Julian Edleman changes everything!

Each month my children each receive a free book from PJ Library, an organization that sends free books that celebrate Jewish values and culture to Jewish families across America and Canada.

Last week the newest books arrived. They tend not to be my favorite stories. Perhaps part of the problem is that I'm not Jewish, but while they do an excellent job teaching Jewish culture and values, they tend to be light on humor, antagonists, and conflict.

I find them a little boring.  

Elysha opened the latest books and began raving about one that she remembered reading at a child. "Yeah, yeah," I thought. "Another sweet little book with no stakes, no bad guy, no car chases, and no laughs."

A little while later I rose from my computer and took a peak at the book she had been holding. Just as I thought. No sword fights. No blood. No evil emperor. No underwear jokes. Blah.

Then I looked at the other book that had arrived. The one she didn't mention. My eyes immediately settled on the author of this book:

Julian Edelman.

"Julian Edelman!" I shouted. "This book is written by Julian Edelman!"

"Who's that?" Elysha asked.

"Who's Julian Edelman? Just the best receiver on the Patriots since the days of Randy Moss and Troy Brown! And apparently Jewish! Julian Edelman! I can't believe it!"

Flying High is the story of a squirrel named Jules who learns to overcome his physical limitations through hard work and the assistance of a goat named Tom.

If you know anything about the Patriots, you understand the genius of this plot. 

Julian Edelman is an undersized player - my height, in fact - who played quarterback in college and transformed himself into one of the finest receivers (and former two-way player) in the league.

Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T. - an expression in sports that means Greatest of All Time.  

It's true. There wasn't much conflict in the story and very little humor, but still... Julian Edelman wrote the book. 

I couldn't wait to read it to the kids. It was truly the first PJ Library book that excited me in the same way Elysha, Clara, and Charlie are so often excited about these books.

I guess even a blind squirrel can find a nut every now and again.

FlyingHighBookFront.jpg

My Jewish daughter understands Easter - and religion - perfectly.

Easter morning. My Jewish children scamper around the house, searching for Easter eggs.

Clara, my seven year-old says:

"I think Easter is about thinking sweet thoughts. Soft things. That's why we get candy. To make us think of sweet things."

Clara has also told me that she plans to marry someone who isn't Jewish so she can "celebrate lots of holidays and learn about lots of different stuff and know lots of different people."

If only everyone thought a little bit more like Clara.

A little less tribal. Actually, a lot less tribal.  
A little more openminded.
A little more willing to embrace difference.

I think she might have this religion thing figured out perfectly.

A simple geographic reminder to those overly insistent, overly-aggressive people of faith

When someone becomes overly insistent and overly aggressive about the truth behind their deeply held religious beliefs, I like to remind them that their deeply held religious beliefs are almost certainly predicated upon geography.

For the vast majority of people, religious belief simply correlates to where they spent most of their childhood. It is not a found or discovered belief but an inherited one. In the United States, for example, 56% of people affiliated with organized religion were born into that religion, and another 20% have merely changed church affiliation within the Christian or Jewish faith.

As a result, more than three-quarters of Americans espouse a religious belief because they were born in the United States to parents who had the same belief. 

But let's be honest: 

If these same people were born in Saudi Arabia, they would almost certainly be Islamic.

If they were born in Tibet, they would almost certainly be Buddhist. 

If they were born in India, they would likely be Hindu.

Considering that 23% of Americans are nonbelievers, this means that less than 3% of Americans are currently affiliated with a religious belief that they did not inherit upon birth and is not based upon their childhood mailing address. 

So relax, you overly aggressive religious interlopers. 

I'm not saying that your geographically inherited religious belief is any less important, meaningful, valid, or spiritually satisfying as a belief (or absence of belief) that is realized only after careful study and introspection.

I'm only saying that this is true if you are attempting to impose your geographically-based beliefs upon others through some political, legal, or economic means.

Your religious belief may be true to you, but just remember why you probably think it's true and let the rest of us believe what we want, absent of any judgment or persecution.