Tag Archives: outreach

Finding a Place for the Lonely Man of Faith

I know that many of you who are reading this are introverts trying to cope with the extreme extroversion of Orthodoxy. Its group identity, its endless minor simchas, its lack of interest in contemplation and mussar, and its turning Torah study into a collective group practice rather than an intellectual activity.What happened to the great introverted traditions of Ramhal, Vilna Gaon, the Magid of Mezritch, the Alter of Navarodk, Rav Zadok, Rav Kook and Rav Soloveitchik? They knew how to be introverts. What happened to the ideal of being the Lonely Man of Faith?

To make you feel better, Adam McHugh has written Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture.The book is written by an Evangelical having the same problems in his church. The book is more autobiography, self-help, and pop-sociology than a definitive study, but it will allow those who share his concerns to know that others share his concerns

McHugh presents the same dilemma that many of my students have gone through. He describes in his introduction how he realized that he wont become an academic but then he realizes that he is too introverted for a pulpit. He describes his disappointments in dealing with the world of congregations and finding himself to be the odd man out in the extroverted world of seminarians and outreach workers.
In chapter one McHugh deals with three issues: personal relationship with God, Scripture, and active evangelicalism. Introverts in Church don’t  relate to God as part of a collective, they prefer knowledge to be contemplative and creative, and they don’t make good kiruv workers. Introverts are blamed for both keeping the religion too formal and self-defensive, as well as being too disobedient.

Introduction and chapter

From an online review:

For every introvert who has considered a job in the ministry, only to have second thoughts about the grueling expectations of congregations who assume a pastor will be endlessly gregarious, outgoing, available, and always “on”
For every introvert who has longed to share his or her spiritual gifts, but felt that being introverted made the prospect impossible, or at least difficult; or felt that the more extroverted members of the congregation didn’t approve of the quieter, subtler, more behind-the-scenes efforts of introverted members.

From the author’s blog- an outtake from the book

What do introverts reveal about God? Introverts reveal the creativity of God, who designed the world in all its beauty, color, abundance, and fecundity. They demonstrate the subtlety and the gentleness of God, who often speaks in whispers rather than in horn blasts and who is usually more reticent than he is talkative. For those who are attuned to hear God’s voice, he seems to speak in words or brief sentences more than he speaks in paragraphs. Introverts, when they have attained a level of personal and spiritual maturity, reveal the restfulness of God, who rested after his creative work and who dwells in his own Shalom. Introverts, with their multi-layered personalities that are only unraveled over time, reveal the mystery of God.

Is Outreach Judaism like Tribbles?

Here is an article on how Pentecostals have morphed into almost everything. They started as more conservative evangelical but now are more liberal, at times, than liberal churches. They are concerned with making you rich, helping you lose weight, helping you manage your time, and giving tips for successful middle managers. The artile asks at what point are they no longer just silly but actual heresy or truly in bad taste.

Heresy, Bad Taste, or Capitalist Adventure: Is it Still Pentecostalism?

By Anthea Butler  Posted on September 13, 2009,

If an animal could describe the Pentecostal movement, it would be the tribble, a cute furry fictional animal, well-known to Star Trek fans. Tribbles, the story had it, were born pregnant, reproduced at a staggering rate, and ate everything in sight: if the ravenous creatures hadn’t eaten a store of poisoned grain, they would have destroyed the Enterprise. To follow the analogy, Pentecostalism and certain segments of the movement (namely, the “Prosperity Gospel” and the “New Apostolic Movements”) have mutated like tribbles, choking off their Pentecostal origins, multiplying to such a degree that it is difficult to distinguish the broader Pentecostal movement and historic churches from the mutants.

Perhaps it is odd to equate a movement with a sci-fi creature, but the multiplication of the Pentecostal movement and its “mutations” have reached a point where some clarification and reevaluation of the broader movement is needed; especially in light of the shifting belief systems that each offshoot has engendered. From the calls to investigate Prosperity ministers Creflo Dollar and Paula White, to Sarah Palin’s New Apostolic Reformation movement connections, Pentecostalism and its progeny (Charismatic, Third Wave, Full Gospel and non-denominational churches) have multiplied so rapidly that it is difficult to discern what the original movement is and where the offshoots are.

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The same question can be applied to the various outreach, kiruv, and engaged yeshivish in Judiasm. When do they cross the line into kitch or bad theology? The question is less if they are true or convincing but when have they crossed a line into seeming like Elmer Gantry? There are now Jewish outreach versions of prosperity gospel, 12 step, and positive thinking. We have popular outreach versions of “The Secret.” There is even a Torah’s plan for weight loss. Rabbis are now using evangelical material, especially stories, in their own sermons and books. In addition, Joel Osteen is very popular in my neighborhood; his religion is so light and his message of prosperity so in tune with Orthodoxy that he is a model rabbi. When are they no longer Orthodox? Does it matter?   When do these outreach approaches becomes indistinguishable from various flavors of renewal or havurah? Is it OK to reduce Judiasm to the latest in motivational speakers?