Tucson's Ground Breaking
Unleavened Bread Breaking
today that doesn't believe their ‘freedom’ is being impinged upon in one manner or another.
the Jews from the Egyptians. This freedom to breathe as a sovereign individual, to create one’s own
destiny, certainly is worthy of celebration and contemplation by those who have suffered.
But can the concept of the Seder be made inclusive of non-Jews and still retain its validity? Tom
Warne, a board member of Tucson, Arizona’s Jewish Community Relations Council believes it can.
Recently he co-chaired an unusual event in which the Tucson community joined together to experience
an observance of the Seder. And in the process, they got to do a little reinventing of the wheel, which
was fine with Warne. (continued on page two)
HYPOCRISY: Whenever humans aspire to rise above their mortalmindsets into their divine natures, sporadic failure is inevitable.
Thus, hypocrisy long has been a popular charge against the religious. With the flap surrounding Mel Gibson's ugly drunken display
and his ensuing attempts to apologize, religious hypocrisy is back in the news. I suppose we could all just stop reaching for God
and so avoid the charge of hypocrisy, but where would that leave us?
Recently I posed a question concerning religious hypocrisy to three men who have spent lives devoted to their religions.
What follows is their respective responses. The question was:
Many who do not belong to a house of worship cite the 'hypocrisy' of religions as their justification
for rejecting religious affiliation. Inevitably such people cite as examples: religious wars, corruption
and sexual scandals. How do those of us who belong to an organized religion respond to these charges?
Stanley A. Nelson, Ph.D, M.Div.
Dr. Nelson retired as Senior Professor of Theology from Golden Gate Seminary. Prior to that post, he held numerous
positions, including working for the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board and serving as the pastor of four Southern
Baptist churches in Texas, Kansas and North Carolina. He also spent three sabbatical leaves at Oxford University in
England studying at Regent's Park College. He is an accomplished essayist and author.
Organized religion! Early in ministry when I was yet pastoring a local church, and while facing numerous situations,
my frustration level was rising. A wise person took me aside and told me, "There are a certain number of horse's rear
people per square foot in all institutions, and the church is no exception." I chose to accept this report as valid, and years
in religious institutional life, and living and serving on three different continents, have brought no qualifications to the
In institutional life there are times when an inversion of purposes happens. In our democratic process, elections are by
politics, meaning chosen people will represent the polis -- the people. Then an inversion takes place. Those elected to
serve the people, instead begin benefiting themselves. This inversion is a betrayal of the public trust. This also happens
in the church. The church is especially vulnerable when government and church begin to hold hands and dance together.
But then, tell me, where would you like for hypocrites, needy people who are struggling with identity and with various
demons go? Is not the church a good gathering place? The church after all is for the sick, the weak, and the struggling.
Those who are healthy often feel no necessity to gather with us.
But there is another question associated with this issue -- why are there in the fellowship of the churches so many
wholesome, responsible people who are good neighbors, workers in the community, supporters of neighborhood projects,
and feel a responsibility to a part of the redemptive work of God throughout the world? That question also needs a response.
--Dr. Stan Nelson
Rabbi Lawrence Goldmark
Rabbi Goldmark has served as the Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth Ohr of La Mirada since 1979. Currently, he serves
as Executive Vice President of the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis. Among many other positions he served as
President of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California from 1997-1999. He is the Jewish Chaplain for St. Jude Medical
Center in Fullerton, CA.
There are many responses to the question of why a person should belong to a house of worship. My late colleague,
Rabbi Richard Hertz of Detroit, wrote the following:
"The need for belonging to a congregation is not only sound religion but sound psychology as well. To put your best
foot forward and give your best to the world, you must contribute yourself. You must identify yourself and share in the life
of the community. You get a sense of life's enrichment when you become part of something larger and more important
than your own social circle."
"All of us sense the need for greater resources than our own Yet some people have said, 'Why bother joining a Temple?
I can be religious without it. I can live the ten commandments and the golden rule in my home and in my business. I can
think better alone than I can do in a crowd. I can worship God in the hills or by the sea. Why go to services and listen to
sermons when my religion is complete without needing that sort of thing.'"
"That may sound good, but does he really act that way? How often does he actually go to a mountain top and think of
God, or pray when he goes fishing? The chances are that God is worshipped more frequently in houses built in His
name and set aside for His worship than any place else. One father said to his little girl, 'Come on, we can say our
prayers on the beach.' The little girl replied, 'But we won't, will we?'"
"Rare is the person who can maintain his religious outlook without stimulus from those who share his values or
devotion None of us lives a life of moral perfection. None of us lives unto himself. These days, anyone who genuinely
tries to live a life of moral values needs all the assistance he can get. I know of no better place to get the aid."
"The parasitic hypocrisy of the unaffiliated is most clearly revealed when, stripped of all pretense, he calls for the rabbi
in time of joy or sorrow. Yet he ignores the institutions that make it possible for the rabbi to minister to his people. The
unaffiliated person becomes a hitch-hiker. He depends upon others to carry the load."
"Not everyone who is affiliated with a synagogue automatically becomes a religious person, but certainly no one
unsynagogued can expect to be a religious Jew. He can be a secular Jew, a checkbook Jew, a kaddish Jew, a
delicatessen Jew, a gastronomic Jew, a frightened Jew, cardiac Jew, but never a religious Jew and to my mind never
a complete Jew."
"We need Jews who will stand up and be counted as such, who want their families to be a part of the Jewish
community and their children taught to feel part of an eternal people. We need the spirit of those Jews who will
add to their commitment and their enthusiasm to the joy of being a Jew."
--Rabbi Lawrence Goldmark
Father Greg currently teaches theology and serves as Chaplain at St. Francis High School in La Canada, CA.
In 1994, Cardinal Roger Mahony appointed him Director of the L.A. Archdiocese's Media Relations Office. He
has appeared regularly on TV and radio, including on KABC Radio's "Religion on the Line" and KCBS-TV's
"Today's Religion." He also hosted his own show, "Clergy on Call" for KPLS radio.
Many times, people outside faith communities accuse believers of committing hypocrisy because we fail to live
up to the moral standards our faiths possess and profess. They are absolutely correct, of course; we are hypocrites.
You see, there are only two types of people in this world: the hypocrites who belong to faith communities and the
hypocrites who don't! Yes, we are all hypocrites in one way or another, a hypocrite being one who fails to live up to
what one believes to be good and just, right and true, all of the time.
The big difference is that those who belong to faith communities at least participate in a way of life that demands that
they face their failures and strive to do better. Religious people believe themselves accountable to a Higher Authority
(just like in the Hebrew National Hot Dog commercials) who forgives them when they sincerely seek His mercy with
contrition and with a firm purpose of improving.
But to whom are the other hypocrites -- the non-religious -- accountable? Themselves? Each other? The changing,
ephemeral trends of society? The historical fact is that more sorrow, bloodshed, and death have been heaped upon
the world and its people by the non-religious hypocrites of the twentieth century, morally accountable to no one, than
by all the religious hypocrites who went before, combined!
We religious hypocrites have beliefs which call us to become better and nobler...we generally strive to answer that call.
Can the non-religious hypocrites make the same claim?
--Gregory Coiro, O.F.M. Cap.
The Little Man
Sunday I wore one of my favorite necklaces to church. My husband bought it for me
in Sedona, Arizona. It’s a wonderful example of Southwest jewelry: A hammered
silver cross with scalloped edges that’s two inches in length. It's studded with ame-
thysts, garnets and turquoise and possesses an earthy elegance. Small wonder I
consider it a unusual treasure. The husband earned big points that day.
I can’t put it on without remembering “the story.” You see, my husband chatted with
the saleswoman in the shop as he selected the necklace. Shaking her head, the
woman related an incident that had happened a few days earlier. It seems two teenage
girls had come in to shop. One wanted to buy a cross necklace. She described to the
saleswoman what she was looking for, ending her explanation with, “But I want a cross
without the little man on it.”
I remain in disbelief that a semi-educated person could utter those words. However,
on Sunday a deeper perspective swept over me.
A few years ago I had the privilege of hearing the 14th and current Dalai Lama speak
in Pasadena. He covered many subjects during his appearance with a speakers’
bureau, although I doubt I could quote you anything specific he said that evening
(I'm blond, you know.) But his demeanor remains startlingly
vivid in my heart. His face is a study in open joy. His smile
rivals the sun's light. Peacefulness enters the room with
him. He lacks a shred of pretense and is devoid of intel-
lectualism. Religiosity is a stranger to him. He is the most
child-like man I’ve ever observed. And for several days
after seeing him, I felt a peculiar sense of balance within
For all his unworldly sweetness, the Dalai Lama is a man
who fled to India in 1959, when the People’s Republic of
China took control of Tibet. He is a world-respected leader-
in-exile, working for the autonomy of his country. Chances are he will never again
go home. He is a highly-educated man with heavy burdens…and yet he exudes the
delight of a child. He is steeped in happy humility. The highest compliment I can think
of to pay him is to call him “a little man.” He is “little” because he obviously has let go
of self-importance…perhaps of any sense of “self” at all. And he is a “man” because
he so completely accepts his humanity and identifies with all life around him. He
understands that “Oneness” is All. And he is gleeful about it.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus said to his disciples, “…whoever would be great
among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be
the slave of all.” He was rebuking James and John for asking to sit at his side in
heaven. Had Jesus known him, I’m quite sure he would have used the Dalai Lama
as an example of what he meant by the “first” becoming the slave of all. He would
have loved the Dalai Lama’s humility, his sense of "littleness.”
At the same time, Jesus was also speaking prophetically about himself. He showed
his eternal Greatness by becoming the smallest sacrificial Lamb of God on the cross.
By enduring the hatred, the scorn, the weakness and humiliation of all humanity he
lowered himself into the triumph of overcoming death and demonstrating Eternity.
Truly the greatest willingly lived as the least, and the Exalted was the most humble.
As we prepare to celebrate His lowly birth in the manger, we can look ahead with
reverential love to Easter and the ultimate lesson of the cross.
Actually, I think that teenage girl in the Sedona jewelry shop was onto something.
The figure on the cross truly is the “Little Man.” For all eternity.
--Lisa Bowman for The Religion Network