Frog or Fish: How Much Do You want it?

Frog or Fish by Rabbi Brian 2017 – issue 13 of 40   The 77% Weekly Nourishing Spiritual-Religious Hunger  40/52 weeks a year   I thank you for reading. If you know of someone who might like this, please share. Not a subscriber yet? Sign up...
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To Be Ourselves

Written by Bill Johnson. A spiritual brother to Rabbi Brian and friend of Religion Outside The Box. http://billjohnsononline.com/blog/to-be-ourselves/ To Be Ourselves. “May we free ourselves, from ourselves so that we can be ourselves.”  Rabbi...
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About mathematics, love, metrics, and me.

About mathematics, love, metrics, and me.   Mathematics & Love For seven years, I was a high school mathematics teacher with a my job description of teaching mathematics to high school students.   But, really, I knew I had a much larger job: teaching...
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Got to laugh to keep from crying

You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying   After learning of some upsetting political news, I called a mentor of mine. He shut me down from obsessing about it by recounting something his father used to say. “You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying.”...
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Managing Expectations

As you might or might not know, I am an accomplished magician. Every year since 1979, I’ve gone to Tannen’s Magic Camp – first as a camper, then as a counselor, and now as a member of the senior staff. The best magicians will always let you know before you are fooled...
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Love the broken

Love What's Broken In the course of our getting acquainted, Ron, a new minister friend, made reference to Luther’s theology of the cross. He spoke about it as though it was something I knew. I interrupted him and admitted that I didn’t understand. “Can you explain it...
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Not Teaching A Lesson

To Not Teach a Lesson At the start of January, it was really, really slushy here in Portland, Oregon. We had 8 inches of snow and then some freezing rain. Then it got a little warmer. We got slush. Lots of slush. What follows is what I diaried that day (refined by my...
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How to be loving

How to be more loving I had a lengthy text exchange with a friend. A little editing was done to change the format to match that of a typical “advice column.”   Dear rB, You talk about loving and not being filled with hate. I remember this past summer you turned...
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God called me to be me: a rabbi

God called me to be me: a rabbi This article is a little different from the usual. There is no explicit moral at the end. I hope that this article – a theological coming out – inspires you nonetheless. 23 years ago, I was in my first year of...
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Spiritual Diet

We are told often about the importance of diet and exercise in our lives. I'd like to think about diet and exercise in a spiritual-religious context. With physical diet and exercise, we know that even if you aren't on a specific diet, you still eat. We know that even...
Read More

To Be Ourselves

Written by Bill Johnson. A spiritual brother to Rabbi Brian and friend of Religion Outside The Box. http://billjohnsononline.com/blog/to-be-ourselves/ To Be Ourselves. “May we free ourselves, from ourselves so that we can be ourselves.”  Rabbi...

read more

About mathematics, love, metrics, and me.

About mathematics, love, metrics, and me.   Mathematics & Love For seven years, I was a high school mathematics teacher with a my job description of teaching mathematics to high school students.   But, really, I knew I had a much larger job: teaching...

read more

Got to laugh to keep from crying

You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying   After learning of some upsetting political news, I called a mentor of mine. He shut me down from obsessing about it by recounting something his father used to say. “You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying.”...

read more

Managing Expectations

As you might or might not know, I am an accomplished magician. Every year since 1979, I’ve gone to Tannen’s Magic Camp – first as a camper, then as a counselor, and now as a member of the senior staff. The best magicians will always let you know before you are fooled...

read more

Love the broken

Love What's Broken In the course of our getting acquainted, Ron, a new minister friend, made reference to Luther’s theology of the cross. He spoke about it as though it was something I knew. I interrupted him and admitted that I didn’t understand. “Can you explain it...

read more

Not Teaching A Lesson

To Not Teach a Lesson At the start of January, it was really, really slushy here in Portland, Oregon. We had 8 inches of snow and then some freezing rain. Then it got a little warmer. We got slush. Lots of slush. What follows is what I diaried that day (refined by my...

read more

How to be loving

How to be more loving I had a lengthy text exchange with a friend. A little editing was done to change the format to match that of a typical “advice column.”   Dear rB, You talk about loving and not being filled with hate. I remember this past summer you turned...

read more

God called me to be me: a rabbi

God called me to be me: a rabbi This article is a little different from the usual. There is no explicit moral at the end. I hope that this article – a theological coming out – inspires you nonetheless. 23 years ago, I was in my first year of...

read more

Spiritual Diet

We are told often about the importance of diet and exercise in our lives. I'd like to think about diet and exercise in a spiritual-religious context. With physical diet and exercise, we know that even if you aren't on a specific diet, you still eat. We know that even...

read more

Anger Not Hate

Over the years, I have written a lot about ANGER. I have written about the proper ways to be angry. I have written about not taking in other people's anger. I have written about how even enlightened-minded folk have anger. I have written about the natural and...

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Towards Abundance

Living with gratitude. Living with abundance This is a LONG article. Please consider taking time to print this or carve out five minutes to read and reflect. It is an important article. It talks about living a religiously, spiritually fulfilled life. I am a big...

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FE(joy)AR

You might be scared. In many ways, it is a scary time. The future is uncertain. It feels very uncertain right now. I don’t need to convince you of how scared the world seems. You know that. What I want to talk to you about is our need to find joy amidst the fear. You...

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Hanukkah

Hanukkah The two most common questions I hear about Hanukkah are When is Hanukkah this year? What is the proper spelling of Hanukkah? After I answer these questions, I would like to explain that we are asking the wrong questions. The question we ought to ask about...

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What’s it worth?

What is it worth? For years, I have taught a gem from the Talmud that addresses worth: Who is rich? Whoever is happy with what they have. Pirkei Avot 4:1a Isn’t that brilliant? If you are content with what you have, you are wealthy. My students, in return, have taught...

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Be kind to yourself. And others.

Be kind to yourself. And others.  #wisdom_biscuit: Be forgiving. Of yourself. And others. I received a text message from my buddy, Fritz. It was typed in letters from the Hebrew alphabet. But it was neither Hebrew nor Yiddish; it was Ladino. Yiddish evolved from...

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Scary, not scared. And certain uncertainty.

#wisdom_biscuit: You deserve to be less scared.  Scary, not scared. And certain uncertainty. We live in a scary time. Of course it is scary. This is an election year, and the leadership of the most powerful country in the world is about to change. We are going from...

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God is not cisgender

#wisdom_biscuit: If you can easily put it in a box, it isn’t God. Terms The modern word cisgender means with the same gender from conception/birth. Cisgender is the opposite of transgender. The Latin prefix “trans” – as in the words transport, transition, and...

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Me in a dress in church

I used to regularly attend Sunday morning services at my friend Larry's church. Once he remarked that he thought it was wonderful that he could hear me singing the hymns along with everyone else. I said, "Larry, why would I not the sing the words of the hymns with...

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Discerning and Judging

Discerning and Judging Don’t always believe what you think In my classrooms, on either side of the board, there were always two little figures that I had cut out of paper. The letter “D” was written on one, and the letter “J” was written on the other. These two little...

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Apology from Organized Religion

I’m sorry. An Apology from Organized Religion AUTHOR’S NOTE: This is an update of something I wrote in 1998, the year I was ordained as a rabbi. I was searching for a different document on my computer, and, voila, I found this. I’ve edited a little. (I’ve gotten to be...

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Dealing with 💩 it.

Dealing with 💩. How to better tolerate life How to deal with bull, crap, bunk, drivel, gibberish, guff, hogwash, nonsense, rubbish, baloney, bosh, bunkum, flim-flam, hokum, hooey, malarkey, moonshine, phooey, and poppycock. In our lives, we must tolerate and accept a...

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Anger

Anger How to. How not to. We all sublimate. It’s just something that we as adults do. We sublimate our feelings, our emotions, and our actions. We neither emote nor lash out when we want to. There is a reason for this. There is a reason we all sublimate. We have to....

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Larry. Easter. Life after death. Jews. And me.

Larry. Easter. Life after death. Jews. And me. by Rabbi Brian Best friends I am on the phone with my best friend. He is a retired minister. Larry has preached the Gospel more than 62 years. He is the nicest man I know. I love him. I met Larry 18 years ago when he...

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How To Deal With Impossible People

The very first step The very first step of "how to deal with impossible people" is one that most of us forget. Answer the question: Is this something I want or need to do? Is this "impossible person" someone you have to deal with? If the answer is yes, then continue...

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Mystics. (You are one, most assuredly.)

Mystical Experiences Mystical experiences have been studied since the early 1900s. Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (later known as Ram Dass) famously studied them at Harvard University. It was their study of mystical experiences that led them to experiment with LSD....

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Justifying (my) Anxiety

Justified Anxiety “I moved to New York City for my health. I’m paranoid, and New York is the only place where my fears are justified.” — Anita Wise Until September 2015, I had a classroom to set up and run. Students coming and going, names to learn, procedures to...

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Enough

ENOUGH! In these wisdom_biscuits I write about various topics, including surrender, love, perseverance, and hope. I write about these topics so I can keep them in the forefront of my mind. After all, what better way is there to learn about something than by teaching...

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Your Anger? No, no thank you.

How to Handle Other’s Anger Don't take the gifts. This is a story I learned from my dear Buddhist friend, Nagy. I published it, without the commentary back in 2011: A woman's son left her to become one of the Buddha's disciples. She confronted the Buddha and showered...

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God is. God is not. And you.

  The 77% Weekly 40/52 weeks a year of spiritual nutrition RabbiBrian & Religion-Outside-The-Box   When say "this is something," we thereby limit the 'this' as synonymous with the something. Therefore, we ought take care using the verb "to be" when...

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Towards smiling inside

Dying/smiling inside, smiling/dying outside My friend Guff sent me a cartoon in four frames. The first frame shows a corpse-like body sitting up in bed. Next, the corpse-like body is standing in front of a closet filled with what look to be identical people suits. In...

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Diamonds or Virtues. Pick.

Father Tony<http://www.demellospirituality.com> believed that the shortest distance between two ideas or two people is a story. His tales were drawn from all sources and they spoke to all people. The following is an adaptation of a tale I heard from this...

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remember to shine, you aren’t superman!

Remember to shine, you aren't superman! Super You Batman, Wonder Woman, and Spiderman all have secret identities. They don’t want anyone to know who they really are. They present “normal” facades and pretend to be less than they are so they can fit in. Superman would...

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Intelligent Heretics: Choose (Faith)!

Intelligent Heretics: Choose (Faith)! Are you growing? I know I am. The words of Thomas Merton: “If the you of five years ago doesn't consider the you of today a heretic, you are not growing spiritually.” — Thomas Merton My theology feels far from the thoughts I had...

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Why you believe what you do…

Epistemology: why you believe what you believe (And how to game beliefs to work for you.) My son When my son was four, he announced that Santa wasn’t coming to our house. This was not because we don’t celebrate Christmas and Santa. We do. He knew exactly what...

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No Complaints

If you stop complaining, you might live with fewer complaints. The 21 Day No-Complaint Challenge Back in 2007, I realized something was odd. We had returned from a family cruise, and when I told people about it, I kept hearing myself tell stories only about what went...

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Responsible. Here. True.

Responsible. Here. True. (Answers to the first three questions of the Bible.) The first three questions of the Bible are of great significance to me. Before I continue, let me explain my thinking about the Bible, albeit quickly and (perhaps a little) crassly: no one...

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Make Friends Better

On the 10-year anniversary of the newsletter, in late July of 2015, I sent a quick email expressing my gratitude for all of the readers. And in it, I asked people to partake in a little exercise of thankfulness. I want to elaborate on this gratitude process which has...

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The Joys of Not Knowing

We know less than we thought. (Rejoice!)   About not knowing With the possible exception an audience at a magic show, most don’t like the feeling of not understanding how (or why) things happen. For this reason, many magicians are wise to craft their art as...

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Radical Sufficiency

Human nature seems such that we’re never truly satiated or satisfied with our life experiences. The status quo is never quite good enough. We want even our best moments to be repeated, repeated again and then improved. We want to live in an eternal, exaggerated state...

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Right, wrong, easy, hard.

Lao-Tzu, the Taoist philosopher responsible for Tao Te Ching is credited with these words: Unawareness of one's feet is the mark of a pair of shoes that fits. Unawareness of the waist is the sign of a belt that fits. Unawareness of right and wrong is a sign of a mind...

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Love

  L-O-V-E in four parts My best friend, Dr. Larry Keene, is a retired sociology professor and minister. We have performed countless weddings together. And, often, he gives a homily during the ceremony about the four components of love. Larry told me...

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Addicted

Our commonly discussed addiction include: Drugs Alcohol Cigarettes Shopping Internet / Electronics Food A simple, usable definition of addiction is “a compulsive behavior that gives short-term pleasure and is known to have long-term negative effects.” I don’t suffer...

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Think(less) Emotions

One night last winter, my wife and I put our then five-year-old daughter, Annie, to bed. We followed our typical bedtime routine, but unlike other nights, she was a bit upset when we left the room. We tagged teamed, going back in a few minutes later. Usually, after...

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A Fluid Relationship (without stereotypes)

A stereotype is a thought that may be adopted by a specific type of individual but that belief may or may not accurately reflect reality. Examples of stereotypes are Cheap Jews Jewish grandmothers Jewish mothers Police at donut shops The word stereotype comes from the...

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Helpless without love.

Innocents massacred in Paris. Black lives trivialized. Gun shootings. Undesired refugees drowned. Reactions to recent, horrifying current events run the gamut of negative emotions. Sadness, anger, and blame surface as do ridiculously simple explanations and...

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Believe in Dog!

Believe in Dog! This is the story I shared at the start of the High Holy Day service I ran. It is based on a joke that appeared in Field and Stream magazine and is also in a book by Anthony De Mello. A man trained his dog to fetch and retrieve almost anything. They...

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Anxcitement

Turning anxiety into excitement. Part two. I recently wrote an article recently about how we can turn anxiety into excitement. In summary: Physiologically, anxiety and excitement physiologically are quite similar (sped-up heartbeat, shallow breathing, sweating), but...

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Bonus Issue: Celebrating ROTB

Bonus Issue I want to share a celebration! The meaningful Bar Mitzvah service I ran for James Franco got a glowing write up in the Jewish Journal. This experience got me thinking about a lot of things. (One of which is that I have been thinking about celebrity and how...

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Carpe Diem

Here is video that my uncle Ira took in 1982. It's nothing you need to see. It shows me eating lunch with my cousin Josh. My sister and cousin Leslie are in the video. As are my father, mother, and Aunt Linda. https://youtu.be/Y7l-aACIIwY I don't remember any of this....

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Q
&
A

“Do you need another email?”

No. You get enough emails already. Probably you don’t need one more email. In fact, you probably need to get fewer emails, not more.

“Do I really have time to read a weekly newsletter about spiritual-religious health? Might signing-up for this newsletter make me feel guilt in some way? What’s the catch?

Think about my 10-year old and his guitar lessons. He practices, if I exagerate, 30 minutes a week total. His lesson is 30 minutes a week. So, all told, he touches a guitar fo an hour a week. Now, think about you and your spiritual practice. Might you consider reading the newsletter to be your guitar lesson. What you are getting by subscribing to the newsletter is the chance to spend 5-10 minutes 3-4 times a month to your spiritual practice. Do the math, you have 15-40 minutes of time you are starting at a screen to devote to your spiritual well-being. Also, as I know that people don’t learn in guilt, I am both dogma and guilt-free.

“Why 77% Weekly”

I send it every Monday morning, except the last Monday of the month. 52 weeks a year – 12 last Mondays = 40. 40/52 is 77%.The newsletter got it’s name. I think you work too much. Many of us do. (You probably agree.) So, I want to remind you that you only need a 77% to pass.

“I thank you?”

I really didn’t know what to put in that button. “I thank you” seems appropriate. After all, albeit small, you are trusting me. So, for that I thank you.