No matter how far a Southern man goes, he can't outrun Scripture. After a decade as an open atheist and nearly half as long as an openly gay man, the Word still imperceptibly slips from my lips at the odd moment or two.
In the biblical text, Moses must become a storyteller. In this week's parashah, Ki Tetzei, he stands at the edge of the desert and faces the Israelite people, who gaze over his shoulder toward the promised land.
Surveys reveal a disturbingly large number of American Jews who feel disconnected from their Jewish identity. How painfully sad! In response, and with the High Holy Days just around the corner, let me share what being Jewish means to me.
Feed a hungry person. The early followers of Jesus were in no social position to eliminate poverty or overturn the economic system of the Roman Empire. They could feed hungry people. Ending hunger is overwhelming. Growing produce for hungry people is not.
We may be pursuing justice, but loving-kindness is pursuing us. As we chase after our ideals, as we rightfully cry out to help give birth to the world that we know is possible, may we also let chesed not only pursue us but catch up to us. May we let her wrap us in her fierce embrace as she opens our hearts.
In Ferguson and across St. Louis, one year ago, I met several spiritual leaders who were facing just such a moment. Women and men alike stood before God and asked for wisdom in August 2014.
See, look, pay attention, the Torah commands us, because actually seeing is hard and complicated, and requires extraordinary effort to battle both external and internal distractions.
Stand on one foot, and recite the words: "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." Lean on something or someone if you need to. Do it alone or with other people. Say it in whatever language you want -- whatever language speaks to your heart.
When we act alone, a purpose-driven Jewish life can lend itself to individualism. When all I care about is how well I am living my purpose, I may see other people as an obstacle to self-fulfillment.
The Hebrew Bible is not egalitarian or democratic in 21st-century terms. It is rife with violence, prejudice and patriarchy. And yet, we get glimpses, precious insights of what might be, what could be, as generations of living with biblical interpretation unfold.
The central point Paul wishes to drive home is that Christians ought to be a people of hope. It is to hope that God has called us (1:15). This hope does not rest upon human effort or actualization; rather, it is according to God's infinite mercy (2:8-10).
The truth is that anyone who could be called "able-bodied" (or "able-minded") could at the next minute be not so. Our physical and mental abilities are extraordinarily fragile, and in every sense temporary.
As we read about and engage with the contentious issues that fill our Facebook feeds, and our other online and in-person conversations, we would do well not just to focus on factual disagreements, but to ask ourselves, "What are the values guiding this person's perspective?"
This week's text -- 2 Samuel 11:1-15 -- suggests that the phenomenon of ordinary people being asked to fight unnecessary wars initiated by people in power is not entirely modern
This week's Torah portion, Matot-Masei, contains violent passages from which most modern readers will want to disassociate ourselves. Many communities will choose to gloss over these passages cursorily, with discomfort if not embarrassment.
A year punctuated with tragedies around racial inequalities culminated in a burst of hateful violence during a Wednesday evening Bible study at the Mother Emanuel church. And as these nine faithful souls have been laid to rest, I have been struck by a refrain that many of my friends have been voicing.