This category contains 8 posts

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

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

Society in the sky: a seventeenth century attempt to redraw the constellations

We’re all more or less familiar with the constellations in the night sky; we all understand that their names and shapes are ancient in origin. However, these names and shapes have not always been uncontested, and some fascinating political, religious, and scientific motives have been behind attempts to reform the map of the stars. This … Continue reading

The right rites: the role of ritual in society and self

The nineteenth century saw developments in communications techniques and technologies which staggered and baffled contemporary observers. First, the telegraph gave people the unprecedented ability to send messages at the speed of light, then the telephone made this even more wonderful by allowing the transmission of actual speech, and finally wireless transmissions broadcast invisible messages through … Continue reading