Religion and Politics
Spirituality & Health|Jan/Feb 2021
For ME God is the Aliveness Happening IN, WITH, AND AS ALL EXISTENCE.

It seems to me that religion and politics are inextricably intertwined. So much so, in fact, that I think religion is simply politics by another name. Was this always the case or is this something new?

Rabbi Rami: Religion and politics have been intertwined from the beginning. While some argue religion is about ethics and politics is about power, I would say both are about power. For example, every religion, albeit each in its own way, affirms the ethic of “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31), yet every religion defines “neighbor” in such a way so as to restrict love to those people the politically powerful find useful. This is religious ethics in service to political power, at which point the difference between religion and politics is moot.

I’m not religious but I do believe in God. My son asked me to define what I mean when I say “God.” When I said I couldn’t, he challenged me to stop using words I couldn’t define. Do you think he’s right?

Yes. While I understand that many people find the word “God” comforting in and of itself without needing to define it, I suggest you avoid using words that you cannot define. When I use the word “God,” I am speaking of Chiut, the Hebrew word for “aliveness.” For me God is the Aliveness happening in, with, and as all existence. This is similar to St. Paul’s definition of God as “that in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Either learn to articulate what you mean when you use the word “God” or use another word you can define.

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