Open Source Religion?
May 1, 2003 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Open Source Judaism? This is the baby of Douglas Rushkoff, who recently wrote a book about the subject and whose opinions about icons and branding remind me of someone else. He's even started an open source haggadah.
posted by sodalinda (6 comments total)
ackpth. sorry about the bad gibson link, but you've all been to that one a billion times anyway :)
posted by sodalinda at 1:35 PM on May 1, 2003

What I don't get about this idea is how it really differs from the founding goals of the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements, each of which was founded specifically to - as Rushkoff says - "propose that Judaism is not simply a religion to be believed in, but one to be considered, discussed, and evolved. Jewish texts and rituals are not closed, but open to commentary, disagreement, and even revision. Judaism was established as a form of inquiry rather than a set of answers - yet, due to many circumstances - this spirit of inquiry has waned over the past several decades, particularly in America. "
posted by judith at 1:55 PM on May 1, 2003

Great post, sodalinda - thanks!

I'm an Orthodox Jew, though thoroughly misbehavin' and think it's a great idea, though I agree with Judith there's nothing new - Judaism is all about discussion, openness, disagreement and questions. Above all questions!

My gentile friends (i.e. all my friends, practically, as I live in a country with no more than 400 Jews) are always impressed when I show them pages from the Talmud. Their Christian, probably Catholic frame of mind leads them to ask: "Well, what was the result of this disagreement?"

When I tell them that that "dialectic" - disagreement, opposing viewpoints and interpretation - is of the essence and not to be popishly determined, they invariably say "How modern!"

I guess that Judaism, by positing a direct relationship between G-d and each man or woman, essentially means, as in the beautiful Beach Boys song, "G-d Only Knows".

But the sages know more, our rabbi knows about the sages, we know much less and nobody knows nothing!

That's why I find Rushkoff's initiative (I'd never heard of him before, for which renewed thanks) so utterly... in line with tradition. However groundbreaking it may be. Isn't that the wonder - in the deep, Platonic sense - of Judaism?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:18 PM on May 1, 2003

If you consider yourself a member of a particular religion, whether it be Judaism, Islam, or Buddhism - isn't "commentary, disagreement, and even revision" part of being a participatory believer? Slapping the words "Open Source" onto a religion (or any cultural/social phenomenon) does not a new movement make - and in this particular case, may even obscure the movement's goals. Encouraging believers to ponder philosophy, critical thinking, and ethics? Sure. Great idea. But calling this "Open Source"? ...Sorry, this smacks of opportunistic, mismatched branding.
posted by ariana at 2:19 PM on May 1, 2003

Very, very persuasive, ariana. And yet I said... Oh, never mind! Even now, four comments long, it reads like a page from the Talmud! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:01 PM on May 1, 2003

I thoroughly enjoyed this. One of my favorite bits:
So I think I'm finally learning how to speak about Judaism.

That is, I'm learning how to speak about religion as a process, rather than as a thing. And this tends to make the whole discussion a heck of a lot less contentious.

In media theorist's terms, I guess what I'm trying to do is show how Judaism is less about content than contact. The Torah, for example, can be understood as a way for people to interact - a tool for discussions. (That's why you're supposed to have ten people around to read it.) It is not an end in itself, but a means. Not a message as much as a medium.

As others will point out, this is nothing new. My grandma might have something similar, though in her own language. At yet, at the same time, it is something new. //start-cliche// each generation must rediscover the great truths \\end-cliche\\ or something like that.
posted by alms at 8:48 PM on May 1, 2003

« Older Throw out your gold teeth and see how they roll   |   strange things are afoot at the draftclark website Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments