In his new book, “Putting God Second: How to Save Religion from Itself,” Rabbi Donniel Hartman examines why monotheistic religions have failed to create societies that live up to their ethical ideals. Hartman examines his own faith, Judaism, to answer this question. He finds that the desire to live in a relationship with God often distracts religious believers from their tradition’s core moral truths. The solution, Hartman argues, is to “put God second”—in other words, to value the independent, universal principles of responsibility and decency to other people over acts of religious devotion and ritual piety.
On March 21, Governance Studies at Brookings hosted a discussion about Rabbi Hartman’s book. This event is part of the long-running Governing Ideas book series, which is hosted by William A. Galston.