by Michael Smith and Rami Shapiro
A reverend and a rabbi start a blog… (stop us if you’ve heard this one before). As it happens, not long ago Baptist minister Michael Smith and Jewish rabbi Rami M. Shapiro actually did initiate the blog conversation “Mount and Mountain.” The blog recorded a long-running dialogue between Mike and Rami in which the pair interpreted, argued about, and interrogated two key texts drawn from the canons of their respective religions: the Ten Commandments from the Torah, and the Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel of St. Matthew.
This book, focused on the Ten Commandments, represents the first half of that dialogue. In Mount and Mountain, Volume One, Mike and Rami discuss the nature of divinity, the power of faith, and the necessity of doubt. From the beauty of myth and story to the achievements, failings, and future of religion, above all they both wrestle with the struggle to live ethically and in harmony with the way of God.
Reading along, we are invited to take part, to add our own voices and experience to the task of interpretation, and to craft our own meanings from the text of Exodus. And if, as readers, we take that text in our own directions, we move toward a richer understanding not only of Scripture but also of God and godliness.
Reverend Michael Smith is a pastor, editor and writer. He serves as senior pastor of Central Baptist Church of Fountain City, Knoxville, Tennessee, and is a graduate of Belmont University (BA) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv.; PhD). He is active in Baptist life at the local, state, and national levels. He currently serves as a trustee of Belmont University and a member of the Consultation on the Common Text.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro, PhD is adjunct professor of Religion at Middle Tennessee State University and the director of Wisdom House at Scarritt-Bennett, an interfaith center in Nashville. Author of more than twenty books, Rami also writes the regular column “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler” for Spirituality & Health magazine. He can be reached via his website, rabbirami.com.
What a treat! Two intelligent and articulate people from different faith traditions engage in a healthy dialogue around key writings in their respective scriptures. The result is both informative and encouraging. Here is a model not only for theological dialogue but for doing life together, something that is needed in our divisive times. We have so much to learn from each other if we are willing to take the time to engage one another as these writers have.
Site Coordinator, Central Baptist Theological Seminary
Tennessee Coaching Coordinator, Pinnacle Leadership Associates
Reading Mount and Mountain was a moving experience! Not only does this creative dialogue of a Jewish rabbi and a Christian minister yield much new insight into the scriptures, it also points in the direction God beckons for our relationship with one another.
E. Glenn Hinson,
Author of A Serious Call to a Contemplative Lifestyle