Over the past 25 years, Mark Paredes has worked as a national outreach director for the American Jewish Congress, a regional director for the Zionist Organization of America, an attaché at the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, and a State Department diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. He speaks fluent Hebrew, blogs for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, and has lectured in synagogues across America. But despite this résumé, Paredes isn’t Jewish. He’s a Mormon bishop.
Between his personal and professional responsibilities, the 46-year-old interfaith activist has arguably done more grassroots work than any other person in America to advance Jewish-Mormon relations. He’s braved Jewish audiences who’ve grilled him on the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints’ discontinued practice of posthumously baptizing Holocaust victims, and he’s patiently explained the intricacies of the different denominations and worldviews of American Jews to members of his own faith community.
As regular readers know, I have long been interested in the intersection of Mormonism and Judaism, two religions that share much more in common than is typically realized. This week at Tablet, I wrote about one of the most fascinating people I've come across in my investigations of that world:
Among other things you'll learn in the rest of the profile: what Mormons mean when they say they are part of "the House of Israel," why an anti-Mormon Jewish pop song was recorded in the 1980s, and why Paredes wants Judaism to start proselytizing. Read the whole thing.
I see journalism as an excuse to interrogate people who interest me under the guise of professional obligation. So when I report, I tend to collect a lot more information from my sources than can fit into my pieces. Here I post some of the greatest hits for your entertainment, along with other brief thoughts on religion, politics and culture. Well, that and funny YouTube videos.