The passionate support of millions of Evangelical Christians in the United States for Israel is valued by the people and government of Israel. Israelis feel confident in the pro-Israel activities of the growing number of Christian Zionists who are strengthening the political and spiritual bonds between Washington and Jerusalem.
The Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life found that more than a quarter of Americans identify themselves as Evangelical Protestant Christians. They form the largest religious group in United States with political clout felt in the White House and Congress.
A more recent study conducted by LifeWay Research asked “When you think of the modern rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 and the re-gathering of millions of Jewish people to Israel” 80% say these events were fulfillments of Bible prophecy. 80% agree that God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants was for all time. 76% agree that Christians should support the Jewish people’s right to live in the sovereign state of Israel.
However, the study raises concerns that the younger generation may not continue the enthusiasm for Israel of their parents and grandparents. The survey has found that positive perception of the country of Israel are strongest among the age group over 65 and least among millennials. 76% of age 65+ with Evangelical beliefs indicate they have a “Positive” view of Israel today, followed by age 50-64 (69%), age 35-49 (64%), and age 18-35 (58%).
David Nekrutman, executive director of the Center of Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Jerusalem told Michael Freund for his article in The Jerusalem Post “Stop taking Evangelical support for granted” that we should not assume that the children of Christian Zionists are building on the foundation of what their parents learned.
New Book Written in the Language of Digital Culture
There are many fine books written by Christian Zionists that set out the case for Israel based upon the biblical narrative. I have found, however, that none speak in the language of the ubiquitous digital culture shaped by smartphones and social media. It is the language that Evangelical millennials understand best.
To address this absence, I wrote my newest book Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media being published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing. It creates a dialogue between digital texts and images that teach how biblical insights can transform smartphone photography and social media into imaginative ways for seeing spirituality in everyday life. It speaks to Jews and Christians who share an abiding love of the Bible by inspiring the creation of a lively dialogue between our emerging life stories and the enduring biblical narrative.
My teaching and writing has explored the vibrant interface between Jewish thought and the postdigital age for decades. As a professor at Ariel University in Israel, I taught the course “Judaism and Zionism: Roots and Values” and at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, I taught “Art, Technology and Culture.”
I created the exhibition LightsOROT: Spiritual Dimension of the Electronic Age at MIT for Yeshiva University Museum in 1988. My artworks exploring biblical imagery and digital technologies have circled the globe via AT&T satellites and are in the collections of forty museums from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MoMA in New York to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
I have written many papers on the subject, the most recent being “Postdigital Relationships between Digital and Hebraic Writing” in the Routledge book Digital Writing and Rhetoric (2018) and in my books The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness (Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press, 2011) and Dialogic Art in a Digital World in Hebrew (published in Jerusalem, 2008).
Reviews of Through a Bible Lens
I have posted reviews of Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media by Jewish and Christian spiritual leaders and experts on digital culture from five continents. They describe my book from multiple perspectives that together reveal the essence of its message. See them at the book’s blog http://throughabiblelens.blogspot.com and follow them at the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/throughabiblelens/. Read some of them here.
“Like anything in God’s world, smartphones and social media have the capacity for both blasphemy and blessing. Mel Alexenberg’s important book Through a Bible Lens provides our generation the perfect model for the best usage of smartphones and social media to encourage greater appreciation for the Bible and the Land of Israel. Anyone who appreciates either will gain an important perspective from Alexenberg’s lens.” – Rabbi Tuly Weisz, editor of The Israel Bible; director of Israel365 and publisher of Breaking Israel News: Latest News from a Biblical Perspective
“Through a Bible Lens offers a unique and personal challenge to the reader to integrate Bible Study, the creation that surrounds us, and our personal experience into a “living journal.” Dr. Alexenberg’s approach offers a fun, yes fun, path to integrate pondering the deepest questions of Scripture with modern living and a literally visual journey through life. Written from a Jewish Torah loving perspective, this book will be a joy to any lover of the Bible, Christian or Jewish. I not only endorse it, I look forward to integrating these ideas into my personal encounter with Scripture.” – Dr. Jim Solberg, author of Sinai Speaks; USA National Director of Bridges for Peace
“The iPhone has changed our culture and our ways of thinking and acting in the world. This book brings together spiritual thought, everyday practices of communication and interaction and profound insights about meaning and purpose in contemporary life in a brilliant and sustained exposition. Once again, Alexenberg has carved out a unique point of view that deserves the highest praise and a large readership. Great book!!” – Dr. Ron Burnett, author of How Images Think; president, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Vancouver, Canada
“Who would have thought that there would be a way to connect smartphones to the ancient world of the Bible? Professor Alexenberg has the expertise and experience to do so. This is a unique and fascinating book.” – Dr. Gerald R. McDermott, author of Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and Land of Israel and The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel and the Land; Anglican professor of Divinity, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama
“The book’s wonderful synthesis between spirituality and technology, heaven and earth, is exciting and thought-provoking. It is a practical demonstration of Solomon’s wisdom: “Acknowledge God in all your paths.” Alexenberg’s affirmation of the spiritual potential of the Internet, blogging, photography, new technologies and social media, brings to mind the dictum of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel: “The old will be renewed, and the new will be sanctified.” – Rabbi Chanan Morrison, author of Sapphire from the Land of Israel: New Light on the Torah Portion from the Writings of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook
“An intellectually exciting book that stimulates the sensory palate. Drawing from the Kabbalah and Hebrew traditions, Dr. Alexenberg shares in-depth, meaningful insights about encountering God in the creative process through photography. Using photography as the vehicle, we are guided, one idea at a time, to an understanding of what the author means by, ’looking up, looking out, and looking inward.’” – T. Mandel Chenoweth, head of the Art Education Department, Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma
“For those of us familiar with the diverse and exhilarating work of Mel Alexenberg as an artist, educator and profound thinker, this latest book offers precisely the four things we would expect. The narrative thinks brilliantly outside the box. It synthesizes the realm of the abstruse and transcendent with the realm of the concrete and immanent. It crisscrosses disciplines, from science and technology to philosophy and mysticism to art as both historical and creative phenomena. Finally, the entirety is managed in a style both accessible and inviting. Those with prior knowledge of any or all of the disciplines from which Alexenberg draws will smile again and again in affirmation, and those entering without prior knowledge will be thrilled to understand things that they thought might be beyond them. This is one of those books that other thinkers will wish they had somehow thought about how to write, and to which readers of diverse sorts will simply respond by saying: wow!” – Dr. Ori Z. Soltes, author of Tradition and Transformation: Three Millennia of Jewish Art and Architecture; professorial lecturer of Theology and Fine Arts, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
“In Through a Bible Lens, Mel Alexenberg continues his meandering journey seeking Beauty and the Divine within the commonplace. Gazing vertically and horizontally, across literary, cyber, aesthetic and earthly texts/spaces, the journey’s end point is always the same – sublime joy in the revelation of God in the World, God as the world.” Dr. Randall Rhodes, Provost, American University of Armenia, Yerevan
“The most recent, and arguably one of art’s most complete and compelling integrations of the sacred and profane. Mel Alexenberg shows the way to the divine via digital imagery and heightened perception of its presence in the moving face of every person, place, and thing. The book is packed with wisdom and learning about Talmudic tradition, creative expression, and cyberangels. It reads like a swift and soulful breeze. I love every “byte” of it.” – Dr. Shaun McNiff, author of Earth Angels: Engaging the Sacred in Everyday Things and Imagination in Action: Secrets for Unleashing Creative Expression; university professor of Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
“Inspiring on many levels. I really enjoyed it because it gives us an amazing perspective on our own existence, especially in the age of the interconnected iPhone culture.” – Prof. Michael Bielicky, head of Department of Digital Media/Postdigital Narratives, University of Art and Design/ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany
“I am honored to see how Professor Alexenberg draws on my teachings and makes them come alive in the world of smartphones and social media. He provides a practical guide for photographing the splendor of God by opening your eyes in wonder in whatever place you find yourself. Seeing with eyes of wonder is seeing for the first time every time.” – Rabbi David Aaron, author of Seeing God: Ten Life Changing Lessons of the Kabbalah and The Secret Life of God: Discovering the Divine within You; dean of Isralight and Yeshivat Oryta in the Old City of Jerusalem
“There are many parallels in Christian thought and deed that should allow this excellent book to resonate with many people of faith. When I picked up Prof. Alexenberg’s book, I happened to be reading a spiritual guide on contemplative prayer by an anonymous 14th century Christian mystic whose words find a parallel in Alexenberg’s exhortation to seek the Divine out in the world in all that you see and photograph, and with love. He has succeeded in creating a program for photographers, on a daily basis, to explicitly weave their faith into their art and ultimately, back into their worldview with a fresh perspective.” – Bob Weil, co-author of The Art of iPhone Photography: Creating Great Photos and Art on Your iPhone
“Mel Alexenberg offers a scintillating experiment in creativity. His work is an invitation to deepen your spiritual sensibilities as you extend your imagination. An interesting and relevant approach to spiritual practice and creative expression.” – Jan Phillips, author of God Is at Eye Level: Photography as a Healing Art and Finding the On-Ramp to Your Spiritual Path: A Roadmap to Joy and Rejuvenation
“In Through a Bible Lens, Alexenberg offers us a magnificent and original approach that interconnects art, creative processes, religion and new media technologies. The book is an important contribution to the study of media and is a must read for anyone interested in our contemporary culture.” – Dr. Lucia Leao, author of The Labyrinth of Hypermedia and The Chip and the Kaleidoscope: Studies in New Media; professor of Communications and Semiotics, Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, Brazil
“In his astonishingly innovative book, Mel Alexenberg quotes photographer Jan Phillips, who writes, “Everywhere I look, there God is looking back, looking straight back.” Alexenberg is able to perceive that Godly gaze not only in nature around us or the heavens above, but in the smartphone we hold in our hand.” – Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, author of thelordismyshepard.com: Seeing God in Cyberspace; spiritual leader at Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut
“If a picture is worth a thousand words, Through a Bible Lens offers a template, a guidebook on how to experience innumerable images of the Divine in every moment and use blogging technology to disseminate them worldwide. Professor Mel Alexenberg invites us to share the story of our own Divine journey through the wisdom found in this unique book.” – Bishop Robert Stearns, Executive Director, Eagles’ Wings, New York
“In his sophisticated and highly literate book, Prof. Alexenberg weaves in a playful way the threads between contemporary digital culture and traditional Jewish wisdom. In an original way, he invites us to connect the networked world of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, WhatsApp and Blogspot, with the concept of the unseen God. Using the metaphor of the camera, he provides interesting and surprising intersections between new-media culture and theological issues.” – Dr. Yael Eylat Van-Essen, author of Digital Culture: Virtuality, Society and Information; art faculty at Tel Aviv University
“Whether we see this book as a book of art – a mystical computer program for spiritual seeing – or a book about art – to actually see it, we must consult the beautiful blog at http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.com. Mel Alexenberg is a wonderfully accomplished worker on a great project: to make art a conduit for the Divine. – Rabbi Dr. Shimon Cowen, director, Institute for Judaism and Civilization, Victoria, Australia
“Alexenberg proposes that text and image—something as simple as photos taken with a smart phone, and multiplied in their resonance by the internet—can be used as a consciousness raising tool, at once personal and collective. With such simple means, we can attune ourselves to the sacred dimensions of our lives from moment to moment. In fresh, clear language, he brings his detailed knowledge of Torah texts and what he calls “the down-to-earth mysticism of the kabbalah” to bear on daily life, showing how the annual round of sacred readings from that spiraling scroll provides prompts for deepening our personal and artistic practice.” – Peter Samis, co-author of Creating the Visitor-centered Museum; associate curator, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
“Strikes a balance between Kabbalah and contemporary culture. It is replete with imagery from both universes. It is literate, wise, and easily accessible. Alexenberg offers us an elegant and devout example of an evolved Jewish Weltanschauung. Make no mistake; this is a serious contribution to contemporary neo-kabbalah.” – Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author of God Was in This Place & I, i Did Not Know: Finding Self, Spirituality and Ultimate Meaning and Kabbalah: A Love Story; scholar-in-residence at Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco
“I can feel your joy, warmth and good humor in your images. Your approach, while fundamentally spiritual and fired by a kindred spark as my own passion for seeing, is a mirror of a different sort of our mutual exploration of our humanity.” – Julie DuBose, author of Effortless Beauty: Photography as an Expression of Eye, Mind and Heart; director of The Miksang Institute for Contemplative Photography, Colorado
“Menahem (Mel) Alexenberg is “tov ro’i,” “goodly of vision.” He sees godliness and goodliness in even the most mundane, and instructs others to behold that vision. We are blessed to have such a wise teacher in our midst.” – Rabbi Bezalel Naor, author of A Kabbalist’s Diary and The Limit of Intellectual Freedom: The Letters of Rav Kook; former head of institutes of higher Jewish learning in United States and Israel