Finding Nebuchadnezzar in Poland

DeWitt Clinton — All of us are hungry as dogs, though it’s not even noon, but our guide in green shoes wants us to stop at this grocery store, pick up some cheeses and breads so we won’t have to waste any time, so we can spend more time at Treblinka where we will wander around thousands of stones, each one a village which was … Continue reading Finding Nebuchadnezzar in Poland

Elegant Old Men

Warren R. Johnson — When our son Michael was very young, he had a very old friend. Everyone called his old friend Baba Levi. Not mister, not sir, but Baba. Baba is Persian for father, or even grandfather. He was so old that he remembered driving trucks from Baghdad to Tehran, before the First World War when trucks on the main roads joining the two … Continue reading Elegant Old Men

The Physicist and the Preacher

Warren R. Johnson — In 1949 Albert Einstein asserted, “The abstract concept ‘society’ means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations.” Reasoning likewise, Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1963 Letter From Birmingham Jail, argued that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He went on … Continue reading The Physicist and the Preacher

Collective Memories of Death Camps and Complicity in Nazi-Occupied Poland

Ron Berger — The Polish government recently passed a law making it illegal in Poland to accuse the nation of complicity in the crimes committed by Nazi Germany in Polish territory during World War II, and from using the term “Polish death camps” to describe the concentration camps that were established and operated by the Nazis. The legislation, signed into law by president Andrzej Duda … Continue reading Collective Memories of Death Camps and Complicity in Nazi-Occupied Poland

God: A Human History, by Reza Aslan

DeWitt Clinton — Every year—for years, decades, and perhaps centuries—scholars, theologians, and lay leaders have been defining, then redefining, then re-envisioning the constantly evolving paradox of God. Of course, if one is a fundamental believer, there is only one God, The God. Nothing else matters. But if you are interested in the world, and what the world thinks of God, or gods, or out-of-date gods, … Continue reading God: A Human History, by Reza Aslan

Uncovering Enigmas of the Universe

Bob Bates — Over a century ago physicist Max Planck, functionally an intellectual mentor of Albert Einstein in making scientific breakthroughs with prodigious consequences, reflected on what he was uncovering. Planck asserted, “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. … We … Continue reading Uncovering Enigmas of the Universe

Innocence Lost: From Babes to Bloodshed

Bob Bates — In his book Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil (2013), Paul Bloom, psychology professor at Yale University, reports on the work he has conducted with his team of experimental researchers that addresses fundamental issues regarding the bases of morality in humans: good vs bad, right vs wrong, fair vs unfair. What makes their psychosocial studies unique is that their subjects are children, ranging from infants … Continue reading Innocence Lost: From Babes to Bloodshed

Crime and Due Process: Two Scenes Connected in the Dylann Roof Case

Dave Gillespie — On June 17, 2015 Dylann Roof murdered nine African American parishioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. More than a year later, on December 15, 2016 he was found guilty on 33 charges associated with the murders. And, in January 2017, Dylann Roof was sentenced to death. The true story of Dylann Roof will now always be … Continue reading Crime and Due Process: Two Scenes Connected in the Dylann Roof Case

Should the U.S. Constitution Be Changed? — A Wise Guys Conversation

Jeff Berger, Charles Cottle, Dave Gillespie, John Kozlowicz, and Ron Berger — During the past year contributors to Wise Guys engaged in an impromptu discussion of the limitations of U.S. Constitution. Simultaneously, the political atmosphere across the country stimulated a number of calls for a constitutional convention. The possibility of such an event inched closer to reality in the second week of June 2017 when … Continue reading Should the U.S. Constitution Be Changed? — A Wise Guys Conversation

A Christian Border Patrol Agent’s Reflection on The Border Wall

Ellin Jimmerson — Now that Donald Trump has been elected president, immigration as a topic of Christian concern has re-surfaced—or, in some cases, simply surfaced. My mind often wanders to this encounter I had with a deeply reflective Border Patrol agent on an airplane between Tucson, Arizona and Guanajuato, Mexico in 2011. I had gone to the area on the US/Mexico border to shoot footage for my migrant … Continue reading A Christian Border Patrol Agent’s Reflection on The Border Wall

Creation: A Process Continuing

Bob Bates — The age of our universe is about 13.8 billion years old. Our solar system began forming about 4.5 billion years ago, with planet Earth being a part of this process. These are big numbers and signify eons of time that has passed. The initial stages of life on planet Earth began about 3 billion years ago. Our genus, homo, began its development about … Continue reading Creation: A Process Continuing

The Disappearance of God: A Divine Mystery

Bob Bates — One of the most provocative books I’ve read that deals with religion is Richard Elliot Friedman’s The Disappearance of God: A Divine Mystery (1995). Subsequent editions of the book are entitled The Hidden Face of God. Friedman is a professor of Hebrew and comparative literature, holding multiple degrees, and is currently Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia. In this … Continue reading The Disappearance of God: A Divine Mystery

Line Dancing in the Bardo

Bill Powell — Bardo: a Tibetan term/concept that refers to an intermediate or transitional state between two incarnations or two sequential lives on earth. There is, coincidentally, a new novel, recently published, entitled Lincoln in the Bardo written by George Saunders. . . . There are things we experience that we rarely, if ever, mention to others. . . . Nearly every person dreams. The … Continue reading Line Dancing in the Bardo

America’s Four Gods

Ron Berger — Cross-national studies indicate that Americans report one of the highest levels of belief in God in the world. A recent Gallup Poll conducted in May-June of 2016 found that 89 percent of Americans say they believe in God. When given the option of expressing agnosticism by saying they are not sure if they believe in God, 79 percent still say they do. … Continue reading America’s Four Gods

David’s Secret Demons

Jeff Berger — Recently I read Baruch Halpern’s biography about King David of ancient Israel/Judah called David’s Secret Demons:  Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King (2001). It was a difficult book to read, as are most books about the Old Testament, but I recommend it to anyone who is interested in biblical history. One reason why it’s so difficult to read these books is because of the … Continue reading David’s Secret Demons

Christianity and Nazi Germany: The Question of Apostasy

Ron Berger — Evangelical Christians were a significant part of the political coalition that won the presidency for Donald Trump, with more than 80 percent of this constituency voting for him. Although Trump’s own commitment to religious values is questionable, Mike Pence, the incoming vice president, gave Trump needed credibility with Evangelical voters. According to Jeff Sharlet, author of two books on Christian fundamentalism, Pence … Continue reading Christianity and Nazi Germany: The Question of Apostasy

Reflections on Elie Wiesel and the Legacy of Holocaust Survivors

Ron Berger — Last month Elie Wiesel passed away at the age of 87 years. The death of the author of Night, one of the most widely read memoirs of the Holocaust, as well as more than 40 other books, may at one time be viewed symbolically as marking the passing of a generation of Holocaust survivors. His death offers me the occasion to reflect … Continue reading Reflections on Elie Wiesel and the Legacy of Holocaust Survivors

Faith and Baseball

Mark Richardson — Every now and again one stumbles upon a book that addresses issues which have flitted through one’s mind throughout his/her life, but which have never solidified into one’s thought in any cohesive way. Such a book is John Sexton’s Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game (2013). Mr. Sexton is the president of New York University and a former law clerk … Continue reading Faith and Baseball

Bernie Sanders and the Jewish Question

Ron Berger — Bernie Sanders has not become the Democratic nominee for president in 2016, but he has left an indelible mark on political campaign history. For one, no other presidential candidate since Eugene Debs in the early 1900s has raised socialism as a legitimate political issue, dismissed by Hillary Clinton more for its idealism and impracticality than its association with communism. Second, Sanders has … Continue reading Bernie Sanders and the Jewish Question