My Quest to Help Americans Rediscover the Bible

I won’t make any assumptions about how many readers noticed I took a three-month break from column writing.

Nevertheless, I want to explain why.

I needed the time to finish the first volume of the biggest project of my life as a writer, a commentary on the first five books of the Bible, or what are called the Torah in Hebrew.

The commentary is addressed to people of every faith and, especially, to people of no faith.

I have believed all my life that the primary crisis in America and the West is the abandonment of Judeo-Christian values, or, one might say, the dismissal of the Bible.

Virtually everyone on the left thinks America would be better off as a secular nation. And virtually all conservative intellectuals don’t think it matters. How many intellectuals study the Bible and teach it to their children?

And yet, from the time long before the United States became a country until well into the 1950s, the Bible was not only the most widely read book in America—it was the primary vehicle by which each generation passed on morality and wisdom to the next generation.

Since that time, we have gone from a Bible-based society to a Bible-ignorant one—from the Bible being the Greatest Book to the Bible being an irrelevant book.

Ask your college-age child, niece, nephew, or grandchild to identify Cain and Abel, the Tower of Babel, or the ten plagues. Get ready for some blank stares.

I recently asked some college graduates (none of whom were Jewish) to name the four Gospels. None could.

But what we have today is worse than ignorance of the Bible. It is contempt for it. Just about anyone who quotes the Bible, let alone says it is the source of his or her values, is essentially regarded as a simpleton who is anti-science, anti-intellectual, and sexist.

Our society, one of whose mottos is “In God We Trust,” is becoming as godless as Western Europe—and, consequently, as morally confused and unwise as Europe.

Just as most professors regard most Bible believers as foolish, I have more or less the same view of most college professors in the liberal arts.

When I hear that someone has a Ph.D. in sociology, anthropology, political science, or English, let alone women’s studies or gender studies, I assume that he or she is morally confused and bereft of wisdom. Some are not, of course. But they constitute a small minority.

Whenever teenagers call my radio show or I meet one in person, I can usually identify—almost immediately—the ones who are receiving a religion-based education. They are far more likely to act mature and have more wisdom than their Bible-free peers.

One of our two greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln, rarely attended church, but he read the Bible daily. As he said while president, “In regard to this great book, I have but to say, I believe the Bible is the best gift God has given to man.”

Were he able to observe America today, Lincoln would be shocked by many things. But none would shock him as much as the widespread ignorance of and contempt for the Bible.

I have taught the Torah, from the Hebrew original, for 40 years. Of the many things I have been blessed to be able to do—from hosting a national radio show to conducting orchestras—teaching Torah is my favorite.

When asked how it has affected my life, I often note that in my early 20s, when I was working through issues I had with my parents, there was nevertheless not a week during which I did not call them.

And there was one reason for this: I believe that God commanded us to “Honor your father and your mother.”

In my commentary, I point out that while the Torah commands us to love our neighbor, love God, and love strangers, it never commands us to love our parents. It was sophisticated enough to recognize that love of parents may be impossible but showing honor to a parent is a behavioral choice.

In America, there is an epidemic of children who no longer talk to one or both of their parents. In a few cases, this is warranted. But in most cases, adult children are inflicting terrible, unfair pain upon their parents.

This is one of a myriad of examples where believing in a God-based text is transformative.

Secular callers tell me that they hardly need the Ten Commandments to desist from murdering anyone. That may well be true. But apparently, a lot of people could use the Ten Commandments to avoid inflicting terrible pain on (admittedly, flawed) parents.

The title of my work is “The Rational Bible” because my vehicle to God and the Bible is reason. If you have ever wondered why all of America’s founders revered the Bible, let alone why anyone today might do so, this book should provide an explanation.

My ultimate aim is to help make the Bible America’s book once again.

The post My Quest to Help Americans Rediscover the Bible appeared first on The Daily Signal.

Even the Best Laws Cannot Save Our Society. Here’s What We Need.

I’m approaching my 82nd birthday, and my daughter will occasionally suggest that modernity is perplexing to me because I’m from prehistoric times.

As such, it points to one of the unavoidable problems of youth—namely, the temptation to think that today’s behavioral standards have always been. Let’s look at a few of the differences between yesteryear and today.

One of those differences is the treatment of women.

There are awesome physical strength differences between men and women. To create and maintain civil relationships between the sexes is to drum into boys, starting from very young ages, that they are not to use violence against a woman for any reason.

Special respect is given women. Yesteryear even the lowest of lowdown men would not curse or use foul language to or in the presence of women.

To see a man sitting on a crowded bus or trolley car while a woman is standing used to be unthinkable. It was deemed common decency for a man to give up his seat for a woman or elderly person.

Today young people use foul language in front of—and often to—adults and teachers. It’s not just foul language. Many youngsters feel that it’s acceptable to assault teachers. Just recently, 45 Pennsylvania teachers resigned because of student violence.

Back in what my daughter calls prehistoric times, the use of foul language to an adult or teacher would have meant a smack across the face. Of course, today a parent taking such corrective action risks being reported to a local child protective service and even being arrested.

The modern parental or teacher response to misbehavior is to call for “time out.” In other words, what we’ve taught miscreants of all ages is that they can impose physical pain on others and not suffer physical pain themselves. That’s an open invitation to bad behavior.

It has always been considered a good idea to refrain from sexual intercourse until marriage or at least adulthood. During the sexual revolution of the 1960s, lessons of abstinence were ridiculed, considered passé, and replaced with lessons about condoms, birth control pills, and abortion.

Out-of-wedlock childbirths are no longer seen as shameful and a disgrace. As a result, the rate of illegitimate births among whites is over 30 percent, and among blacks, it’s over 70 percent.

For over a half-century, the nation’s liberals—along with the education establishment, pseudo-intellectuals, and the courts—have waged war on traditions, customs, and moral values.

Many in today’s generation have been counseled to believe that there are no moral absolutes. Instead, what’s moral or immoral, right or wrong, is a matter of convenience, personal opinion, or what is or is not criminal.

Society’s first line of defense is not the law but customs, traditions, and moral values. Customs, traditions, and moral values are those important thou-shalt-nots, such as thou shalt not murder, shalt not steal, shalt not lie, and shalt not cheat. They also include respect for parents, teachers, and others in authority, plus those courtesies one might read in Emily Post’s rules of etiquette.

These behavioral norms—mostly transmitted by example, word of mouth, and religious teachings—represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience, trial and error, and looking at what works and what doesn’t.

The importance of customs, traditions, and moral values as a means of regulating behavior is that people behave themselves even if nobody’s watching.

There are not enough cops. Laws can never replace these restraints on personal conduct in producing a civilized society. At best, the police and the criminal justice system are the last desperate lines of defense for a civilized society.

Unfortunately, customs, traditions, and moral values have been discarded without an appreciation for the role they played in creating a civilized society, and now we’re paying the price—and that includes the recent revelations regarding the treatment of women.

The post Even the Best Laws Cannot Save Our Society. Here’s What We Need. appeared first on The Daily Signal.