Sunset as seen from Alamo Square Park

Religion: Reflections on Matthew 23

I was raised in the Orthodox and Reformed traditions of Judaism.

My Father was an Orthodox Jew when I was born and changed to

Reformed Judaism when I was older.

I had my Bar Mitzvah ceremony at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue.

The Rabbi at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue placed more emphasis
on action in the World over ritual in the Temple.

More pointedly, he taught that mercy is the heart of the law and the soul of faith.

Judaism informs my faith as a Christian.

Jesus said that he was the light of the World, which suggests the
world he entered lived in spiritual darkness.

The light of the world is the light of mercy and justice.

Mercy requires us to use our minds to know our souls and to know the
sufferings of another.

If each of us truly felt the horror of waking up to your city in flames, we would have no deadly shock and awe campaigns.

God chose to live among the people who barely survived at the bottom
of a merciless class system.


That question is as profound as the mystery of faith.

I believe in an imperfect God in a perfect universe that is still evolving
to become more perfect.

People of faith know that dogma and rhetoric are meaningless
word games.

Winning a war of lies is not the same as acting on faith.

We cannot justify hunger and deprivation when we have plenty.

Faith is quiet.

Faith is humble.

Faith gives freely and expects nothing in return.

Faith heals.

Our wounded world needs Faith, not dogma.

Our wounded souls need compassion, not angry politics.

Our suffering children need food and shelter, not guns for racist
vigilantes and tax cuts for a corrupt élite.

Faith transcends all religions and all political dogma.

In faith, we are one people; this includes the atheist.

Faith does not need belief in a God.

Acting on faith is as simple as bringing a meal to a hungry child, to
nourish what is human in that child.

Faith does not need to control the minds and bodies of other people.

True faith sets everyone free.



Rob Goldstein 2018

First posted 2015


57 thoughts on “Religion: Reflections on Matthew 23

  1. Hi Rob! I just loved this so much I’m sharing it in ‘private’ Facebook group for like-minded people. Amen, and amen. Oh, and I too grew up in a reformed Jewish home, but spent all my growing up weekends at my patriarchal orthodox grandparents’ home. Not a happy camper, lol. Happy belated Easter/Passover. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you again! Zeffirelli’s Jesus of Nazareth triggered my conversion. I first watched that film in 1990 with a friend who was a screenwriter; he was all about technique. The actor, Robert Powell, was extraordinary in the role of Jesus, and as he delivered the Sermon on the Mount, my eyes welled up.

      My friend lit a cigarette and said, “Those eye lights are really effective.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Always. And remember who we really are as a people. The weapon Putin is using is specifically designed to drive us crazy. Trump is in a race with Robert Mueller. His goal is to so completely subvert the rule of law that when Mueller recommends charges the crimes won’t matter. We can’t let that happen. If Trump succeeds he WILL give the reigns of our government to Putin.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. People are starving in our streets, families are torn apart by ICE, the United States is no longer ranked as a full democracy, and this is the news:

        “JUST IN: President Trump says he did not know about $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, and tells reporters they would have to ask his attorney, Michael Cohen, why the payment was made, and adds that he does not know where Cohen obtained the money for the payment.”

        Do you know that some members of Trump’s cult think of him as a white MLK?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. When you read what Cambridge Analytica does and the way it combines sophisticated data processing with psychological profiling you’ll realize that evil men have figured out how to use the internet to isolate people by education, income, access to alternate forms of information, and habit and turn those people into a brainwashed cult. If I had not read the testimony and heard these men speak, I would have dismissed the idea of what they do as fantastical. In 2015 people on facebook passed innocent looking personality quizzes. I thought the questions were odd because some of them looked like the kind of questions you’d see in a professional psychological assessment.

        I refused to pass them on because it seemed weird.

        Now we know that Cambridge Analytica psychologically profiled Facebook members to target those people who would be most vulnerable to a message of racism and fear.
        These people are so screwed up they don’t even remember that Democracy is a product of the enlightenment which is the beginning of modern liberalism.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. It is amazing we can live, love, eat , drink and be merry whilst knowing that the other half is suffering anguish, starvation, pain, war, and more of the same…That is amazing.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. There is a gorgeous scene in Werner Hertzhogs, Nosferatu; it beautifully illustrates the bizarre reactions of people when they feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Hertzog’s vampire is an asexual predator. He is human evil personified and he brings Plague to Wismar, Germany.


    2. There is a gorgeous scene in Werner Hertzhogs, Nosferatu; it beautifully illustrates the bizarre reactions of people when they feel overwhelmed and hopeless. Hertzog’s vampire is an asexual predator. There is nothing pretty or sexy or inviting about his lifeless existence. He is a parasite. He is human evil personified and he brings Plague to Wismar, Germany.

      It’s a wonderful film.


  3. This is a powerful post Robert, and you are wise, we who see beneath the words understand from a different perspective.

    I am so pleased you reposted your words or I would never have read them.. Truth is often forgotten among the society of today.
    Faith is often hard to decipher when we see on the surface so much injustice.
    But I have deep Faith that this world even in its infancy of evolution is slowly evolving. All be it through trial and tribulations..

    A brilliant scripted post Robert..

    Forgive the delay in my getting here, and in answering your wonderful comment upon my post Stepping Back to Step Forward. I have been taking my own steps slowly, working each day to answer your beautiful comments as I worked down the list..

    Many thanks for your support and your kindness
    Have a wonderful Easter
    Many Blessings to you and your family
    Sue 💚

    Liked by 4 people

  4. You are not only smart Robert, you are soulful.
    It doesn’t matter what religion we are most comfortable with. It just matters that our religious self, enhances our spiritual compassion for every living thing.
    Happy Easter to you my friend.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I don’t understand why treating people with respect and compassion is hard for so many people to understand. As I listen to gangs of ‘adult children’ attack real children who only want to go to school in safety I think If you’re using the power of reason you are not smearing high school kids; in fact, you might even think that not getting gunned down in a high school is a good idea.


  5. I really enjoyed your Easter post. If people lived more like Jesus taught and less about being right the world would be a better place. I liked your last line. True faith sets everyone free!
    Happy Easter Rob

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Please don’t ever worry about that! As wonderful as the internet/modern technology is for connecting folks from all over the world (and also allowing genuine friendships), in many ways, it’s easy to get sucked into the screen and lose touch with our physical lives. I humbly think a balance is important, and I also make sure to have days away from all these mechanical devices 🙂

        You’re always welcome to stop by whenever you have time, or inclined to do so. Best wishes always!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you.

      My partner just told me that he read that MRI scans show that ‘mediums’ go into dissociative trances (no duh) and that in those trances they can write powerful prose.

      As I’ve gotten better I can ‘see’ some of what goes on when a few of my alternates are ‘out’…

      The alternate named ‘Matthew” writes on religion. To me, this almost reads like a homily.
      The most interesting part of watching this was the selection of the video clip.

      As Matthew watched the clip he was so moved by the scene that he cried.

      When the writing was finished I came back to have lunch with my partner which is when he told me about mediums.

      I said that I felt like I was dreaming and in the dream I cried. He said he heard me and figured it was one of the alternates.

      One of the nice things about my partner is that he views the DID as a kind of ‘hyper-intellect’…

      I’m not going to discourage that…but I view it as a pain in the – foot…:)

      Liked by 2 people

  6. “There is no law or game more important than the life of another… more emphasis on action in the World over ritual in the Temple… The light of the world is the light of mercy and justice… Faith heals.” Awesome! Thank you for sharing his.

    Liked by 4 people

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