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By Rabbi Marc Gellman | December 27, 2013
My end-of-the-year report on Tommy: Fr. Tom Hartman, my pal and former partner in all the God Squad stuff, including this column, is still suffering with Parkinson's disease. He lives in a nursing home, where the people love him and care for him. Both his hands are stiff and he's in a wheelchair. He has trouble remembering things and even greater difficulty communicating, but I know what he means just by looking in his eyes. I always barge into Tommy's room or his floor yelling, "I am Rabbi Marc Gellman, and I am Father Tom Hartman and we are...the God Squad.
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NEWS
By Billy Graham | December 20, 2013
Q: A family in our apartment complex comes from a country that isn't Christian. Do you think they'd be offended if we asked them for Christmas dinner? We don't know them very well, but I can tell they're kind of lonely. — Mrs. E.N. A: I seriously doubt if they would be offended. In fact, they might be honored to be invited into an American home. The Bible says, "Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality" (Romans 12:13). At the same time, ask God to help you to be sensitive to them and their customs.
NEWS
By Rabbi Marc Gellman | December 20, 2013
I love Christmas. I love Christmas the way a friend who loves you, but has not been raised like you, loves it. I don't want Christmas to be my holiday, but in America it must be partly my holiday because of the way Christmas washes over its theological banks and changes America for the better. I'm happy to love Christmas the way all of us should learn to love those holidays that are great but not ours. I love Christmas the way some Christians I know love Passover. Every year, when he was well, my dearest friend, Fr. Tom Hartman, came to my house for Passover, and he ate everything but the horseradish.
NEWS
By Billy Graham | December 13, 2013
Q: I know I shouldn't get upset when people criticize me, but I just can't help it. Even when I know they're wrong, it still upsets me and sends me into an emotional tailspin. How can I learn to handle criticism? — Mrs. M.S. A: I doubt if anyone likes to be criticized, particularly when they know it isn't deserved. (That's one reason, incidentally, why we should be very careful about criticizing others.) The Bible condemns those who have "tongues as sharp as a serpent's; the poison of vipers is on their lips" (Psalm 140:3)
NEWS
By Rabbi Marc Gellman | December 13, 2013
Q: I'm a physicist without religious conviction, but I'm very interested in religion and I've read a good deal about some faiths. One of my favorite things to read is your column each week. Here's my question: Modern physics and astronomy have estimated that there are some 250,000 so-called "Cinderella planets" in the Milky Way alone. These are planets with the right conditions for having liquid water, and thus might be capable of supporting life, perhaps even "intelligent" life. What do the major god-based religions say about this possibility of intelligent life on other planets?
NEWS
By Billy Graham | December 6, 2013
Q: I'm already depressed about Christmas. Last year, we resolved not to spend as much money or get so busy, but I can already tell that it's not going to happen. How we can make Christmas what it ought to be, instead of this rat race? — Mrs. E.W.J. A: I suspect countless readers feel exactly like you do; the holiday season has become so busy and so commercialized that we hardly have time to stop and think about its true meaning. But it shouldn't be this way, nor does it need to be. You can still take steps to make this Christmas a less stressful and more spiritual time.
NEWS
By Rabbi Marc Gellman | December 6, 2013
Q: Your recent answer about displaying religious holiday decorations was a little confusing. You said it's all right to display a Christmas tree, but not a manger? Easter bunnies, but not a cross? If you're in favor of every faith having equal billing and everyone being able to share their beliefs, they why not the most precious religious symbols of those holidays? I work in a large university setting, and our campus proudly displays a menorah and a manger scene. Christmas trees are nice, but they aren't true reminders of what the holiday stands for. I'm not offended by other cultures and religions, and I think we owe it to one another to be tolerant and understand others' points of view.
NEWS
By Billy Graham | November 29, 2013
Q: I know Jesus said we're supposed to forgive people who've hurt us, but why bother? As far as I can tell, it doesn't really change them, nor does it make the hurts go away. — P.L. A: Admittedly, forgiving someone who's hurt us doesn't always change them. Instead, they may laugh at us, or cynically accuse us of being insincere and only trying to manipulate them. They also may keep blaming us for what happened, just as they've always done. But occasionally it will change them — sometimes in surprising ways.
NEWS
By Rabbi Marc Gellman | November 22, 2013
Next week, I hope each of you will pause at your Thanksgiving table, before burying your faces in assorted carbs, to ask your fellow diners to name something or someone they are thankful for this year. In addition to family, friends, America and pie, here are some of my unconventional candidates for thanks and continued blessings this year. May God bless us one and all. I am thankful for soldiers carrying rice. The half a million homeless Filipinos and the millions still wandering in shock amid the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan have many nations expressing support in words.
NEWS
By Billy Graham | November 22, 2013
Q: My husband got upset with me the other day because he says all I do is criticize him. Instead of getting angry — like I usually do — I stopped and thought about it, and I guess he's probably right. But what can I do? I make critical remarks without even thinking. — Mrs. J.F. A: You've already taken the first step by admitting you have this problem and want to do something about it. Constantly criticizing others not only drives a wedge between you and them, but it is wrong in the eyes of God. A critical attitude almost always has its roots in pride, which is a sin. Down inside, critical people like to think they are superior to others and know better about how things ought to be done.
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