The spirituality of the Cassini satellite: what it teaches us about life, death and beyond

This is one of the last images that the Cassini satellite took of Saturn.

Now, Cassini is gone.

NASA tweeted the following:

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft successfully pulled off its grand finale after 20 years in space. On Friday, it plunged into the planet’s atmosphere and destroyed itself.

The three things I cannot help but think are:

  • There is something remarkably sad and perhaps poetic about Cassini’s fate. The idea that this machine has been hovering in space, capturing photos for us on Earth, and is now ready to end its career through a suicide mission seems almost wrong. It feels immoral. It feels like Cassini should have been brought back to earth and perhaps put on display so that it can live a life eternal on its home planet.
  • I must remember, however, that Cassini is a machine. It has no feelings. It has no family or friends. It’s an unconscious series of parts which purely serves the needs of its maker, the “mind” behind and within the bucket of bolts floating around our solar system. But we cannot help but place a soul inside the wires and chips that make up Cassini. We cannot help but have reverence for what it has done for us. We cannot help but make an inanimate object something Divine. What does this say about us?
  • Finally, in the end of Cassini’s “life”, it plunged into Saturn not just in an act of destruction, but in an act of loyalty. Cassini’s programming was to revere Saturn. And in the end, Cassini became a part of that which it revered. It threw itself into the arms of the one it loved. And although Cassini is no more, it is now Saturn. It is not an object set apart from what it loved, but it is its love. I feel that way about human mortality — that a life well lived is one in which we revere the Divine and that when it comes time for us to fall to pieces, for our mission observing this world to come to an end, we plunge into the Great Love and become part of it.


The Sabbath

Hasidic Jews munching on bagels, Shabbat/Sabbath, Bill Maher and a lot more.

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Pencils are miracles: gratitude as the grounding feature of religion

Take a moment to consider why a pencil is a miracle. How grateful you should be that it exists. Why your relationship to a pencil shows that no matter how bleak the world seems, we’re all in this together and even when it gets bad, it get better.

Take your time. When you’re ready, may for this blog post and we’ll explore all this and more. And by more, I mean the Book of Deuteronomy.

A Psalm of Regret (based on the biblical tehillim style)

For the Regretter, a regretting song.

Eat the damn cookie and kiss the wrong person.
Show up when you’re afraid, you can leave at any time.
Fight the battle that needs fighting, don’t ask for permission but forgiveness.
It’ll all be fine,
And if it’s not,
it’s still a good time.And if it’s not a good time,
It’s an even better story.


Finding creativity (when you’re not creative)

I’ve been told I am creative. Makes sense. I read, write, speak and teach for a living. So where does it come from, whatever “it” is? A few things.
The problem of muscle memory When one works out the same way, over and over again, the body’s muscles begin to memorize the exercise. Over time, the muscle learns how to do the motion using less energy — thereby making the exercise less effective.
When you’re trying to solve

On death, interaction and interpretation

When someone is alive, our relationship with them is interactional.
Part of what makes conversation so interesting is that we have no idea what someone might say. There is a boundary that separates us. You are you. I am I. This gulf between us is a gulf of empty space where our consciousness does not mingle. You are a little island and I am a little island.
I can ask you, “how is the weather today?” And

How To Write A Sermon and Preach Without Notes

Let’s begin with a premise: that sermons do not deserve to be tortured, boring, uninspiring, hastily delivered, irrelevant, or anything else. Sermons are an art: spiritual performance, confrontational theater. And art has a right to be good. Because art saves. And here you go. No notes No notes. None. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. No manuscript, speech, anything. If there’s paper on the pulpit, it better be the list of birthdays and deaths. Your words do not need to be written in order to be delivered well. This is the only thing

Episode 25 | Jews and Sports

Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg, the Olympics…let’s talk about Jews and sports. Plus listener questions about conversion to Judaism and Instragram.

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Episode 24 | Encouraging Conversion to Judaism?

Some religions knock on doors. Judaism doesn’t. But here are a few reasons why we need to rethink Jewish outreach.

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Episode 23 | Judaism Is Inconvenient

Judaism is inconvenient. And that’s a good thing. Hear a talk about Hanukkah, antisemitism, the Rocky franchise, Rogue One and all things Jewish-Christian.

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