“Rational Doubt” Blog – Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School is a Christian institution that the Clergy Project's Rational Doubt blog has emulated with its own uniquely skeptical version.I'm proud to be included and grateful to Linda LaScola, the editor of the blog, for including my contribution.It begins with the answer to an implied question about the usefulness of the Bible as a source of morals: Anyone who thinks that the Bible is about morality does not truly understand what kind of document it is.The Bible (and … [Read more...]

A Resource Guide To The “Intactivist” (No Circumcision) Movement

I have received so many e-mails in response to my recent post about circumcision.  This is obviously a big issue for many people.  One of the greatest barriers to changing the mindset about it is that rabbis (and others) make people feel quite guilty and isolated as a result of their desire to avoid harming their newborn child.Well, there's not much we can do about guilt except to point out that there's absolutely no reason for otherwise modern, liberal Jews to observe this dubious " … [Read more...]

Warning! This Religion Will Require A God Upgrade!

Here’s a book review I’ve been working on.  The post is a little longer than usual....Rabbi Jamie S. Korngold has written a book called “The God Upgrade: Finding Your 21st-Century Spirituality in Judaism’s 5,000-Year-Old Tradition.”  Korngold, who is also known as  “The Adventure Rabbi,” puts forth a theology of a non-interventionist God who is basically just an experience, and certainly not a being of any kind.  In this she is typical of many of the liberal rabbis whom I know.  They do not b … [Read more...]

Reply To Aish Rabbi’s “Open Letter To The Atheist Community”

Between busy-ness at work, some ill health and time with family, I have not been able to post recently.  During that time I’ve occasionally worked on this rather long post.Rabbi Adam Jacobs, director of the Aish Center in Manhattan, has written “An Open Letter to the Atheist Community.”  I am going to reply in full and send it to him.  Let’s see what happens! … [Read more...]

Good Pointers For Advancing The Non-Theistic Message

I’m not the type to give tips to my fellow non-theists and secular humanists.  We all share about 99% of our intellectual DNA even if our styles are different.  So while I wouldn’t have written something like it, I really want to recommend Phil Zuckerman’s post in (GASP!) the Huffington Post about the mistakes that atheists make.The wise professor enumerates them, adding some good suggestions; they are pointers that I will definitely keep in mind (and they fit my approach): … [Read more...]

So Now I’m A Taurus?

I went to bed a Gemini and I woke up a Taurus.  My life is a lie.All kidding aside, I’ve always had an interest in the history of astrology and its uses in art and culture.  It goes back to the first time I visited the Beit Alfa synagogue in the Jezreel Valley.  Its mosaic floor zodiac is a masterpiece of cultural syncretism and even features the sun god, Helios, in its center.As for the “science” of astrology, I’ll let Carl Sagan, of blessed memory, deal with that.  Since this was filmed … [Read more...]

Relax, There Are Plenty Of American Jews

In 1990, Jewish Federations released the results of the National Jewish Population Survey with its infamous statistic that intermarriage had hit an all time high:The 1990 NJPS is best remembered for one number: 52 percent. This was the study's estimate of the intermarriage rate (counting marriages between 1985 and 1990) for individuals born as Jews. This contrasted sharply with intermarriage rate estimates of 44 percent for marriages between 1975 and 1984, 25 percent for 1965-1974, and 9 … [Read more...]

Chanukah: The Sequel, Or, How The Maccabees Mucked Things Up

Well people are going to start thinking I’m some kind of Chanukah scrooge, but one of the reasons I’m a Secular Humanistic Jew is my love of history.  I’m simply more interested in getting as close to the true stories behind the legends than I am in going along with the fictions. … [Read more...]

Taking Chanukah Too Seriously

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, chieftain of the Reform movement, has gotten himself in quite the tizzy over Howard Jacobson’s innocuous Chanukah article last week in The New York Times.  First let’s look at some of what Jacobson wrote: … [Read more...]

Ten Commandments Revisited

Some east Texas yahoo is putting forward legislation to allow the ten commandments to be displayed in public schools.  He states the usual silliness:"This is necessary to protect teachers who have the desire to establish that the country's historical background is based on Judeo-Christian traditions," he said. "This might be a reassuring step to the people that we are wanting to maintain and hold on to those historical findings of how our country was founded."And anything that helps build … [Read more...]