While browsing through videos on TED Talks, I came across a very inspirational video called “It’s Time to Reclaim Religion” by Rabbi Sharon Brous. The rabbi talks about a torn world and how religion is what is causing the disagreements and war, but believes and lectures on how religion can also be the solution.
The issue addressed in her video is religious extremism and routine-ism. Rabbi Brous mentions that religious extremism and religion related violence has increased in the past few years and that now it’s almost normal or that no one is no longer surprised that someone has decided “to show his love of God by taking the lives of God’s children” and recalls the events of the shooting at planned parenthood and San Bernardino. She also goes on to mention that religious extremism justifies things such as racism, anti-Semitism, islamophobia, disgrace towards LGBT, and subordination of woman and concludes with calling it “a great failure of religion” Additionally, she explains that another problem is religious routine-ism in which religious leaders are stuck in routine and lack vision, soul, and life they merely do things out of routine and thus a lot of the younger generations are uninterested. She relates this to marriage, by explaining that the first couple of years it’s great and followed by traditions to celebrate the anniversary, but a few years down the road it’s just a “date on the calendar” with “no love affair” and that’s how it ends up in plain routine and the religious aspect it’s following traditions because that’s just what is has been.
She suggests that if we put into practice 4 key principles, perhaps they can revitalize religion. Now, she put these into play for her own Jewish tradition and goes on to explain that she in fact left her job to do so and called it “IKAR” or “the essence or the Heart of the Matter”. Rabbi Brous explains that Christians, Catholics, and Muslims alike have done something similar. She suggests that the same way our religions can justify the negatives (violence and extremism) and it can justify the positives (love, compassion, coexistence, love etc.) These principles include Wakefulness, Hope, Mightiness and Interconnectedness. Wakefulness in the sense that we have access to the news almost immediately and instead of just shrugging it off, we should take action, as it is our responsibility. Hope in the sense that religion should make people feel like they have a purpose. The third principle was to acknowledge mightiness in a manner that we understand that we can’t do everything, but we can do something …almost a like feeling of empowerment. Finally, interconnectedness is how we connect as human beings.
This topic reinforces the some of ideas presented in our reading of Nostra Aetate. Nostra Aetate mentions towards the end of the chapter, “we cannot call upon God if we refuse to behave like brothers and sisters” and goes on to say that “whoever does not love, does not know God.” and concludes with stating that the church “condemns as foreign to the mind of Christ any kind of discrimination whatsoever between people, or harassment of them, done by reason of race, class, or religion…” The issues mentioned in this video are mostly caused because there are people who are extremely devoted to the word of God, but practice it with hatred. Additionally, if instead of looking on how our religions differ and we focus on what we have in common and can find value in other religions, we can surely overcome the harsh realities we see in our time. But we can only do this if our religious leaders inspire a change in our religions.
Is there a way that the religions can keep their traditions without being so routine-like? If so, how?
As the younger generation, we are the voice of the future. What can we do to bring awareness to our religion and churches to revive our traditions and beliefs? Is it wrong? What about implementing or adding NEW traditions instead of wiping out the old?