i have been reading a book called My Jesus Year written by Benyamin Cohen.
although the book is not the most exciting it does have allot to say.
Benyamin was raised in an orthodox Jewish family. his father and 3 brothers are all rabbis and his sister is married to one. his wife is an ex christian who converted to Jewish orthodoxy,her father was an ex minister who left his faith when she was a child.
Benyamin has tired of his religion with so many rules and the loss of joy from a personal relationship with God he had once known has a child. he decides he wants to know why the christian church across the street draws so many people on Sunday while his own Synagogue draws very few on the sabbath. he goes to the rabbi who helped his wife convert to Judaism, who agrees that Ben may spend one year attending christian events but only if he wears his skull cap and his name badge from the magazine he writes for and at no time is he to fool any one into thinking he is in any way a christian,he must be honest with every one he interviews.
being from Atlanta gives him the opportunity to attend all sorts of things from mega churches to wrestling matches and christian concerts.he tries out Christmas at his in laws home, complete with kosher cooking and gift giving and goes to an outdoor Easter morning sunrise service, he attends multiple small church services from baptist to methodist,evangelical to episcaple. from a black jewish group who beleave in plural marriages to trapist monks.
has iam reading this book i'm begining to see the same problems we has Orthodox Christians are trying to wrestle with for example how important are things like: food,riual, songs or no songs, prayer, chanting. How do we get nearer to God and still follow rituals? how can we get more people to fill the pews (especially our own people)? how do you move forward but still follow church tradition? does services have to be on the sabbath or when its more convent to peoples schedules?what can be changed in the faith that makes church relevant to the people attending but still follows the letter of church law? how do we make church an important part of our every day lives?
At the end of every chapter Benyamin begins to under stand what he has to do to make every thing in his religion more relevant to his situation. maybe this is why people convert over from other faiths because we are looking for the real reason to be nearer to God, trying to find relevant answers that allow us to make our faiths a living relationship with God. Following the rules but not allowing the rules to be the most important part of our relationship.