Why Reform Judaism is sort of like liberal Protestantism for Jews

He makes a couple of good points, but winds up being a living demonstration of why liberal Judaism is becoming so hard to distinguish from Unitarianism or some other form of religious methadone treatment:

As Judaism focuses on its imminent demise, it grows less attractive to those looking for a living connection to something greater than the self. Many people turn to religion as a way of shifting their inward focus, not amplifying it. It is for this reason, perhaps, that so many people born Jewish have ended up gravitating toward the outward-reaching cause of civil rights, the quest for social justice or even the ego-shattering practice of Buddhism. To me it seems a cruel joke that many of the Jews who follow these pursuits are then, because they lack any synagogue affiliation, counted in studies as “lapsed” and mourned as the religion’s failures.

er, yeah, sure. Why should it be thought a failure just because Jews abandon the God of Israel for Buddhism or “social justice” or some other trendiness? On the other hand, I agree with him that Judaism should be about something besides its own demographics. It’s just that he doesn’t really seem to have an idea of what that is. I do: the worship of the God of Israel. Orthodox Jews know this too, which is why they are doing much better than Reformed Jews.

C.S. Lewis and Peter Kreeft both argue that people who are seeking the true heart of their own tradition are much closer to Catholics than those who are seeking to water it down and explain it away. I think there’s a really sound insight there. Of course, the trick is knowing what the true heart of a tradition is. Many would argue that bin Laden is an expression of the “true heart” of Islam. I disagree. The true heart of any tradition is the one that leads the worshipper closer to self-donating love. There are two ways to pervert love: to make it cold (which is the characteristic sin of the watering down types) or to make it hot but pervert its end (which is the sin of zealots like bin Laden). But it’s also possible to pursue true love in other traditions. And when that is done, it is Christ who is being pursued, whether we humans know it or not.


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