My Invocation at the George Rupp lecture

I was asked to deliver the invocation at a time when the world was reeling from the revelations from Abu Gharib. Here's what I came up with:


Rudin Lecture, May 11, 2004

Eternal One, may it be your will that our coming together here, tonight, for a short time, will inspire and renew us.

Though we come together from diverse religious traditions, with particular theologies and practices that guide us, may we invoke your name tonight together as a sign of shared gratitude for the ability to join together in this space. May we use the freedom and wealth that we are blessed with to make the lives of others more joyful and bearable.

Blessed Holy One, this week our hearts have been heavy. At this time of war and images of brutality, may we be given the courage and strength to put aside the inner cynic, the nasty, brutish and short voice that leads us to look at an atrocity and say “well, this kind of thing always happens.” Give us the strength to say “It does not have to be this way.” Give us the wisdom to learn from this as a nation– and to move forward as a world power with both humility and responsibility. In the face of increased hostility towards us, even in the face of acts of vengeance aimed to rattle us, help us to rise to our highest ideals, and to respond to chaos with calm and clarity.

Source of Life, as you heard the cries of the stranger’s child, of the enslaved Hebrews in Egypt, of the repentant King David in his chambers may we hear the voices that call out at this hour. May we hear, and respond with our own outsretched hands.

The Big House

This past Monday I taught in Sing Sing to a group of inmates in the Masters of Theology program. 10 Christians, 4 Muslims, most of them lifers. It was intense being in the complex -- located on a magnificent site overlooking the Hudson -- and the students were clearly engaged. One of the best questions was "Have they come out with a new edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica? Our edition in the prison library in 1972, and I was wondering if there have been any discoveries of new aggadic materials!"


Sacred Space

Yesterday we had our Sacred Space conference. University of Chicago's Jonathan Z. Smith was the highlight - an eccentric Durkheimian. We also visited the Manhattan Mormon Temple. Here are some photos. . One of the protestant ministers on the tour said "Gosh, it looks like a funeral home."