My ancient aim profile didn’t cross my mind last Wednesday at Char Bar. We were busy discussing two articles focused on the decline in church membership—the Washington Post’s “Denominational Restructuring Won’t Work” and Huffington Post’s “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore.” We went around the table echoing ideas from the articles that could apply to the Jewish community. I highlighted a sentence in the Huffington Post article, about Christians abandoning Church: “They have left, not to abandon their faith, but precisely because they wish to preserve it.”
It’s a sad, weird sentiment. Things—jewelry, books, photos, stamps—can be tucked away, sealed and preserved. Religion is lived. And life exists with other people.
Sitting at a table in a kosher restaurant heaped with burgers and fries and engaging, interesting conversation, I feel part of a community. I don’t need to withhold myself for fear of judgment. My ideas aren’t preserved—they’re challenged, broadened and strengthened.
As a college student, maybe I stuck to that Hillel quote because it reminded me to reach outside myself. “If I am only for myself, what am I?” Back then I had aim. Today I’m grateful that my convos are live, as part of the Minyan of Thinkers.