Building resilient communities in a digital age
In the past 25 years, 40 million people have left the Christian churches of the United States.
Most of those who have ceased attending have become more secular. This trend hasn’t restricted itself to Christianity, and the number of unaffiliated Jews and even Mormons has also declined though not as precipitously. This great dechurching is perhaps the most profound religious shift that has taken place in our country’s history. On the face of it, secularly minded people may wish to celebrate this, after all, that many less people heed the siren call of religious authority and its unscientific beliefs, but as humanists, I believe we would be very wrong to do so. The social capital that has been lost due to this dechurching is incalculable. It is a tragedy of unimaginable magnitude. Communities that gave structure and meaning to people’s lives, that provided people with safety nets and friends to rely upon, have disappeared and consequently, people’s mental health has deteriorated, life expectancy has gone down, and we’ve suffered loneliness in epidemic proportions. In this talk, I will talk about the reason for this shift and offer some thoughts on how to create resilient communities.
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Tzemah Yoreh is one of the intellectual leaders of Jewish humanism and the head of the City Congregation in New York City. He attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he obtained his Ph.D. in biblical criticism in 2004. He earned a second Ph.D. in Ancient Wisdom Literature from the University of Toronto for the joy of studying ancient text. His most popular books are ‘Why Abraham Murdered Isaac: The First Stories of the Bible Revealed’, and ‘So Compassionate it Hurts: My Life as a Rabbi on the Spectrum’.