Generous Orthodoxy  

Friday, June 15, 2012

The unwisdom of "interfaith" enterprises

An article in the NYTimes a few months ago got buried in a pile of my other stuff, but now that it has surfaced, its subject seems more pertinent than ever. It's about  an Orthodox Jewish rabbi who has become quite an authority on "the spiritual component of recovery from addiction." He has been received with much enthusiasm and admiration by various charitable and church agencies. The Times reporter tells us that "he writes regularly for The Huffington Post on topics like the death of Amy Winehouse, the pop singer who had struggled with drugs and alcohol. His avid followers include the pastor of an evangelical megachurch in Alabama and the chaplain who runs a skid-row mission in Atlantic City."

Here's what captured my attention. The reporter writes, "This unanticipated journey into the Gentile world has required some very precise ground rules on Rabbi Taub’s part." The rabbi goes on to explain his philosophy of "interfaith" endeavors, which he surely embodies in a certain sense. Not in every sense, however! because, as he says, "I have to be careful with each relationship that I don’t promise what I can’t deliver. It’s not about interfaith. I have zero interest in finding common theological ground. I’m a Jew who’s been able to study my tradition, and I have information, and I can be helpful to the extent I can share the information.” 

It seems to me that we would do well to heed these words. There has been too much sentimental, undifferentiated carrying-on about how we need to find common ground with other faiths, more often than not giving away too much of our own. Rabbi Taub has a very good point to make, and he does it without apology.

Here is the link: