Religiously Curious and Spiritually Independent with Rabbi Rami Shapiro Ph.D., Amy-Jill Levine Ph.D. & Marc Zvi Brettler Ph.D.

Original Air Date Wednesday,June 1, 2022 

Walk into a Christian church that preaches from the Old Testament and then walk into a synagogue that teaches from the Hebrew Bible, the scripture should be similar, right?

Well, not exactly. Even though both books are known to depict the same stories, many factors go into how we interpret them. Certain works may be highlighted in one religion or omitted by another. To explore the intricacies of religion and spirituality, Positive Psychology Podcast Host Lisa Cypers Kamen speaks with three authors and religious scholars about the purpose of religion, religious texts, and spirituality.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is a highly decorated, yet unorthodox Rabbi who has studied many religions including Buddhism, Hinduism, and is a Mason in the Scottish Rite. He joins Lisa to discuss the fine points of his book, Judaism Without Tribalism: A Guide to Being a Blessing to All the Peoples of the Earth, and to share spiritual practices that can be used to elevate us all. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler discuss, the role of women in the bible, the different versions of the Bible, and the innumerable and diverse interpretations of individual religious texts based on research gained while writing, The Bible With and WIthout Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro — Spiritually Independent:

  • Religion, at its best, was designed to highlight the interconnectedness of people. [2:54 ]
  • Religious imperialists create meaning out of the words used to describe God so it fits into their agenda and creates conflict. [4:55]
  • Rabbi Rami describes what happens when a faith-based collective begins striving for political power. [9:28]
  • Rabbi Rami defines spirituality, explores divinity, and stresses the importance of critical thinking when it comes to religion. [13:46]
  • The Golden Rule is the way we ought to walk in the world. There is a reason we don’t. [19:07]
  • Participating in spiritual practices can lift us up and out of the ‘us versus them’ mentality. [22:44]

Rabbi Rami Shapiro, guest of Religiously Curious and Spiritually Independent with Marc Zvi Brettler Ph.D. & Amy-Jill LevineRabbi Rami Shapiro, Ph.D., has a reputation for being perhaps the most unorthodox rabbi you’ve ever met! Growing up, his mother thought he might be the Messiah, while his father was convinced he was a luftmensch (airhead). He earned rabbinical ordination from Hebrew Union College in order to preach his ideas in synagogues, and a Ph.D. in contemporary Judaism from Union Graduate School in order to teach his ideas in universities. Along the way, he’s taken Bodhisattva vows in Zen Buddhism, become a 33° Mason in the Scottish Rite, been initiated into the Ramakrishna Order of Vedanta Hinduism, joined the Theosophical Society, published three dozen books, and his poems included in prayer books and hymnals around the English-speaking world.

Book: Judaism Without Tribalism: A Guide to Being a Blessing to All the Peoples of the Earth

Rabbi Rami
@rabbirami on Twitter
@rabbirabi on Instagram
Rabbi Rami on Tumbler

Amy-Jill Levine & Marc Zvi Brettler — Religiously Curious:

  • In their book, The Bible With and WIthout Jesus, Amy-Jill Levine & Marc Zvi Brettler explain the text of the Bible in its original context and how different religions interpret it. [26:17]
  • The Bible holds fundamentally different positions about the same subjects. [27:27]
  • What the Bible says and what we think it says can be fundamentally different. [30:08]
  • Amy-Jill Levine & Marc Zvi Brettler describe the difference between wrestling with the word of God versus having blind faith. [34:24]
  • Religions choose to omit or highlight certain texts from their respective Bibles. [39:37]
  • How the role of women is portrayed in the Bible, including how Eve is depicted. [44:33]

Amy-Jill Levine, guest of Religiously Curious and Spiritually Independent with Rabbi Rami Shapiro Ph.D., & Marc Zvi Brettler Ph.D.Amy-Jill Levine PhD is a University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies and Mary Jane Werthan Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt (Divinity and A&S); she is also an Affiliated Professor, Woolf Institute: Centre for Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge.



Marc Zvi Brettler, guest of Religiously Curious and Spiritually Independent with Rabbi Rami Shapiro Ph.D. & Amy-Jill LevineMarc Zvi Brettler is the Bernice and Morton Lerner Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at Duke University. He is actively involved in many aspects of Jewish communal life.



Book: The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians Read the Same Stories Differently

Amy-Jill Levine
Marc Zvi Brettler
Dr. Amy-Jill Levine on Facebook

This podcast episode about religion and spiritualism is sponsored by:

Are We Happy Yet? Eight Keys to Unlocking a Joyful Life A boot camp manual for greater emotional fitness. Happiness waits for no one and sometimes we all need support. What is getting in the way of your happiness right now? 

HFactor: Where is Your Heart? — Lisa’s documentary film that explores the journey of human happiness. Emotions are contagious and happiness is a universally desired state. We tend to forget we all have the freedom to be happy or the liberty to be miserable each day.

“Religion at its best is designed to produce a sense of happiness, joy, cohesion, and connection.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“When the government gets involved in our knickers it upsets me.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“When you change yourself you change your world.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“We can start healing some of the rifts by using these stories in the Bible as conversation points to better include and accept one another.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Religion, at its best, is designed to awaken people to the fact that we are all interconnected within the singular of non-dual reality I would call God.” @rabbirami on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Any faith that ends up with or striving for political power is now in trouble of losing its soul.” @rabbiram on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet “The first thing religions try to do when they're in power, is to control their women.” @rabbirami on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“I think the universe, all creation, is a manifestation of a single, non-dual reality.” @rabbirami on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Spirituality is the realization that you are an expression of God the way a wave is an expression of the ocean.” @rabbirami on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Religions give us a map with a specific destination in mind. The golden rule is a compass.” @rabbirami on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet “The Bible, as a whole, never has a single position on anything.” — Marc Zvi Brettler on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“The glasses you wear, the lenses through which you look, will determine, to a great extent, what you wind up seeing.” — Amy-Jill Levine on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“If you want to be connected with Israel, that suggests wrestling with God.” — Amy-Jill Levine on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet “The Jewish and Christian communities have more or less the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, but they consider different works in different books to be more important.” — Marc Zvi Brettler on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“In the Bible, the image of women may be different in one book than the image of women in another.” — Amy-Jill Levine on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet