“Judaism and Christianity have their differences, but they are as one in their declaration that there is a spiritual reality at the heart of all nature and life.”
Some people seek to build walls of separation. Others seek to build bridges that bring people together. Rabbi Levi Olan’s March 12, 1961 sermon reveals that he was one of the latter. While acknowledging that there are differences between Christianity and Judaism, he minimized them as family disagreements that are laid aside when the family is under attack. Is Judeo-Christian civilization under attack? Rabbi Olan said yes and named the common enemy: materialism. This needs some explanation.
By materialism Rabbi Olan did not mean the love of money and things, which is how the term is commonly used. The materialism that Rabbi Olan objected to so strongly was the philosophical position that “nothing exists except matter — things that can be measured or known through the senses.” (Dictionary.com) The problem with such a position is that it rules out all intangibles, for instance: love, honor, justice, conscience, the soul, and God. According to Rabbi Olan, philosophical materialism is a threat to society because it results in a sense that there is no meaning or purpose to existence and no hope for a better tomorrow.
“Despair is a basic concomitant of materialism and our day is just ridden with it. The literature, the art and music, the philosophy, and even some extreme religious expressions of our time revel in hopelessness and despondency.”
This is not the easiest sermon to read, but within you will find some challenging thoughts and great quotations.