Traditional religion may be on the decline, but spirituality is still part of the human condition – Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
In these times when fanaticism and darkness seem to prevail over tolerance and light, the wise words of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks shed light on the path to love others regardless of their belief in Eternal. Spirituality, this thirst for the Absolute and for Transcendence, lives in each of us. It is therefore incumbent on us to respect every human being created in the divine image.
Traditional religion may be on the decline, but spirituality is still part of the human condition
At first glance, the numbers look bad for religion. In a survey published yesterday by British Social Attitudes, 53% of respondents said they had no religion, compared to 47% who said they did. Among 18-24 year olds, the gap was even more pronounced, with 72% saying they were not religious.
All of this suggests that religious faith is rapidly declining. But this is not the right conclusion to draw. There is a difference between faith and religious affiliation, just as there is between spirituality and participation in an official act of religious worship. Traditional services can lack the rhythm and pulse of new social media.
You can’t cram a religious ritual into the 3-4 minutes of an Internet video, or a Bible reading into a smartphone text. But that doesn’t mean they have nothing to offer. On the contrary, we see more and more young people coming to synagogue to find community, a home for their ideals, and respite from the relentless pressure of being online.
The young people I meet on my travels are as interested in the search for meaning and transcendence as any previous generation, but they tend to look in different places and new ways. They find it in meditation, mindfulness and music. The fact that they do not define themselves as religious does not mean that they are atheists.
A previous survey showed that a significant number were not. Nor do atheists themselves exclude beliefs and experiences that most people would call religious.
The philosopher Alain de Botton, for example, has published a book entitled “Small guide to religions for the use of miscreants”, in which he has very positive things to say about religious practices. He even says of the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur, our Day of Repentance, that it is so good for the soul that it “seems a pity that there is only one per year “.
The French philosopher André Comte-Sponville wrote a similar work, calling it “The Spirit of Atheism”.
Sociologist Grace Davie once said of British religiosity that it was about “believing without belonging”. The Jews know only too well the opposite phenomenon, that of belonging without necessarily believing.
At the age of 38, the late Christopher Hitchens, a passionate atheist, discovered he was Jewish. At first he felt bewildered, but soon he declared himself satisfied because he thought Jews made the best atheists.
Certainly, some of the great non-believers of modern times, among them Spinoza, Marx and Freud, were of Jewish origin. But that just goes to show how elusive terms like “religious” and “non-religious” are. Novalis called Spinoza “a man drunk on God”.
Einstein, considered by many to be an atheist, was extremely proud of Jewish ethics and said that “the most beautiful and profound experience is the feeling of the mystical”. Isaiah Berlin, whom people considered a secular Jew, asked me as chief rabbi to officiate at his funeral.
On his deathbed, Jewish American philosopher Sidney Morganbesser reportedly said, “I don’t understand why God is so angry with me just because I don’t believe in him.
In some deep sense, spirituality is part of the human condition, and always will be. As the human future becomes increasingly unpredictable, we will ask ourselves with ever greater urgency: Who am I? Why am I here? And how will I live then? These are deeply spiritual questions.
What brought me to faith was the realization that science can tell us how but not why. Technology gives us power but cannot tell us how to use it. The market gives us choices but cannot tell us which choices to make. Something within us yearns for something beyond us, and that is the religious quest.
We will not stop looking for the sublime, and we will continue to experience what James Joyce called “the epiphanies of the ordinary.” »
Reading this week’s survey of Britain’s apparent loss of faith, I felt heaven echo the legendary words of Mark Twain when he read his own obituary in a local newspaper. He said, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. It is the same with faith.
Jonathan Sacks, The Rabbi Sacks Legacy Trust, 5-9-2017
Translation : Haim Ouizemann
Translation published on Bible Campus
Graduate of the Institute of Civilizations and Oriental Languages of Paris (INALCO) and certified of the Catholic Institute of Paris (ICP) teaches the Bible (TaNa’Kh), its language, its ethics and its history. Installed since his Aliyah in 1989 in Ashkelon, he actively participates in the reflowering of Erets Israel. Vegetarian by moral conviction, Haïm dreams of a new era where the great spiritualities could meet in order to establish a better world. Convinced that the return of the people of Israel to Erets-Israel announces the restoration of the ideal of Abrahamic brotherhood, he encourages interreligious dialogue with respect for others.