Meet the Writers – Rabbi Rami Shapiro

by Beth Richardson on August 1, 2012 · 0 comments

Rabbi Rami

Get to know Rabbi Rami Shapiro, contributor in the July/August issue, “Rest.” His article, “Shabbos” appears on page 12. To get a copy of this issue or to order a subscription to Alive Now, call 1.800.972.0433 or order online.

Forty-five years ago when I was a 16 year-old student of meditation I had my first glimpse into God as the source and substance of all reality. Since then I have been initiated into many religious paths, and received ordination as a Reform Rabbi only to discover at the age of sixty-one that my “ministry” is doing the work of the Holy Rascal (www.holyrascals.com).

Holy rascals delight in tweaking the noses of the pious, pulling the curtain back on the self-righteous, and pointing beyond the religious boxes into which so many of us are crammed, What we seek is a direct and freeing encounter with reality herself.

The most satisfying part of being a holy rascal is the freedom it offers. I engage with religion as play, loving what is wondrous—the music, art, poetry, and myth—and ignoring what is tedious and even disastrous: the insistence upon believing in a zero–sum god who loves some and damns others.

This is also the greatest challenge of the holy rascal: we live without a net, without the certainty and surety that conventional faith provides. We doubt our own convictions, and live life in a state of not-knowing as a humble witness to what is.

I suspect one’s calling is discovered only in hindsight. Biography rather than theology is the more apt revealer of one’s life path. So my advice to those seeking to discern their calling is to “walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Don’t assume your god is God, and your way is the only way. Wait upon God rather than insist that God wait upon you. In time you will discover your calling. In the meantime do justly and act compassionately.


Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, poet, essayist, and educator whose prayers are in prayer books around the world. Rabbi Rami teaches religious studies at Middle Tennessee State University and is the director of Wisdom House, a center for interfaith study, dialogue, and contemplative practice at the Scarritt-Bennett Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He can be reached via his website, rabbirami.com.

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