What is Both/And ?
Hi, I’m Jay — or Rabbi Dr. Jay Michaelson, if you like — and this is a Substack about the intersections of politics & spirituality, left & right, queerness & religion, and other illusory dichotomies.
For twenty-odd years, I’ve worked as a journalist, rabbi, activist, meditation teacher, and professor — often all at the same time. I talk about law and politics on CNN and I lead silent meditation retreats. I have a PhD in religion and a fancy law degree. I write books on spirituality and worked for ten years as an LGBTQ activist. My entire life is Both/And, both for better and for worse.
Throughout that broad range of work, I’ve almost always focused at the intersections of law, religion, spirituality, and sexuality. That’s my interest here as well. Both/And is interested in bridging polarities like left and right, secular and religious, ancient and contemporary. I’m interested in the spiritual and psychological roots of populist nationalism. I’m interested in contemplative practices that build resilience for living in the anthropocene. I’m interested in pleasure and ethics, liberation and responsibility, intellectual rigor and emotional engagement. I think we can only understand politics by grokking the psychological, religious, and spiritual motivations beneath it. And I think real spirituality demands the pursuit of justice.
If you’re interested in these intersections, I think you’ll enjoy Both/And. Thanks for stopping by!
Subscribe to get full access to the newsletter and website. As soon as we’re really off and rolling, I look forward to adding subscriber-only content, running AMAs and other live events, and in generally making sure you get ROI for your five bucks a month. Also, I subscribe to a bunch of these myself — it makes me feel good to directly support work that I think is valuable. So, if you feel that way about mine, thanks! And please consider enabling it to continue.
Won’t you talk even more about yourself, Jay?
Okay, if you insist. I am:
… the author of ten books, including The Heresy of Jacob Frank: From Jewish Messianism to Esoteric Myth, winner of the 2022 National Jewish Book Award for scholarship, and the forthcoming The Secret That Is Not A Secret: Ten Heretical Tales, due out in December 2023.
… a journalist on CNN Tonight and at Rolling Stone, having been a columnist for The Daily Beast for eight years. I’ve written over 1400 articles on the Supreme Court, religion, LGBTQ issues, climate change, and other topics. I even won the 2023 New York Society for Professional Journalists award for opinion writing.
… a rabbi and meditation teacher who writes books on meditation, religion, and spirituality. I’m on the leadership team of the New York Insight Meditation Center and was a podcast host for Ten Percent Happier for four years.
… an affiliated assistant professor at Chicago Theological Seminary and a fellow at American Jewish University. I have a Ph.D. in Jewish Thought from Hebrew University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence, and nondenominational rabbinic ordination.