What do a priest and a rabbi have in common?
Aside from starring in some really bad jokes, I wasn’t sure. But I’m an inquisitive soul, so I went to church to hear a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi answer questions about their religions in a fascinating conversation.
If you’re curious like me, here are the four insights I left with:
1) Humor connects us.
Both men used it, and why not? If the smile is our world’s universal language, then laughter must be the colloquial version of that language—what we use when we’re with friends, not trying to impress anyone. It’s in this state of authenticity that connection occurs most easily.
So when we laugh with others, we open ourselves up. We lose the labels we’ve chosen (or received) and ease into the joy of the moment, human to human.
A laugh starts with a smile; begin there.
2) Stories connect us.
In the ~45 minutes I was there, I heard at least one story from both the rabbi and the priest. Why? Our lives operate around common concepts—love, fear, jealousy, joy, triumph, belief, etc.—and stories allow us to share our lives in a way that captures others’ attention and resonates with them.
In other words, a story is like offering a part of your life so that others see in your words a part of their own lives.
Build bridges with stories.
3) Differences in beliefs connect us.
During the conversation, one Christian attendee commented that he really enjoyed his visit to the rabbi’s temple and asked how others could share the same experience.
Like we saw in #2, life is built around a set of concepts we all experience. While the details and order vary between people, we find unity in these constants. In this example, our common concept is “belief.” The what, where, when, why, and how of belief are the details unique to each person’s experience.
Build upon commonalities and let differences be a source of discovery and appreciation.
4) The big picture connects us.
There’s a quote I turn to often by Benedictine sister, author, peace & social justice advocate, Sister Joan Chittister:
“Religion is pointing at the moon. Religion is not the ultimate. Religion is not, itself, the moon, but it is meant to help us see the moon and to require us to reach for it.”1
–Oprah Winfrey’s The Wisdom of Sundays
And this big-picture idea, that we’re all pointed in the same direction, was echoed during the conversation.
We’re all on this same journey—trying to live with purpose, true to ourselves and our beliefs. So let’s laugh together, share our stories, and unite around the constants of the human experience.
So what do a priest and a rabbi have in common? They’re not as funny without the minister! (Get it??)
Religion is a sensitive topic, but I hope the respect, curiosity, and honesty with which I approached it came across. So what’s your takeaway (aside from my really bad joke)? Leave a comment below!
1Winfrey, Oprah. The Wisdom of Sundays. New York: Flatiron Books, 2017.