447: Rabbi Ted Falcon on Progressive Judaism

October 31, 2013
By

Ted c7645_zIn part 2 of a 4-part series, Rabbi Ted Falcon of the Three Interfaith Amigos shares his views on progressive Judaism.

Rabbi Ted Falcon, PhD, spiritual guide, author, teacher and therapist, has taught Jewish traditions of Kabbalah, meditation and spirituality since the 1970s. Ordained in 1968 at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, he served in Los Angeles as a congregational and then a campus rabbi. In 1975, he earned a doctorate in Professional Psychology and, in 1978, founded the first meditative Reform congregation. He moved to Seattle in 1993, where he also founded a meditative synagogue. He is the author of A Journey of Awakening: Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tree of Life and co-author, with David Blatner, of Judaism For Dummies. He was the Scholar-in-Residence at Unity of Bellevue in 2010 and 2011, and has a private spiritual counseling practice.

Visit his web site to learn more.

20 Responses to 447: Rabbi Ted Falcon on Progressive Judaism

  1. Wyoming
    October 31, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Fascinating. Comments from both Rabbi Falcon and John were very interesting. I felt I was listening in on a therapy session. Two things that stood out:

    Why disaffected Mormon’s can’t leave the Church alone –
    “You can’t leave something in anger because our anger keeps us attached to a person or a group that we have disassociated from…I can only leave lovingly.”

    After working with Native Americans for many years, I have come to feel that Mormon’s are remarkably tribal.
    “We are a tribe, we were always tribal. It seems to me that Mormon’s were a tribe too. Attacked as a tribe.”

  2. Craig
    November 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Does anyone else think that Rabbi Falcon sounds like Elder Holland? I’m definitely getting that vibe.

  3. Poquoson
    November 2, 2013 at 4:25 am

    The parallels between midrash and Mormon scripture are striking.

  4. November 3, 2013 at 1:43 am

    That. Was. Fascinating! I didn’t think it would be and almost bailed in the first 10 minutes, but then I couldn’t believe how interesting it became.

    And John seemed to ask the exact question I was dying to ask before I realized I wanted to ask it.

    • November 3, 2013 at 6:20 am

      So glad you enjoyed, Chris!!! Thanks for listening!!!

  5. November 4, 2013 at 9:49 am

    This was unbelievably helpful to me in ways I can’t even articulate right now. I will be listening and re-listening several times. Thank you for taking the time with this.

  6. Hugh
    November 4, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    What an inspired man! He is bringing the world a higher consciousness! I wish I could go to church and listen to him speak. He hit the nail on the head when he spoke about how a religion can and seems to always make dogma more important than love. That love is always the highest valueI I loved John’s questions and where he took the conversation. It inspired me to sign up again for monthly donations to the podcasts. John is doing a great work here!

  7. Michelle
    November 4, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Thank you both for this podcast. It was incredibly enlightening and maybe one of my favorite podcasts to date.

  8. Adam
    November 5, 2013 at 12:10 am

    All three interviews were amazing, but this one, in particular – really captured the essence of the cost, and the freedom that comes from looking an existential crisis in the face.

    At a certain point, mankind must grow up and let go of the security blanket that is hierarchy. But getting there will mean loss and rejection. It will also mean clarity of purpose and sincerity of heart that is next to impossible when one either puts their heads in the sand, or “fakes it till they make it”.

    Bravo John and Rabbi Falcon. Very few discussions over the last 10 years have made me feel the spirit and true love of the divine, as this has.

    Thanks you both

  9. Loraine
    November 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    The understanding of scripture is not fixed I love that!
    What would Rabbi Falcon think of our midrash, Joseph Smith’s Abraham and Moses
    No central authority just keeping the commandments learning how to live a loving compassionate life.
    This really speaks to my spirit loving and bringing in all faiths and religion. Bringing the wisdom of all the religions of the world. Dehumanising others causes suffering.
    After listening to this podcast you can see where the Mormon church has lost its way and why so many members are leaving. If we could adopt some of these beautiful teachings we could heal the damage that correlation and the “business’ models have caused our Church.

  10. Kaysville
    November 8, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    John- great job on this one as usual. You have a real gift of asking questions that lead the discussion in directions that are so useful and insightful.

    This man’s voice oozed of peace and wisdom. I truly loved this podcast and came away deified and with added knowledge, perspective, and peace. Oh to be able to maintain a part of our faith tradition while having the freedom to embrace other thoughts and ideas without jeopardizing our place in the tribe. I long for a day that this can happen like it has for Rabbi Falcon.

    Beautiful.

  11. Kaysville
    November 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Edit– Edified NOT deified.

  12. November 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Reminds me of Virginia Woolf: “we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.” This is God. Thank you for this expansive conversation. Heart and mind were truly enlightened.

  13. Matt
    November 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Very informative and inspiring. Seems to me like Mormonism is a mixture of Judaism and Christianity our salvation is both by action and belief.
    Good stuff John. Those were some rough questions. Props to the Rabbi.

  14. Brian
    November 19, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    “Love is Greater Than Dogma” That statment sums it up for me! What a great quote, and what a fantastic podcast. Thanks so much John for your insightful questions and interviews. This one was so inspiring and uplifting. I’d love to join Rabbi Ted’s congregation. Sound so much more in line with what I believe. How much longer before there is a “Reform Mormonism”? There is evergrowing interest and momentum for something like this.

    • Loraine
      November 19, 2013 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks Brian for your comment!

      I would join his congregation too

  15. Dj
    November 22, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    Amazing! Thought provoking! Absolutely wondeful. Just when I thought there couldn’t possibly be a better mormon stories interview better than my favorites, John pulls this out of his hat. I loved all of it. Rabbi Ted Falcon rocks. Thanks for the incredible insight and information. Thank you.

  16. Chris
    November 23, 2013 at 1:46 am

    Hi-
    Great interview! Inspiring answers!
    I wonder why Judaism is refereed to as “one of the big three”?
    There are more Latter-day Saints than Jews, not to mention the 1 billion Hindus or the 0.5 billion Buddhists…
    Thanks!

  17. Jerry
    December 13, 2013 at 6:09 am

    John,

    This captured my attention. If a progressive, reformed, or graduated Mormon community had a meeting, your podcasts are the type of enlightenment. I think it is the freedom of sharing that I want and of course love. I would Especially like the discussions afterwards. Thank you. I will make a donation so this will continue…

  18. jay griffith
    December 17, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Thank you John for this series as well as for so many other amazing and enriching interviews. Including your recent TED talk which I have passed on to many people. I think you are doing an important work.

    I realize you walk a fine line for a diverse audience. In many ways, you are like a reporter and push to dig as deep as possible. That is good. I do think you could have pushed as you did but represent the Mormon faith, it’s doctrines, and people more accurately and fairly. In this interview you usually put up our worst behavior as our only behavior. I found this the most egregious when you were talking about excommunication. I have had friends excommunicated. I have been involved in Bishop’s courts and watch people come back from excommunication and disfellowship who are active to this day and feel it blessed their lives. I have seen and felt the powerful love extended from Bishoprics and other members to excommunicated and disciplined members. Most members never even know. I have seen the healing of wounded souls who after their tour of discipline feel at peace and whole again. Maybe I’ve been fortunate to live in wards with exceptionally loving people. But I’ve not seen excommunicated individuals ostracized as you claim. I’m sure it happens. Is it the norm? For as much as the church encourages us to NOT ostracize and to love and associate and befriend them or anyone who is in need, I would be surprised if that is the default behavior. I fully understand, having had friends excommunicated–especially when it was much more common–that the process itself could be botched and even under the best circumstances, can be extremely traumatic for the individual. But to say, which you did, that an excommunicated person is not welcome to attend meetings is just plain false both from the handbook and from practice. And to represent that the church authorizes and condones families not letting their kids play with children of excommunicated members is not fair reporting and representation. Especially from someone who knows that isn’t the case such as you.

    John, I feel you are a GOOD man doing a good work. A work that I’ve expressed appreciation for to God and to others. How you’ve represented the church and it’s members in this interview was not in character with what I believe you to be. Our power to influence for good, to change hearts and minds and to create a more inclusive, honest, less fear based community of faith will only occur through the pure, patient, and honest love of Christ. I want to be able to continue to encourage people to listen to these podcasts. But when I know you’re not being fair in representing our faith, that you appear to have an axe to grind, then that will give me serious pause. People who could be touched and moved will dismiss you out of hand. I would hate that to happen.

    BTW, I’m the guy who arranged and did the podcast with Sarah Collett and Jim McConkie for a Thoughtful Faith and which you also put on this site.

    Speaking of Jim, he showed me a text this past Saturday from his long time friend Michael Quinn, regarding the in depth postings of Gospel Topics. Quinn thought it a great day. Coincidentally, I had just listened to your interview with Quinn in 2011 a few days prior. I love how kind and believing he is despite his excommunication and poor treatment by the church. I will try to remember him when I get frustrated or angry with things not being as I would like in the church.

    I love you brother,

    jay

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