Ask the Rabbi: What’s With Cutting Men’s Penises?

Rabbi Joseph Edelheit

This is part of an occasional series in which I pose a question to my rabbi, Joseph Edelheit. I don’t set it up, and I don’t give him a warning. I just turn on the recorder and ask the question.

I asked him this question last night, as we drove home from co-teaching a class at St. Cloud State University on anti-Judaism in the New Testament, particularly in the book of Hebrews.

This has been a question that’s been haunting me about Judaism for a while now. We’ve all got wacky practices in our religions — heck, I drink blood and eat flesh each week. But the severing of the penile foreskin seems to me wackier than most. In fact, I find it shocking that it’s still so prevalent — almost unanimous — among Jews.

Joseph didn’t skirt my question at all. In fact, I found his answer fascinating:

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To Love God Is To Love Flesh and Blood [Questions That Haunt]


I’m away from the blog this week, so I have the great honor of introducing one of my favorite theobloggers and authors, Richard Beck, to answer this week’s Question That Haunts:

Many thanks to Tony for hosting this great series, a series I follow every week. Many of the questions that haunt Tony’s readers haunt me as well. So it’s a great honor to get a chance to participate in this way. And blessings on Tony during his time away from his blog as he focuses on other writing projects.

Our question this week: What does it mean to love God more than anyone else and is this even a possibility?

Many of you follow Experimental Theology so you know I’ve been thinking about this question for a very long time. I’ve been mainly preoccupied with how love of God can become tragically dislocated and decoupled from loving others. My book Unclean is one attempt at unpacking the psychology driving that sad outcome, how it so often happens that Christians end up loving God against their neighbors.

To start, let’s tackle a bit of the question: “What does it mean to love God?”

Actually, I don’t think most people are talking about love when it comes to God. They are talking about obedience. The basic frame is this: If I love God I will obey and keep God’s commandments. To be sure, people do have affective experiences related to God, feelings we’d label as love or affection, but for the most part when people are talking about “loving God” they are talking about “obeying God.”

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Am I a “Liberal Christian” (According to Roger Olson)?

Roger Olson

Roger Olson recently posted a piece on why he’s not a “liberal Christian.” He said that he came to this conclusion after reading a bunch of liberal/progressive Christian blogs. Roger’s a great blogger, but one of his failings is that he never provides hyperlinks. This post is no exception. He doesn’t name the blogs or tell us who is a liberal blogger, in his opinion, and who is just getting over their fundamentalism (like he is).

Probably some readers think I’m hanging out on the far left, but you only need to read the comments to find a bunch of liberals who think I’m a raving conservative (on some issues). That’s why I’ve fought repeatedly to be listed among both the progressive Christian bloggers and the evangelical bloggers here at Patheos.

(Excursus: It bugs me that in the Patheos channel listings, “Evangelical” is its own category, but “Progressive Christian” is the name of the other channel. Why not “Evangelical Christian” or “Progressive.” This isn’t just a grammatical plea for parallel construction — I think it says something.

A lot of us know that neither “progressive” nor “liberal” is quite right. That’s why I waged a campaign to be called “Incarnational Christians.” Let the conservatives have “evangelical,” but let’s use a similarly theological signifier for ourselves.)

Since Roger doesn’t tell us who is who in his list, I’m left to guess about myself. I was never a fundamentalist, and I was only vaguely evangelical — anyone who attended Fuller Seminary when I was a student will tell you that my relationship with evangelicalism was an uneasy one. So I’m left to go through Roger’s rubric to see if I am, indeed, a “liberal.” Here’s his list, and my responses:

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Why Didn’t Jesus Miraculously Rescue Himself from the Cross? [Questions That Haunt]

As we approach Ash Wednesday and Lent next week, we’ve got a crucifixion question from Awadhesh Kumar Singh,

Why could Jesus not show the miracle of being saved from being crucified? Surely, he expected to be saved, as his last words show: “God, God, why have you forsaken me?”

Please give a crack at an answer, and I’ll post my response on Friday. You can see the entire series here.