Mourning. Memories. Blessings.

Mourning. Memories. Blessings. Aaron Panken was the rabbi at my home synagogue when I graduated from Tufts University. He jumped me through the hoops necessary to get into rabbinical school.  He died. Suddenly, in a plane crash. I am shaken, thrown off. Confused. When...

Authorized, or not?

Clown-walking with fins After scuba diving for the first time around the age of 15, I became a bit of an aficionado. Consequently, when I was vacationing and saw a friend in snorkeling gear, walking, horribly awkwardly, towards the water with fins on, I called out,...

Acceptance: better get used to it.

Michelle is driving me back to her house, where I left my car. We just had a lovely dinner. Conversation with her just flows; she is one of my no-filter-required friends. The 84-Freeway here in Portland is doing its impression of Los Angeles traffic. The right lane is...

Freedom from constraints. On an airplane. And in my soul.

My elbows in my blue sport coat touch my body just above my belt. My hands rest on my computer, on the tray table, above my jeans-wearing legs. My stomach feels awkwardly compressed. I feel physically constricted. Considering I am 35,000 feet in the air traveling at a...

Enough

I’m not a big theist. I don’t believe that there is a God controlling the weather.   This is not an article on theology. My book, podcasts, and more about God can be found here.   I don’t believe God controls the weather. But I do see the weather. I live in Portland,...

Practice

There is nothing that does not become lighter through habit and familiarity. – Shantideva   There is nothing that does not become easier through practice. Wonderful words from the great Shantideva. There is nothing that does not become easier through practice. If I...

Stats say you will like this

“Have To” Like This Story    Maggie and I were having coffee in the bakery that used to be the library of Northeast Portland – the neighborhood in which birthed Ramona and the pantheon of Beverly Cleary’s characters. Maybe pantheon is too strong of a word....

Fork them, I don’t like them.

Introduction “She holds her fork like this,” Annie explained to me as she bear-gripped the fork in her small, almost 9-year-old hand. “And, she pretends to talk like she is a princess.” We were sitting in a booth at our favorite pub, the Laurelwood. We are in the loud...

Patience, Anger, Compassion

They are exhausting. Children. My children. Children in general. Just exhausting. Don’t get me wrong; they are the moon and the sun, and I love them. It’s just that the entire world seems to revolve around them. I am a team player – I try to look out for...

Love is more than logic

You have a problem: you can't convince people that you are right. You've tried reason, arguing, logic, debating, and even pleading. And yet they don't go along with your thinking. Maybe you can get them to acquiesce while you hope for a later conversion, but that's...

Mourning. Memories. Blessings.

Mourning. Memories. Blessings. Aaron Panken was the rabbi at my home synagogue when I graduated from Tufts University. He jumped me through the hoops necessary to get into rabbinical school.  He died. Suddenly, in a plane crash. I am shaken, thrown off. Confused. When...

read more

Authorized, or not?

Clown-walking with fins After scuba diving for the first time around the age of 15, I became a bit of an aficionado. Consequently, when I was vacationing and saw a friend in snorkeling gear, walking, horribly awkwardly, towards the water with fins on, I called out,...

read more

Acceptance: better get used to it.

Michelle is driving me back to her house, where I left my car. We just had a lovely dinner. Conversation with her just flows; she is one of my no-filter-required friends. The 84-Freeway here in Portland is doing its impression of Los Angeles traffic. The right lane is...

read more

Enough

I’m not a big theist. I don’t believe that there is a God controlling the weather.   This is not an article on theology. My book, podcasts, and more about God can be found here.   I don’t believe God controls the weather. But I do see the weather. I live in Portland,...

read more

Practice

There is nothing that does not become lighter through habit and familiarity. – Shantideva   There is nothing that does not become easier through practice. Wonderful words from the great Shantideva. There is nothing that does not become easier through practice. If I...

read more

Stats say you will like this

“Have To” Like This Story    Maggie and I were having coffee in the bakery that used to be the library of Northeast Portland – the neighborhood in which birthed Ramona and the pantheon of Beverly Cleary’s characters. Maybe pantheon is too strong of a word....

read more

Fork them, I don’t like them.

Introduction “She holds her fork like this,” Annie explained to me as she bear-gripped the fork in her small, almost 9-year-old hand. “And, she pretends to talk like she is a princess.” We were sitting in a booth at our favorite pub, the Laurelwood. We are in the loud...

read more

Patience, Anger, Compassion

They are exhausting. Children. My children. Children in general. Just exhausting. Don’t get me wrong; they are the moon and the sun, and I love them. It’s just that the entire world seems to revolve around them. I am a team player – I try to look out for...

read more

Love is more than logic

You have a problem: you can't convince people that you are right. You've tried reason, arguing, logic, debating, and even pleading. And yet they don't go along with your thinking. Maybe you can get them to acquiesce while you hope for a later conversion, but that's...

read more

Meeting hate with love

I went with my family to Salem for a women’s march a few weeks ago.   There we were, with thousands of people right in front of the state capital.   Across the street, on the left, immediately across from us was a man with a little p.a. system preaching that we were...

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Loving even those we don’t like.

  Donald J. Love     A few points before the article:   •    If you think you are better off hating your enemies than loving them, this article is not for you. If that’s the case, here are other articles (1, 2, 3,) I have written about love that might be easier for...

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Spread the word

I'm a proud member of Religion Outside The Box – a Portland-nonprofit run by Rabbi Brian. I know the words "religion" and the title "rabbi" bring up some connotations, but I'm going to ask you not to back away. Rabbi Brian is very inclusive and far from dogmatic. He...

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Social Construct. The importance

  Social constructs are real.  And, while they can't tell us what to think, they certainly can tell us what to think about – and, thereby, they start to influence our thinking. Religion – even with its etymological roots in the word "to bind" – is in the business of...

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Fear. But, don’t indulge it.

I had wanted today’s article to align with the celebration in the U.S. of Martin Luther King, Jr. However, my plans did not work out. While I love Dr. King and his inspirational messages about love and peace, today’s message is about FEAR. (I was on my way to Trader...

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ABC. Vertical with God.

Left/Right & Up/Down & ABC's Atonement works in two different directions:      horizontally ➡ and vertically ⬆.   ➡ Atonement on the horizontal axis is reserved for matters of forgiveness between people. For societal and social trespasses, we must engage both sides in...

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Spiritual Acceptance – What is is.

Acceptance is saying "what is is." Acceptance The more we fight with reality, the less smoothly our lives go. The spiritual word for “not fighting with reality” is acceptance. (The religious word is surrender.) The more we accept, the easier our lives are.     As...

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Free Gift (for tech addicts)!

Last Monday, you received issue 38/40 of this newsletter, which suggested that thoughtful gift-giving can curb this season from becoming the holidazes. A web-version of the article can be found here. What follows is an example of a symbolic gift you can print and...

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Holy days. Not holi-daze.

    If your holiday season feels to you to be more holidaze than holy days, ‘tis on you, my friend. I’m sorry. Well, kinda. It is. Right? The thing that is keeping you from having “the most wonderful time of the year” is part brain chemistry and part you. The...

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Nevertheless, love

Love, nevertheless |  Rabbi Brian | 2017 | issue 36 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 for...

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MORE + FAST ≠ SMARTER

How long will this article take you to read? It’s a straightforward question. Nothing odd about asking. How long do you think it will take you to read this article? (A) more than 3 minutes (B) less than 3 minutes (C) I would rather not commit to an answer We like to...

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Render unto The Donald

Last night, I dreamt that I had a private meeting with Donald Trump. (I also dreamt that I was in a cafe trying to tell liberals about the meeting but was interrupted and mocked every sentence of my telling – until I shamed them by angrily shouting, “How can you claim...

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joy_of_non_fulfillment

The joy of non-fulfillment I don't know exactly where the initial question came from, but it arose one day about a week ago: how do we cope when we feel unfulfilled? I asked myself this question, and then I started asking others. "How do you deal with not feeling...

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About cleaning up.

A text exchange about cleaning up by Rabbi Brian 2017 – issue 33 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 for...

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Nonetheless, I feel blessed

Nonetheless, I feel blessed. Of course, of course, I am horrified by what occurred in Las Vegas.  And, of course, I have added my thoughts and prayers to the countless compassionate voices sympathizing with the victims and their families. Nonetheless, I feel blessed....

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Complaining about the weather

  Complaining about the weather.by Rabbi Brian 2017 – issue 31 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 for...

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Hate. No. Radical Love. Always.

Hate. No. Radical Love. Always.by Rabbi Brian2017 – issue 30 of 40 The 77% WeeklyNourishing 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 for...

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Fear. It’s ok.

Fear. (It's ok to fear.) | by Rabbi Brian | 2017 | issue 28 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 for...

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Spiritual Learning Edge

Rabbi Brian A modern-day rabbi with John Lennon’s inclusivity and a Blues Brothers mission. Classic Chess Openings   I need to refresh my chess openings. Emmett (entering fifth grade) and I like to play chess. We are comparably matched. If I allow him to take back one...

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Love, shaken, fear.

Rabbi Brian A modern-day rabbi with John Lennon’s inclusivity and a Blues Brothers mission. Fear. Fear is real. Fear does terrible things to us. Fear can transform our rational, mammalian brains  into reptilian, fight-flight-flee, us-versus-them brains. Fear – as many...

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Saying Something

Rabbi Brian A modern-day rabbi with John Lennon’s inclusivity and a Blues Brothers mission. My friend Ran'd brilliantly observed an odd juxtaposition on his Facebook feed. (I noticed something similar on mineas well.) Ran'd noticed loud comments about the silent...

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Delta Airlines, I’m sorry

Rabbi Brian A modern-day rabbi with John Lennon’s inclusivity and a Blues Brothers mission. The 77% Weekly Newsletter. Free. 40/52 weeks a year. Delivered to your in-box Delta airlines, I'm sorry.  If you dislike someone, the way they hold their spoon will offend you,...

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26 days, but who knew?

40/52 weeks a year of something spiritual-religious delivered to your in-box. Free 26 Days. But who knew? It wound up only being 26 days, but that’s a long time. On day 22, I did not know that Jane would be better on day 26, a mere 4 days away. It was the late winter...

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Crying With Love

40/52 weeks a year of something spiritual-religious delivered to your in-box. Free Crying with love: the third time I finally cried The first time I had been having a very rough time and was telling the checkout woman at Trader Joe’s about it. I found myself filled...

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Spiritual Rewards. Now Free.

Spiritual Rewards. Now, Free. A fun, spiritual-religious hack to get you the things you want with zero expense. Or at the very least, a way to keep what you want at the forefront of your mind.  A tale of two marketings   Marketing falls into two...

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Should_2_Doing

Themes in this article (and the story of the frogs) you'll see repeated from issue 13 (frog or fish), earlier this year. This article explains, step by step how to go from obligation to preference. If you follow these steps, you can get what you want.  Yes. You will....

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We have free will. Right?

Freedom of Will I wrote my rabbinical school thesis on Freedom of Will. In particular, I wrote about the varied thinking of medieval Jewish philosophers on this topic. The core issue with which these religious thinkers had to contend was how God could  control...

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11 words for making peace.

Making peace Most of us are familiar with the notion of last rites – a dying person’s confessional and absolution to ensure their eternal peace. This rite, most commonly associated with Catholicism, is trans cultural and denominational. (In Judaism, it’s called...

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Heeding messages. Whose messages?

Heeding messages. Whose messages? This article about messaging is in three parts: Michaelangelo’s Biblical Errancy Meaning and Message are Intertwined Asking You to Choose to Believe in Awe Michelangelo’s Biblical Errancy Michelangelo was a great artist. Three of his...

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Mistakes

Making mistakes Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with my boy. But maybe it’s just that he’s 10-years old. I sort of remember being told I was absentminded when I was in 4th grade. But I don’t remember it being as bad as he is. Of course, I wasn’t the...

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Embrace

What is empowering? What is the spiritual life? The definition of the word empower is to give someone the authority to do something and to make them stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights. I am Rabbi Brian – an...

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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 for...

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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 Brian This week I...

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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 lovingkindness.  ...

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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 the...

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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 rabbinical school. Like...

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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.