PJ Lifestyle: You’ve gotten the opportunity to get to know both Dennis and Hugh personality. So I’m curious, when you note their different personalities, how would you describe them? In what ways are they different and how can audiences look forward to enjoying their dynamic?
RJ: My dad always says that there are two types of people in the world: those who make it work, and those who make it interesting. Generally speaking, Hugh is the former and Dennis is the latter. Of course both men are thoroughly engaging and interesting and command massive audiences of captivated listeners five days a week. But Hugh, being more of the left-brained lawyer sort, brings to the table a different perspective and skill set that enable him to be master interviewer.
Dennis is utterly rational and logical as well, but possess an uncanny and creative ability to make every interaction with another human being feel like a conversation between old friends. Hugh wants to know the facts and Dennis likes to convey a larger philosophical reality. They work wonderfully together and the good-natured ribbing that transpires every time they’re in the same room (or on the same airwaves) is truly a treat for any audience.
PJ Lifestyle: I really like the way you talk about looking for someone to defend our common Judeo-Christian values rather than the fine points of your own doctrine. This is something that regular Dennis Prager listeners are probably familiar with, the way in which Dennis distinguishes between values and theology as two separate subjects. In his fantastic book Still the Best Hope: Why The World Needs American Values to Triumph, Dennis explains his approach to this subject. How would you describe your own understanding of Judeo-Christian values? And what more do you hope to learn at “Ask a Jew”?
RJ: I was raised in an evangelical Christian home by parents who had a deep respect for Catholicism and Judaism. As a pastor in the Chicago-land area, my father often organized inter-faith luncheons and meetings with pastors, priests, and rabbis in the community. So this type of interaction among members of various faith traditions is nothing new to me and, in fact, is something I’m passionate about. Theology and doctrine mean a great deal to me, and there are certain core beliefs that define who I am as a person and follower of Christ.
But we live in an imperfect world. Not everyone at my church agrees on theology, let alone everyone in my neighborhood or city. In the public square, values and the way someone conducts themselves as a result of those values are what matter most to me. The Judeo-Christian value system stems from the teachings (and God) of the Old and New Testaments. Basic presuppositions (i.e. “there is a God, and I’m not Him,” the reality of mankind’s fallen/sinful state, the need for moral order, the foundational importance of the family, etc.) that stem from this value system have shaped Western civilization for two millennium. America is a unique place, and our freedoms offer us a unique opportunity to peacefully work alongside those we disagree with when it comes to theology/doctrine, but who share our common vision of the “free and virtuous society.” 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.