On Mishpatim, Feminism and A Caring Community by Ivy Helman.

Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1 – 24:18 and 30:11-16) is the Torah portion for February 18, 2023.  Its name, mishpatim, means laws or ordinances, and the portion is essentially just that – a list of laws to be followed.  It is not the easiest parshah to follow as it jumps around, backtracks numerous times, and sometimes contradicts itself, particularly in the sections with Moses. 

That being said, there are two main themes in Mishpatim; both of which I have discussed in past blogs.  First is the death penalty.  There is an overabundance of crimes that result in the death penalty in this parshah.  Way, way too many.  Another theme is idolatry.  In many ways, that is a theme in the Torah itself.  For more on these themes from my feminist perspective, see here: Sh’lach; Ki Tisa; Shofetim ; and on b’tzelem Elohim.

Continue reading “On Mishpatim, Feminism and A Caring Community by Ivy Helman.”

From the Archives: A Feminist Retelling of Noah’s Ark

This was originally posted on May 4, 2018

My daughters came to me after Sunday School one day, concerned about a story they had heard in which God drowned almost everyone on Earth. So I sat down and thought about why a community might want to tell that story, and what valuable wisdom might be lifted from it for my children. Here is what I told them:

God/ess  has  many  faces,  which  help  us  understand  different  things we  need  to  know  at different  times. Sometimes we think of God/ess as Crone, an old, old  woman  crowned with silver hair as  an  emblem of her wisdom, who helps us  learn to let go of anything that is holding back the wellness of our community and ourselves. 

Continue reading “From the Archives: A Feminist Retelling of Noah’s Ark”

On the Good and the Bad of Behar by Ivy Helman

The Torah portion for May 21, 2022 is Behar (Leviticus 25:1 – 26:2).  In it, the Israelites receive instructions for sh’mita and yovel – two types of sabbatical years.  These years attempt to set up right relations between the community, the inhabitants of the land, and the land itself.  From an ecofeminist perspective, not all is as idyllic as the Torah wishes it to seem.   

Behar begins with sh’mitah, a sabbatical year that takes place every seventh year.  During sh’mitah, the land must lay fallow.  Both humans and animals can eat from what the land will naturally grow.  

Continue reading “On the Good and the Bad of Behar by Ivy Helman”

Last Tuesday Night by Marcia Mount Shoop

It’s been just over a week. Last Tuesday night to be exact. That’s the night the four of us huddled around our beloved companion of sixteen and a half years and said goodbye. 

Buck became a part of our family when he was three months old. We were living in Oakland, California at the time. My son was five and my daughter had just turned one. My husband was coaching for the Raiders and he was gone all the time. It wasn’t a great time to get a puppy on paper—but our hearts said otherwise, so we did. 

Just a little over a year earlier I had said goodbye to Tino. He’s the Blue Heeler that found me in a dream when I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That morning I woke up and just had to get a puppy. It was a visceral pull. And I went to the Santa Fe Human Society and there was the puppy from my dream. He didn’t look like any dog I had ever seen until my dream the night before. 

Continue reading “Last Tuesday Night by Marcia Mount Shoop”

A Deep Ecology of Horse Manure by Mary Sharratt

My recent move from Northern England to the Silver Coast of Portugal has been a radical change on so many levels. Not only am I coming to grips with a different climate and culture and immersed in learning a very challenging new language, I have embraced a completely different lifestyle.

For the first time ever, I can keep my beloved Welsh mare and matriarch, Ms. Boo, at home, along with her companion, the dashing Zinco, a very handsome but sometimes aloof Lusitano gelding. My pet name for him is Mr. Darcy.

I could have taken the easy route and put Boo on a livery yard that did all the care for me, but I wanted to give Boo a lifestyle with daily year round turn out in a big field and none of my local livery yards offered this, though I talked to some very kind and helpful people at these establishments. It’s just a different approach to horse care in Portugal, which prioritizes stabling horses and using their energy for training exercises and riding.

My life now literally revolves around horse care and feeding. As soon as it’s daylight, I’m out bringing them their morning feed before I even have my human breakfast or coffee. I bring them their evening feed some time before sunset. So my writing, intensive Portuguese classes, or whatever else I’m doing is necessarily book-ended by horse care. My “productivity” can suffer as a result. If you have animals or children or other care-taking duties, the care-taking always has to come first. My change in lifestyle prompted me to question precisely why our culture privileges such a narrow view of productivity in terms of working for and selling ourselves to the corporate world rather than caring for the land and beings all around us.

I addition, I poo-pick the field twice daily, a very time-consuming task. I was in a bit of a quandary whether all this meticulous poo-picking was actually necessary. Many UK-based sites insists it is an obligatory part of horse welfare to control both flies and the spreading of parasites. However, my Portuguese farmer neighbor and my farrier both hinted that I could just leave the stuff on the ground and it might actually be better for the soil if I did.

I actually don’t mind poo-picking. It’s good exercise and very meditative, especially in early morning when the sun is rising above the mist and the dew is sparkling on each blade of grass. The other morning I saw a magnificent full moon setting majestically over the Atlantic Ocean on the far Western horizon. It’s so serene and peaceful, just listening to the birds and the horses munching their hay. I feel like I’m entering a slower, more authentic world where time is measured not by smart phones bleeping at you but by the deep cycles of nature, the sun and the moon, and the distant chiming of village church bells.

Breakfast at dawn

I think if certain world leaders got up early to poo pick, they would spend far less time spreading verbal horse sh*t on Twitter.

In many ways this feels like a homecoming, a return to my roots. On both sides of my family, my grandparents were farmers and many of my first cousins and their children are still farmers. Although I’m not an actual farmer, keeping horses at home has made me an accidental small holder.

Alas, the consequence of my poo-picking habit is an ever-growing mountain of a muck heap. What to do with all this manure is a perplexing problem if you don’t have a manure spreader and other fields to spread it on. I offered it to the farmer next door, only to receive a lecture on his view that chicken poo, sheep poo, goat poo, and cow poo are all superior to horse manure! A hierarchy of poo! (It was this gentleman who hinted that I was better off just leaving the stuff where the horses dumped it.)

Nonetheless I have a most imposing muck heap that will only get bigger unless some action is taken. I posted that I had free horse manure to collect on some local gardening sites. So far two people have taken me up on it. Both people took as much manure as they could possibly squeeze into their cars–it hardly made a dent on my manure pile! But from them I learned some valuable tips on composting and have been inspired to dig out the mature stuff at the bottom of the pile to put on my roses and hydrangeas. Hint: if you ever have insomnia, spending a day carting wheelbarrows full of horse manure all around your garden will insure you sleep like a rock.

It’s something sad if horse manure is just viewed as an unwanted waste product instead of being recognized as part of the deep ecology of animal-keeping and gardening. Manure is compost in the making.

In the meantime, my “manure friends” who have collected the stuff for their gardens have gifted me with organic produce and homemade fig jam. I still have a lot to learn but this new life is teaching me so much. Living in harmony with nature isn’t just posting pictures of pretty flowers on Instagram. It’s getting actual dirt under your fingernails.

Mary Sharratt
is on a mission to write women back into history. Her acclaimed novel
Illuminations, drawn from the dramatic life of Hildegard von Bingen, is published by Mariner. Her new novel Revelations, about the globe-trotting mystic and rabble-rouser, Margery Kempe, will be published in April 2021. Visit her website.

Ant Hill by Sara Wright

Yesterday I gave a poetry reading at a local library beginning and ending with thoughts about how Climate Change is affecting all living things. I am a naturalist who holds the radical belief that all living things are sentient. I also argue that we must not equate animal intelligence with that of humans.

Almost every poem I read was about my intimate relationship with some aspect of the natural world, for example, the changing seasons, my friendship with sagebrush lizards, steadfast trees, Sandhill cranes, beloved Black bears. Intimacy and inter –relationship are part of every experience I have with nature and by sharing these poems I hoped might draw others in to new ways of perceiving the earth and her creatures.

The whole point of my focusing on non – human species was to raise awareness that these animals and plants desperately need our help. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough about how critical it is to bring animals, plants, trees, mushrooms into the picture in this age of the Anthropocene, that is, the period in which we live where a few men with power rule. Today, it is not an exaggeration to say that humans control every aspect of our fragile planet.

I repeat: Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough or perhaps almost no one was capable of listening? Maybe both. As soon as I concluded my reading one woman did actually bring up an incident involving a very difficult child who became attached to a lizard, so she at least, was on the track I hoped I had laid….

Continue reading “Ant Hill by Sara Wright”

A Blinding Light? by Sara Wright

Nature is a Living Being. Animals and plants have souls, and a spirit. Each species is unique, and yet we are all interconnected, human and non – human species alike. This is more than a both and perspective; its multi-dimensional.

Many books are written about using nature to heal humanity of its ills. ‘Recreate’. Climbing a mountain, or taking a walk are common examples of using nature to help ourselves, but how many of us are asking the question of how we can give back?

This is a question I was obsessed with for about thirty years and may be the reason I gained entrance into this seemingly secret world that we call Nature.* When I experienced unconditional love from both animals and plants I needed to reciprocate in kind. This idea of reciprocity between humans and the rest of Nature is probably similar to what Indigenous peoples experienced because they loved (or feared) and learned directly from animals, plants and trees. They respected animals, for example, for their unique qualities. Indigenous people never psychologized Nature the way westerners routinely do.

I rarely read books about Nature anymore because I am so troubled by this psychologizing. From my point of view psycho-babble is just another way of dismissing the reality of Nature as a living feeling, sensing, sentient Being.

Continue reading “A Blinding Light? by Sara Wright”

The Truth About Humans by Natalie Weaver

I have greatly enjoyed an odd little book I read over the summer.  It is Lucy Cooke’s The Truth About Animals (Basic Books, 2018). Cooke takes us through a journey of animal behavior, chronicling the curious narratives that naturalists, philosophers, theologians, and other high-thinking professionals impose on animals to render their behaviors meaningful, moral, and relevant.  Cooke shows us how tempting it has been historically for people to seek and discover confirmation of human values in all those other pairs so happily coupled on Noah’s Ark.

It has often been an important tool for feminists, as with other sets of thinkers, to make these connections as well.  And, as one familiar with the classical charges that women are more inherently corporeal than their spiritual-intellectual male counterparts, and that therefore women are more animal than the more accurately “human” form that their male counterparts represent, I understand the feminist investment in nature.  I appreciate that it involves a sort of ownership and redefinition of the slur; an acceptance of space and place as limited and essentially animal; an awareness of environmental sustainability; a deep sense of connection to the continuum of creaturely being that is the giant ecology of our planet.

Continue reading “The Truth About Humans by Natalie Weaver”

Independence Day? by Sara Wright

She haunts me

little bear,

too slight,

too wary

to seek

seed I cast

for her


White Pine

in whose strong arms

she finds

comfort and safety,

if only for one night.


The animals are innocent


Where was she when

exploding fireworks

whitened a black velvet sky

split stars night after night?

Where was she

when mindless drones

spewed raging gunfire

screaming for Right?

Who comforted her

in her fright?


The animals are innocent

Continue reading “Independence Day? by Sara Wright”

The Doorway Part Two by Sara Wright

When I look into his face

I wonder

what he is thinking

as he loses himself

in sweet mountain mist.

He’s alone now.

His fear of the unknown

keeps him vigilant

ears erect,

mouth tasting air

standing on two legs to see

beyond summer’s diaphanous veil.

No wonder he climbs trees.


He’s not yet two.

Did she warn him

about the others

before she left?

Two legged threats armed

with hatred,

the need to destroy life

men addicted to power,

who will gladly spew fire

through his gut,

strike out an eye, maim a paw

so he cannot flee?

Continue reading “The Doorway Part Two by Sara Wright”

A Beary Peaceful Day Part One by Sara Wright

It is overcast and a few drops of rain are falling. I have been out talking to Tree Bear (TB), a yearling who has brightened my life in these dark soul days. Tree Bear comes up the mossy pine strewn path to the clearing and peeks at me from behind his white pine intermittently as he snacks.

There are so many old felled trees full of tasty grubs and ants now that the spring grasses have matured and gone by; soon the berries will ripen and Tree Bear will begin to put on weight. Acorns will be the choice of food for fall. Few people know that Black Bears are 93 percent vegetarian.

The other night I watched TB in the cherry tree, sitting in the branches like a monkey calmly combing out his thick under fur as he munched on cherry leaves and hard green cherries. He is a healthy looking and very beautiful yearling with brown eyebrows and a bump in his nose that is only visible from some angles. He probably weighs 50 – 60 pounds and has some brownish fur in places.

He was recently separated from his mother who left him because she needed to mate and his little sister has also disappeared. His face is so full of compassion that it takes my breath away. I say compassion because my personal experience has taught me that some (if not all) of these animals understand human suffering and respond to it by taking concrete actions. One slept outside my window while my dog was dying, another came to sit by me one night while I was wildly weeping outside in the dark. Stark and hopeless depression brings them in. Empathy flows like a deep underground river between us – why – because bears like other animals have deep feelings that are not mediated by abstract intellectual rational thinking.

Continue reading “A Beary Peaceful Day Part One by Sara Wright”

Second Class Citizen by Sara Wright

Second Class Citizen


When he backed me

up against the tree

inching towards me


with his big powerful car

I couldn’t believe

what was happening.

I was holding the space

for a car full of dogs

waiting to park

just behind him.


He got out of the car

And I said

You can’t do this

this spot is taken.

Six feet tall, he sneered

You can’t save spaces

in a parking lot.

Continue reading “Second Class Citizen by Sara Wright”

On Belief and Action by Ivy Helman

29662350_10155723099993089_8391051315166448776_oMy birthday was last Wednesday.  Perhaps more than any other time of the year (yes, even more than Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), the days and weeks leading up to my birthday are filled with personal reflection.  Not that religious and secular new years don’t give me pause to reflect, but I think the lack of buzz around this personal event seems to offer me more space and time to think.

This year more than past years, I’ve been thinking about beliefs: what I believe in; how ideas and concepts that were important to me last year are less so this year and vice versa; how beliefs motivate me to act or not; what role belief plays in my life; why some beliefs demand solid resolve and others not so much; and so on.  I wanted to share with you some of my personal reflection. Continue reading “On Belief and Action by Ivy Helman”

A Feminist Retelling of Noah’s Ark by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir

My daughters came to me after Sunday School one day, concerned about a story they had heard in which God drowned almost everyone on Earth. So I sat down and thought about why a community might want to tell that story, and what valuable wisdom might be lifted from it for my children. Here is what I told them:
God/ess  has  many  faces,  which  help  us  understand  different  things we  need  to  know  at different  times.  Sometimes we think of God/ess  as  Crone,  an  old,  old  woman  crowned  with  silver  hair  as  an  emblem  of  her  wisdom,  who helps  us  learn  to  let  go  of  anything  that  is  holding  back  the  wellness  of  our  community  and ourselves.  Continue reading “A Feminist Retelling of Noah’s Ark by Trelawney Grenfell-Muir”

Musings On My Recent Road Trip by Esther Nelson

I love a road trip.  It’s exciting to get behind the wheel of a car, get out on the highway (or bi-way), and just go.  The road seems to stretch out forever in front of me, full of possibilities, adventure, and fun.  Again, this summer I drove two thirds of the way across the United States from Virginia to New Mexico and back again.  I varied my route because why not?  The country is vast and diverse.  I want to see as much of it as I can.  The broad, open, colorful skies of Texas and New Mexico.  The wheat fields in Kansas.  The green, rolling hills of Kentucky and Tennessee.  On this particular trip back to Virginia, though, one of the sights disturbed me deeply.

The second day of my journey eastward, I drove from Amarillo, Texas, to Springfield, Missouri.  All along the panhandle of Texas and into Oklahoma, I encountered feedlots.  These are places where cattle live for several months in order to fatten up before slaughter.  The animals are fed grain (mainly corn), growth hormones, and antibiotics.  They live in crowded spaces and in the feedlots I saw, the cattle had difficulty walking due to the layers of muck, mire, and manure all over the ground.  I could smell a feedlot long before I saw one.  The stench nauseated me.

Continue reading “Musings On My Recent Road Trip by Esther Nelson”

What is the Most Dangerous Breed? by Karen Leslie Hernandez

karen hernandezAs I wrote in November, I am currently working at the San Francisco SPCA. I took the job to bring something different in to my life as I do the heavy work involved with my Doctor of Ministry. I LOVE my job, I love the people I work with, and I certainly love when I get to play with animals, and more, when I adopt out an animal to their forever home.

As I move through this position and I learn more, I encounter, many times, the concern if the breed of dog up for adoption is “dangerous.” Pit Bulls, Huskies, Rottweilers – they all have a stereotypical reputation for biting and/or attacking, and are therefore banned from many apartment complexes where other types of dogs are allowed.

This all seems puzzling to me, because as my colleagues and I do our very best to save as many animals as we can, it’s the humans that are causing the harm to the animals in the first place. Animals don’t usually attack, unless they are taught to. Animals come to the SPCA and other shelters because they are strays, abandoned, or mistreated. By humans.

This has me thinking … what is the most dangerous breed? I continually have a different answer for this. Continue reading “What is the Most Dangerous Breed? by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

A Small Glimpse Into God’s Creation, In a Window by Karen Leslie Hernandez

karen hernandezWindows. We have windows everywhere. In our homes, stores, cars, buildings, our souls. Windows allow us to see in, see out, and reflect. We see ourselves, others, creation.

This Autumn, I began a new job at the San Francisco SPCA, thanks to my daughter who also works at the SF SPCA as a Vet Tech. First things first – I love this job! As I pursue my Doctor of Ministry with a concentration in restorative justice and domestic violence advocacy, which includes me tutoring women in prison every week, and as I continue my work as an interfaith activist in this religiously and politically charged environment we are in right now, I wanted a job I had never done before, and more, a job that would bring me joy. So, I was offered and accepted a job doing adoptions at the SF SPCA – not just at the adoption center, but at Macy’s.

For the past 30 years, the SF SPCA has adopted out animals at several department stores during the holiday season in San Francisco, with Macy’s being their primary partnership for over the last decade. Known as Holiday Windows, every year, over 200 kittens and puppies are adopted out of the Macy’s windows alone, bringing happiness and a lot fur to people’s homes.

I love being a part of this event. Taking care of more than a dozen kittens and several puppies a day isn’t always easy, but, it makes me smile. All the time. And, it’s difficult to explain the feeling when you see people outside who walk up to the windows and see kittens and puppies who are up for adoption. They melt, they smile, they ask questions, and they appreciate the work the SF SPCA is doing.

For me, this job has an even deeper meaning. As a native to the Bay Area, being born in San Francisco, I have a different history with the Macy’s windows, that goes back to when I was a kid. Whenever I went to the City with my Mom, I couldn’t wait to hang out under the Macy’s window with a homeless man named John, and his dog Snoopy. Continue reading “A Small Glimpse Into God’s Creation, In a Window by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

The Dog and the Divine by Ivy Helman

20151004_161012When I was in high school, I once gave a speech summarizing what I had learned about G-d through my dog.  I still chuckle at the idea.  I cringe sometimes and wonder what others thought of the piece.  Oh, the seeming immaturity of such an idea and perhaps naiveté.  I’m still embarrassed by my high school self.

The connection, on which I drew, included some of the ways I had come to love my four-legged friend as well as the way I interpreted his actions as love for me.  I remember I had a list of ten things my dog had taught me about the divine.  There was definitely a mention of unconditional love, being happy to see me, probably something about not being angry or ever holding a grudge, sharing secrets, perhaps a lesson on patience, and, of course, many more which I can’t remember.  This is beginning to sound like my blog post about Hanukkah, isn’t it? What were the other two nights?  What were the other six comparisons?  Oh, never mind. Continue reading “The Dog and the Divine by Ivy Helman”

Drop the sense of entitlement towards life by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaAt the time of climate change and crises of capitalism we need to drop our sense of entitlement to comfortable life or even to life at all. Nature will not spare us just because we are humans. When the meltdown of economic and environmental systems occurs, we are all going down: humans and non-humans, women and men, spiritual or not. We have almost run out of time.

Victor Pelevin, my favourite contemporary Russian author, has a novel called “The Sacred Book of the Werewolf“. I love it in part because, like Kill Bill, it is a rare creation by a male author, which manages to capture the female warrior spirit.

surprise___you__re_a_werewolf_by_mightywarlordIt starts with the main character, a Chinese Buddhist Were Fox who lives in present-day Moscow, consoling herself: “What else (or What the fuck) did you expect from life, A Huli?” A Huli is her name, supposedly meaning Fox A in Chinese. It is also a swear phrase in Russian, meaning “What the fuck?”

Continue reading “Drop the sense of entitlement towards life by Oxana Poberejnaia”

Liberation Lessons for Pesach by Ivy Helman

Each year we read the story of our exodus from Egypt during the Pesach seder. The story is one of human liberation from oppression. Yet, most of the imagery we encounter, the drama of the story so to speak, involves nature: a river that saves a baby, a burning bush, the plagues, the re(e)d sea, the wilderness, lack of food and water and the promised land itself. What does this mean?

In general, it means that human liberation is intimately connected to the liberation of all of creation.  In particular, the exodus story can teach us many lessons about environmental justice.  I’m going to explore five of them here: do not manipulate nature, use water wisely, form a connection to the land, imagine G-d differently and treat humans, animals and the land well.

Continue reading “Liberation Lessons for Pesach by Ivy Helman”

Exuberant Noise by Safa Plenty


 She is the firefly
that lights up our nights,
her cherubed face,
and cheeky smile,
laying siege on our living spaces.

Her tiny form occupying,
our basement steps,
as she joyously serenaded us
in an infantile song,
spanglish laced with berber.

Her two energetic companions,
careening from couch
to table, then to floor,
laughing and screaming,
racing feet threading
across laminate floors. Continue reading “Exuberant Noise by Safa Plenty”

Watching “Noah” Brought Me Closer to Humanity by Andreea Nica

Andreea Nica, pentecostalismAs a child, I enjoyed the story of Noah’s Ark. I would often imagine pairs of animals running for safety in Noah’s architecturally majestic haven. Practical questions didn’t enter my mind during this blissful period of naivety. I ignored the part where God expressed regret in creating humanity, or when Noah gets drunk and lies bare naked for his children to cover his shame. My bible study teacher would explain to us that the point of the story was that Noah, a holy man, trusted God and carried out his will.

Disclaimer: I understand that the film is not meant to be an exact representation of the story in the bible, but loosely based around it. Also, if you plan on watching the film, read at your discretion.

In the film, Noah’s character is played by leading actor Russell Crowe, who appears strong, confident, and zealous in his trust in God – all necessary qualities to fulfill God’s demand of killing off the rest of humanity because of their wickedness. Later in the film, Noah realizes that he and his family are also wicked leading to his revelation, ahem, God’s revelation, that humanity must cease with Noah’s family. This doesn’t pan out too well with his children and wife. It was also bad news for Emma Watson, the orphan girl Noah’s family saves and raises as their own, who after accepting that she is barren is miraculously healed and gives birth to two girls. Noah decides that the female infants must die according to God’s will to end humanity. Continue reading “Watching “Noah” Brought Me Closer to Humanity by Andreea Nica”

A Sojourn in Antartica by Marcia Mount Shoop

Marcia headshotOk, so it’s not Antarctica, it’s Indiana, but it sure feels like Antarctica lately.

At least it’s what I figure Antarctica must feel like: bone chilling wind that can cause hypothermia and frost bite in a matter of minutes; everything as far as the eye can see white—sometimes no horizon, or blue sky, or any distinction between the celestial world and ours. Continue reading “A Sojourn in Antartica by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Be-pistemology by Marcia Mount Shoop

Marcia headshotEpistemology—the study or theory of the nature and the ground of knowledge, particularly with respect to the limits and validity of knowledges and the sources of knowledge.

Beingthe qualities and characteristics that constitute conscious existence; a living thing. 

I look outside the open window of my temporary apartment and read and re-read the sign that beckons drivers to notice this unspectacular place.   “Welcome Home” it says in black Times New Roman font on a plain white background.  As if saying it so simply, makes it true.

It doesn’t feel much like home to me right now.  And thankfully it doesn’t really need to.  Soon I will move into a new house.  Then I will take the next step in working to make a home in this new place where my family and I have moved.  For my husband, kids, and me, the knowledge that the apartment is temporary helps us deal with the strangeness of it.  We know it’s not for long.  And knowing that helps us behave in certain ways and cultivate particular expectations.   This mode of operations allows us to bide our time.  We have done just enough settling in to feel ok here—unpacked a suitcase, stocked the refrigerator.  But we won’t hang pictures; we won’t be too intentional about meeting the neighbors.  Being cordial is enough.  After all, this isn’t really home.  My nine-year-old daughter has actually made a rule that no one is allowed to call this apartment “home.” Continue reading “Be-pistemology by Marcia Mount Shoop”

Speaking Up for Animals by Grace Yia-Hei Kao

I hope that readers will rethink their consumer choices, monies that have long been offered at the expense of nonhuman animals–overwhelmingly female and exploited because of their female biology. We choose where our money goes, and in the process, we choose whether to boycott cruelty and support change, or melt ambiguously back into the masses.”  

Continue reading “Speaking Up for Animals by Grace Yia-Hei Kao”

Why a Kippah Reminds Me that Rationality Should Not Be Our Only Imago Dei By Ivy Helman

Neil Gilman in his book Sacred Fragments writes, “Since our faculty of reason is G-d-given, since it is the quality that distinguishes us from the rest of creation, and since all human beings share that same innate faculty, what better way to establish the veracity of a religious tradition than by demonstrating its inherent rationality?”  To be fair, Gilman is not the only and definitely not the first to support this position.  Many theologians, especially those influenced by various Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, have said the same thing.  In the Roman Catholic tradition, Thomas Aquinas is adamant that rationality is humanity’s imago dei, how we are made in the image of God – what the beginning of Bereshit (Genesis) suggests.  Descartes argues, “I think therefore I am.

Patriarchy emphasizes rationality as divinely given over and above other attributes that humans share with non-human life – like instinct, growth and maturity, life and death, memory, caring, empathy, dependence, interconnectedness, relationality, and communication (in all its forms, not just speech).  Continue reading “Why a Kippah Reminds Me that Rationality Should Not Be Our Only Imago Dei By Ivy Helman”

(Non-Human) Animals on the Agenda by Grace Yia-Hei Kao

“[E]thical interest in nonhuman animals is flourishing.”

To my delight, the New York Times recently chronicled the growing scholarly interest in human/non-human animal interactions in a story entitled “Animal Studies Cross Campus to Lecture Hall.” There are now more than 100 courses in colleges and universities in the burgeoning field of animal studies. At least 40 U.S. law schools now routinely offer courses in animal law. A growing number of formal academic programs, book series, journals, conferences, institutes, and fellowships are also dedicated to (re)examining human-animal relations from a variety of disciplinary perspectives—“art, literature, sociology, anthropology, film, theater, philosophy, [and] religion,” to name a few.

Continue reading “(Non-Human) Animals on the Agenda by Grace Yia-Hei Kao”

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