The other day here on the blog, I mentioned the story of a New York synagogue that was in effect reinventing itself and I made the suggestion that perhaps people doing such reinvention in various religions might want to get together and share ideas.
It's already happening.
My friend Barry Speert, a Kansas Citian who teaches about Judaism in an interfaith context, pointed out this story to me. It describes a recent gathering of so-called "emergent" Christians and Jews to talk about how to move their various traditions forward in the 21st Century.
As the story notes, "There's a sense in the Jewish community that traditional synagogue services are simply not moving people, particularly young people."
(You could pretty much write that about many worship services in many religions.)
The Emergent Church Movement in Christianity began more than a decade ago and came out of the evangelical branch of the faith. Such folks as Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Phyllis Tickle, Tim Keel (of Kansas City) and others helped to lead the way toward a rethinking of what church should be all about. I like to poke a bit of fun at them by saying that their growing concern about social justice issues means they are becoming more like us Mainliners.
The effort to be relevant and even post-modern is not limited to Christianity, obviously. There are renewal movements of various kinds going on in many traditions. But faith communities move slowly, as a rule. And although that's often a good thing, it also means a lot of needless foot-dragging in a time when change is happening rapidly, leaving faith communities behind.
If you haven't investigated renewal movements in your own tradition, you're probably only a decade or two behind the times. So I'll let you go here for today to give you time to catch up.
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THE REV. RABBI?
Speaking of interfaith connections, here's an interesting question: Should a rabbi take the job of being the spiritual leader of a Unitarian-Universalist congregation? It's happening. Theologically, though not culturally and not in terms of historic tradition, UU folks are pretty close to Jewish folks, after all. I'm not in favor of syncretism -- the blending of religions into a puree of meaninglessness -- but I certainly am in favor of cooperation and understanding.
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P.S.: My latest
National Catholic Reporter
column now is online
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