• Gabbai

Va’etchanan – New Age

A study was recently undertaken by Christian groups in the United States to understand the religious attitudes and beliefs of religiously affiliated Christian youth in the United States. The results of the study were published in an article on The Christian Post. The study focused on US demographics, and it was limited to Christianity, but I believe the same results would appear if the study was conducted throughout Western civilization, and covered Judaism as well. Care was taken to ensure the subjects of the trial were representative of a wide sampling of the spectrum, so that the findings would provide broad indicators.

The study found that adolescents and teenagers were basically ignorant of the religious doctrines and beliefs their faith espoused. Either they didn’t know, or did know but had no reason to believe in, the teachings of their faith. The researchers found that most teens’ understanding of their faith was “vague, limited, and often quite at variance with the actual teachings of their own religion.” Further, it was found that youth are heavily influenced by the ideology of individualism, where the “right” thing to do, and the “right” thing to believe in was completely fluid, lacking conviction to a particular theology.

This creed of faith preaches a basically moral lifestyle, with its goal being to “live a good and happy life.” Subjects of the study professed their religious values as: being kind and pleasant people, being respectful and responsible, caring for their health and striving for success. In Jewish terms we could say that this new-age grasp of religion directs all of its efforts to bein adam lachaveiro – interpersonal matters and those relating to the self. There is no focus on bein adam lamakom – matters between people and God. Observance of the Sabbath had no place in this creed; prayer, developing oneself as a servant of God, having faith and trust in God – these were not present in the minds of most youth. Their own subjective happiness and well-being was core to their perception of religious importance.

The research team labelled this new-age grasp of religion “Moralistic Therapeutic