The Universe Is Broken—Who On Earth Can Fix It?, 48pp; Rosen, Moishe, (Purple Pomegranate: San Francisco), c. 1991. Purchase this booklet online.

This booklet is an attempt to grapple with some of the problems of everyday life, beginning with some hypothetical annoyances:

Have you ever stayed home from work because a delivery man was to bring an important package or a repairman was supposed to come to fix something? You waited because you were told that someone would arrive at a certain time, but he just didn’t come. Furthermore, the company didn’t call—you had to phone them!

And continuing with issues of a more “universal” scope:

Have you noticed how we are voraciously consuming our resources? The destruction of the rain forests, the conversion of greenlands into mega-malls and the transformation of wetlands into paved industrial parks create an unstable ecology that invites disaster!

The author then asks, “What have we come to?” and concludes that the universe has indeed spun out of control—that it is “broken” and things are not working as they should. He proceeds to examine the reasons for this:

The pain, the horror, the dread we don’t want to face is due to the human condition.

Though economists and educators, philosophers and politicians have attempted to explain and solve society’s problems, very few have considered the theological explanation off the way we are.

Some people consider the existence of God an open and shut question. Others say that whether or not he exists is irrelevant and unanswerable. But what is open or shut is the mind of the person considering the matter.

Rosen addresses the despair that causes many people to accept the condition of things as they are:

Perhaps we find it so difficult to face our own weaknesses because we don’t believe that things can be any different—we don’t believe that there is anything that can move us to be what we ought to be, do what we ought to do, and discover what is most important to know.

He then zeros in on the least popular of subjects—sin. Calling it a “taboo topic,” Rosen suggests that sin is “closer to each of us than we want to admit.” Rather than stereotyping sin with serial killers and pimps as role models of evil, Rosen describes sin as pervasive attitudes and actions that—while they may not be ideal—seem normal, natural and even acceptable to most people.

It seems that each generation sets a new and more distant boundary of what it sees as right. Moreover, those who think that there is an objective right and wrong are likely be condemned as narrow-minded bigots.

You can’t exactly say that Rosen preaches hell-fire and brimstone for unrepentant sinners. It’s not that he doesn’t believe in final judgment, but he rejects the usual stereotypes of Dante’s Inferno:

Hell is for the person who appointed himself king over his own universe.—it is the place where the person who lived for his own pleasures can exist only for himself forever, only to discover that he is a shell of his former self.

Those in hell will surely grow angrier and angrier—at themselves. Perhaps that hot anger is the flame of hell. But surely the most frustrating thing about hell is the inability to change what you have done, to alleviate the pain, to fix what is broken. By then, it is simply too late—the race of your life is over and you didn’t pick a winner. The record is settled—we all have experienced hell in small doses.

Rosen’s musings on hell continue with some rather unusual word pictures, and his depiction of heaven is equally imaginative. However, he doesn’t dwell on the afterlife long before returning to the problems at hand. He warns of the “solutions” to which many people are apt to turn out of desperation:

People will follow a Hitler, a Stalin, a Ceausescu, or a czar and believe he has the power and/or the wisdom to deliver them from distress.

Obviously, when Rosen begins expounding the dangers of “counterfeit solutions” the reader should expect to be presented with the solution that the author feels is “the real thing.” As the founder and executive director of Jews for Jesus, the solution Rosen proposes should come as no surprise.

“The Universe is Broken” is a new look at an old subject. In nine brief chapters it tackles the same issues that have inspired countless tomes. In fact, the author himself has written a number of lengthier books on other subjects ranging from a primer on messianic prophecy, titled Yeshua, to an end of times prophecy book on whether or not recent happenings in the Middle East are an Overture to Armageddon?

So why the 48-page format? It’s not that the author doesn’t think his subject matter is important enough to take up more space. It’s almost as though Rosen is saying:

“Here, I think this is pretty important. Maybe you don’t care to commit yourself to reading through a whole book on such a heavy subject, but why not take half an hour or so to check out what I’m saying about some things that might deeply concern you.”

“The Universe is Broken” is not a theological treatise, yet it manages to challenge the reader to look at the possibility not only that God exists, but that there are things we can know about him that make sense of the chaos.

The full-color illustrations are actually photographs (seven of them, in addition to the cover, plus one in black and white). Such color plates are unusual for this type of format, yet they compliment the text. The brilliant colors and the surreal style punctuate the point that there is more to life than what we can apprehend in our day-to-day existence.

Rosen’s style fluctuates between the hominess of a “Lake Wobegon” type storyteller and the startling sharpness of an incisive communicator with a bad news/good news story to tell. It is a story that, if true, ought to profoundly disturb the reader, at least at the outset. But as disturbing as the concept of the broken universe is, the booklet offers hope. Even more than hope, there is a promise of joy to those who are willing to consider that there is a God who is not just “out there” but near enough to be concerned about a broken universe and the broken hearts within it.

Rosen seems to realize that he is probably writing to skeptics. He challenges the reader at least to point his or her thoughts God-ward:

A need for the Creator’s love, a hope that he will fill in the missing piece in the puzzle of your life—this is the beginning of faith.

“The Universe is Broken” is short, but stimulating. Recommended for skeptics and seekers alike.