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My Faith: Raising religious (but not too religious) children
Laurel Synder is raising her two sons Jewish, but not kosher.
April 13th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Faith: Raising religious (but not too religious) children

Editor's noteLaurel Snyder is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a poet and author of many books for children. Follow her on Twitter at @laurelsnyder.

By Laurel Snyder, Special to CNN

(CNN) – A few years ago I was invited to my local Jewish Community Center to do a reading of my picture book “Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher.” It was going to be a child-friendly event, so I took my kids along.

Now, “Baxter” isn’t really a book about being kosher. It’s about wanting to be accepted into a community. But I always like to make sure my listeners know what the word kosher means before I read it, since the joke at the center of the book depends on that. So as usual I asked the Jewish Community Center crowd if they could define the word.

Before anyone else could answer, my own son Mose, who was 5 at the time, jumped up and shouted out, “I know! I know! Kosher is us! We’re kosher!” Then he sat back down again, beaming proudly.

And I might have been proud too. Only, you see, we’re not kosher.

On the drive home I tried to figure out what to say to Mose about his mix-up. I wanted him to know what it means to be kosher, to live by a rigid religious dietary code, day in and day out. But I also needed him to understand that we’re not.

How could I show respect for this part of our Jewish tradition while also suggesting that it doesn’t seem relevant in our own household? Should I just blame it on my own parents, who didn’t raise me that way?

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

It’s not easy to explain something to a kid when you haven’t yet figured it out for yourself. One of the most helpful/terrible things about having children is that they require us to think things out explicitly. That often means they make us face the very things we’ve been avoiding.

Sometimes, as a result, kids challenge us to become more mindful or observant. I hadn’t been a member of a synagogue for years when I became a mom. I hadn’t hosted a Passover Seder or found the time to light Shabbat candles.

Even though I worked for a Jewish agency and wrote about religion professionally, when it came to my home life I was almost completely unobservant. Judaism was something I thought about more intellectually than personally. Religion was an interesting idea more than a belief system.

Now I light candles each week and say the blessings. I belong to a havurah – a cohort of local Jewish friends who get together for monthly potluck dinners – and also a synagogue.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Because there’s something about having kids that makes me want to be a better version of my Jewish self. I want something special to pass on to them. Something more than “You’re Jewish because I’m Jewish.”

But sometimes the opposite is true. Sometimes my kids help me recognize the limits of my faith.

In truth, I do not keep kosher and I don’t really want to. My husband is not Jewish, though we’re raising our family to be. So, yeah, we eat tacos for Shabbat dinner most weeks and usually skip Friday night services.

This is the truth and I have to own it. I can only shift my life around so much without feeling inauthentic. Lying to my kids about my religious life is no way to model the value of faith.

So when, after the “Baxter”/kosher fiasco, I set out to write my new picture book, “Good night, laila tov” (laila tov means “good night” in Hebrew), I wanted to paint an honest portrait of my largely secular household.

I wanted my kids to recognize the family in my story as Jewish, but also as, well, like us. Which is to say, not exactly kosher.

On some level I was reacting to the fact that most of the Jewish picture books in my home feel like they’re about someone else. They’re usually set in a Polish village a century ago, or on the Lower East Side of New York City, where mothers cook and fathers pray.

I wanted “Good night, laila tov” to be a sort of lowest common denominator. Contemporary and universal. It’s not about Jewish history, and it doesn’t have a single rabbi in it. It won’t teach you new Hebrew words or show you how to say a certain prayer.

It’s just a story about a Jewish American family going camping, experiencing nature, love, work and rest. In writing it I hoped to capture something typical, something natural, something simple.

And it does present, to my mind, Jewish values: Nature is spiritual, and takes us beyond ourselves. Time spent with family is sacred.

The family in the book plants trees and picks up their campsite, because caring for the earth is part of Judaism, I think. Along with caring for each other.

But as I wrote, I found myself a little afraid that, in attempting to write a picture book for everyone, I was letting the Jewish particularity go. Aren’t family nature, and environmentalism tenets of faith beyond the Jewish world, in every religion?

What did it say about me, my choices, my household, that the Jewish life I was choosing to depict looked like it could be any household at all?

Then I come back around to that moment with Mose, that moment of realizing I’d somehow misled him. Because whatever I’m unsure of, whatever I don’t know about faith, I do know this: if it isn’t honest, it doesn’t count.

The purpose of faith, as I understand it, is to infuse life with greater meaning. To make it more real. Not to dress it up. Not to pretend.

My kids and I are on a journey together. We’re setting out for parts unknown.

And while we may find ourselves changing as we trek along, there is a sacred quality in simply being who we are today. Of stopping on the trail and taking a deep breath. It’s enough, I think, to be exactly who we are, kosher or not.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Laurel Snyder.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Judaism • My Faith

soundoff (3,114 Responses)
  1. JM

    Beautiful article.

    "if it isn’t honest, it doesn’t count.

    The purpose of faith, as I understand it, is to infuse life with greater meaning. To make it more real. Not to dress it up. Not to pretend."

    Amen

    April 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • edwardo

      JM – Faith is not a virtue! It brought us witch trials, wars, hatred. It is not a virtue, and does not make someones life more meaningful. It instills a made-up fairy tale into a mind, that was once free to think for its self.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • momoya

      The exact same people who want you to use faith in order to buy their bull-sh!t story about god don't want you to use faith in order to buy somebody else's bull-sh!t story about their god.. Faith in a personal god is stupid because the very action itself is hypocritical.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  2. Irony

    Funny thing; Ive known a good amount of atheists in my life. Ive always helped them whenever needed and always been kind to them. Some were friends, some were acquaintences. Regardless, I never pushed my beliefs (Im Christian) on them in any way, just tried to be nice. They know what I believe, as I know what they believe. I couldnt tell you how many times Ive heard them attack me personally (had one friend make fun of me for giving to charity, now that was shocking) when Ive never pushed anything on them and Ive helped them out considerably thourgh difficult times. One similarity Ive noticed in all of them; they never want to be questioned regardless of an action, they dont want to help out others, and they love bringing others down.

    Are all atheists like this? Ofcourse not, but that is certainly a characteristic in almost every atheist Ive run across in real life. Seems to me that they are everything they claim to hate. Just food for thought.

    April 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • chubby rain

      Funny, I've met a lot of christians that. Maybe those people exist with or without religion.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Observer

      Maybe they are tired of the incredible hypocrisy of so many Christians. Do you talk about the Golden Rule and then put down gays? Do you put down pro-Choice people while under the delusion that the Bible actually mentions the word abortion? Maybe there are reasons why atheists don't get along with many Christians.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Lilith

      You know the wrong people.
      I know many "militant" Atheists and even more militant "believers" .. one thing I've noticed is that it's pretty much proportionate among all "humans".

      April 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • edwardo

      @Irony – because we want to grab you, and shake you into reality. We are trying to make the world a sane place to exist. We know you have a memeplex (google it so I don't have to explain it), and we are trying to bring you back to reality. I honestly don't hate Xtians, I hate their religion.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • One one

      Has an atheist ever told you that you will burn in hell for not believing as he/she does? And, after telling you that, professes that he worships the god that will send you there?

      April 15, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • waitasec

      so, what are you saying?

      April 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  3. RabbiDavid

    To be silent is only to encourage this kind of touchy-feely Judaism that is the vogue of the likes of the Bill Mahrers or David Axelorods is to me a mirage of Judaism, but make no mistake a true Jew who practices what the book says and believes in the concepts of Torah has neither respect,tolerance or TIME for this. This kind of watered down Judaism has put us on the edge of an Iran with a bomb,Obama in office and an Israel at risk.Religion is not about compromise that is a bumper sticker far too many have bought into.When the next great history of the Jewish people is written, they will write we did it to ourselves-trying to be oh so tolerant we put ourselves in a state where we ended up being unrecognizable to those who paid so much for us to lamely claim to be Jews in a primarily anti-semitic world pushing us to compromise. The price of which was our destruction as a people and a state.

    April 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Observer

      Yep. To hell with the Golden Rule.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • blastoff

      I posted this earlier:

      She should teach her kids that we are all humans from a single ancestor... that the recent seperations into race and ethnicity are really ruses that have both kept peoples together and apart over the centuries.
      That traditions are there for the choosing, but are not set in stone as the religions would like.

      Any comment?

      April 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • me

      It has always been time to start returning.
      Read Torah, follow Torah, have a relationship with the Almighty. It is time to start returning.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • kendallpeak

      Agreed Agreed Agreed. The purpose of faith is to worship the Creator of all that is seen and unseen. Written by a Catholic who's heard the same nonsense from his coreligionists.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • don

      This rabbi speaks as "other" and a fiercely independent "other" he is. It seems that Jewish traditions either need to take their position along other mythical traditions of faith and be treated as equals or stick to their otherness and quit complaining about any discrimination that may come their way. I believe Allah, Yahweh, Vishnu and that volcano over there are all equally worthy of worship. We are social animals and must, when possible deny our selfish interests for the good of the group if we are to succeed.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • edwardo

      @Kendall – The creator of all things? Who created the creator? Can he create a wall so thick and strong, he can't tear it down? Your religion is made up of fairy tales. It has been debunked over and over and over again. You refuse to see the nose on your own face. You are guilty of worshipping a god who drowns little babies in great floods, who sends his own creations to eternal punishment. Who wanted his own son slaughtered, for his own gratification. SICK!

      April 15, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • IsraelJudah

      Who created the creator? What kind of stupid question is that? Can you not think passed what you can see and touch?

      April 15, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  4. Christina G

    Thank you Laurel Snyder for writng so honestly about your and your family's religious journey. I am saddened to see so many hateful comments, but I am not surprised because people are very inconsiderate when they believe they can hide behind a veil of anonimity. May you continue your search for answers about God in peace and good health.

    April 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Todd in DC

      Prayer can't even change a diaper. Loser.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • edwardo

      Was patiently awaiting for this tired, lame-assed post. I have prayed that I would never see this post again, and as usual, my prayer has gone unanswered. Go figure!

      April 15, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Observer

      Drunk driving changes things.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven !!

      April 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • edwardo

      You've offered proof, but didn't deliver. Let's hear it. Put your money where your mouth is. You know us atheists will shoot down your theory that prayer changes things.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • kendallpeak

      edwardo, I used to be a discontented, unhappy, atheist. I was encouraged to pray, I did, I'm happy and free now, a true believer in the power of the Lord. I know, that's not enough proof for a discontented atheist like yourself, guess what? no one cares.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Observer

      ZERO proof that prayer changes things. ZERO proof that it doesn't. All we have is ZERO PROOF. Let's get back to the real world.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • edwardo

      That is your proof? That's the proof you have that prayer changes things?? How selfish that you prayed for yourself. Thousands of babies will starve to death today, but hey... you're now a happy believer, so we now know that prayer changes things. Do you know how ridiculous your post truly is?

      April 15, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  6. Looks like this comment section

    (2 Timothy 3:1-7) 3 But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, 3 having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, 4 betrayers, headstrong, puffed up [with pride], lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • edwardo

      Throwing scriptures at atheists, is like trying to nail jello to a wall. We have rejected your ancient book. We do not believe the sun rotates around the earth. We do not believe in slavery. We do not burn people at stakes.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • waitasec

      "in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here"

      what the heck are you talking about...?
      you don't think the black death in the middle ages were not bad enough....? oh that's right, it's because this idea is only alive in you that these are the last days talk about being a lover of yourself importance.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • tbreeden

      ...and will forge 2nd Timothy in the name of Paul.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • One one

      If u r gonna quote bible verses, the least you could do is quote something interesting.

      1 Kings 1 & 2: “Now King David was old, advanced in age; and they covered him with cloths, but he could not keep warm. So his servants said to him. “Let them seek a young virgin for my lord the king and let her attend the king and become his nurse, and let her lie in your bosom that my lord the king may keep warm.”

      April 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • hawkechik

      Looks like most of history really.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • kendallpeak

      edwardo you are enslaved to the meaninglessness of self worship and you believe in murdering babies. You are what is refered to as an abomination.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • edwardo

      @kendallpeak – I do NOT believe in murdering babies. That is a lie. Your god used to drown them in great floods. He killed the first born who didn't have blood on their doorstep. You have some nerve saying I believe in killing babies.

      April 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  7. NJBob

    Within 2 generations religion will have largely disappeared. Theists are powerless to stop science, and rapid modern communications increasingly expose their benighted beliefs and rituals. Women, who have been traditionally oppressed by nearly all religions, are demanding fair treatment. The foundations of religion are crumbling and it won't be long before the entire rotten, stinking edifice collapses under its own weight.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • edwardo

      I wish I could see it in my life time. I know I'll always have to be around it. Hopefully, my battle with it, will help future generations. Without religion, humanity will finally be able to move forward.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • waitasec

      can't wait!

      April 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • waitasec

      @edwardo
      unambiguously... ;)

      April 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • One one

      New study finds that religion is heading toward extinction. Among other things it concludes:
      "religion may become extinct in Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Canada, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Switzerland."
      "In 2008 those claiming no religion rose to 15 percent nationwide, with a maximum in Vermont at 34 percent,".
      "The study also found that "Americans without affiliation comprise the only religious group growing in all 50 states."

      April 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Ur dumb

      Edwardo,

      Youll be dead anyways so it wont matter. In the end ur life was completely meaningless u fookin clown. Wanna be an atheist then atleast accept that ur time here is ultimately meaningless. Yure truly a fookin m0ron

      April 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • edwardo

      @ UR dumb – So you've resorted to name calling? I know I've won a debate, when the only post is name calling. I'm a winner indeed.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • blastoff

      @UR DUMB
      Einstein is dead. Was his life totally meaningless?
      Think about it.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Good point about Einstein. What makes UR think that a belief in God will make one's life meaningful if one does little with it while here?

      April 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • edwardo

      URDumb has stepped away, eating crow. One of those people who are not capable of dialogue. Their religion (disease), does not want the cure.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • One one

      So far as religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake... Religion is all bunk. [Thomas Edison]

      April 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It makes me laugh that posters like URDumb think such posts glorify the God they claim to adore.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Ur dumb

      @blastoff

      Ultimately ther sun will die and we wont be here so yes his life was fookin meaningless. What cant you ldiots comprehend? Everything will eventually be gone and all life was meaningless. Nobody gives a shlt about ur little time here or the human race once were extinct. Again, youre a fookin ldiot.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Ur dumb

      @blastoff

      Ultimately the sun will die and we wont be here so yes his life was fookin meaningless. What cant you ldiots comprehend? Everything will eventually be gone and all life was meaningless. Nobody gives a shlt about ur little time here or the human race once were extinct. Again, youre a fookin ldiot.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Ur dumb

      @tom

      Im an atheist u fookin ldiot. Just pointing out the ldiocy of other posters. Live ur life and then die, u have no meaning. What a m0ron u are.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • blastoff

      UR DUMB,
      What about your time now? Is that meaningless? You do good things because it makes you feel good now? Can you be honest about that, at least?

      April 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Stick it up UR fundament, tool.

      UR life may be meaningless. My is not. Simply because we eventually go the way of all flesh doesn't mean that our being means nothing to us or anyone else. My family, my friends, my work, my enjoyment of nature and of the arts give meaning to my life. I don't expect to be remembered eons from now, but so what?

      Be a nihilist if you want, "fooker". I have better things to do.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Ed

      Religion will have disappeared? Is that what you think the trend is, either in this country or world-wide? If you backtrack 2 generations to the 1960's, and fast-forward to tdoay, is religion disappearing compared with then? Quite the contrary, I think. You can look at facts and conclude what you want, but there is something to be said for squaring with reality. And reality is that religion is showing no signs of disappearing.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Ur dumb

      @blastoff

      Yes in the grand scheme of things completely meaningless. If ur going to believe in something then atleast live up to it. People are so stupid.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  8. Fact!

    Judging by the comments, atheists are a pompous, angry, and self gratifying group of people.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • edwardo

      If you feel me vehemently rejecting your horrid religion is hateful, then that's what I am.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • waitasec

      the irony...

      April 15, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • waitasec

      i guess the religious are the only ones that reserve the right to not be offended...

      April 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • NJBob

      So, you're opposed to self-gratification?

      April 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • One one

      What could be more pompous, hateful, and self gratifying than worshiping a god who YOU believe sends people to hell to be tortured for all eternity for not believing as you do ?

      April 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • bspurloc

      guess what? being OPPRESSED by 2000+ years of religions, being treated like dogs, TENDS to do that to people.
      When people rise up from oppression they dont do it from LUV.... grats on figuring that out. now keep your beliefs to yourself get them out of my face

      April 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • joel palmer

      and religious people are... judgmental

      April 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • blastoff

      You see someone like fact making a post like this, then disappearing. Probably because he sees that his position is defenseless. Nobody steps in to help him either.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Jeff A

      Regarding Pompous: "“There is, in fact, no worldview more reprehensible in its arrogance than that of a religious believer: the creator of the universe takes an interest in me, approves of me, loves me, and will reward me after death; my current beliefs, drawn from scripture, will remain the best statement of truth until the end of the world; everyone who disagrees with me will spend eternity in hell… An average Christian, in an average church, listening to an average Sunday sermon has achieved a level of arrogance simply unimaginable in scientific discourse — and there have been some extraordinarily arrogant scientists.”- Sam Harris

      Regarding Angry: touche'

      Regarding self gratifying: We don't see anything wrong with mast urbation, so why wouldn't we?

      April 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • momoya

      @Fact!

      Judging you by your comment, you're a liar and a bigot.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  9. So Sad

    The majority of comments on here are hatefillef, illogical, and downright disgusting. Ironic how those same posters claim absolute truth and their views are infallible and the most intelligent positions out there. Its just moronic if you cant think deeper than that. Btw the majority of posters are atheists.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • edwardo

      I am at war with religion. Hatred is a part of war. Goes with the territory. Xtians have abused me all of my life and I"m fighting back... finally! I took it way too long to begin this war.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • bspurloc

      these are EXACT words ASSAD and all dictators are saying... WHY are they so angry at US. we were so good to them..... wake up buddy we have had ENOUGH

      April 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • tbreeden

      I've tried, but I can't make a decent hatefillef. I made a nice casserole once.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yep, you ARE sad if you think people like U R Dumb is a loving Christian. Great job!

      April 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  10. edwardo

    Xtians follow the notion that we are all responsible for the events of the "Garden of Eden", we ate the apple myth. Holding me accountable for someone elses actions, is repulsive. I cannot be held accountable for something I have no control over. Ridiculous belief. Scarey at best.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • tbreeden

      And how come by Adam's actions we're all condemned – believe it or not, but by Jesus' death we're only saved if we believe?

      April 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • edwardo

      Jesus died? Isn't he at the right hand of god right now? So, he's a zombie? What kind of father, would even allow their son to die, just so he could "forgive" his own creation, for doing the very thing he knew they'd do, when he created them in the first place? Makes no sense!

      April 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  11. JoeG

    Is it an article praising Islam, cutting down Judaism or Christianity, or something about questioning or losing their faith? Yup, it qualifies for posting on CNN...

    April 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Truth7

      Go look up their motto "we'll telecast the end of the world".

      Which is coming soon.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  12. Reality

    An update on Judaism:

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS---:-–>>>>>>>>

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel – not one shard of pottery."

    April 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • JoeG

      Yup, fruit loops will always try to create a "New" Torah, or Bible. Whatever makes it easier for them to follow...

      April 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Truth7

      Man's number in the Bible is "6". The belief in man above God.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  13. .

    CNN's love of anti Christian bigotry is all about the gay movement.

    The funny thing is that Christians don't care what Anderson C00per does with his cabana boy. We don't even care what Richard Kwest ties around his taliwhacker when he gets high on crystal meth and wanders around Washington Square Park with his boyfriend gussied up like Adolph Eichman.

    So why do they spew all this hatred?

    April 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • edwardo

      They spew the hatred that Xtians have for gay people. Their "loving" religion is being exposed for the hate it truly is, diguised as "love".

      April 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • .

      But that's just it, Eduardo..... we don't care WHAT you do with your boyfriend.

      It's YOUR business.

      So STAY out of OURs.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • edwardo

      See what I mean! I didn't say I had a boyfriend. See how judgmental you are.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  14. Truth7

    Dear author: your issue is apparent. Not once did you even mention God....you are solely focused on traditions developed by man and the rituals inserted by man. Focus on your relationship with God above rituals.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • waitasec

      judge not lest yebe judged
      and i judge ye as self righteous

      April 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Hechasje

      I always thought of the idea of God as a man-made story anyway.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • waitasec

      @humberto
      "- Faith is like good mother ( religion) telling her child, don't touch the pan it's hot.
      Of course it's out of reach.
      without faith in your mothers direction you pass into -religion
      - religion is touching the pan swearing not to do it again."

      that's empirical evidence.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • humberto

      @waitasec- if your implying religion gave you a disease and withheld the cure – your wrong, just as the judge is not a court, the Teacher is not the subject.. that alone tells you where the fault lies. – if you were taught in the faith of your religion, why did you follow the scientific magician ?

      April 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • edwardo

      @Humberto – because waitasec is using his brain. Being realistic. Capable of thinking for himself/herself.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  15. puckles

    Nobody cares about this ignorant woman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • JoeG

      CNN does, it stirs up the atheists so they can try to show they have a larger readership than they actually do.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • humberto

      There's alot of ignorant people out there. When the oppressed slaves of 2000 years were set free, what happened when Moses went up the Mountain and got the ten commandments ? What was their first act upon meeting people after Moses was left behind ? Oppressed... No, that laurel is not theirs alone.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  16. Jesus Loves You

    If you want to be burning in a lake a fire and acid like Gandhi is right now, ignore Christianity and just live life being a good person. God will punish you accordingly.

    If you want to be sipping margaritas pool-side with Jesus like Hitler is right now, become a Christian. God will reward you accordingly.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • waitasec

      who says there is a lake of fire?
      who says there is a hell.

      something to chew on...for argument sake.
      what happens if you are in heaven and you know that some of your loved ones didn't "make it" and are burning in hell
      wouldn't heaven cease to be heaven?

      April 15, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Reality

      Father Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous contemporary theologian, has a different take on hell. He reasons that the god (edit note: assuming there is one) does not tolerate imperfection in his spiritual realm. Therefore, any soul dying in mortal sin will simply disappear since hell the imperfect state does not exist.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Jesus Loves You

      Anyone who chooses reason over blind faith is a bad person.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Punisher2000

      You are a false Christian. To even say Hitler is sipping Margaritas with Jesus is sinful. You will burn in Hell along with the other false Christians

      April 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • tbreeden

      Love it. And that your irony is lost on "True Christians" is icing on the cake.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • One one

      @waitasec. 2 Thessalonians, 8-9:"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

      April 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • One one

      @reality. Well, it's a nice attempt of the "father" to sugar coat the doctrine of hell being horrific eternal torture but that is not what most Christians say and not what the bible says. The doctrine of god sending people to hell for simply not believing is a big problem for the Christian brand and they will have to wear it like a ball and chain.

      April 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  17. reason

    The gods of all organized religions, if true, would all be horribly unjust and evil deities to send billions of people to eternal suffering for choosing the wrong one or being born in the wrong place. Looking at organized religion objectively, they are myths from iron age societies that were trying to explain the world, and there is virtually no chance any one is truth.

    Rationally speaking if there is a just god and an afterlife, you will be judged on how you live your life. Rejecting reason and deluding yourself in blind faith does not help your case.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Truth7

      God judges the heart and mind and He is just. Works do not get you into Heaven. By your continuing support and promotion of atheism, instead of simply asking God directly if He is there, you're setting your own path that can be judged. IT'S YOUR CHOICE, don't blame others. You know right from wrong, but you choose to do wrong because you delight in it.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • edwardo

      @Truth7 – His is just??? really? Punishing someone thru eternity for a finite "crime" (if not believing something is a crime). Since when is that justice? When is eternal punishment justice for a finite crime?

      April 15, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  18. waitasec

    faith is only an opinion

    April 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • blastoff

      I think what many people call faith is really hope in disguise. Faith is actually a bad thing.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  19. Jesus Loves You

    As a Christian I believe in the the gods of all organized religions and in lephrechauns because, as ridiculous as it may seem, technically nobody can prove they do not exist.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • chris

      so if you had proof of god and had no choice but to believe you would then hate god for being a dictator and not offering freewill. id rather believe in leprechauns than be a hypocrite like you

      April 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Jesus Loves You

      I do not need proof because I know he is real. I know that because by taking a leap of faith I decline reason and all counter arguments. My blind faith allows me to reject your arguments based on logic which come from the devil.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • kreateur

      Hey Jesus Loves You, why would you take a leap of faith in a concept of deity created by man?

      If your logic is that "we can't disprove therefore i believe in it", then why not believe in what I tell you which is that on the planet booboo there is a bunny rabbit who speaks latin and crafts the most beautiful glass bowls. And in those bowls there is a spirit and that spirit is actually your counter spirit and the only way to be a complete human being is to believe in the master bunny foofoo which will then unlock your spirit and make you whole.

      I am no more qualified in my concept than the apostles who replicated jesus' story and therefore if you cannot prove that I am not privy to information about the galactic space bunny mr foofoo then you should believe in what I tell you.

      It's a story. Jesus was a political dissident. The world is too sick of a place for there to be any such perfection. And the fact that the world is suffering so much proves that there is no God and that it is man's delusion that perpetuates the madness of deity.

      Just be a good person and leave everyone alone.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Punisher2000

      And who can prove that they do exist? You are driven by the Devil to say things about blind fate. Thou art Succubus, thou art Incubus,and thyne number is 666

      April 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Punisher2000

      You are not even a true Christian. You say you are to mislead the true believers. You are a spawn of the Devil. You will burn in Hell, along with the others put on Earth by the Devil to confuse the true Christians. You are but a galah and a noisy one at that.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  20. Gordon

    This is one of the problems with not understanding the difference between faith and religion. Faith is the trust that you have been accepted by God even though you do not deserve it. Religion (specifically the God's Law, not the man-made traditions that were added by hypocrites) shows the requirement to have a relationship with God. Since no one can meet the requirements, we are all sentenced to die, both physically and spiritually.

    So how to you meet the requirements? You don't. God already did it for you, by sending His own Son Jesus Christ for sacrifice for all your infractions, past and future. Since Christ is blameless unlike us, He overcomes death, and the death sentence becomes invalid. You only need to have faith in God's free gift of redemption through His Son. Then you will want to follow God's Law, not as a chore, but because you know you are saved. Those who do not accept the gift, the death sentence will follow through.

    Religion only demonstrates that nobody can be accepted in God's kingdom on their own. Nobody can follow every single rule that meets the requirements of the perfect God's kingdom. You are deceiving yourself if you think you've reached nirvana/perfection or that there is a way to get there by your own works. Being "nice" and never having committed crime, or following "religious traditions" (especially all those man-made traditions created just to feel justified) all the way don't cut it. You still have selfish thoughts and capable of committing one single infraction of God's Law in your lifetime. Without faith, religion becomes a chore, and you will never meet the requirement in your lifetime.

    A lot of people follow religion but do not actually have faith. Some have weak faith and so don't follow religion. Most don't have faith and don't care about religion.

    Practicing religion without faith is like trying to follow the Law to avoid the death sentence that was already given. Won't work. By the way, you need to understand the true God's Law, not the religious traditions that were added by hypocrites who tried to justify their own works for salvation.

    April 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • waitasec

      faith is just another justification for good or bad behavior and it's quite interesting that one does not require faith to see that.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • mycoignofvantage

      Since when is a matter of Jewish faith about Christianity? How does you comment fit in here – it shouldn't and it is rude.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Truth7

      Very true. If one truly believed in God, and understood the teachings, they wouldn't be in a "religion" or a church listening to "man" teach them. God is to teach us.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • otto

      Religion gives us the disease and then offers us the cure.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • humberto

      - Faith is like good mother ( religion) telling her child, don't touch the pan it's hot.
      Of course it's out of reach.
      without faith in your mothers direction you pass into -religion
      - religion is touching the pan swearing not to do it again.

      April 15, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • sally

      If I don't meet the requirements and I'm not good enough, why did god create me?

      I thought he didn't make mistakes and all of his creations were perfect?

      You mean to tell me, that he created me just to condemn me? That is horrible!

      April 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Amy Naidoo

      I am Christian – not religious! I am technically Seventh-Day adventist, but, all the restrictions that MAN (the church) places on God's creatures that are interpretations (not biblical) creates a guilt that will kill us. God is God, whether we are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc. – He is an all powerful being that wants everyone to be saved for a better place. Faith and Grace is my guide – "Believe on the Lord (Jesus Christ) and you will be saved!" Believe it or not, it really is that simple!

      April 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.