Religious leaders ‘pray for Boston,’ contemplate evil in the world
As news reports out of Boston continue to evolve from Monday’s bombing, religious and nonreligious leaders and activists contemplated the existence of evil and good.
‘Pray for Boston’: Prayers stream in after Boston Marathon bombing
Social media sites lit up Monday with prayers flowing in for the victims of Monday’s bombing at the Boston Marathon.
Calling all ‘free-range Jews’
It’s official: Judaism isn’t a religion. Or, it isn’t only a religion.
That’s the argument of some leading Jewish educators, who say American Jews need to look hard at their beliefs and practices and embrace their reality. Which is that Jews strongly identify as Jewish, but that identity is in many ways a non-religious one.
Getting Jews to take seriously this non-religious religious thing is the new goal of groups like the Partnership for Jewish Life and Learning, which on Sunday will put on the Washington area’s largest annual Jewish educational event. As many as 800 people are expected to come for a whirlwind of classes on Jewish life, including those on comedy, cooking, the environment, Israeli politics and medical ethics, among dozens of others. (Full disclosure: I’m presenting one of the classes, on religion and journalism).
Sure, lots of people think of Judaism and already think non-religion — “Seinfeld,” lox and bagels, you know the deal. But Partnership CEO James Hyman says Americans “trivialize” non-religious aspects of religion. We talk about it, but we don’t take it seriously.
The argument of Jewish leaders like Hyman is that non-religious aspects of religion are important and deep. Things like Jewish drumming or Jewish genetics can help people form strong connections to one another and offer important avenues into Jewish values.
A program like this reflects the Jewish community’s knowledge that many American Jews are slipping from its organized aspects. Jews are likely to hold tightly to their identity as members of the Jewish community, but when compared with almost every other faith group, they rank near the bottom on most measures of religiousness: belief in God, importance of religion in one’s life, attendance of religious services, frequency of prayer.
But there is a new generation of Jewish leaders such as Hyman who are working to embrace the people they call “free-range Jews.” Such people, they say, don’t want to join anything or commit to specific beliefs, but they very much want to be Jewish and explore what that means.
“We have a very broad definition of what it means to be Jewish,” Hyman said.
I’m looking forward to meeting some of these free-range Jews on Sunday and will report back!
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Rev. Luis Leon reveals response to his reference to gays in presidential inauguration
Rev. Luis Leon said that he received “hundreds and hundreds of e-mails” about his reference to gays in the benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration.
In Sunday's sermon at St. John’s, the historic Episcopal church across from the White House, Leon said, “You’ve heard my sermons, so I know it didn’t surprise you, but it surprised a lot of other people.”Continue reading this post »
‘The Bible’ trending after Sunday night History channel premiere
But it’s also not every day that a Hollywood power couple produces a 10-hour miniseries taking viewers from the Garden of Eden to the Book of Revelation, all in HD.
Reality TV producer Mark Burnett (of “Survivor” fame) and actress wife Roma Downey’s series, “The Bible,” premiered Sunday night on the History channel and took viewers from “In the beginning” to the Ten Commandments. You can watch a clip from behind-the-scenes below.Continue reading this post »