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It helps to be reminded of a higher power

Published February 28, 2007


I used to think discussions of God and the Bible applied to other people. I admired the Christians I knew who seemed so at peace, deeply faithful, and comfortable sharing their faith.

My search for something deeper has led to a fascination with religion. As a correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times, I've written stories about a Zephyrhills Pentecostal bus ministry, a Wesley Chapel Baptist church's prayer/exercise class, an Orthodox Jewish wedding, and the Hasidic rabbis reaching out to unaffiliated Jews in Pasco County.

On Saturday night, something clicked, or maybe I should say was kindled, within me. In the quiet darkness of my bedroom, with my husband sleeping beside me, I read about God.

For a few brief moments after putting my kids to bed and watching American Idol, I was able to reach beyond intellect and ego and truly find what has eluded me for so long.

In case you're wondering, the book is called Toward a Meaningful Life, and I highly recommend it - whether you're Jewish, Christian, agnostic or decidedly atheist. My brother, who's on his own search, lent me the book, and he and I continue to have conversations about the contrasting roles religion plays in our lives as we raise our own families.

Toward a Meaningful Life is based on the teachings of Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, head of the Hasidism's Chabad-Lubavitcher movement for 44 years and referred to simply as the Rebbe.

The book was adapted by Rabbi Simon Jacobson and discusses a range of topics, including children, marriage, aging, and death, as well as work, government and education.

I never saw myself as one of those people who read the Bible or used scripture to explain the difficulties we face. But I may pull it down off my bookshelf, dust it off, and see if I can find some connection in the cryptic words the book contains.

While I call it the Torah, I realize others call it the Old Testament. The messages are the same, and the influence, I hope, universal.

Glimpses of that influence can still be seen in public places, though some people fight to keep them at bay. Groups such as the ACLU oppose having a moment of silence in public schools or a display of the Ten Commandments outside a courthouse. I can understand why things like that can be controversial; religion should never be forced on anyone.

But in a modern world consumed by cell phone commercials, car dealerships and caveats of war, it doesn't hurt to have a reminder of something greater, something gently nudging us toward a more meaningful life.

[Last modified February 28, 2007, 00:42:03]

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