It’s been a busy couple weeks, with some very heavy topics, and next week is going to be more of the same: there’s the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s General Assembly; I think Mark has more to say on the PCC’s statement of relationship with the faceless mass of “the Jewish People”; I’ll get my Kairos analysis online, and who knows, I might even get around to posting some preliminary thoughts on a piece about the relationship between academic theology, religious studies, interfaith work, and real people that I’ve been ruminating on for the last couple months.

But today is Friday, which means there’s a weekend coming, so it’s time to relax a bit. And also to close a bunch of tabs on my browser.

So, here’s a nice picture of the desert near Eilat, where we went for a few days of downtime at the beginning of this month. I highly recommend Kibbutz Lotan for anyone wanting to see the area–they’re ecological and Reform:

And here are some links, in no particular order:

  • Complicated Emotions on Yom Yerushalayim, which was this past week. We’re currently living just between the Green Line and the Separation Wall, so “complicated” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
  • “A lot of us are fluent in two religious languages, and we have spent a lifetime translating from one to the other.” On Being Both linked this old, but still beautifully relevant, essay on the gap between “interfaith work” and “interfaith family” earlier this week, in response to Eric Yoffie’s piece in the Huffington Post. I should write more about this at some point–while I’d love to be horrified at Yoffie’s dismissive attitude towards interfaith work, I can also recognise and share many of the frustrations that he describes. I think Susan is right about there being two distinct levels of interfaith, but (speaking as an academic who doesn’t ever get the luxury of leaving my work in the office) I think there’s more to be said about complexity in the way the two levels interact.
  • Religious polarization and the Canadian election.
  • The Velveteen Rabbi: “My mouth is a kiln/for smelting Torah.”
  • A slightly old (pre-General Assembly) Herald editorial on same-sex relationships and the Church of Scotland. Login required. I meant to write about this a few weeks ago, but put it aside as fodder for a longer post and then forgot it was there. I’m posting it now just in case anyone thinks I’m exaggerating the problems with the way Judaism is used as a framing device in the debate. For those who don’t want to register for the Herald, there’s the following lovely quote in there near the end (emphasis added):

    One Kirk insider likens the stand-off to that sparked by the Pharisees, Jewish fanatics who kept the law of the Torah to the letter and despised Jesus for befriending the dregs of society: “What is it that matters: policy, practices or people? The Pharisees got that wrong, which is why they didn’t like Jesus. That’s what the struggle for the Church is on this. Bottom line, it’s all about people.”

    I’m never certain whether people who talk about the Pharisees as a fanatic (implicitly fringe) Jewish movement are forgetting that the Pharisees were the forerunners of Rabbinic Judaism, or whether it’s a deliberate attempt to characterise all Judaism as a fanatic religion. Either way, it’s both offensive and incorrect.

  • I just started playing with the beta version of Scrivener for Windows, and thus far I’m deeply impressed. It has the potential to completely change the way I write, which, since I tend to be a rather slow writer, can only be a good thing.
  • The Daily Dalek. I’m sure most dedicated Whovians will already be familiar with this, and those who aren’t won’t really care, but I’m constantly behind the curve on pop culture consumption, so I’ve been clicking through a couple days at a time whenever I’ve needed a short break from work, and enjoying it immensely. See also: Doctor Why.
  • THE VALUE OF BEING BEFUDDLED, OCCASIONALLY. OR, THE ATTEMPT TO LIVE A LIFE OF CONSTANT AND EAGER OBSERVATION by Tom Jacobs. Benjamin, memory, and materiality… which is pretty much where my mind is these days, when it’s not buried under a pile of church documents.
  • The last Jew, in the last synagogue, in Kabul: “I pray my way and he prays his way.”
  • Hmm. That didn’t come out nearly as relaxing as I’d hoped. Here, have some music to start the weekend with: