We've always been so vulnerable, both at risk for physical attacks (as numerous genocides, massacres, and pogroms have shown through history) and for assimilation.
We can (and have) easily get swallowed into the surrounding nations at worst.
At the very least, we've often been influenced by our surrounding environment even as we maintain our Torah observance.
And that's the whole point of our minority status: It's a test.
Our emunah & commitment to Hashem & His Torah are like a muscle that needs to be worked in order to be strengthened.
By being forced to push back against alien values & external influences strengthens us & brings out our true spiritual grit.
Delving into what Torah says about different situations & ideas endows us with the luxury of independent thinking and enables us to rise above the mass collective and see things with more clarity.
A real connection to Torah enables us to see things as they really are, for better or for worse, and liberates us from relying on others to tell us what to think.
Idolatry, Both Modern & Ancient
Rav Miller explains in vibrant detail what it was really like on pages 5-6.
While our Sages long ago uprooted (via prayer) the general pull toward idolatry, we still see vestiges of this in our attitudes & attractions today.
People obsessively follow certain celebrities (both self-made & media-made), yearning to see their makeup application, what they eat for breakfast, who they're dating, what kind of pets they have, and many other meaningless or invasive details.
They may plaster their room with posters of their favorite celebrities, own a mug or a journal decorated with the celebrity image, and pride themselves on knowing endless & meaningless trivia regarding this completely useless person.
They create or join fan clubs dedicated to their "idol."
In some cases, they even try to dress like the person. (This gets particularly weird when it's a male idolater of a female celebrity.)
They take it personally if anyone criticizes the object of their adoration.
All the above applies to popular theories in the secular world which claim to answer our questions (and promote atheism) or solve our problems.
Some people ARE actually helped in these ways, but most aren't.
This is very similar to how occult solutions helped a minority of members and today in some churches, "faith healing" goes on, with astonishing results. (Rav Miller also mentions this on page 6.) If it actually works, it's either psychosomatic or kochot hatumah.
But whether it's based on faith or science, it fails the majority, yet the minority success gets all the publicity.
And all the above are more accessible now than ever.
Why does Hashem do this to us?
Rav Miler explains (pages 6-7):
Avodah zarah was put into this world for no other purpose than we should gain reward by means of resisting it (Sanhedrin 64a).
That’s what the sages of the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah said.
We have to study those words!
It’s a significant statement made by a group of the wisest men.
The allure of idolatry was given to the world by Hashem as an opportunity for the Am Yisroel to gain reward.
The ability to combat the opinions of the world is one of the great strengths of our people. If you didn’t have any difficulty in being a Jew, you wouldn't get much credit.
"When a lie is adopted by very many people, it becomes extremely difficult, almost impossible to withstand it." (page 6)
It's true; this really struck me in my much younger modern Orthodox days in my late teens.
I'd never seen anyone question & discuss politics like the young modern Orthodox men who so clearly knew how to analyze & weren't afraid to examine issues & politicians honestly.
They also lacked that "This leader will save us!" attitude (along with the "This leader will destroy everything!" attitude) so common among secular or non-Jewish Americans.
This may have changed somewhat due to outside influences, but that's what I remember from over 25 years ago.
And certainly many frum people, especially the charedim, look at politics and even their own politicians with caution.
Also to see how the church-going Americans no longer speak about abstinence before marriage, but only encourage contraception.
Most of these prominent conservative right-wing female leaders dress like they're going out for a night at the discotheque, showing no respect for their personal dignity & tzelem Elokim, while their male counterparts must still wear long pants & button-down collared shirts (often with a jacket & tie) if they want to be taken seriously in the professional world.
But committed Orthodox Jews haven't changed values. Okay, yes, women dressing with dignity & nobility has recently gone down the hill in many communities, but many still adhere to tsniyut with great devotion and those that do not still don't lower themselves to the depths of the non-Jewish world.
On pages 8-9, Rav Miller describes the spread of Christianity & Islam.
It's very interesting to see how throughout history, entire nations simply took on whatever religion was either most popular or most forcefully imposed upon them.
On page 10, Rav Miller relates an anecdote of a yeshivah bachur who felt faint from both the idea of church theology & evolution.
Not because they rejected them, but because he worried they might be true.
Yet Rav Miller pointed out that they contradict each other.
It's true that today, you can feel yanked from one side to another.
On pages 10-11, Rav Miller discusses evolution & NASA.
Growing up democrat & liberal, I certainly believed in evolution & scoffed at those who didn't.
When becoming frum, I gobbled up those frum books & articles that explained their theories of Divinely guided evolution.
But at one point, when I turned to reading Chazal, like the mefarshim on Tanach and mussar books, and so on, I realized that even a smidgen of evolution doesn't exist in Chazal.
All the "Divinely guided evolution" books I'd read simply engaged in mental gymnastics to arrive at the conclusions they did, seeing correlations where there really weren't.
(Rav Miller discusses this dynamic on pages 12-13.)
These authors were sincere & smart, but ultimately not correct.
Since then, I've learned that scientists & researchers in the non-Jewish world have started denying evolution and bring compelling proofs against evolution.
It's not easy because of the zealous commitment to evolution in the science world, but intelligent & compelling rebuttals exist.
And even though feelings are no proof in matters of science, I still want to say that ever since I dropped the need to harmonize Judaism with evolution (because evolution doesn't exist), I've enjoyed a feeling like dusty fly-mangling cobwebs have been swept out of my brain.
It's a nice feeling.
Real Science Lies beyond the Mainstream Promotions
Anybody can study this and see that the world is crazy. The world is poshut crazy.
Of course we have no time to study their books and to find answers to their arguments.
Maybe some specialists could do that – I did it to a big extent, by the way.
But life is too short and it takes a long time to explain all the lies but if a Jew wants he can study it and he’ll discover in the books of the scientists themselves that it’s a fraud.
To my astonishment, I discovered that the "scientific" process of astronomy was very similar to Greek & Roman mythology, except that astrophysicists use geology as the basis for their stories, rather than gods.
(You can read more about the correlations between scientific theories of astronomy & ancient mythology here: The Venus Effect: Lots of Fun Insanity)
For example, they invent unproven forces like "mantle plums," which feature in textbooks alongside descriptive illustrations — only for the reader to discover that no one has ever detected a mantle plume; geologists simply invented the idea to explain events they don't understand.
(In fact, The Geological Society of London organized The Great Plumes Debate in 2003, in which they debated the existence of mantle plumes.)
The point is that if you look beyond the popular science magazines (written to both fascinate & brainwash laypeople) and read the peer-reviewed literature & books (while paying careful attention when they use non-scientific terms like "feel" "assume" "believe" "indicate" and so on) that address all sides and not just the popular side, you'll arrive at the right conclusions.
(You can read more about that here: The Zealous Religion of Modern Science)
Laughter & Joy are the Best Antidotes
Yes, we should relate to people with courtesy & derech eretz.
But to ourselves, we should laugh.
He also emphasizes that we must feel good about being different, even when people mock or despise us.
We're not different just to be different.
The Torah way is RIGHT.
And every insult or jeer earns us immeasurable reward as long as we stick to our guns.