How's Your Faith?: An Unlikely Spiritual Journey

Simon & Schuster  2015

 

On August 14, 2014, while boarding a plane to pick up his children at summer camp, David Gregory learned that, after six years as moderator of Meet the Press, he was no longer the host of the program. He had had his final show; the “greatest job [he] ever had” was over.

After an entire professional life spent as a journalist, twenty of those years at NBC, Gregory was abruptly without a job, a very public and humiliating blow. But for more than ten years, Gregory had been on a spiritual journey. True, his work world had fallen apart, but his larger life—his sense of himself and the love of his family, his wonder at the venerable trees in the woods near his home—was solid. And he had faith and knew he could rely on it to carry him through. How’s Your Faith? follows Gregory on his journey—a continuing journey—to find meaning and purpose in life through finding God.

The son of a Jewish father and lapsed Catholic mother, Gregory had always considered himself a Jew. On the high holidays he went with his father to the Synagogue for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles, and he had a bar mitzvah. But faith had no part in his Judaism. At twenty-six, as he was launched on his professional trajectory, he met Beth Wilkinson, a Justice Department prosecutor eight years his senior. Four years later they were married, and the shape of Gregory’s life changed. He and Beth, a lifelong committed Methodist, had decided their children would be brought up Jewish, but Gregory couldn’t really address Beth’s most challenging question. If they were going to raise Jewish children, the children should be brought up not as cultural Jews but as Jews with a commitment to their faith. Beth could clearly define her faith, but Gregory was at a loss when she said, “I know what you are, but what do you believe?”

With that question in mind Gregory started on the journey that is the core of his very personal and spiritual memoir. How’s Your Faith? takes Gregory back to his troubled childhood, dealing with divorced parents—an alcoholic mother and a larger than life dominating father—and to his openly ambitious career path. As he set out to answer Beth’s question, Gregory began a search both deep and broad. He studies Judaism with a prominent Orthodox teacher, and he talks with religious leaders of all faiths, looking for the source of their faith and the place of God in their lives. There are stumbles along the way as Gregory starts to practice Judaism, and it takes the advice of sympathetic rabbis to help him find his way.

How’s Your Faith?, a question put to Gregory by President George W. Bush, moves back and forth in Gregory’s life and addresses readers at several levels. For those seeking a richer spiritual life, Gregory’s willingness to write candidly about his personal vulnerability and his sense of God in his life offers a possible path. For partners in an interfaith marriage, Gregory’s sensitivity to his wife’s sense of loss at not being able to share her religion with herchildrenand their ways of creating an active Jewish life may be the most touching and heartfelt parts of the book, a testament to their marriage. The discussions with spiritual leaders comprise a volume of thought-provoking and illuminating statements of faith and its power. This is the unlikely side of David Gregory that contrasts with the view that saw him as a somewhat arrogant and ambitious careerist. Here his pride is expressed in his family and his ongoing journey to be a humbler, more open, and fuller person. Includes an index—key to figures in the book.

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