Shabbat Funerals And Other Transgressions

On Monday morning I attended a meeting of the Michigan Board of Rabbis. Like most big city rabbinical groups, the Michigan Board of Rabbis is really just a board of some rabbis. There are no Orthodox rabbis involved.When I arrived, the chairperson took me aside and told me that he was sorry for the late notice, but there would be an agenda item relevant to me. Someone had requested a discussion about “Funerals on Shabbat.” I may be new here, but I didn’t just fall off the matzah truck. There … [Read more...]

Time To Panic! A New Survey On Jews Is Out

The Pew Research Center has released its report on patterns of Jewish identity and the leaders of the establishment Jewish community are pushing the panic button.Here are some highlights from the New York Times:The intermarriage rate, a bellwether statistic, has reached a high of 58 percent for all Jews, and 71 percent for non-Orthodox Jews — a huge change from before 1970 when only 17 percent of Jews married outside the faith. Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do … [Read more...]

Magical Thinking In Reform Judaism

As a (still) dues-paying member of the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, I receive the magazine “Reform Judaism.” Some of the articles are useful and interesting like a recent one about “Reinventing the Synagogue.” Some are even spot-on historically accurate like the article about the Exodus that I commented upon in a previous post.Others are more problematic.Almost two years ago I took the magazine to task for running a piece by a lay leader who sees angels in the … [Read more...]

The Outcast Of Beauregard Parish

When a rabbi decides that she or he is a nontheist there is a warm, accepting professional home.  When the same thing happens to a preacher - and most especially a Pentecostal preacher - well, the option to stay in the career track are considerably reduced (eliminated).Jerry DeWitt is a brave ex-preacher who came out as an atheist in Louisiana.  His story is the subject of a documentary that is in the works and you can be a part of making it happen.  The filmmakers have launched a Ki … [Read more...]

National Day Of Prayer? #ChoosetoACT Instead!

This year’s presidential proclamation of a National Day of Prayer was notable in its mention of the desire of a growing number of Americans not to pray:On this National Day of Prayer, we give thanks for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience.Of course it then goes on to list all of the wonderful things we should do in our prayers and turns into a mish-mash naming “ … [Read more...]

Quote Of The Day

“You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”― Anne Lamott … [Read more...]

The New York Times Asks: Is Atheism A Religion?

In the New York Times’ latest installment of “Room for Debate,” writers discuss the question, “Is Atheism a Religion?” The exchange was inspired by Susan Jacoby’s recent piece, “The Blessings of Atheism” and by the new efforts of a couple of British non-believers to establish an actual atheist church, “The Sunday Assembly” that plans to meet monthly. All of the contributors come to the obvious conclusion that no, atheism is not a religion.I proudly display Richard Dawkins’ scarlet “A” in this … [Read more...]

A Universe Not Made For Us

I just ran across this wonderful video narrated by the late Carl Sagan.  I would be hard-pressed to find a better explanation of why I'm a secular humanist.  Enjoy! … [Read more...]

How Far Can We Extend Our Concern?

There is no greater tension for a Humanistic Jew than the deep-rooted dichotomy of Jewish particularism and humanistic universalism.While this is not a uniquely Humanistic Jewish issue – the Reform movement has famously struggled with it since its inception – I do believe that we experience it in a unique manner. At least according to some, secular humanism works for a time when we will eliminate the barriers between and among us. It’s a one-world vision. … [Read more...]

Making Humanism Relevant

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, NY Times religion writer Samuel Freedman penned a piece called “In a Crisis, Humanists Seem Absent”:The funerals and burials over the past two weeks have taken place in Catholic, Congregational, Mormon and United Methodist houses of worship, among others. They have been held in Protestant megachurches and in a Jewish cemetery. A black Christian youth group traveled from Alabama to perform “Amazing Grace” at several of the services.This illustration of … [Read more...]