"GODWRESTLING--ROUND 2: Ancient Wisdom, Future Paths" by Arthur Waskow

"GODWRESTLING--ROUND 2: Ancient Wisdom, Future Paths"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A slightly stale retrospective and politically correct update for the '90s by a guru of the '60s Jewish renewal movement. Much of the book is self-revelatory and -congratulatory, a rundown of this political and theological radical's career. Waskow describes how the civil rights movement, the assassination of Martin Luther King, and the subsequent riots in his hometown, Washington, D.C., in 1968 led him to the Jewish discovery behind his Freedom Seder. He then recaps the blend of revolutionary traditionalism that charged Godwrestling and his other works (Down-to-Earth Judaism, p. 936, etc.), waxing autobiographical in Becoming Brothers to record the personal and spiritual growth that ensues from bitter sibling rivalry. The stronger, earlier chapters here combine powerful biblical exegesis with this ""spiraling"" back through the author's life and career. Halfway into the book, all the classical Waskow liberation theology of the '60s markedly--and somewhat opportunistically--turns to women's liberation theology of the '80s and '90s. Now the innovative, trendy readings of biblical texts posit menstruation as a substitute for ancient animal sacrifice, identify the author of the Song of Songs as a crusading feminist, and consider the defiant Egyptian midwives of Exodus to be lesbians. The chapters on biblical women as the chief agents of redemption, however, are remarkably lucid and tree to traditional teachings. Waskow then opens the prayer-shawl ""fringes"" of Jewish community to intermarrieds, Jews for Jesus, and gays. Waskow writes that he is committed to reinterpreting Jewish texts and rituals, as ""we cannot forever subject ourselves to a version of Torah that torments us. It is one thing to limp away from the Godwrestle; it is another to lie vomiting upon the ground."" He goes on to equate the Holocaust with Hiroshima, Baruch Goldstein with Israel's ancient enemy Amalek, and havurah-style partner swapping to a necessary training period before marriage and child-rearing. The graying radical reenters the Godwrestling ring wrapped in a rainbow prayer shawl.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1879045729
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Jewish Lights