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Monday, October 06, 2008

Spirituality: Is this a trend? Guy tries Judaism "on spec" - discovers 7-day no-refund policy, ends as famous pulpit rabbi

In "Responding to Neo-Atheism" (American Thinker, September 21, 2008), Rick Richman - editor of Jewish Current Issues - notes that the "new atheists" are starting to get mail:
Neo-atheism has had a very successful publishing run over the past several years, with best-selling books by Christopher Hitchens ("god is not great"), Sam Harris ("Letter to a Christian Nation") and Richard Dawkins ("The God Delusion"), among others. But this year there has been an equally impressive counter-phenomenon. Three recent books, written from three widely divergent perspectives, have responded to the arguments of neo-atheism with both intellectual force and literary grace.
He highlights agnostic mathematician David Berlinski, Catholic scholar Michael Novak and rabbi David J. Wolpe. Wolpe's case is especially interesting:
Wolpe is the senior rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and teaches modern Jewish religious thought at UCLA, but he was -- at an important stage in his life -- an ardent atheist. He grew up in a rabbinical family, initially rebelled against a religious future and, influenced by the works of Bertrand Russell, fell into atheism during his college years. He eventually rejected Russell's views decided to try rabbinical school -- "on spec," as he told his friends. One of his brothers predicted it would be "a phase."

His new book is his seventh he has written during the phase. His first book, "The Healer of Shattered Hearts," was a lyrical summary of rabbinic Judaism that established him, in Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's words, as "the poet of Jewish theology." His mother's stroke at age 52 led him to write "In Speech and Silence," a book-length meditation on words and song in religion. His most remarkable volume, "Making Loss Matter," described a way of capturing meaning from the most painful moments of life. It was written in the midst of the cancer that struck his wife at age 31, preventing her from bearing further children.
See also:

Dismantling Dawkins's Case Against God

Atheist bigots: Avoiding serious questions and targeting ignorant religious folk

Philosophy: God is not dead yet - but some haven't gotten the memo

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