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Medium 9781574411836

Questions Secular Humanists Never Ask

Robert Flynn University of North Texas Press PDF

Questions Secular Humanists

Never Ask j

Since there is no God, who is to blame for the bad things done in the name of religion?

If I get my credit card bill and need to express my surprise, whose name do I use? Kurt Vonnegut!

Since we don’t have God-words, how will I know if I speak in a religious way? Do humanists have glossalalia? Is John Kenneth Galbraith an example?

When humanists go to AA meetings, what higher power do they recognize?

Can a humanist be an alcoholic? Why would a humanist be an alcoholic?

If I have to take an oath, to whom do I swear? Ted Turner?

Betty Friedan?

If humanists believe that thinking for one’s self, using reason as a guide, is the best way to serve human interests, why haven’t we tarred and feathered the Supreme Court? The Department of Justice? Congress?

If we don’t have a creed, how do I know that what I believe is okay? What about my wife? She has some really freaky ideas.

If a “Voice of Reason” can save the world from destruction, why is it ignored as thoroughly as the Sermon on the Mount?

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Medium 9780253020475

7 “Let’s Start with the Big Ones”: Numbers, Thin Description, and the Magic of Yiddish at the Yiddish Book Center

Michal KravelTovi Indiana University Press ePub

Joshua B. Friedman

TO ENTER the gorgeous, multimillion-dollar facility of the Yiddish Book Center, located on the bucolic campus of Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, visitors open a heavy set of wood doors and walk through an entryway upon which can be read a slightly altered version of the famous quote by Yiddish linguist Max Weinreich: “Yiddish is magic—it will outwit history.”1 Passing through another set of doors, they are welcomed by a docent, usually an older retiree, or a work-study student from one of the area’s colleges within the region’s five-college consortium.2 After perhaps a bit of small talk, they are shown to a small room with a flat-screen television embedded into one wall. The room’s other walls, each painted in deep, matted shades of blues and reds, display museum panels that briefly summarize the center’s work of language and culture rescue—its now famous efforts to salvage the world’s Yiddish books, and its more recent attempts to record oral histories, promote the translation of Yiddish literature, and organize Yiddish language and Jewish cultural education programs, especially for younger generations of students. Surrounded by these panels are three rows of comfortable, upholstered wood benches, the kind that a religious institution in a different context might have used as pews.

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Medium 9780819854438

Thirty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

Daughters Of St Paul Pauline Books and Media ePub

Thirty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time—Year A


Matthew 25:14–30


“Should you not then have put my money in the bank…?”

During my sophomore year at college my personal life was in disarray and my studies undisciplined. At one point I forgot that I had a test to study for. What a shock when I sat down in the classroom that morning! As I recall, the test consisted of about ten short essay questions. I think I answered three. The professor gave me an F and commented sadly, “If you had only written something instead of leaving all those blanks, I could have given you some credit.”

I think that’s what Jesus means when he tells the parable of the talents. If only the third servant had done something! Almost anything! Instead, he did nothing at all! That’s why he was cast out.

What does this parable mean for us? It might mean doing more, but on the other hand our days may be very full, so it could be a question of doing one or two things better. Or this might be the time to launch a project we’ve dreamed about, for which we don’t feel quite ready. Sometimes waiting to “be ready” means never to start at all. A priest I know likes to quote the line from G. K. Chesterton, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” When it’s a religious and/or humanitarian project, something is usually better than nothing.

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Medium 9780819854421

Ninth Week of Ordinary Time

Daughters Of St Paul Pauline Books and Media ePub

Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time—Year A


Matthew 7:21–27


“…the one who does the will of my Father…”

With these words Jesus gave us the key to discerning which path to follow in life. But it is not so easy to apply these criteria. Sometimes others may try to entice us into following a path of evil. But usually our options are confusing because they all appear to be good to a greater or lesser extent. Becoming a nurse or a teacher are both good options. Some people do extraordinary things in the parish or school and want others to join them. Groups of friends can welcome others into their midst for social, religious, or productive reasons, all of which have good purposes. So how can we discern the will of the Father in heaven?

Here are three clues. First, the Father’s will is not about outward show or splendid accomplishments. “Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?” No, we have a quiet assurance that no matter what, this is what I am meant to do, what I was born to be. I know this in the deepest core of my being where my desires meet God’s desires.

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Medium 9781574414363

15. We Are the Only Alternative

Mary Beth Rogers The University of Chicago Press ePub


We Are the Only Alternative

San Antonio, 1986

“Most people have come into our communities to destroy them . . . the Klan . . . the dope dealers . . . the developers. . . . The people have looked to their ministers to defend and protect them.”1

The speaker is the Reverend Nehemiah Davis, the distinguished black pastor of the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Fort Worth. The setting is the modern new Catholic chancery of the archdiocese of San Antonio. The audience is a group of about 60 Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, and Texas community leaders from eight Texas Industrial Areas Foundation organizations who are meeting to get to know each other better and determine how they can exert statewide influence as a network. Some of them have driven 13 hours from El Paso to be at the meeting, and several of the El Paso representatives speak no English. So the low rumble of simultaneous translation from English to Spanish accompanies the dialogue, which is about power and how to solidify it locally and leverage it statewide.

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Medium 9780819815620

An Evening Prayer

Sean M. David Pauline Books and Media ePub
Medium 9780971435223

All is Truth

Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF
Medium 9780253018670

6 Making New Jews: Maccabi in Czechoslovakia

Tatjana Lichtenstein Indiana University Press ePub

IN THE MONTHS PRECEDING THE 1936 OLYMPICS IN BERLIN, debates raged in several European and North American countries about whether or not their athletes should be allowed to boycott the Games. No country pulled out of the event, but individual athletes did. Some Jewish athletes decided not to participate; others traveled to Berlin with their non-Jewish team members.1 In Czechoslovakia that summer, audiences followed the boycott debate with great interest. Months earlier the Czechoslovak Jewish sports organization Makabi ČSR (Maccabi Czechoslovakia) had announced that its members would not participate in the Berlin Games.2 This decision was met with support in Jewish and non-Jewish circles.3 It might have gone unnoticed had it not been the case that some of the country’s top swimmers and water polo players belonged to the Jewish clubs Hagibor Praha/Prag, Bar Kochba Bratislava, and Maccabi Brno/Brünn. In addition, several other Jewish athletes, who belonged to non-Jewish clubs, were also members of the Olympic swim and water polo teams.4 Sports commentators believed that the Czechoslovak teams had a good chance of bringing home medals from Berlin. They predicted that the Jewish athletes’ withdrawal would weaken the national teams considerably.

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Medium 9780819845764

Prayers to Jesus, Way, Truth, and Life

Margaret Kerry FSP Pauline Books and Media ePub

The goal of the Pauline Family is to live Jesus Master, Way, Truth, and Life. It is how Jesus identifies himself in the Gospel: “You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am” (Jn 13:13). To his disciples he adds: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). Centering our life in Jesus as Master is more than a devotion; it embraces, permeates, and invigorates our whole person. Jesus wants us to look to him for everything, just as in ancient times students attached themselves to great teachers—absorbing their teachings, imitating their manner of living, and drawing strength from their company. As Christians called to live Christ and share Christ with others, we first must apprentice ourselves to him who is the Master of life.

Human beings are created in the image and likeness of God, and this is most profoundly evident in our faculties of mind, will, and heart (our abilities of reason, choice, and love). In our adherence to Jesus as Way, Truth, and Life, we imitate him, believe in him, live of his life of grace, and go forth as he did to proclaim to all people the Good News of salvation. “I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (Jn 13:15).

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Medium 9780819871503

IX. Resting in God’s Heart

Luis Martinez Pauline Books and Media ePub

The holy Gospel relates that after the apostles first went out on their apostolic mission, Jesus said to them: “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while” (Mk 6:31). The Gospel tells us nothing of how they took that rest, but we can easily conjecture what peace, love, and happiness that secret, intimate retreat with Jesus must have held for them.

On some occasions in life, God approaches the soul and speaks similar words, inviting it with immense tenderness to rest sweetly within his divine heart and—dare I say it?—asking it to allow him to rest in it.

Heaven is complete rest in God, because earth is always a place of labor, vicissitudes, and sorrow. The soul sighs to be freed from the anxieties of this life, as Saint Paul desired: “. . . [M]y desire is to depart and be with Christ” (Phil 1:23). But God, the divine friend, is pleased to grant to souls that love him an experience of beatitude on this earth, in the heaven of his heart—is not that incomparable heart a heaven?—by inviting them to the repose of purity, love, and peace within himself.

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Medium 9780819833891

8. Under the Rays of the Sun

John Udris Pauline Books and Media ePub


Under the Rays of the Sun

I see myself as a feeble little bird, with only a light down to cover me; I am not an eagle, yet I have an eagle’s eyes and an eagle’s heart, for in spite of my extreme littleness, I dare to gaze upon the divine Sun, the Sun of Love, and my heart feels within it all the eagle’s aspirations.213

THIS SUBLIME PARABLE appears in Thérèse’s autobiography, bringing together each aspect of her fearless trust and boundless confidence. The many strands of Christian parrhesia are woven together in this one striking illustration, which Thérèse herself refers to as “the story of my little bird,”214 and which poignantly depicts her characteristic understanding of living by grace.

The parable was originally part of a letter written to her sister Marie, in response to her request for some reflections during what was surely to be Thérèse’s last retreat. Marie’s letter is itself revealing and helps to set the scene for the answer she is given.215 In it she asks to be let into “the secrets of Jesus to Thérèse.” Marie wants to be allowed an insight into what she senses is the privileged relationship her godchild shares with the Lord. She desires to love him in the same way. Significantly, she draws a direct comparison between the trusting relationship Thérèse enjoys with Jesus and the one this youngest sister once shared with their father:

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Medium 9781442229150


Pro Ecclesia Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Paul J. Griffiths

Richard Norris’s Song of Songs was the first volume to appear (in 2003) in The Church’s Bible, a series of commentaries “designed to present the Holy Scriptures as understood and interpreted during the first millennium of Christian history,” as Robert Wilken, the editor of the series, then put it (vii). This purpose applies to all the volumes in the series (two more, on 1 Corinthians and Isaiah, had appeared by the summer of 2008), and Norris applies it to the Song in the following way: “This volume is intended to illustrate Christian exegesis of the Song of Songs in the Church of the first six centuries and of the Latin Middle Ages” (xvii). To this end the volume contains the following elements.

First, there is a brief introduction (xvii–xxi) to the tradition and range of Christian interpretation of the Song. Second, two complete English versions of the Song are presented in parallel columns, one made from the Greek of the Septuagint (LXX), dating from perhaps the second century B.C., and the other from the Latin version (Vulgate) made by Jerome at the end of the fourth century A.D., which became the standard text for the West for a millennium. The two English versions are necessary because the mentioned Greek and Latin versions (there were others) frequently, and sometimes significantly, differ one from another; and since some of the commentaries Norris renders are responding to the Greek and some to the Latin, it is essential for readers to have before them renderings of both so that the detailed discussions of verbal particulars often provided by the commentators might make sense. Norris divides his double translation of the Song into sections according to breaks in sense (deciding when these occur is itself a difficult matter), and he follows each section with brief (usually less than a page) summary comments of his own on its themes and difficulties. This is the volume’s third element.

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Medium 9780253002167

2 - The Christology of Niceness: Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Jesus Novel, and Sacred Trivialities

Leigh E Schmidt Indiana University Press ePub


Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Jesus Novel, and Sacred Trivialities


It is taken for granted today that niceness is one of Jesus' defining traits; but not everyone is happy about this fact. Paul Coughlin recounts in his self-help book, No More Christian Nice Guy (2005), how he grew up with the iconic image of “Jesus [as] the Supreme Nice Guy,” an image that he blames for creating passive and spineless Christian men. “We choke on a Victorian Jesus, a caricature that has turned men into mice.” Instead, he calls for a dissident Jesus, one who loves a “good fight.”1 This dismissal of niceness is not unique to the evangelical Christian press. The literary critic Terry Eagleton, in his introduction to the Verso edition of The Gospels, insists that Jesus is “no mild-eyed plaster saint but a relentless, fiercely uncompromising activist,” who “is interested in what people do, not in what they feel.”2 Where Eagleton and Coughlin want a more virile Jesus, one more invested in action than feeling, the Pauline turn in recent continental theory finds Jesus a rather pathetic figure, not worthy of serious analysis. Giorgio Agamben, for instance, begins his study of Paul's Letter to the Romans by quoting Jacob Taubes's wry observation that “Hebrew literature on Jesus presents him in benevolent terms—as ‘a nice guy.’”3 Jesus' niceness serves a productive function: it creates Paul's complexity as a messianic thinker within a Jewish tradition. As an iconic figure of niceness, Jesus still sacrifices for the sake of others: in this case, for the sake of Paul's theological depth.

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Medium 9780253006714

8. The Call to Responsibility

Brian Gregor Indiana University Press ePub

As a result of the preceding chapter, we can see how the category of the penultimate allows us to affirm human capability yet also discern the limits of human capability and avoid a synergistic confusion of divine and human agency. The ultimate word is pronounced from beyond the self and its immanent possibilities and capacities, but within the horizon of the penultimate the self is homo capax. We can therefore identify the capacities that Ricoeur discusses in his phenomenology of l’homme capable—speaking, acting, narrating, and assuming responsibility—as penultimate capacities. If time permitted it would be worthwhile to examine how Ricoeur’s investigations of these themes are manifest in the life of the faithful self. I will limit our analysis, however, to one aspect of Ricoeur’s ontology of the self, namely conscience, arguing that conscience should be interpreted as a penultimate capacity, both with regard to the call of faith as well as the call to ethical responsibility. In particular I focus on two of Ricoeur’s arguments regarding conscience: first, that it is an ontological presupposition of ethical responsibility; second, that it is the anthropological presupposition of justification by faith.

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Medium 9780253338112

3 Reaching for Utopia: Building Socialism and a New Jewish Culture

Zvi Gitelman Indiana University Press ePub

Subtly and without fanfare the Evsektsii and the party as a whole began to adjust their ideology to undeniable realities. Defining the tasks of the Evsektsii in 1918, Semion Dimanshtein asserted that, “as internationalists, we do not set any special national tasks for ourselves. . . . We are not . . . fanatics of the Yiddish language. There is no ‘Holy Yiddish’ (Yidish-hakoydesh) for us. . .. It is entirely possible that in the near future the richer languages of the stronger and more developed peoples will push aside the Yiddish language.. . . We Communists will shed no tears over this, nor will we do anything to obstruct this development.”1

By the mid-1920s most Evsektsii activists were singing a different tune, one called by the Communist Party. The party was encouraging the “flowering of the nationality cultures” and even inventing national alphabets for the Asian peoples who, until that point, had no written languages. The party and the state were investing in schools, theaters, newspapers, and magazines in non-Russian languages, including Yiddish. They insisted that governmental and even party activities be carried on in the languages of the ethnic groups involved. Stalin sanctioned the new policy with his famous definition of proletarian culture as “socialist in content, national in form.” For the Jews this meant the promotion of Yiddish and new cultural and economic progress. Evsektsii activists who envisioned a secular, socialist Yiddish future eagerly welcomed the chance to translate their dreams into reality. Now they had the backing of the party line and they hastened to take advantage of the funds, personnel, buildings, and other resources put at their disposal.

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