• I AM A CONVINCED UNIVERSALIST – by William Barclay

    I was really pleased to learn that one my favorite Bible commentary author was a Universalist. This short essay lays out some good arguments why a literal, eternal hell is contrary to the idea of a loving God.

  • 2013

    Interfaithfamily.com: Is Conversion Necessary for Acceptance? Choosing to Participate in an Interfaith Havurah

    As a committed Christian, I knew that conversion was not going to be my choice. I celebrated with my friends as they completed their conversions, and I listened carefully when they repeated their vows before the congregation. “Of my own free will, I choose to enter the eternal Covenant between God and the people of Israel and to become a Jew. I accept Judaism to the exclusion of all other religious faiths and practices. Under all circumstances I will be loyal to the Jewish people and to Judaism. I promise to establish a Jewish home and to participate actively in the life of the synagogue and of the Jewish community. I commit myself to the pursuit of Torah and Jewish knowledge. If I should be blessed with children, I promise to raise them as Jews.”

    I spent a lot of time contemplating these vows when fellow havurah member Susan celebrated her conversion. Susan and I had grown particularly close after we learned that we had grown up in rural Southern Illinois towns less than twenty miles from each other. We talked often about our families, our similar upbringings, and the progress of her journey toward conversion. Susan was the last woman in our group to convert, and it was disappointing to both of us that because I wasn’t Jewish I couldn’t participate in her conversion by joining her at the mikvah. But I knew that my journey could not be the same as hers as I thought about the conversion vows–I could willingly make many of the promises, but I could not promise to accept Judaism to the exclusion of all other religious faiths and practices. Although I could not be there physically, Susan knew when she went to the mikvah that I joined her in spirit.

    I really liked this author’s description of life in her interfaith havurah (a small independent Jewish community, which seems to be very similar to the phenomenon of house churches in Christianity) but was also torn by how that the practice of Jewish conversion was one that required adherence to one faith and only one faith.

    Why should it be that way? I realize that it might seem like heresy to some, but why can’t a person practice more than one faith at the same time? I’ll leave that question where is for tonight, but it is a question I will be thinking and talking about more in the future.


    A new leaf for this blog

    The very few people who out there who still read this blog know that I frequently make a resolution to change the direction of what I’m blogging about (see 1, 2, & 3)… well I guess I’m going to do it again.

    My wife started writing a blog around a few months back called Our Last Homely House, which has made me long for the time when I blogged regularly. But I also am beginning to embark on some new changes in my life, so I think it is time to start blogging more regularly again.

    The two changes of late are that I have began working again as a part-time pedicab driver (my third job after my part-time work as an attorney and a Mennonite minister) but also that I have begun half-time studies at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (through their hybrid online/in-person M.Div Program). It is these two areas of my life (cycling for hire and being a seminary student) that I will be writing out for the near future…. and one more subject, that is the joys (and frustrations) of trying to do these things while also being an engaged and joyful father to a six-year old and a husband to a woman who both delights and challenges me (in all of the best ways possible).

    So, that’s the new direction. I might touch on other subjects but for the most part I want to stay focused on these areas of interest.