Monthly Archives: June 2015

A WORD ABOUT “GOOD”

Judaism, as it currently is framed, is sadly infected with an obsessive-compulsive disorder and a fixed ideational system.

 

OCD, like MacBeth’s wife, happens when one takes on a moral culpability, to such an extreme, that one is constantly battling “getting dirty”, i.e. contaminated by evil.  Or, one is battling the impurity of others, and constantly trying to reform others, in a way that anathematizes them.

 

FIXED IDEATION, is the absolute, entrenched belief, that a certain IDEA is, and must, and absolutely be translated into reality, and the often-blind devotion to that IDEA.

 

OCD results from an absoluteness of moral-certainty, i.e. the so-called LAW or Torah (There’s a lot of guilt and shame beneath.) Fixed ideation results in a “messianism”, where there is a fixed, certainty and goal of the enthroning of the Messiah and the heralding of the Messianic Kingdom, with Israel triumphant against its abusers and accusers.

 

Can we have a Judaism without these contaminations?  They are beautiful, in a sense, because they sanctify both moral-clarity and hopeful-progress.  They are ugly in that they make people neurotic—- turn them into robots serving the cause— a kind of cultism (however beautiful), and there is great loss of joy of Life, or even physical health.

 

There is a constant pressure in established Judaism to keep what is “Jewish” but disband these difficulties, and soften the mental-illness that wove its way into the fabric of who we are. Recently, there has been imported into Judaism a lot of Hinduism, New Age, and naturalist-theologies, to kind of bathe the theology into a natural, spiritual ontology, cobbling this with scientific insight as well.  But, oftentimes this cobbling is, well, cobbling, and the seams are far to pronounced. People have different “chunks” of knowledge, morality— spirituality— legality— all of which are stitched together with sentimentality, in order to have a fabric which feels like “Jewish”.

 

The solution to this problem is to first, I think, decipher GOOD!

 

So let me give you my view. And I’m warning you, most people would not agree, and they oftentimes attack me because they are terribly uncomfortable with the consequences of what I’m saying. However, now, as I near the age of 62, having thought this now for some 15 years, I remain more convinced than ever— certain, if you will— that my viewpoint is the only defensible one.  Is this arrogance? Not if what I’m saying is true.

 

First, let me say:  I don’t know who God is. I have not met God. So, I’m not quite as educated as other clergy or people who have actually encountered God and know who God is.

 

Second, let me say, that there is a Reality here. It , I think, obviously, demonstrates the attribute of inter-relationship between anything observed and anything else observed.

 

This inter-relationship is what I would like to DEFINE as the word “Good”, TOV, in Hebrew.  Everything is built into some fabric, and it is ALL GOOD i.e. integrated in some kind of whole, which, obviously, is growing and expanding and evolving, as we now know definitively by examining our universe’s expansion, right down to the “randomness” of quantum flux.

 

I’m not saying this GOOD is the same as human or “moral good”. I’m not saying this GOOD, which includes explosions of whole universes, and deaths of galaxies, is so la-dee-da perfect.  I believe just the opposite.  It is a messy GOOD.  It is Divine Nature, with constructive and destructive elements, within Creation.

 

Indeed, the FACT (also observable) that we are capable of creating evil is because this Divine Nature— universe upon universe, i.e. God— actually can be destructive, and we, as human beings, are capable of concentrating that destructiveness, as individuals, and as shared-individuals (society)— and create destructiveness-to-an-extreme— because we INDIVIDUALIZE the potential within nature, concentrating it, within our particular realm.

 

Now— if you have a God which is “Perfect”— so radically separated from creation, that there is no destruction, then, you cannot really have a human being “created in the image and likeness of Elohim/”God”.  Only if you have a God who has natural components, can you have a human being who can concentrate the natural components, individualize them, and create a distillation of God’s Nature, which permits moral evil and good.

 

So— the identification with God as EX NIHILO, yesh me-ayin—- something BEYOND anything knowable, is the problem with the nature of Good.  Our theological problem with having God be Good, and there be moral insults, such as the Holocaust, is due to a nature of God which makes no sense to begin with.

 

Do you see?  Our God idea is so nuts, that our theology is nutty.  That’s why our religious views are so “squirrelly”.  Squirrels buzzing around nuts.

 

Given such a fragile theology where human morality is disconnected from the Nature of God, the excessive idealism and force-of-vision in messianism is there as a compensation, and the OCD-FIXED IDEATIONAL NIGHTMARE BEGINS, each is sister to the other, with due respect to women.

 

If we have a Divine Nature, the Nature of all natures, which is GOOD—- or interrelated— and that interrelation contains the ability to produce destruction, we can fully understand the Torah narrative, which has God punishing people.

 

How can we have a God who is Beyond Nature and In Nature?  How can we solve this silly “transcendence” VS “immanence” argument that has shredded theology?  Very simply!!!  We identify God as LIVING.

 

Each stage of God’s expansion and evolution is that of a LIVING BEING—– not an abstract being.  This living being is beyond any creations of and within itself. There is a life beyond any new life.  There is transcendence. And yet, within any creation within this Transcendence, the livingness of God is fully-there!

 

There is a Living Good—- totally integrated—- and with-in this are realms or universes— and out of these, come self-aware creatures like ourselves, which can perpetuate this integration, as well as concentrate relative good and evil for our purposes (i.e. free will)

 

What will we do with this?  What is the purpose of history?  Is it merely to put a Jew on the Davidic throne?  Is this the sole purpose of a humanity that now reaches out into the galaxy?  Do we know that fixed purpose? Can we know it?  Are we “orthodox”?  Not me. No apologies.

 

Is the purpose of all existence merely the perfection of human morality?  THAT is what the cosmologizing of good and evil, in Genesis and in other theologies, causes.  Pre-posterous thinking!!!

 

What is moral certainty?  Can we ever, fully, 100% blame ourselves for anything, such that we would take on an OCD condition?  Of course not!  Even if I were to stab you, and you bled to death, it was never, just me.  I did not design your tissues to be soft and tender to a knife.  I did nothing outside the possible design of where I am.

 

That design is GOOD, totally integrated, which is WHY I can stab you, in the first place. My great gift of free will, that permits me to stab you, can certainly be used in less painful ways, but nonetheless, even when it is executed painfully, it remains a gift!!!

 

NO— this is not a perfect Good, as we imagine it.  It is  perfect good that includes the ability to destroy!!   It is God’s Perfection. It is not what we imagine God’s Perfection to be!!

 

Our theologies are idolatrous.  We have taken moral certainty and turned it into a galactic problem, and then wonder how we fit in the universe.  This is a form of mental illness, sorry to be so frank about it.

 

No morality is so absolute that it cannot consider the relative “non-morality” of a world which is considerably more dynamic and more expansive than our mere moral actions.  Indeed, even if we destroyed this planet, all would continue, so, obviously, our moral actions, when they are evil enough, contain us, and destroy us, so that our moral actions can no longer take place.  A religious person would call that “God’s punishment”, actions incompatible with the inter-relational nature of God’s Nature as we observe it on this SCALE of Reality.

 

Now, this viewpoint— which causes me enormous difficulties with other religionists—-  has true consequences in terms of how to approach Life.

 

We can discuss this in the next blog.

 

I would appreciate your input and clarification.  Can we get this blog cooking?

I’m doing a lot of typing and not enough conversing!!!!!  Help please.

 

Blessings to all my students and friends who are attracted to the Universal Judaism approach.

 

R. Shevack