A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Friday, April 01, 2005

I've just started reading a book on Reform Judaism by Dana Kaplan. It's an assessment of Reform Judaism in terms of its recent history and its possibilities for the future. The movement faces the tension of working to be inclusive while retaining Jewish identity, seeking to be connected with a tradition while reconstructing religious ideas and practices to the issues of today. Sounds like liberal Protestantism.

The difference is that Reform Judaism has been growing over the last few decades, making it the largest Jewish movement in the country. Like liberal protestantism they have worked over issues of gay and lesbian inclusion, women ordination, and reconstituted liturgies. I'm interested to see how they went through this process and what could be learned from it.

Apparently a meeting of Conservative Jewish rabbis will be meeting to re-evaluate the movement's opposition to glbt ordination and same sex unions. And 50 clergy from around the state of Kansas have expressed their opposition to a constitutional amendment which bans same sex unions. One Jewish leader said opposition to this was a "no brainer" given their committments to social justice and equality.

It is this sort of relationship of shared values among the mainline and liberal Judaism that I worry about. Israeli disinvestment campaigns in the mainline have recently put a strain on these relations. Is it possible for the church to make a stand for social justice but in a manner which is sensitive to our relations with other religions? It's an issue those of us on the left need to be wrestling with.

I've also added a few sites to my blogroll. Empirical Friend site which while not long in existence, already has had a number of thought provoking posts on theology and quakerism. Virusdoc.net, a site by an evolutionary biologist who is working over issues of faith and life. And there's Progressive Pilgrim Cafe, a site which highlights the role of religious faith and the work of social justice.


At 6:50 PM , Blogger Rachel said...

Hi Dwight,

I followed a link here from Hugo Schwyzer's blog, and am enjoying scrolling through your recent entries.

I would absolutely draw a comparison between Reform Judaism and liberal Protestantism. Indeed, many of the original "reforms" of Reform Judaism (like moving prayer from being predominantly in Hebrew to being predominantly in the vernacular -- a shift that is swinging back in the other direction now in many Reform congregations, but which was an important part of the formation of the movement nonetheless) strike me as analagous to the reforms of early Protestantism.

On the divestment issue -- I share your concern. I'm deeply in favor of interfaith dialogue and interfaith cooperation, especially on social justice issues, and that kind of collaboration becomes more difficult when, say, mainline American Judaism is offended by Protestant divestment from Israel. I'm working in my own way to try to create a space within mainstream Judaism where constructive criticism of Israel can be expressed, and maybe that will help lead to a world in which religious liberals can work together on other issues despite differences of opinion on Israel...one can hope, anyway.


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