Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Jewish Spirituality - A Brief Introduction for Christians"

i finished reading my first book from cj the other day... and i found it beautiful & fascinating on several levels.

first was the overwhelming feeling of gentleness. even when writing about mitzvah (the keeping of the commandments, observing the sabbath, etc), rabbi kushner speaks so gently, even tenderly, that i was struck by how our spiritual writings are so lacking in gentleness. maybe it's the "go get'em" attitude of american culture, but i just wanted to soak myself in his words. sadly, i could not imagine a Christian author from the contemporary marketplace being able to give someone of a Jewish faith such an introduction.

in sharp contrast to this, though, there was a real loss to me in reading such beauty and not having it point to Jesus. truly, the thing that sets Christianity apart from all other faiths is the unique belief that God not only created once, spoke then & acts now, but that he came, and in his coming in the person of Jesus invites me and you to know him personally and intimately. for real. it was almost lonely, or haunting, to read something so close to my own faith and yet so distinctly apart from the whole Person & Point of it. It struck me anew that without Jesus, i am lost.

one of the fascinating parts was how the book is so... storied. i got about half way through before it occurred to me that it was just how Jesus taught people. rabbi kushner would make a statement, for instance how the Jewish people see the Torah (first 5 books of the OT) as a beautiful orchard. he then proceeds to describe the orchard, not necessarily the Torah. or he makes a statement about the reality of something, but rather than attempt to define or clarify his statement, he tells a story, or two - parables. it's just like Jesus. he didn't lay out "the kingdom of God"... he talked about mustard seeds and yeast. the listener (or in this case, reader) is left to discern the meaning. it's really quite a beautiful thing, actually. it makes me want to back and reread Jesus teaching with parables, to hear about figs and coins and sheep.

i am very much looking forward to the next book....

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