Moreover, for me, it is impossible to have a conversation about ethics without my own direct experience of non-unitive Divine reality entering into the conversation, because, for me, my ethics flow (hopefully generously) from that enlarged awareness. Your book has very nasty things to say about my brand of Judaism. I wear a red bracelet, but I didn't pay a dime for it; actually I got it myself on a pilgrimage to Rachel's Tomb in Palestine. I don't think it keeps away a magical evil eye; I think it is a reminder of the Oneness of all reality. I've never been to the Kabbalah Center, but I teach at Elat Chayyim, and I translate Kabbalistic texts for my students. I am a post-denominational, queer, multicultural, postmodern, mystical, meditating Jew. Where do I fit into your conversation? What beliefs of mine do I have to check at the door in order to participate? Do I have to pretend that your ontology is correct in order to join in?
While I am just as upset about the Kabbalah Learning Center as I am about infantilized Reform Jews, I thought I had written an extraordinarily mystical take on Judaism. The entire notion of 'nothing' being sacred, and the divine emerging in that nothingness, is spiritual Judaism.
And I've counted at least 8 times in the book where I explain that any midrash I use or borrow in the book is not meant as a definitive explanation for some piece of Torah, but an example of a process that people can use to engage with Torah for themselves. Open source Judaism, as I've called it, is a process through which people arrive at their own midrashim. But people need to understand what midrash is, and that they're entitled to engage in it. I was modeling this behavior.
The important part of the book I'd have you look at again is the central metaphor of post-renaissance Judaism, where each person's point of view is resolved into a holographic, multi-dimensional, living Jewish reality. This is as trippy as you'd ever want something to be described. I don't see why you would think I am belittling spirituality when I simply don't think that the Jewish-named cults that popstars are joining reflect Judaism's potential.
Second thread: Mainstream and Margins
Now, of course, numerically, the mainstream is larger. But in your regular media criticism you are acutely sensitive to the interplays between dominant and subversive cultures. Why do you act as though "Jews" think what the squarest, dumbest, and most Establishment Jews think? There are teeming, lively, amazing Jewish subcultures -- and I've only mentioned a few of the cultures and figures above that I personally participate in or know (hence the East Coast bias..). This situation is no different from that of "American" culture, which you of all people know cannot be reduced to ABC, CBS, and Fox. What is going on?
The Sacred and the Profane
A Conversation with Douglas Rushkoff
Reinventing the Wheel: A Review of Nothing Sacred
They Gonna Crucify Me: A 'Lapsed Jew' Responds to Nothing Sacred
Plus these other attractions:
Meditation and Sensuality
Anything You Want to Be
Josh Graduates High School
Zeek in Print
Spring 03 issue available here