Book Report


Rabbi Brian’s Highly Unorthodox Gospel


A Modern Guide to 

Compassion, Kindness, and Love

 for others (and self)



It’s done. 

The book.

It’s done. 

And in it is a whole section in it about patience.

Which is good—ironic, maybe?—because it’s going to be a bit of time before you can buy the book.


I shopped the 65K word manuscript and found two small publishing houses willing, but neither one felt like a good enough fit.


So, I’m self-publishing. 


Which means I’m the one who just took the 350+ pages through two round of copy edits. Today and tomorrow I get back to working with a designer to lay out every page. Then I’m working on a publicity campaign to reach The Nones—people not affiliated with any particular religion—the fastest growing religious demographic in North America (5% in 1990; 30% today).

My goal is to sell 7,000 copies in the first few months—making a splash large enough for major publishers to take notice.

And, yes, if every person who got this newsletter bought two copies, HarperOne and PenguinRandomHouse would likely start a bidding war to be settled only by an epic rock-paper-scissors championship broadcast live on national television, with the winner getting the exclusive rights to publish the sequel titled “How A Rabbi’s Simple Ask Sparked a Revolution Towards Love.”

My aim is for the book’s revolutionary message—dedicating ourselves to caring, kindness, & love—to reach and help many people as possible. 

You, beloved, can help me both launch this book and fill the world with more love. 




Rabbi Brian’s Highly Unorthodox Gospel


A Modern Guide to 

Compassion, Kindness, and Love

 for others (and self)




Rabbi Brian’s Highly Unorthodox Gospel is not an official
part of the Bible.


You know the Bible that’s in almost every hotel nightstand?

It contains twelve verses tacked onto the end of the gospel of Mark
(16:9-20) which are completely absent from every one of the oldest biblical


But these words are still in the Bible.


You probably already sensed the following, but it’s worth stating:

Bibles are not filled exclusively with the word of God. And not every word
of God is in the Bible.


This book is my attempt to set the record straight with regard to religion
and who has the authority to declare what is and isn’t God’s word. (Spoiler
alert: it’s you.)


I hope Rabbi Brian’s Highly Unorthodox Gospel will help you
live a beautiful spiritualigious life—separate from organized religion—a
life filled with compassion, kindness, and love.


Spiritual Value: $50
Retail Price: $36




If you’d like a longer read, here’s a sample. (No need to read it, of course,
as you’ll be seeing these words in the book.)






3:6 Not an Original Sin


My people (Jews) don’t do this original sin thing.

We don’t grow up with this very damaging doctrine.


We know about sin and guilt—we’re Jews.

We have an annual holiday—Yom Kippur—to talk about the wrongs we
have done, and we have a litany of rituals to help us return ourselves to
the path of righteousness.

We make mistakes.

And we have guilt when we have done something wrong.

(And we can create guilt masterpieces.)

But original sin—a human construct by which many lives are
unduly influenced—is far darker than making an error or feeling


The premise of original sin—that you are and have been wrong from
conception—is fucked up.

It’s insidious.


The idea of original sin leads to shame—thinking there is something wrong
with your very character.

And it’s a horrible shame.


You were brought up to believe that your thoughts—and you—could be

Shame on them for telling you that.

I can’t even imagine.


There was no fall. No original sin. No ancestral sin.

Actions purported to have been done by Adam and Eve do not implicate your


Look at the text.

Look at the Bible.


The idea of original sin was birthed into the world from Augustine of
Hippo. Not God.


The sinner-for-all-time concept is a fourth-century man’s gloss on Genesis


Hippo’s thought became very popular—after all, it explains why seemingly
bad things happen. But that doesn’t make it right.


The Bible itself never once refers to “original sin.” (Two extra-canonical
books—Esdras and Baruch—make mention of “original sin,”
but solely to explain that sin is not inherited.)


Moreover, the word translated into English as “sin” isn’t even used in the
Bible until after expulsion from the Garden of Eden.

 “Sin” debuts with Cain being told, regarding his jealousy of Abel,
that it—sin—“crouches at your door and desires to have you, but you must
master it.”


That childbirth will be painful and hard work, yes.

Original sin, no.


 If you want to believe humanity is broken and deserving of misery,
believe it because you choose to believe it.

Not because someone told you it’s in the Bible.


You might hear that the Hebrew word for sin, chet—phlegmy sound
(like chutzpah)—means “to miss the mark” and not sin.

That’s nice.

But it’s a slightly-flawed etymology.

It’s true that the word chet was used by archers and slingshot
slingers to mean “missing the mark”—but that’s because they were using the
word “sin” to mean it.

The concept of wrongdoing predates archery.


Adam and/or Eve did not disobey God.


This idea might be hard to swallow if you grew up believing otherwise.
(Especially if you were brought up Catholic or certain types of


Nonetheless—and no matter what you previously were told to think—neither
Adam nor Eve disobeyed God.


Stick with me.

Adam and Eve couldn’t have disobeyed God.

Because they didn’t know better.


Lemme explain.


We start with the parallel Greek protoplast
story of creation with Pandora and Epimetheus.


According to this tale, evil didn’t yet exist at creation.

The box the two original humans were told not to open was the very thing
that would open their eyes to deceit.


So how could they know they were doing wrong?


In the Bible, it’s the same with the fruit.


It’s hard to know you are sinning before sinning exists.


I didn’t punish my almost-toddler when he crawled to and tugged a
tablecloth in an attempt to pull himself up to stand.


My calls of “Don’t! Stop!” didn’t make sense to him.

Why? Because most other times he had pulled himself up to stand, I had been


Was he being disobedient, not listening to me?

No. He just didn’t understand.

I rushed in to save him from the Steuben crystal bowl that could have hit
him on the head or smashed on the ground.

I got there in time.]


We didn’t punish Emmett.

He wasn’t wrong for his actions.

He was just trying to pull himself up.


Adam and Eve didn’t know not to listen to the serpent.


How could they know the serpent was lying?

They didn’t know the difference between good and evil.

They didn’t have that knowledge. They weren’t disobedient.


Nothing shameful for all time.

It’s innocence—a lack of understanding.


Except for pinning the blame on women for birthing evil into the

That shit is not innocent. It’s just plain wrong.


Augie—may I call you that, Augustine of Hippo?—let me ask you a question:
“Is Jesus’s craftsmanship shoddy?”


Why do I ask?

Well, if the self-sacrifice of Jesus was penance for our apparent
sinfulness—if Jesus paid the ultimate price to free us from sin—why are
people still full of original sin at birth?

And let me answer: “They’re not.”


I heard a missionary, while being interviewed on NPR, say that the key to
selling Jesus’s salvation is to first arouse the deep need for it.

That is, to sell the cure of Jesus dying for your sins, you have to first
go about convincing people they are sinners.

Oh, Jesus!


I cannot imagine the exhaustion and terror of trying to free oneself from
the internalized message of “I am a sinner.”


Religion is about becoming.

Transformation. Changing. Growing.


Free yourself from any voice that tells you that you are inherently bad or

Find a therapist—or a team of therapists—to help.


Even if you were at one point broken, that doesn’t mean you still are. Or
always will be.


A quotation that helps me know that I’m bigger than the pain inflicted on
me, from Nachman of Breslov—Likutey Moharan II, 112:

If you believe damage is possible, then you must believe repair is
possible, as well.


 Occasionally I hear:

I’m so sorry, Rabbi Brian. You are kind and seemingly good, but you are
still a sinner—unless you really accept Jesus Christ into your heart as
Lord and Savior.


What I think:

If you are going to tie your theology to a correct set of answers to
binary questions, you probably want to take a deeper look into what’s
driving your desire for simplicity.
Do you really believe the infinite would pick teams and be petty?


What I say:

You have chosen to believe that is true. And you can choose


As simple as it sounds, it is true: you can choose not to believe that you
were born into sin.


And what is sin, anyhow?

My favorite definition of sin comes from Fr. James F. Keenan, S.J.:

Sin is a failure to bother to love.


That’s all.

Nothing more.

Sin is just a failure to move toward love.


So, let’s move more to love. 








There are books of the Bible that aren’t officially part of the Bible. They are said to be “inspired” by God but not authored by God. And, if that seems weird, hold on, it gets weirder: some of the Catholic official books are not official for Protestants or Jews. (This is a deep rabbit hole.)


This is my translation of Genesis 4:7 from the Hebrew, which, to be honest, has really wonky grammar and doesn’t make a lot of sense. (I know it’s hard for people to get that through their heads that the Hebrew isn’t clear.)


 This involves unlearning.


Protoplast = the progenitors of humankind


The bowl broke a few months later when Jane and I fumbled handing it to each other. We were relieved once it broke as we realized that we now no longer had to worry about it breaking.

Keep this in mind when later we are at section “6:5 Practice Non-Attachment” and I bring in the phrase, “Envision the bowl as already broken.”


 James F. Keenan, SJ, A History of Catholic Theological Ethics (Minneapolis: Paulist Press, 2022), various pages.



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