Jainism: A religion of openness: 7-9-14
Explaining 'honor killings': 7-11-14

Surrounded by miracles: 7-10-14

There are, at base, two attitudes about miracles. One says nothing is a miracle. The other says everything is.

MiraclesI tend to belong to the latter group.

The first attitude once was expressed by the American humorist Elbert Hubbard this way: "A Miracle: An event described by those to whom it was told by men who did not see it."

The second attitude once found expression in words by Walt Whitman this way: "To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,/Every cubic inch of space is a miracle."

When I think of miracles, I think of long odds. Move back in time 1,000 or so years (quite a tiny span, given the age of the universe) and imagine, for instance, the odds that you would exist. Think just of all that had to happen in terms of sperm finding egg that brought into being your great-grandparents, your grandparents, your parents and you.

The odds were a hundredyskillion to one that you'd be here at all. (The term hundredyskillion is a highly technical one that I once made up to cover such circumstances.)

All of this talk about miracles on the 505th anniversary of the birth of Protestant reformer John Calvin (what if he had never lived?) brings me to this YouTube Torah commentary by my friend and co-author of one of my books, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn.

Jacques puts himself in the camp of those of us who tend to think of everything as miraculous. Have a listen. And in honor of Calvin, make sure that, like many of his followers, you're not a hyper-Calvinist.

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NORTH SPRINGFIELD, Vt. -- While I'm in Vermont for a family wedding don't look for the usual second item here on the blog. I hereby give you back a few extra minutes a day. Use them well. One way to do that is to read my latest National Catholic Reporter column, which now is online here.


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