When Sexual Ideology Coopts Religion

As a gay man who has engaged a variety of religious traditions, my experiences have been – varied. While I’m heartened when a religious institution, congregation, denomination, etc. is “open and affirming”, that initial optimism can be quickly dampened if the acceptance morphs into “tokenism.” “This is our gay member,” someone says, showing you off to emphasize their open mindedness or largesse. Granted, I’ll take being a token and accepted over being rejected anyday. Yet what troubles me often is… Read more

Opening the Covenant

Jewish theology understands itself as the result of several, interconnected Covenants described in the Hebrew Scriptures. The biblical view of Covenant is similar to that of a contract, although a Covenant is much more solemn – it’s not a business arrangement, but a sacred relationship, much like a marriage. A Covenant binds two parties together, committing each to a set of responsibilities and obligations. There’s the Covenant with Abraham, then one with Noah (but that’s intended for everyone, not just… Read more

HARD AND SOFT THEISM – THE REALITY OF OUR GOD/GODS

Hard Theism I know a lot of religious people. I have many Christian friends who have a deep, seemingly real relationship with Jesus and who speak about Jesus and God (the Christian one, that is) as if they are persons who they converse with regularly. I have Pagan friends who claim to be in communication with The Morrigan, the Dagda, or some other deity – and for these folks, The Morrigan is just as real as Jesus is for the… Read more

Calling forth the sacred from the mundane – The Jewish Wheel of the Year

Tonight, and this weekend, are Purim, a joyful Jewish holiday celebrating Queen Esther’s cunning, bravery, and willingness to save her people. Many Jews will celebrate in raucous fashion, with drinking and noise makers, with the reading of the Book of Esther, with costumes and satire. Holidays or Holy Days – are days selected to pull the sacred out of the mundane – to call forth special meaning from among the passing moments of time. Jews engage sacred time every Friday… Read more

Theological Method – Jewish Theology Pt. VIII – Last in Series

LISTENING TO THE WORLD – JUDAISM AS PHENOMENOLOGY  From a Jewish perspective, the foundation of spirituality is the human capacity of being called by something beyond ourselves, something that both speaks to our nature and is yet embedded there. In moments of quiet honesty, we find ourselves with a given orientation – and that orientation offers itself up as an approach to our better selves – it is the voice of our own objective nature calling us toward fulfillment. We… Read more

Can we talk … about sex? Jewish theology Pt. VII – Sexual Ethics

Can we talk? I mean, really … can we dialog … about sex? This post will be slightly difficult, because many Jews differ with Christians (and vice-versa) about the meaning of human sexuality and sexual ethics. I know, I know … but let’s take things one step at a time … at least for the sake of mutual understanding. When we’re done, I welcome your questions, objections, and insights – please, feel free to comment. I want to remind the… Read more

A Jewish Social Vision – Jewish Theology, Pt. VI

Jewish theology has abundant philosophical and ethical principles pertaining to society, culture, economics, and human interaction. The Hebrew Scriptures, and other Jewish sacred writings, offer a myriad of teachings aimed at ordering society according to justice and mercy. On a personal note, having formally studied both Catholic Social Teaching and Jewish theology and social ethics, I can say that there is tremendous overlap. Both traditions share a similar set of principles, operate from similar foundations, and reach overlapping conclusions. There… Read more

Spirituality & Practice – Jewish Theology, Pt. V

Many Christians’ first (and sometimes only) encounter with Judaism is through the Gospels and Christian theology. However, the Gospels largely present a form of Judaism that largely no longer exists. Additionally, the Gospels present the Pharisees as Jesus’ Jewish foil, and therefore, many of the descriptions and stories have a somewhat polemical purpose. Much of Jesus’ ministry focused on a genuine spirituality that transcended legalism and ritual purity concerns – and often the legalism of the Pharisees was exaggerated as… Read more

Human Nature, Morality, & Salvation – Jewish Theology Pt. IV

If you’ve been reading along in this series of posts about the basics of a Jewish theology, thank you. I’m thinking there will likely be 3 or so more posts in this series after this one. Let’s turn our attention to Jewish ways of thinking about human nature, morality, and salvation. Again, my thoughts are colored by Reform and Liberal Jewish approaches to these topics, and I’m aware of the diversity of opinion within Jewish thought. Human Nature The opening… Read more

Our Source – God/Divinity – A Jewish Theology, Pt. III

Jewish theology is divided among the three broad subject headings of God, Torah, and Israel. Our last post discussed Torah. In today’s post we’ll discuss God from various Jewish perspectives. Reflecting on the nature of Jewish theology, I’ve started using the preposition, “a” in front of Jewish theology. There really isn’t a definitive Jewish theology, rather, there is a broad sense of Jewish history that has yielded interrelated, but non consistent theologies. Jewish theology is more akin to Wittgenstein’s concept… Read more

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