Sunday, September 3, 2017

Sunday Morning Read: Rabbi Sacks on Faith, Family and Community

The title of the text is actually "Cultural Climate Change", but this is a extremely thoughtful and well laid out thesis and arguments on the importance of faith, family, and community in society - and how they are all interrelated.  This text is lengthy, but it is worth taking the time to read every word - and you do not need to be Jewish to appreciate the thoughts and arguments laid out here.

Rabbi Sacks was the Chief Rabbi when we lived in the UK.  I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I have read a great deal of his work and he is very wise.

Click here to read the entire text.

Here are a few teasers from this text:

Now I simply want to ask: how does this affect us in the contemporary world? The answer lies in three dimensions. First, family. Second, community. Third, society. What happens to family, community, and society when the West loses its faith, its religious faith?


Having children or raising them involves enormous sacrifice of time, money, effort and energy. Religious people understand the concept of sacrifice. We live by it. It’s part of our lives. But people in a secular, consumerist, individualist culture find it much harder to live by sacrifice. Nothing in the culture says sacrifice, and throughout history that is the reason why when a culture begins to lose its faith, its birth rate starts to decline. This is not just happening now. It has happened throughout history.


It is that ability to come together as communities to help one another that is our apprenticeship in liberty. Today, this kind of community exists mainly in religion. Let me give you a dramatic example of this. In 2011, a British medical charity did a survey in Britain. It discovered that the average Brit between 18 and 30 has 237 Facebook friends. When asked how many of those you could rely on in an emergency, the average answer was “two”. A quarter replied one, and an eighth replied none.


 But America, which received wave after wave of immigrants, had to work for this identity, this shared bond of society. You had a word for it and that word is a very interesting one. It’s a key word in American politics. That word is covenant. 


  1. What a thought provoking article - thank you for this. I have recently returned to attending church and I think the article summarizes why I've felt this need.
    I do lament the loss of community today and I just recently spoke with someone about how everyone these days seems to know their rights - but no one seems to remember the second half of the equation - that we then in turn have responsibilities, to our own community and society in general.
    I have found this sense of community at church and I altruism is certainly a part of it. I am now starting to volunteer as they run a number of outreach programs for the homeless and refugees and it's true - I feel as though I get much more back than I could ever give.
    I understand why many turned away from organized religion - but I think in many cases it was a case of throwing the baby out with the dishwater. Hopefully a new balance will be found.
    I was pleasantly surprised to find a congregation that encompasses all age groups and is socially diverse, I was worried that it would be comprised of only those over 60 so perhaps there is hope for the future as people start to look for more - more than just "stuff".
    Thank you

    1. Rabbi Sacks is very wise. He really hit the nail on the head with the importance of community. I worry there is too much separation between generations, with an aging population and declining birth rate I think we are heading into a time where many people will be lonely. I hope that clergy play a role in encouraging connections between generations.