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.