Monday, October 10, 2011

Where is God?

In reading Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s These Holy Sparks: The Rebirth of the Jewish People, the first thing that struck me, at least 50 pages in, is where is God?  Waskow is interested in community involvement, politics, the historical dimensions of the Jewish world, and to a degree, where the individual Jewish person fits into these overarching topics.  But not in God.

It almost seems that Waskow is going to write a holy book without even mentioning God, like the Song of Songs or the Book of Esther.  It turns out that this is very much in keeping with his position within Judaism. As a reconstructionist rabbi, he views the Jewish community as forming the parameters of the faith, acting as the stand in for God, or as God him/her/it-self acting in the world. 

Waskows religious philosophy is thus very empowering.  Jewish communities establish their traditions and customs.  We are in a new age, where people are mature and make their decisions,  not some transcendent God.   

The problem is, of course, is a religious community (any community, for that matter) can be a terrible disappointment: The politics, in-fighting, the petty squabbles.  To rely on a community and community only for one’s notion of God can be a tricky, disappointing thing.  

People want and need an entity that is somehow outside the human stream, to anchor and define what it means to be in a community, to be finite, and to be imperfect.

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