How Could God Have Allowed The Holocaust And Other Meaningless Questions

Back in September I wrote a response to Rabbi Alan Lurie’s HuffPost blog about how God is only hiding because we don’t know what to look for.  Lurie is a liberal “non-denominational” rabbi who is actually a very successful businessman and architect.  I am certain he applies sounder thinking to his business interests than to his teaching about God.

Last week he took up the topic of “How Could God Have Allowed the Holocaust?”  He began in the expected way: Continue reading

Some Thoughts About Islam (And The Israeli-Arab Conflict)

These days, it seems that most critiques of the Islamic world come from American and European wingnuts.  Pamela Geller literally makes my skin crawl with her imbecilic bombast about a Sharia takeover of the U.S. and the dangers of a mosque near Ground Zero.  David Horowitz hypocritically names his anti-Islamic organization “The Freedom Center” while he endorses a U.S. constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.  And don’t get me started on the fundamentalist Christian right and their ongoing religious war with Islam.  Up until now it is these folks and their knuckle-dragging followers who have shouted the loudest about the problems with Islam. Continue reading

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, not much has changed.

The Real Story Of Christmas

As my daughters will tell you, I love complaining about how when I was a little kid we only had six television stations.  That made Christmas season really special even for us little Jewish children because that’s when they would broadcast cartoons at night!  Okay, so the ones about Frosty and Rudolph were pretty lame, but there were also the Grinch (Chuck Jones! Boris Karloff!) and, of course, Charlie Brown. Continue reading

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 the morals of our young people would be helpful,” Flynn said. “For too long, we’ve forsaken what our Judeo-Christian heritage has been. Our rights do come from God, not from government.”

It’s clear to me that these particular commandments are not so special or even the best choice for a top ten list of relevant moral imperatives.  Yet I am frequently asked about their centrality and challenged with claims that society would just fall apart without them. Continue reading