Aronofsky’s Noah: from “Hope in Heaven” to “Hope in Grandchildren”

Friedman

You know the city Shurrupak, it stands on the banks of Euphrates? that city grew old and the gods that were in it were old.... In those days the world teemed, the people multiplied, the world bellowed like a wild bull, and the great god was aroused by the clamor. Enlil heard the clamor and he said to the gods in council, “The uproar of humankind is intolerable and sleep is no longer possible by reason of the babel.” So the gods agreed to exterminate humanity. Enlil did that, but Ea because of his … [Read more...]

Religious Mystic & Rational Humanist: The Mystical Humanism of Jeffrey Kripal

Dr. Jeffrey Kripal

For days, I had been participating in the annual Bengali celebration of the goddess Kali in the streets and temples of Calcutta (now Kolkata). One morning I woke up asleep, that is, I woke up, but my body did not. I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed, like a corpse, more or less exactly like the Hindu god Shiva as he is traditionally portrayed in Tantric art, lying prostrate beneath Kali’s feet. Then those “feet” touched me. An incredibly subtle, immensely pleasurable, and terrifyingly powerful energ … [Read more...]

The Life Tradition versus the Death Tradition in Christianity

ashes

A man died. The people who knew him gathered to share memories. Finally, a portrait was commissioned. But as generations passed, the painting did not seem fine enough. The heirs of the portrait, who had become wealthy, created a new golden frame, immense, carved with motifs from the portrait and encrusted with jewels. People began to feel that the old portrait of that dark fellow with the haunting eyes pulled the effect down. As it began to peel from age, they extended the frame inward. One day … [Read more...]

Becoming a Buddha, not a Buddhist

Dharma

This post is the second in a four-part series on “A Journey with Four Spiritual Guides: Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, and Ramakrishna.” Looking ahead briefly to the next post, liberals sometimes get anxious when Jesus is mentioned because of the many ways his message has been manipulated, abused, and used to harm others. As the old exasperated prayer goes, “Jesus, save me from your followers!” However, in my next post I hope to offer some different, potentially surprising angles on Jesus — "Rabbi Yeshu … [Read more...]

A Journey with Four Spiritual Guides: Krishna

Hindus

The Rigveda from the Hindu tradition is the oldest religious text still in continuous use, dating to more than 3,000 years ago. One of its well-known passages proclaims, “The wise speak of what is One in many ways.” In that spirit, the Indologist Wendy Doniger has joked that the only way to briefly answer the question, “Are Hindus monotheists or polytheists?” is to say yes “(which is actually the answer to most either/or questions about Hinduism.)” On one hand, there are lots of gods (which suppo … [Read more...]

“Atheism for Lent”: The Spiritual Practice of Doubt

A

A few months ago, I wrote a post on “Poetically Dwelling on the Earth as a Mortal,” which was in honor of my favorite undergraduate philosophy professor, James Edwards. Dr. Edwards was the most well-known, articulate, and matter-of-fact of atheist at my college. And suffice it to say that in the late 1990s in South Carolina there were very few “out” atheists. I had a few good friends in high school that were self-professed agnostics, but Dr. Edwards was — if not the first atheist I knew well — th … [Read more...]


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