"Caught in the spinning wheels of political change, I believe it is time for us all to take some inventory on our spiritual state. As a Catholic, I am often dismayed by some groups who exhibit an unchristian attitude towards others while simultaneously claiming to fight to preserve Christianity in a way that can be hateful and harmful to minority groups.
"A few years ago, in the midst of one of what I have come to call my 'hamster wheel' phases, the universe intervened. My computer crashed beyond repair, swallowing masses of work, irretrievably. A work situation went sour, closing off an avenue of professional satisfaction. Then I broke my leg while bicycling slowly through my neighborhood. What followed was surgery, hospitalization, new chunks of metal holding bits of my broken bones together and long, painful physical therapy.
"There is a story in Jewish tradition about a man who insults another man without realizing that the man is a prominent rabbi. When he does realize it, he is horrified and tries to apologize. He asks what he can do to make up for it. The rabbi tells him to take a feather pillow to the top of a hill, tear it open and let the feathers blow away.
"I went to the local town hall meeting with our State Representative, Buddy Carter. The small theater at the local college overflowed with people but not by a lot. Maybe 30 people were standing while another 150 were seated. It was 10 a.m. on a Thursday morning when most people in my largely working-class city are out working. Someone asked if Mr. Carter would vote to defund Planned Parenthood. He sidestepped the question, and the crowd began chanting — yes or no? Yes or no? He paused, waited for the din to subside.
Jeopardy contestant Rabbi Geoff Mitelman's TV appearance sparked viewer Mark Wagman to invite Nobel Laureate Roald Hoffmann to discuss the intersection of Religion and Science at Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth (AKSE) Congregation in Wilmington, Del. "'The aim of Scientists in Synagogues,' [Rabbi Geoff] Mitelman explained, “is to help Jews connect more to their Judaism through science.
The Photograph In My Hand
My mother, four years old, blond curls,
wearing a smocked dress, in a field of goldenrod,
her doll on her lap and her dog at her side.
Two years later, the girl in the photograph
would be backed up against a wall at school,
by kids in her class for refusing to say “Heil Hitler,”
and they would throw rocks, beat her up, call her Jude,
her dress would be torn, and her parents
would have to find a way to get her out of Germany....
"If the President chooses to speak out on this issue, and it’s debatable, in my view, whether or not he should, he better have something substantive to say. So please, Mr. President, what have you got for us? If you want such attacks to stop, tell us what role you have, or even could have, in stopping them.
"... since the original series was so ground-breaking, do we need a sequel? My answer of 'yes' comes out of Jewish liturgy. In a prayer that’s said every morning, we give thanks to God who 'Daily, continually, renews the work of creation.' On one level, it's an almost nonsensical statement. When we go to sleep, we know that when we wake up, everything will still be there, and be more or less the same. The world is not made de novo every day.
"... In the last few months especially, we Americans are becoming more and more familiar with risk assessment. ...how should we use statistical analysis? What is a fact? What’s more dangerous–a well-armed population, or one that’s not armed at all? I can’t help but feel that perhaps we’re viewing statistics from the wrong angle. Why are we so afraid of terrorists, or kidnappings, or mass shootings? Are we statistically likely to be killed by a terrorist? Killed by anyone?
What does it look like when one version of Judaism dies and another is born? Irwin Kula, President of Clal - The National Center for Learning and Leadership, joins Dan and Lex for a conversation about that question and much more. This episode represents Part I of a two-part conversation with Kula.