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Dennis & Hugh: When Jewish and Christian Friends Talk About God

An interview with RJ Moeller about his March 17 "Ask a Jew" event featuring Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt in interfaith dialogue. Tickets still available.

by
Dave Swindle

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March 14, 2013 - 4:30 pm

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PJ Lifestyle: You decided to frame your event around an interfaith exchange between the Jewish Prager and the Catholic Hewitt. Of all the subjects they could talk about, why did you pick religion as the evening’s focus?

RJ: Hugh is some combination of Catholic and Presbyterian, so I felt like we could covered our gentile bases with him at the helm of “Ask A Jew.” Dennis is a legitimate Jewish scholar, both of the Hebrew language and Old Testament theology. People — myself included — are sick of politics for the time being. The 2012 election wore a lot of folks out. It probably disillusioned many others. The idea for “Ask A Jew” is dynamic in that so many different areas of society and culture can be broached. And we picked an evangelical church as our venue because we wanted to stamp this event as a religious dialogue.

Every study done on the subject shows just how religious Americans are and yet it is this subject that so few ever tackle in the public square. Or if someone does tackle it, rarely are they religion’s best and brightest defender. As a man of faith myself, I want guys like Hewitt and Prager representing me in that arena. Not on behalf of all of the finer points of my dogma/doctrine, but as an advocate for the Judeo-Christian value system that has, for better or worse, defined Western civilization for 2000 years. Religion is polarizing because so few can explain/defend it. And yet so many people have a religion of their own. So why is something so important to so many millions so inadequately disseminated? I don’t know all the reasons why, but I know the people who do it well — and Mr. Hewitt and Mr. Prager are two of them.

PJ Lifestyle: Though the event is focused on interfaith dialogue, most readers probably know Prager and Hewitt for their politically focused talk radio programs. What do you say to those who might have interest in the event but are hesitant to spend 2 hours listening to a talk radio host whose politics they don’t share?

RJ: As I mentioned, I completely understand the frustration many Americans feel toward politics in general, and “the other side” in particular. But everyone says they are sick of all the rancor and divisiveness of politics and then refuses to spend time with those they disagree with. Or they never seek out opportunities to engage people with other views on everything from taxation to the existence of God. If you absolutely hate Dennis Prager, then don’t come to “Ask A Jew.” That will probably say more about you than it does anything Mr. Prager might have said to offend your delicate sensibilities.

But what ever happened to being bold and courageous in our convictions as Americans? What ever happened to desiring a rigorous challenge to our worldview? We no longer seek adventure — rhetorical, intellectual, or otherwise — only lawsuits and opportunities to accuse others of hurting our feelings.

We have purposely put together an event here that is not political. There will be no re-hashing of election results in Irvine, CA, on Sunday evening. There will be no mentions of sequesters or Chuck Hagel’s record on Israel. This is about values and worldviews. This is about life and relationships with our neighbors of other faith traditions. This is about gaining a better understanding of our own life philosophy by sharpening it up against those of others (who live and work and worship their god all around us every single day). As Dennis often says on his show, “We’re after clarity, not unity.” You can’t expect a nation of 300 million people to be unified on everything, but we must stop settling for such an utter lack of clarity on the most important things in life.

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All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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I don't know if I would call Dennis Prager a "Jewish Scholar", but ever since High School he has been very good at articulating traditional Judaism (Orthodoxy or something close to it; I'm not clear where he is personally at the moment) to outsiders.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Will there be an audio MP3 file for downloading after the event? That would make a commute a little easier to handle.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm not sure. In the past some of the Prager-Carolla events have been recorded. Wouldn't be surprised if they do that again or sometimes in the future.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What makes them culturally progressive is the same thing that makes Christians culturally progressive: not practicing their religion.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Interfaith dialog in the civilized world = a fun and enlightening night out. The uncivilized world, not so much.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
" I hope to learn more about what Judaism (and Jews themselves) think of Christianity in the United States and what causes so many of them to end up culturally progressive. "

Jews view Christianity as a historically oppressive repressive, bloodthirsty religion much the way both Christians and Jews view Islam today. The attempt at dialogue and, " interfaith understanding " is a new phenomenon brought about by the fact that Christians no longer have exclusive use of military power.
That Jews have become, " progressive ", is due to the repression faced by decades of Christian intolerance in the USA. Jews in other countries are far less liberal. Indeed those Jews who are the most liberal are those least educated in Jewish values and learning. Sadly they know little of Judaism other than bagels and lox for breakfast.
The assimilation of the Jewish community in the USA is a result of the false value formerly known as , " the melting pot ", as if homogeneity rather than respect for the differences of others is the moral ideal.
What is needed is not dialogue , as if explaining a religious dogma will act as some great preventative to hate. What is needed is simple human respect for another to worship as he pleases as long as your own right to worship is not impeded. You need neither approve or understand another's form of worship. That requirement is what stands in the way of mutual respect.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I would really differentiate Christianity as practiced for most of history from the post-Vatican II Church and many American Protestants going back to George Washington's letter to the Jewish community.

There really is a commonality of purpose between religious Jews and many Conservative Christians. Catholic practice is very close to the Noachide law. Much of the goodwill is isncere. Of course, we need to stay away from theological discussions and give no quarter to missionaries, as we have nothign to gain - we want Christinas to stay religious - and everything to lose.

It is true that historically, Christendom, from Pope to peasent, thought of Jews as evil people being punished by their sins, and made the prophecy self-fulfilling by putting Jews through every possible horror imaginable, leading to the myth of a "tolerant Islam", which was true only by comparision. And unfortunately, in many parts of the world (much of Eastern Europe) Christians still hold these beliefs.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't think I've ever read such bilge water in my life!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Miss Lolly you got it. I have heard this self-serving twaddle starting at Hopkins. One Jew even said of the likes of Menny Boy above: "Oy, no wonder people don't like Jews!"

He makes no sense, but he knows like many of his group that if you say something loud and long, people will mistake your confidence for knowledge.

To my knowledge there was never a pogrom in the US.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Menny Boy"? Many of his group? You are killing your own point.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There actually was. Look up Leo Frank - the only time a white man was ever lynched in the South based on the testimony of a black one.

The Crown Heights riot would have been labeled a pogrom if it had taken place in Europe.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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