Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm is rolling out a new digital media platform called The Joshua Project, which seeks to bring together Jews, Catholics, and evangelicals to share the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible during a time when he claims American culture has lost sight of its moral foundation.
Lamm, who is the chief executive of the nonprofit organization Bnai Zion, explained during an interview with The Daily Wire how he hopes The Joshua Project will return Americans to the faith-based foundation currently under attack by the nation’s cultural elites. The platform, which launches in late December, will include an array of content that will explore how the Bible continues to inform on issues ranging from politics, psychology, and pop culture to relationships, alcohol use, and the Middle East.
Maintaining that America presently finds itself “at a major crossroads as a country,” Lamm said, “On the one hand, we’re on the road to disillusion, that’s the bad news. But the good news is that we’ve been down this road before as a country — in many ways, much further down the road than we are now.”
Lamm asserted that every time America has found itself astray, the Bible and Old Testament especially have proven to be the roadmap back. “It’s always been that work that’s always inspired us. And at this moment, where so many of the traditional idols of the American elite culture have revealed themselves to have clay feet, we really feel that this is a critical time for us to rediscover not just the values of our political founding document, which is the Constitution, but also the values of our moral founding document, which is the Bible.”
“We’re bringing great digital content through our platform to the American public [through] The Joshua Project digital media platform,” Lamm continued. Current content includes a curated video series about the Bible and politics, a weekly podcast, and a series of conversations with notable speakers, such as Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, author Karen Swallow Prior, and New York Post editor Sohrab Ahmari.
Lamm, who is a historian by academic training, obtained his doctorate from Princeton University and became a rabbi through his spiritual training at Yeshiva University. “Since I can remember, my passion has been the incredible potential that the American experiment has to elevate its own citizens and to serve as a beacon of light for the rest of world,” he said. “I’ve been concerned about the direction that we’ve taken as a society, not just in the recent past, but over the last several decades.”
Some of America’s problems are potentially rooted in its unique history, Lamm explained. “You can kind of make two choices in the kind of society that we’ve built,” he said. “You can choose to read the American story as one of not just allowing, but encouraging people to be as lone as possible, sort of the individual hero. And there is something to that, right? We admire Shane, the man with no name, Davy Crockett. We admire those people. But at a certain point, if you take that to its logical extreme, you’re just going to be as lonely and sad and despairing as an alarmingly increasing number of Americans are nowadays.”
“Another way to read the American experiment is to say that it’s really the first society in the world that said to forget tribe, forget exclusivity, that kind of thing,” Lamm added. “This is going to be a nation built on values, built on story. And most importantly, if you really go back to the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock, you go back to the Mayflower Compact, it’s also rooted in faith.”
After referencing President George Washington’s Farewell Address, which described religion and morality as “indispensable supports” to political prosperity, Lamm excoriated the present-day American elite who have “really bought into this idea of we’re all better off alone, pursuing whatever fancy catches us at the moment, pursuing our whims.”
“As a consequence, all of the organizations that represent and train elite culture — whether it’s elite universities, whether it’s mainstream media publications — are very dismissive of traditional communities, traditional values, and the communities of faith that support them,” Lamm said.
“The elite movement has just been a massive failure,” Lamm continued. “And if you just look at American deaths of despair rising, if you look at suicide on the rise, if you look at some of the drug-related crises that we have from opioids, so much of this is just related to a general malaise of the American public that has lost its traditional source of inspiration.”
“I think there’s natural longing in the American soul for a sense of belonging and story and shared vocabulary,” Lamm said. “And that’s what we’re trying to bring to the American people. What we’re trying to say is, religion’s not the boogie man. Faith traditions are not the problem. They [are] the solution. They’re the solution to everything that we have been and can be once again as America. The goal is not just to make America great again, it’s to make America good again. And I think that’s really important, as well.”
Lamm said he hopes that The Joshua Project can serve to dispel some of the cultural malaise and return America to its traditionally religious roots. “We want to bring that back by saying, ‘America doesn’t protect religion, religion protects America,'” he said. “And whether you’re a person of faith or not almost makes very little difference, because what we have here in the classical moral founding texts of the American experiment is a source of incredible wisdom.”
“And not just wisdom,” Lamm added, “but also a source of the shared vocabulary that we can use to talk to each other, rather than past each other, at this fraught moment in the American history.”
“I see this as a totally unique moment in the history of American faith groups,” said Lamm, explaining how people of different faith groups have historically “conceived of themselves as enclaves under attack and only under attack, which they are to a great extent.”
“But now these groups are starting to see that actually broader coalitions are possible,” Lamm continued. “And these groups can actually band together without having to do that weird, same-old interfaith thing, where they all pretend that they’re the same. Instead, they can bring their uniqueness, their own extraordinary and unique beliefs into the public square and band with each other to fight for values, to fight for community, to fight for family and all of those things. I think it’s an incredible opportunity, and we’re trying to harness that energy now.”