“We both came to believe that uncertainty is permanent, chaotic times are normal, change is accelerating, and instability will likely characterize the rest of our lives.” —Hansen and Collins, Great by Choice.
The Pew Research Center reports trends in the secularization among American Christians, which has consequences for churches and seminaries alike. As we are bombarded with access to information, the role of the religious leader as translator is still important in society. Seminaries offer priceless training in translating sacred text and creating ritual. But is the content and structure of seminary still working? Keeping Faith in Seminary is a book of essays that explores the challenges and opportunities for clergy and religious educators in the changing landscape.
Pew also reports similar trends of secularization among American Jews. Rabbi Hayim Herring approached me with interest in curating a similar conversation in the American Jewish community. Keeping Faith in Rabbis was a project we started together a year ago around the same themes. American Jews outside of Orthodoxy feel distant from Judaism as a religion, which raises important questions about the role of the rabbi, rabbinical education and the rabbinate. Rabbis, like pastors, do the essential work of translating the sacred, facilitating relationships and preserving ritual. Keeping Faith in Rabbis creates a venue of rich interaction where people talk with one another about themes like “What is the role of the rabbi?” and “Are the form and content of rabbinical education working?” Here’s an update on Keeping Faith in Rabbis:
– We have 31 excellent essays by rabbis, educators and lay leaders edited and queued up for publication. The contributors range in gender, generation, and geography and span all different walks of Judaism.
-We have a year long online calendar filled with essays, videos and online forums to broaden and deepen the conversation among rabbis, educators and laity. Hayim’s Facebook page will be a hub for this conversation, as well as Avenida Books and my media channels.
– We have our first book launch event set for December 2 in Minneapolis.
– Books can be pre-ordered and will come out early December 2014.
We can choose to see the change, instability and uncertainty as a crisis beyond our control or an opportunity waiting to be shaped. It may be time for Jews and Christians to ask hard questions together and learn with each other. Religious communities in America need to be a wellspring for finding personal meaning and contributing collective good. We hope these two books can be a launching pad for that powerful and productive interfaith dialogue. Join us in doing hard work, asking stimulating questions, talking with all stakeholders, and moving toward creative action.