Rabbi Art Green knows that religion has always been a powerful force motivating people to act, often in blind faith, on behalf of a cause. It is hard to imagine crusades, inquisitions, jihads or our own Jewish extremists without the underlying support of narrowly interpreted religious doctrine. Might the power of religion now be harnessed for the shared cause of saving our planet ?
Rabbi Art is not thrown when at a recent talk someone in the audience reminds him that religion has often been a reactionary and destructive force. Art agrees, but adds an important clause. Almost all of the damage came about as a result of a single religion, goaded by belief in its own supremacy, acting alone. This is all the more reason that people of faith should unite in defense of universal values.
A Memorial Service is planned for Sunday 9/11 at St Paul’s downtown, open to people of all faiths who volunteered on that site ten years ago. The service will open with the shema to be recited in Hebrew. Even as we wrestle with the confines of a tribal identity – and we do wrestle – we can take action in the name of Oneness. We shut our eyes when we recite the shema, the better to block out all the competing notions, the better to glimpse of possibility beyond a divisive world.