“If rabbinic Judaism has anything to say across its borders, it lies in how the voice of religion might be authoritative without being authoritarian, unifying without ceasing to be pluralist, and rational without lacking passion. ”
“Religion should not be confused with its classic institutional expressions. It survives through time, but it may take new and unexpected forms. ”
“In a culture which has become deeply secularised, some last embers of faith still glow… My argument in these lectures was simply this: that religious values are still active within our frame of moral reference. They have been eroded by not altogether eclipsed. They lie at the heard of some of our deepest moral commitments: to the worth of the individual, to society as a covenant rather than as a contract, to morality itself as a communal endeavour, and to the family as the crucible of personal relationships…. Historically, religious communities have been their natural environment. Living, as we have done, by the inherited habits of an essentially religious way of life, we have come to underestimate the religious faith needed to sustain them. ”
“Whether or not we believe in God, we inhabit a culture in which religious teachings are marginal to many people’s moral choices. When did we last hear, in a television discussion or a newspaper editorial, the simple assertion that something was wrong because God or religious doctrine said so? Even a religious leader who said this in the course of a public debate would nowadays be branded a fundamentalist. Our moral language has been effectively secularised. Religious enters our conversations obliquely and with embarrassment. ”
“However tenuous our religious attachments are, they have not yet ceased, and that means that they can be renewed. ”
“Religions are the structure of our common life. In their symbols and ceremonies, the lonely self finds communion with others who share a past and future and a commitment to both. In their visions, we discover the world of un-self-interested action, and find, in the haunting words of the Rabbi of Kotzk, that God exists where we let Him in. ”
“I am convinced that religions can be both faithful to their traditions and answerable to the imperative of tolerance. They can come to terms with other cultures without sacrificing their identity. They can be responsive to social change without at the same time assenting to every ephemeral shift in moral mood. Not only do I believe this to be possible, I believe it to be necessary. ”
“There is no problem that you cannot think yourself out of, but it needs a special kind of thought. It needs the ability to reframe, to see things differently, to alter perspective, sometimes event to turn the mental picture upside down. That, classically, was one of the greatest gifts of the religious vision. It does not show you something new. It shows you the things you have seen all along but never noticed. ”
“Time and again in recent years we have been reminded that religion is not what European Enlightenment thought it would become: mute, marginal and mild. It is fire – and like fire, it warms but it also burns. And we are the guardians of the flame. ”
“In unchartered territory one needs a compass, and the great faiths have been the compass of mankind. ”
“"In the fast-moving world economy there are winners and losers. Life takes on a ruthless, Darwinian struggle for survival. Religion reminds us that there are others sources of self-worth. ”
“Religion offers a difference kind of solace. It speaks of the dignity of the person and the power of the human spirit. It tells us that we are more, or other, than what we earn or what we buy. In the fast-moving world economy there are winners and losers. Life takes on a ruthless, Darwinian struggle for survival. Religion reminds us that there are other source of self-worth. We are not necessarily set against one another in a win-or-lose competition. ”
“The word religion.. comes from the Latin religare, meaning ‘to bind’. That is what religions did and still do. They bind people to one another and to God. ”
“Religion [is] humanity’s greatest collective attempt to find meaning in this brief, tempestuous, often pain-filled span of days we call life. ”
“Religion is more than a system of beliefs. It is an act of focused listening – to the script of which we are the heroes and, with God, the co-authors. ”
“We make a mistake when we think religion is only about believing. It’s also about belonging; and belonging is about community, that delicate yet powerful network of relationships where we learn moral literacy – by being there for other people when they need us, knowing that they’ll be there for us when we need them. ”
“Religion doesn't mean living in the past, it means living with the past ”
“Religion.. is like fire. It warms, but it also burns, and we are the guardians of the flame. ”
“There can be religion without ethics, and ethics without religion. There can be pious individuals who are cruel and insensitive, and atheists who are environmentally conscious, socially committed, and vastly generous with their money and time. Yet taken as a whole and over time, when religion and ethics are separated, they both suffer. ”
“Religion in the biblical sense is not about power but influence, not about secular law but love, not about the state but about families and communities. The bible is first and foremost about freedom: how we construct relationships of trust without the use of power. ”
“When religion seeks power, the result is disastrous, if not immediately then ultimately. The result is tragic for the people, catastrophic for the state, and disastrous for religion. When religion, any religion, seizes power, it forfeits the respect of ordinary, decent, righteous people, who once respected it and now fear and resent it. The result is the defeat of religion, the birth of a new secularism, and a desecration of the holy. ”
“Religion has inspired individuals to moral greatness, consecrated their love and helped them build communities where individuals are cherished and great works of loving kindness are performed. ”
“The existence of the universe from the perspective of God, and the existence of God from the perspective of human beings, is the redemption of solitude. We exist because we are not alone. Religion is the cosmic drama of relationship. ”
“Religion binds people into groups. It creates altruism, the only force strong enough to defeat egoism. ”
“Religions work best when they are open and accountable to the world. When they develop into closed, totalising systems and sectarian modes of community, when they place great weight on the afterlife or divine intervention into history, expecting the end of time in the midst of time, then they can become profoundly dangerous, for there is then nothing to check their descent into fantasy, paranoia and violence. ”