Sunday, March 6, 2022

God is Here by Toba Spitzer

While I am a Jesus follower and Spitzer is a Jewish rabbi, I appreciate many of her thought provoking comments on how we think about and experience the divine.

The idea of conceptual metaphors was new to me yet I use them frequently. I might say I was “up” when excited or feeling “blue” when depressed. The metaphors are a way to think about something but do not define it. Conceptual metaphors are used of God and Spitzer explores what is problematic about them and suggests new ways of thinking about God. I am still working on understanding her view of truth. She says we do not discover pre-existing truth but rather observe the world and then formulate truths about it. (128/2865) The same goes for religion.

I appreciate the metaphors Spitzer explores. She writes about God as Water and suggests a new way of thinking of God's power. God as Place reminds us God is here. Every place is sacred. God as Voice (sound) led to insights about silence. God as Rock produced insights into God being refuge and strength. She writes about God as Cloud (by day) and Fire (by night), exploring the invisibility and visibility of God and (fire) one's anger.

Spitzer includes practices to help readers bring the metaphor into the reality of life. She suggests chants, engaging Scripture, singing, silence, and much more. I appreciate she is open to practices from the Christian tradition, such as spiritual direction.

This book is not within my normal reading for my spiritual discipline. I don't agree with everything Spitzer says, such as suggesting God is learning and growing and is continually surprised and confounded by human behavior. (2130/2865) Nonetheless, Spitzer gave me much to contemplate on how I think about God and experience Him. The book would be especially helpful to those wondering about God's existence.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

RABBI TOBA SPITZER is a popular teacher of courses on Judaism and economic justice, Reconstructionist Judaism, new approaches to thinking about God, and the practice of integrating Jewish spiritual and ethical teachings into daily life. She served as the President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association from 2007-2009, and was the first LGBTQ rabbi to head a national rabbinic organization. She has received the honor of being included in Newsweek’s Top 50 Rabbis in America list and the 2010 Forward list of 50 Female Rabbis Who Are Making A Difference. Since 1997, she has been the spiritual leader of Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in Newton, MA. Photo Credit: Thea Brette. 

St. Martin's Essentials, 304 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review. 

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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