History and Community
Q:What makes the best 'case for God' to a skeptic or non-believer, an open-minded seeker, and to a person of faith and Why?
1) The message of scripture?
2) The scientific evidence for an Intelligent Designer?
3) The 'words' that God has 'spoken' - Torah, Jesus, the Qur'an?
4) A compassionate lifestyle?
5) Personal, subjective experience?
-- Karen Armstrong
For the Jewish tradition, the greatest appeal to a non-believer is not personal experience or the expression of Scripture. It is found in history and especially in community.
Judaism has a remarkable story to tell. Thousands of years of religious searching, suffering, wandering, return, affirmation, anti-Semitism, survival against inconceivable odds. One who looks at the Jewish story must feel that there is something here that touches the transcendent.
Judaism has always taken its stand in community. Alfred North Whitehead said that religion is what a man does with his solitude. But one cannot be a solitary Jew; at least not in a religious sense. Judaism demands community. There are prayers that cannot be said alone. There are observances that can be enacted only in the presence of others. The Bible's first pronouncement on human nature is "It is not good for a person to be alone." That statement is at the heart of society, of relationship, and of the religious tradition I preach and practice.
We live in a society that is increasingly atomized and individualized. As a result we live spiritually impoverished lives. For we cannot understand ourselves without the reflection of the other. We are bound together, each to each, and even in our attempts to deny that interdependence is a need to tell others how much we do not need them, the way I once protested as a five year old to my parents that I would run away from home but they would miss me too much.
God is found in others. Not because we are God, but because we carry God's spark and message into this world. The still sad music of humanity about which the poet wrote is our music; when still or joyous it is the music of faith.
One may feel God in a sunrise or a forest; sense majesty in mountaintops or gazing at the stars. But God lives more intensely at the breakfast table, in the bedroom, in places where people talk, open themselves to one another, where they take care of each other -- when they embrace, how they love. Faith lives not in us but among us, between us. We are the bearers of God's message.
Posted by: usa-proletariat-movement | October 12, 2009 11:06 PM
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