Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography by Bruce Chilton
There is a joke within the Jewish community, which credits Jesus of Nazareth with the distinction of being Judaism's first "Reform" rabbi. A thoughtful consideration of Jewish history and the origin of the Christian faith would suggest that there is a measure of truth to this pun.
After all, it was an encounter between a liberal-leaning faction of Germany's Jewish community and Protestant Christian culture that initiated the movement of what is now known as Reform Judaism. Though reform Jews would be loath to acknowledge the Nazarene prophet as the movement's founder, there is no denying the ironic link between them.
Not long ago I received an ‘Amber Alert’ email from a friend I consider a reliable source of news. Scanning past the lengthy chain of forwarding addresses I found an urgent message pleading for information on the whereabouts of a missing girl by the name of Ashley Flores. I wondered what kind of association my friend might have with the family of the disappeared. After a quick Google search of the child’s name I realized what I had begun to suspect-that the ‘Amber Alert’ was indeed a hoax.
In a matter of seconds how could my thinking leap from belief to suspicion and ultimately to outright doubt?
Setting aside a lofty but spent discussion about truth and falsehood, I have come to find a neurosurgeon’s input about the brain and belief as a revealing point of view. Robert A Burton has written an approachable, even engaging, book toward this end called On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not.
Museum of Useless Efforts by Cristina Peri-Rossi
In this peculiar and unsettling collection of short stories, Uruguayan expatriate Cristina Peri Rossi curates a fiction exhibit of human futility fully engaged with the promise of the title piece, Museum of Useless Efforts. Originally published in 1983 (and more recently translated into English), these narratives reveal minute cosmologies within everyday contemporary urban life, addressing the uncertainties that disturb it.
The parched, anti-septic weave of the author's prose fashions textures of being as strange and abstract as any museum display dedicated to failure. Additional elements like arbitrary plot shifts and anonymous protagonists further Peri Rossi's effort to convey-as mentioned in the disorienting travelogue, "Notes from a Journey"-"the symbols of an ambiguous condition."