The debate these days between ancient religious practice and modern skeptical thought seems to be an uneasy one. There are always two sides to every story, this debate is no different.
New York Times best selling author Sara Davidson, while raised in the Jewish faith, defines herself a skeptic. Her recent book, The December Project: An Extraordinary Rabbi and a Skeptical Seeker Confront Life’s Greatest Mysteries, is about this very debate.
For several years, Sara met weekly with Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, who himself is whirl of contradictions. Escaping from Nazi controlled Europe as a young man with his family, he became an ordained Orthodox Rabbi in 1947. Breaking from the traditional Orthodox way of life, he founded the Jewish renewal movement. Before his death earlier this year, he was married 4 times. He has 11 children. One of his children was conceived with a sperm donation and born to a lesbian Rabbi.
I liked this book. Religion can often be so dry and steeped in tradition that we cannot see the joy and faith that comes with religion. Despite his religious background, the Rabbi did what many struggle to do, but cannot. He finds the joy and passion within religion while adapting it to the modern world. I suspect that even a skeptic like Ms. Davidson was on her way to becoming a believer by the time she finished this book.
I recommend this book.