Category Archives: Belief

The Power of the Act

Abraham Joshua Heschel said, “The act teaches you the meaning of the act.” This is pure wisdom, but we have mostly counseled its reverse. We have tried to teach people the meaning first to see if we might coax them into the act. If we taught people to believe that God calls us to love…

Letting Beliefs Go

This morning I read this: A broad group of scholars is beginning to demonstrate that religious belief and factual belief are indeed different kinds of mental creatures. First of all, they have noticed that the very language people use changes when they talk about religious beings, and the changes mean that they think about their…

The God I Don’t Believe In

Last week I heard Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, the writer and scholar of the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, interviewed on the radio. He told a story that I haven’t forgotten. Rabbi Kushner was invited to a dinner for a class of young people preparing for their bar or bat mitzvah. Classes completed, they had come…

You Don’t Have to Be Good

The things people tell a minister after church. . . . Yesterday a woman I did not know spoke to me after church—she was there for a baptism. I heard about the church of her childhood, where “salvation” was attained by refraining from smoking and drinking and dancing and cursing. It was a rigid theology…

Atheists Doubt Too

Sometimes we imagine—those of us who try each day to believe—that it must be nice to be an atheist and be so sure. It must be easy, we think with some rue and a little envy, not to have to prove anything because you swear there’s nothing real beyond what you can prove. C.S. Lewis,…