Book Review: Surprised by Christ

 

How does a Hasidic Jew, the son, and grandson of rabbis, become an Orthodox Christian? The journey is a fascinating one, as A. James Bernstein relates in a book that is one part personal autobiography, and the other part his spiritual journey from the Judaism of his youth through what he describes as the return to the fulfillment of Judaism’s promise in the Orthodox Church. In his tale, Father Bernstein takes readers from his initial discovery of Christianity as a young man, through his years as an Evangelical street preacher in Berkley, and back to Israel both past and present as he seeks to re-find the ancient Jewish connection to Christianity.

Bernstein begins with a vivid recollection of when a drunk anti-semite threw a brick through his father’s storefront in the middle of the night in Queens, NY. Though James was born in the US during World War II, his parents had wed in the early 1930s, and had fled Jerusalem (where his father was from) for the US (his mother was from Pittsburgh) out of fear that the Muslim Mufti of the region would ally with the Nazis. The horrors of the war and the revelations of the Holocaust broke much of his father’s faith, and though trained as a Rabbi in his youth, in America he instead chose to run a candy store.

Bernstein describes much of growing up in New York City in the 1950s and ’60s as nearly idyllic, the brick-throwing aside, but he had a hunger for spiritual knowledge that led him into conversations with many of the other ethnic groups around him, and those conversations led him to read (in secret) the Christian Bible. What he found, and moreover whom he found he compared in detail to everything he had learned as a Jew, and in time, and at the cost of his relationship with his parents, he converted to Christianity. But of what sort?

To a convert, the variety of Christian denominations and their practices are bewildering, and Bernstein struggled at first to find an authentic expression, eventually finding his way into an Evangelical group in college in the late 1960s. From the time of his conversion, he was led to actively evangelize, whether by speaking, doing street theater performances, or distributing flyers. In that time he encountered other Jewish converts, including Moishe Rosen, who recruited him into what became Jews for Jesus (Bernstein takes some credit for coining the group’s name).

Bernstein narrates a rather active and enthusiastic life through this time as he and Rosen relocated to California and then began street preaching and theater on the Berkley campus, all against the backdrop of the other tumults of the time. At all times he followed where his faith pointed, but time and again his narrative returns to his fundamental concern: how does he maintain his Jewish identity as a Christian? As his preaching continued, and he found himself elevated to become a pastor at his church, he describes a related and growing concern too: if the early Christians were all Jews, where is Judaism within Christianity, and are there still Jewish Christians, living descendants of those early believers, to be found in the world (not just recent converts like himself)?

The story of his life is throughout intermingled with his unfolding of the Christian message itself. Each step in his discovery is described both in terms of his autobiography and in theological terms. Along the way, he narrates his own spiritual and familial struggles, his travels back to Israel, and movements and organizations he was involved in along the way. But his goal is always clear: to tell how he did, at last, find the living out of ancient Judaism within the Orthodox Christian Church, and how he, at last, became a priest therein.

As an adult convert to Christianity myself, I found his own struggles with modern expressions of Christianity rather familiar. Like him, I never really felt I fit in well with Evangelicalism, and I rather admired his persistence and intellectual curiosity to follow where history and his faith pointed. But the book is also fascinating in its explorations of the continuation of many Jewish beliefs, scriptural interpretations, and practices that are still alive within the Orthodox church. Rev. Bernstein gave up much by following Jesus but in the process, he also reconnected with the earliest followers, Jews all, whose descendants truly are still alive in the same lands they’ve always dwelt in.

The book was originally published in 2008 by what was then known as Conciliar Press, which is now known as Ancient Faith Publishing, and is available as a paperback, an e-book, and an audiobook. The unabridged audiobook, narrated by Father Bernstein himself, was just made available through Audible.com and runs about 16 hours.

The only criticism I would make of the audiobook format is that the author (likely at the behest of the audio producer) reads the book a bit slowly and with deliberation. This gives the impression of a less lively speaker than he is in real life. I’ve linked at the bottom of this post to a Youtube video of him giving a talk a few years ago, and he has been featured on a number of podcasts as well, so you can see that he is quite dynamic. But that is a minor quibble, and it is wonderful to hear Rev. Bernstein unfold his life and theology in his own voice and New York cadence.

In full disclosure, I was given a free copy of the audiobook by Ancient Faith Publishing in return for reviewing it.

There are 118 comments.

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  1. Manny Member

    Two questions Skip. (1) Does he say why he picked Orthodox over Roman Catholicism? Both have a fair connection to ancient Judaism. (2) I didn’t know you were a convert. May I ask what you were a convert from?

    • #1
    • January 12, 2019, at 7:31 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    Wonderful, Skip! Hearing/reading about others’ faith journeys is always edifying.

    • #2
    • January 12, 2019, at 7:32 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. SkipSul Moderator
    SkipSul Post author

    Manny (View Comment):

    Two questions Skip. (1) Does he say why he picked Orthodox over Roman Catholicism? Both have a fair connection to ancient Judaism. (2) I didn’t know you were a convert. May I ask what you were a convert from?

    1. Yes, but part of that is not a comfortable answer. In growing up in Queens, he always had good relations from the Protestants around him, but it was the Catholics who routinely spouted anti-semitic slurs. That gave him an aversion to Catholicism from childhood. There is also the long history of periodic poor relations between Catholics and Jews throughout much of Catholic Europe. These were things he could never overcome.

      That being said, from his first visits to Orthodox liturgies, he also found a very strong similarity to the synagogues of his youth. The antiphonal chanting, the veneration of the scriptures, the structure of the church itself, all felt immediately like he had returned to home.

    2. Long story if told in full, but suffice it to say that we stopped attending church as a family by the time I was 5 or so, when my dad quit, and my mother stopped taking us by the time I was 11. I was never solid in any belief, and by high school was at best entirely agnostic, and quite jaded about religion in general (not to the level of hostility of militant atheism, but still thinking so much was just stuff and nonsense, and meaningless ritual).

      That changed in college under the influence and prayer of some terrific friends.

    • #3
    • January 12, 2019, at 7:51 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Two questions Skip. (1) Does he say why he picked Orthodox over Roman Catholicism? Both have a fair connection to ancient Judaism. (2) I didn’t know you were a convert. May I ask what you were a convert from?

    1. Yes, but part of that is not a comfortable answer. In growing up in Queens, he always had good relations from the Protestants around him, but it was the Catholics who routinely spouted anti-semitic slurs. That gave him an aversion to Catholicism from childhood. There is also the long history of periodic poor relations between Catholics and Jews throughout much of Catholic Europe. These were things he could never overcome.

      That being said, from his first visits to Orthodox liturgies, he also found a very strong similarity to the synagogues of his youth. The antiphonal chanting, the veneration of the scriptures, the structure of the church itself, all felt immediately like he had returned to home.

    2. Long story if told in full, but suffice it to say that we stopped attending church as a family by the time I was 5 or so, when my dad quit, and my mother stopped taking us by the time I was 11. I was never solid in any belief, and by high school was at best entirely agnostic, and quite jaded about religion in general (not to the level of hostility of militant atheism, but still thinking so much was just stuff and nonsense, and meaningless ritual).

      That changed in college under the influence and prayer of some terrific friends.

    Scary thought of Catholics as anti-Semitic, not the Catholicism I grew up in…

    • #4
    • January 12, 2019, at 7:58 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Manny Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Two questions Skip. (1) Does he say why he picked Orthodox over Roman Catholicism? Both have a fair connection to ancient Judaism. (2) I didn’t know you were a convert. May I ask what you were a convert from?

    1. Yes, but part of that is not a comfortable answer. In growing up in Queens, he always had good relations from the Protestants around him, but it was the Catholics who routinely spouted anti-semitic slurs. That gave him an aversion to Catholicism from childhood. There is also the long history of periodic poor relations between Catholics and Jews throughout much of Catholic Europe. These were things he could never overcome.

      That being said, from his first visits to Orthodox liturgies, he also found a very strong similarity to the synagogues of his youth. The antiphonal chanting, the veneration of the scriptures, the structure of the church itself, all felt immediately like he had returned to home.

    2. Long story if told in full, but suffice it to say that we stopped attending church as a family by the time I was 5 or so, when my dad quit, and my mother stopped taking us by the time I was 11. I was never solid in any belief, and by high school was at best entirely agnostic, and quite jaded about religion in general (not to the level of hostility of militant atheism, but still thinking so much was just stuff and nonsense, and meaningless ritual).

      That changed in college under the influence and prayer of some terrific friends.

    Thank you. 

    • #5
    • January 12, 2019, at 8:04 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Gary McVey Contributor

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Two questions Skip. (1) Does he say why he picked Orthodox over Roman Catholicism? Both have a fair connection to ancient Judaism. (2) I didn’t know you were a convert. May I ask what you were a convert from?

    1. Yes, but part of that is not a comfortable answer. In growing up in Queens, he always had good relations from the Protestants around him, but it was the Catholics who routinely spouted anti-semitic slurs. That gave him an aversion to Catholicism from childhood. There is also the long history of periodic poor relations between Catholics and Jews throughout much of Catholic Europe. These were things he could never overcome.

      That being said, from his first visits to Orthodox liturgies, he also found a very strong similarity to the synagogues of his youth. The antiphonal chanting, the veneration of the scriptures, the structure of the church itself, all felt immediately like he had returned to home.

    2. Long story if told in full, but suffice it to say that we stopped attending church as a family by the time I was 5 or so, when my dad quit, and my mother stopped taking us by the time I was 11. I was never solid in any belief, and by high school was at best entirely agnostic, and quite jaded about religion in general (not to the level of hostility of militant atheism, but still thinking so much was just stuff and nonsense, and meaningless ritual).

      That changed in college under the influence and prayer of some terrific friends.

    Scary thought of Catholics as anti-Semitic, not the Catholicism I grew up in…

    Me neither, Nanda! But, let’s face it, we were luckier than our European cousins in so many ways and this is one of them. Catholic kids sometimes did pick on the Jews before the War. No less a conservative than David Horowitz admitted to me that it was mostly us–in the Forties. We were never blood-and-soil, throne and altar Catholics in America, though, and in our blessedly long lifetimes it’s been very different. 

     

    • #6
    • January 12, 2019, at 8:08 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. Gary McVey Contributor

    This is a fine and valuable post, Skipsul. Thank you for posting it. Religious converts take various paths to their own resolution of the truth.

    To be sure, I’m not a big fan of the concept of Jews for Jesus, because there are so few Jews left on Earth. Like a leader in “Battlestar Galactica”, I’d try to conserve them.

    A splinter group broke off called Get Smart, Get Saved. I remember their young, out of state volunteers shouting over the sound of subway trains full of weary commuters on their way home from work: “Howdy! How’s your faith in Jesus today?” Anyone who thinks this was a noble idea should imagine it from the perspective of the listeners. “How’s your faith in Allah today?”

    But having said this, I have to admit that at this very hour, my wife, who shrugged off Judaism as a teenager, is a quarter mile away from here, hanging out with her friends watching a movie at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church. She likes the conversation, the people, the sense of public service. Paraphrasing the crew chief on the river patrol boat in Apocalypse Now, I feel like saying, “Now cut that out, wearin’ all that Christian-lookin’ stuff. You a Jew, understand? Now act like it!” But a wise and tolerant husband knows better. 

    • #7
    • January 12, 2019, at 8:22 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  8. SkipSul Moderator
    SkipSul Post author

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    To be sure, I’m not a big fan of the concept of Jews for Jesus, because there are so few Jews left on Earth. Like a leader in “Battlestar Galactica”, I’d try to conserve them.

    This too was one of Bernstein’s own worries. Yet Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. So was Mary, his mother. All through the book, he is trying to recover that, and for him the Orthodox church really is the fulfillment of that faith. For him, in the church he can be Jew and a Christian together.

    • #8
    • January 12, 2019, at 8:34 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  9. SkipSul Moderator
    SkipSul Post author

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):
    Scary thought of Catholics as anti-Semitic, not the Catholicism I grew up in…

    Indeed. It’s not the experience I had either. Where I grew up, it was the blue-collar Protestants (who mostly had never knowingly encountered any Jews in their entire lives) who had the most repugnant things to say. As for me, I went to school with a lot of Jewish kids, had Jewish families as neighbors and playmates, attended bar-mitzvahs and bat-mitzvahs, had to commit a variety of Chanukah songs to memory every year (my school’s holiday-break tried to include songs for everything – Silent Night followed by Festival of Lights), and I still have a yarmulke tucked away somewhere. I’ve never understood anti-semitism, and it still catches me off guard when I encounter it, but it’s out there, and lurks none too deeply in some people.

    • #9
    • January 12, 2019, at 8:49 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  10. Saint Augustine Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    To be sure, I’m not a big fan of the concept of Jews for Jesus, because there are so few Jews left on Earth. Like a leader in “Battlestar Galactica”, I’d try to conserve them.

    This too was one of Bernstein’s own worries. Yet Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. So was Mary, his mother. All through the book, he is trying to recover that, and for him the Orthodox church really is the fulfillment of that faith. For him, in the church he can be Jew and a Christian together.

    What’s the point of the New Testament without the Old?

    One way of reading the New Testament has us criticising Paul for circumcising Timothy. Paul is supposed to stand for Gospel rather than Jewish works. The silly fellow backslid!

    I’m open to arguments for this view–maybe try pairing a premise about how Paul obviously thinks it’s ok to eat with Gentiles with a premise about how you can’t possibly do that and still be a good Jew. I’m not sure the argument wouldn’t work.

    But my view these past several years has been that Paul is correct. If Timothy started off as a Jew it’s ok for him to remain as one and to become a better Jew. Paul is not contradicting himself when he touts his credentials as a Pharisee in a later chapter of Acts. The Gospel itself is a Tanakh concept–or, if it’s not, Christianity is ridiculous.

    • #10
    • January 13, 2019, at 1:08 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  11. Hartmann von Aue Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    To be sure, I’m not a big fan of the concept of Jews for Jesus, because there are so few Jews left on Earth. Like a leader in “Battlestar Galactica”, I’d try to conserve them.

    This too was one of Bernstein’s own worries. Yet Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew. So was Mary, his mother. All through the book, he is trying to recover that, and for him the Orthodox church really is the fulfillment of that faith. For him, in the church he can be Jew and a Christian together.

    It is an issue for every Messianic Jew or Jewish Christian I’ve ever met and each of them has a different response. 

    • #11
    • January 13, 2019, at 3:00 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    It is an issue for every Messianic Jew or Jewish Christian I’ve ever met and each of them has a different response. 

    As Jewish Christians, my children are figuring out what that means for them as they approach and enter adulthood.

    • #12
    • January 13, 2019, at 5:48 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor

    SkipSul: Though James was born in the US during World War II, his parents had wed in the early 1930s, and had fled Jerusalem (where his father was from) for the US (his mother was from Pittsburgh) out of fear that the Muslim Mufti of the region would ally with the Nazis. The horrors of the war and the revelations of the Holocaust broke much of his father’s faith, and though trained as a Rabbi in his youth, in America he instead chose to run a candy store.

    A fascinating post, @skipsul. I have a couple of reactions. First, as you might imagine, I always have a certain sadness about Jews leaving Judaism (having done so, and returned). I have no problem at all with his finding Judaism within his current faith. I will add, though, that the sentence highlighted above points IMHO to a tragic reality. Many Jews came out of the experience of the Holocaust with a choice to reject Judaism and G-d, even though they appear to be well-versed in the faith. Still, I can understand that reaction. At the same time, in spite of my own nascent Jewish practice, I think it shows a lack of understanding of both–what Judaism actually teaches and G-d’s role in the world. I know this was his father’s choice, but I wonder if Bernstein also suffered from this lack of understanding and felt inclined to look elsewhere. Thanks for sharing this story.

     

    • #13
    • January 13, 2019, at 7:42 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  14. PHCheese Member

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Two questions Skip. (1) Does he say why he picked Orthodox over Roman Catholicism? Both have a fair connection to ancient Judaism. (2) I didn’t know you were a convert. May I ask what you were a convert from?

    1. Yes, but part of that is not a comfortable answer. In growing up in Queens, he always had good relations from the Protestants around him, but it was the Catholics who routinely spouted anti-semitic slurs. That gave him an aversion to Catholicism from childhood. There is also the long history of periodic poor relations between Catholics and Jews throughout much of Catholic Europe. These were things he could never overcome.

      That being said, from his first visits to Orthodox liturgies, he also found a very strong similarity to the synagogues of his youth. The antiphonal chanting, the veneration of the scriptures, the structure of the church itself, all felt immediately like he had returned to home.

    2. Long story if told in full, but suffice it to say that we stopped attending church as a family by the time I was 5 or so, when my dad quit, and my mother stopped taking us by the time I was 11. I was never solid in any belief, and by high school was at best entirely agnostic, and quite jaded about religion in general (not to the level of hostility of militant atheism, but still thinking so much was just stuff and nonsense, and meaningless ritual).

      That changed in college under the influence and prayer of some terrific friends.

    Scary thought of Catholics as anti-Semitic, not the Catholicism I grew up in…

    I had some German nuns that although not totally anti-Semitic mouthed the the old saw that it was the Jews that killed Christ. This did not help young skulls full of mush. My parents wouldn’t tolerate this and set me straight quickly.

    • #14
    • January 13, 2019, at 8:47 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. Hartmann von Aue Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

     

    A fascinating post, @skipsul. I have a couple of reactions. First, as you might imagine, I always have a certain sadness about Jews leaving Judaism (having done so, and returned). I have no problem at all with his finding Judaism within his current faith. I will add, though, that the sentence highlighted above points IMHO to a tragic reality. Many Jews came out of the experience of the Holocaust with a choice to reject Judaism and G-d, even though they appear to be well-versed in the faith. Still, I can understand that reaction. At the same time, in spite of my own nascent Jewish practice, I think it shows a lack of understanding of both–what Judaism actually teaches and G-d’s role in the world. I know this was his father’s choice, but I wonder if Bernstein also suffered from this lack of understanding and felt inclined to look elsewhere. Thanks for sharing this story.

     

    Interesting you should mention this. Susan (my wife) and I are currently reading “The Question of God and the Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl and Pinchas Lapide. Frankl asserts that his observations led him to the conclusion that many more believers- Jew and Gentile/Christian alike- came back to their faith in Auschwitz than lost it there. For Lapide, the important question is not “Where was God in Auschwitz” but instead “Where was man, who bore God’s image, on whom it was incumbent to obey the Ten Commandments? ….Who was raised for sixty generations to love his neighbor as himself and indeed to love even his enemies…who was raised on the teaching of the Rabbi from Nazareth while the very bodily brothers of that rabbi were being gassed like insects?” Not surprisingly, I agree with these two men who both survived multiple concentration camps (Frankl 4 including Auschwitz, Lapide 2 from both of which he escaped). Raising the so-called problem of evil with respect to human acts of evil is a cheap dodge to let man off the hook and absolve man of responsibility. God has shown you oh man, the way of life, and we humans, we chose the way of death repeatedly in our history. 

    • #15
    • January 13, 2019, at 9:51 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    Raising the so-called problem of evil with respect to human acts of evil is a cheap dodge to let man off the hook and absolve man of responsibility. God has shown you oh man, the way of life, and we humans, we chose the way of death repeatedly in our history. 

    Frankl was brilliant and I love his work. I so agree with you on this statement, @hartmannvonaue! Well said!

    • #16
    • January 13, 2019, at 9:56 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Manny Member

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):
    Frankl asserts that his observations led him to the conclusion that many more believers- Jew and Gentile/Christian alike- came back to their faith in Auschwitz than lost it there.

    That is my understanding as well. There was a huge spike in faith after WWII and it lasted into the early sixties. Unfortunately like so many social problems we face today, things degenerated in the mid sixties.

    • #17
    • January 13, 2019, at 10:20 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. SkipSul Moderator
    SkipSul Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    SkipSul: Though James was born in the US during World War II, his parents had wed in the early 1930s, and had fled Jerusalem (where his father was from) for the US (his mother was from Pittsburgh) out of fear that the Muslim Mufti of the region would ally with the Nazis. The horrors of the war and the revelations of the Holocaust broke much of his father’s faith, and though trained as a Rabbi in his youth, in America he instead chose to run a candy store.

    A fascinating post, @skipsul. I have a couple of reactions. First, as you might imagine, I always have a certain sadness about Jews leaving Judaism (having done so, and returned). I have no problem at all with his finding Judaism within his current faith. I will add, though, that the sentence highlighted above points IMHO to a tragic reality. Many Jews came out of the experience of the Holocaust with a choice to reject Judaism and G-d, even though they appear to be well-versed in the faith. Still, I can understand that reaction. At the same time, in spite of my own nascent Jewish practice, I think it shows a lack of understanding of both–what Judaism actually teaches and G-d’s role in the world. I know this was his father’s choice, but I wonder if Bernstein also suffered from this lack of understanding and felt inclined to look elsewhere. Thanks for sharing this story.

     

    He was sent to Hebrew school from a young age, so his parents did not completely abandon their faith, even if his father felt he could not be a rabbi any longer. And they did expect him to remain an observant Jew, putting a great deal of pressure on him to do so. His father at one point took out his collected bibles and threatened to burn them. Bernstein stopped him and pointed out to his father that in so doing, he would also be burning Torahs. And his parents sent him to live in Israel for a year with his grandmother and uncles, hoping that the family pressure, and living in the home land, would bring him back around. This was shortly before the 6 Day War, and in the war’s aftermath Bernstein was one of the first to move into the recaptured old city, but he moved in with a Palestinian Christian family instead. When he later married a Christian girl, his parents basically cut him off, and refused to ever meet his wife or their 4 children. And yet, Arnold’s older brother Saul was also a Christian convert.

    The point he returns to many times over in his book is that in Jesus he found the fulfillment of prophecy, and so in his own mind and heart he never ceased being Jewish, even if culturally he was cut off. And as he discovers fairly late in the book, there are still today Jewish-Christian communities in Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.

    • #18
    • January 13, 2019, at 10:23 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  19. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Two questions Skip. (1) Does he say why he picked Orthodox over Roman Catholicism? Both have a fair connection to ancient Judaism. (2) I didn’t know you were a convert. May I ask what you were a convert from?

    1. Yes, but part of that is not a comfortable answer. In growing up in Queens, he always had good relations from the Protestants around him, but it was the Catholics who routinely spouted anti-semitic slurs. That gave him an aversion to Catholicism from childhood. There is also the long history of periodic poor relations between Catholics and Jews throughout much of Catholic Europe. These were things he could never overcome.

      That being said, from his first visits to Orthodox liturgies, he also found a very strong similarity to the synagogues of his youth. The antiphonal chanting, the veneration of the scriptures, the structure of the church itself, all felt immediately like he had returned to home.

    2. Long story if told in full, but suffice it to say that we stopped attending church as a family by the time I was 5 or so, when my dad quit, and my mother stopped taking us by the time I was 11. I was never solid in any belief, and by high school was at best entirely agnostic, and quite jaded about religion in general (not to the level of hostility of militant atheism, but still thinking so much was just stuff and nonsense, and meaningless ritual).

      That changed in college under the influence and prayer of some terrific friends.

    Scary thought of Catholics as anti-Semitic, not the Catholicism I grew up in…

    I had some German nuns that although not totally anti-Semitic mouthed the the old saw that it was the Jews that killed Christ. This did not help young skulls full of mush. My parents wouldn’t tolerate this and set me straight quickly.

    Sts. Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, and JPII [the Great] put paid to this sort of thing for good. (If anyone still thought it was official teaching.) Thanks be!

    • #19
    • January 13, 2019, at 1:13 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    It is an issue for every Messianic Jew or Jewish Christian I’ve ever met and each of them has a different response.

    As Jewish Christians, my children are figuring out what that means for them as they approach and enter adulthood.

    MT, a resource, if you haven’t encountered it already: http://lightoftorah.net/

    and one more:

    http://www.hebrewcatholic.net/

    • #20
    • January 13, 2019, at 1:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member

    Thanks Nanda. My parents knew Dave Moss of the AHC when he was discerning the faith, and I met him as a child. I’ve been a member for years.

    The other resource is new to me, thanks.

    • #21
    • January 13, 2019, at 1:38 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Thanks Nanda. My parents knew Dave Moss of the AHC when he was discerning the faith, and I met him as a child. I’ve been a member for years.

    The other resource is new to me, thanks.

    Wonderful…Thanks for sharing part of your story! The second resource was one I found when trying to meet another Member’s request outside here. Glad it may be helpful.

    • #22
    • January 13, 2019, at 2:00 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Front Seat Cat Member

    The book The Benedict Option interestingly, also creates a vision where sooner than later, the life of a Christian will be challenged like never before – it already is. We have it good here – in many countries, imprisonment and worse is the reality. The premise of this book is going back and embracing the Orthodox version – going back to the beginning and reintroducing the foundation, the reverence and the relevance that is lost to the modern world. That is the route this converted Jew has taken and there is a lesson here. He could have taken many routes. While I don’t agree with everything in the book, it is so worth reading – an inspiration – that everyone of faith will need in the coming days. 

    • #23
    • January 13, 2019, at 3:31 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  24. Stina Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Many Jews came out of the experience of the Holocaust with a choice to reject Judaism and G-d, even though they appear to be well-versed in the faith.

    Mr. Harvester (the orthodox Jew on Ricochet) wrote a beautiful short story about the son of a musician who rejected music post-war. It’s a great analogy to what you describe here, music being the mirror of faith.

    I think he makes it very understandable when read through that lens. I’ll see if I can dig out the link, but you may have read it yourself.

    • #24
    • January 13, 2019, at 4:41 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Stina (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Many Jews came out of the experience of the Holocaust with a choice to reject Judaism and G-d, even though they appear to be well-versed in the faith.

    Mr. Harvester (the orthodox Jew on Ricochet) wrote a beautiful short story about the son of a musician who rejected music post-war. It’s a great analogy to what you describe here, music being the mirror of faith.

    I think he makes it very understandable when read through that lens. I’ll see if I can dig out the link, but you may have read it yourself.

    Yes, thanks, @cm, I did read it and it was a beautiful story. I think it is understandable from a number of perspectives. I also think it takes a deep faith and connection to G-d to find one’s way through that kind of experience. I don’t judge it; I might very well have rejected Judaism and G-d, too, if I’d lived through the Holocaust.

    • #25
    • January 13, 2019, at 4:44 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    Stina (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Many Jews came out of the experience of the Holocaust with a choice to reject Judaism and G-d, even though they appear to be well-versed in the faith.

    Mr. Harvester (the orthodox Jew on Ricochet) wrote a beautiful short story about the son of a musician who rejected music post-war. It’s a great analogy to what you describe here, music being the mirror of faith.

    I think he makes it very understandable when read through that lens. I’ll see if I can dig out the link, but you may have read it yourself.

    One of these faith-filled folks on R> – not the only one, though. Let me see if I can find the post…I’ll be back.

    Update: @susanquinn, Is this the story in question, or were you and Stina thinking of another?

    • #26
    • January 13, 2019, at 5:01 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Many Jews came out of the experience of the Holocaust with a choice to reject Judaism and G-d, even though they appear to be well-versed in the faith.

    Mr. Harvester (the orthodox Jew on Ricochet) wrote a beautiful short story about the son of a musician who rejected music post-war. It’s a great analogy to what you describe here, music being the mirror of faith.

    I think he makes it very understandable when read through that lens. I’ll see if I can dig out the link, but you may have read it yourself.

    One of these faith-filled folks on R> – not the only one, though. Let me see if I can find the post…I’ll be back.

    Update: @susanquinn, Is this the story in question, or were you and Stina thinking of another?

    Nanda, this is the story I thought about, but I see now that there is nothing about the Holocaust, so I may not be remembering the same one that Stina is thinking of. This story also appears in Richard’s new book, The Assessors. We’ll need to hear from Stina to see if she had another story in mind. (It’s still a wonderful story!)

    • #27
    • January 13, 2019, at 6:06 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    Stina (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Many Jews came out of the experience of the Holocaust with a choice to reject Judaism and G-d, even though they appear to be well-versed in the faith.

    Mr. Harvester (the orthodox Jew on Ricochet) wrote a beautiful short story about the son of a musician who rejected music post-war. It’s a great analogy to what you describe here, music being the mirror of faith.

    I think he makes it very understandable when read through that lens. I’ll see if I can dig out the link, but you may have read it yourself.

    One of these faith-filled folks on R> – not the only one, though. Let me see if I can find the post…I’ll be back.

    Update: @susanquinn, Is this the story in question, or were you and Stina thinking of another?

    Nanda, this is the story I thought about, but I see now that there is nothing about the Holocaust, so I may not be remembering the same one that Stina is thinking of. This story also appears in Richard’s new book, The Assessors. We’ll need to hear from Stina to see if she had another story in mind. (It’s still a wonderful story!)

    One of my favorites…

     

    • #28
    • January 13, 2019, at 6:07 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. SkipSul Moderator
    SkipSul Post author

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    The book The Benedict Option interestingly, also creates a vision where sooner than later, the life of a Christian will be challenged like never before – it already is. We have it good here – in many countries, imprisonment and worse is the reality. The premise of this book is going back and embracing the Orthodox version – going back to the beginning and reintroducing the foundation, the reverence and the relevance that is lost to the modern world. That is the route this converted Jew has taken and there is a lesson here. He could have taken many routes. While I don’t agree with everything in the book, it is so worth reading – an inspiration – that everyone of faith will need in the coming days.

    Dreher’s own faith journey has been fascinating, from a sort of barely observant Methodism of his childhood, to what he has described as a very arrogant and militant Catholicism (those are judgements on himself, not Catholicism), to finally getting smacked with a proverbial 2×4 and starting all over again in Orthodoxy. I know he’s very busy, but I’d love it if we could persuade him to come on Ricochet at some point.

    I have the Benedict Option and have started reading it, but have been sidetracked with other books so not yet gotten very far yet. Yet his arguments about what Christians, and very likely Jews too will face need to be taken seriously. I think the way Kamala Harris and Hirono raked a judicial nominee over being a Catholic as a somehow improper to being a judge are a nasty foreshadowing of things yet to come. Dreher is passionately advocating not just to taking our faith seriously, or going back to older forms of Christianity, but more importantly that we form deliberate communities of mutual support, instead of our isolation so common today. Christianity has survived Communism, Turkish oppression, Islamic conquest, and more, all by keeping the faith alive together.

    • #29
    • January 13, 2019, at 8:10 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  30. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    The book The Benedict Option interestingly, also creates a vision where sooner than later, the life of a Christian will be challenged like never before – it already is. We have it good here – in many countries, imprisonment and worse is the reality. The premise of this book is going back and embracing the Orthodox version – going back to the beginning and reintroducing the foundation, the reverence and the relevance that is lost to the modern world. That is the route this converted Jew has taken and there is a lesson here. He could have taken many routes. While I don’t agree with everything in the book, it is so worth reading – an inspiration – that everyone of faith will need in the coming days.

    Dreher’s own faith journey has been fascinating, from a sort of barely observant Methodism of his childhood, to what he has described as a very arrogant and militant Catholicism (those are judgements on himself, not Catholicism), to finally getting smacked with a proverbial 2×4 and starting all over again in Orthodoxy. I know he’s very busy, but I’d love it if we could persuade him to come on Ricochet at some point.

    I have the Benedict Option and have started reading it, but have been sidetracked with other books so not yet gotten very far yet. Yet his arguments about what Christians, and very likely Jews too will face need to be taken seriously. I think the way Kamala Harris and Hirono raked a judicial nominee over being a Catholic as a somehow improper to being a judge are a nasty foreshadowing of things yet to come. Dreher is passionately advocating not just to taking our faith seriously, or going back to older forms of Christianity, but more importantly that we form deliberate communities of mutual support, instead of our isolation so common today. Christianity has survived Communism, Turkish oppression, Islamic conquest, and more, all by keeping the faith alive together.

    Dreher is talking more about ‘community of intention’, rather than withdrawing from society per se, right, Skip? I’d been turned off earlier by people saying he’s espousing the latter course of action.

    • #30
    • January 13, 2019, at 8:21 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
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