am not Charlie Hebdo. I know that I am not Charlie. I do not think that I would ever intentionally make fun of a faith tradition or belief system, except maybe my own. But, dangit, I will defend their right to do so.
I find it interesting that the Quran mentioned critical veins of the head, rather than those of other organs that are just as important. Indeed, severing other large veins in the thigh, heart, or liver, for instance, would also cause death.
R. Simcha Bunim of Przysucha (1765-1827), one of the great Hasidic masters in Poland, explained it by breaking it into two parts. The letter shin is a prefix meaning "that", and "dai" means "enough". She dai would mean, "that [which] is sufficient."
In trying times, it is important to listen for the lesson and hear the voice of God within it. The task for those of us who are attracted to such thoughts is not to see God in our stories but to imagine our story in God's, learning somehow to see our humanity in divinity.
We cannot always control what we lose or gain in life's transitions, and even the happiest transitions (like getting married or becoming parents) can be jarring. I don't always get to choose how my name will be spelled or said. But sometimes, I get to choose how I will hear it.