Michael Kay

Michael Kay has written 14 posts for Thinking through my fingers

What my mother taught me: thoughts on the ‘golden rule’ of morality

Today my mother, Carol Kay, would have turned 55. It is now nearly five months since she died. This article is based on a thought I gave over at a small gathering back in January to mark my mother’s ‘shloshim’, in Jewish tradition the end of the first 30 days after her funeral. For more … Continue reading

Apply the why: what can we learn about humans from a toaster?

In most areas of enquiry, whether in the humanities, the sciences, or any other discipline, the questions we ask determine the knowledge we gain about our chosen subject; the art of asking questions is therefore very important. As we only learn anything new in these areas if we decide to research and ask questions about … Continue reading

When deforestation was a good thing: eighteenth century attempts to change the American climate

Nowadays, deforestation, chopping down loads of trees without replacing them, is generally considered to be detrimental to the local and global climate. But it was not always this way.  Today we know that trees and forests, apart from providing nice habitats for a vast variety of species of wildlife, are important carbon sinks: they scrub … Continue reading

Right, responsibility, or reflection? What does it mean to call the Jews ‘the chosen people’?

A well-known rhyming couplet, attributed to the British journalist William Norman Ewer, goes: “How odd of God, to choose the Jews.” The notion of the Jews as having been ‘chosen’ by God is a very grandiose statement, and those who are not Jewish, and see the claim as arrogant or patronising, can wonder what justifies … Continue reading

A tale of two ‘ologies (or: what might we learn about God from a toaster?)

I don’t believe that technology and theology are very often compared, but I want to make the rather unusual connection between these two ‘ologies of my title, and apply our understanding of the concept of technology to the world of theology. I want to argue that the ways in which we perceive our technological artefacts … Continue reading

Darwin and the Rabbis: some nineteenth century Jewish responses to Darwinian evolution

It often seems as if we, in the twenty-first century, have inherited a certain idea about how Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory was received in the nineteenth century. Prevalent among the popular narratives is the idea that the institutions of ‘religion’, particularly the Church, and the institutions of ‘science’, the societies of the men of science, … Continue reading

Off the ladder, into the tree: models of religious growth in Judaism

The metaphor of a ladder is employed often within orthodox Judaism as a way of visualising an individual’s religious journey through life. I believe that the use of this model reveals an all-or-nothing approach to personal ideology and practice which I don’t feel accurately represents the religious experience of most individuals. I think that a … Continue reading