Seriously contentious thinking, at times graceless and a little pushy.



Internet maven Rushkoff, whose previous ponderings (Why We Listen to What “They” Say, 1999, etc.) have delineated threat and thrill in cyberculture, now has news for millions of seriously observant Jews: they don’t get it.

Why are Judaism’s numbers slipping? The author’s readings of its history suggest strongly to him that the flock, not just the rabbis, is supposed to be personally in charge of interpreting scriptures and tenets and, thus, determining how a religion designed to evolve will evolve. Instead, he asserts, misplaced rabbinical strategies for recovering a growing body of “lapsed” congregants—stressing literal interpretations, resisting marriage outside the faith (to maximize procreation of faithful), and endless fundraising based on threats against a “chosen” people and their promised land, Israel—are having exactly the opposite effect. Moreover, Rushkoff laments, Judaism is being dislodged from its bedrock values, which he presents as “iconoclasm, abstract monotheism and social justice.” The road back? Rushkoff suggests no less than letting go of the “chosen” notion altogether (“Judaism is an idea, not a race”) and, with it, the fixation on Israel. Strong stuff, and laid on thick. While the author seems well grounded in historical interpretations of Jewish ideas (Freud is a favorite source), many will reject his claim that enough Jews concluded God must have had something to do with anything as horrible as the Holocaust to trigger a mass postwar return to “purity”—rigidity and formality—in liturgical practice. (The attendant notion, however, of post-Holocaust elevation of the Orthodoxy to the point of its ability to influence both domestic and foreign policy in Israel does have a certain intrigue.) Strangely, he makes little or no mention of the new Torah for conservative US congregations, the Yetz Hayim, annotated with accumulated archaeological data relegating major “historical” milestones in Judaism to the realm of myth—a minor but clear example of Rushkoff’s own plea to rabbis to finally treat their congregations as grownups.

Seriously contentious thinking, at times graceless and a little pushy.

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-609-61094-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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The name of C.S. Lewis will no doubt attract many readers to this volume, for he has won a splendid reputation by his brilliant writing. These sermons, however, are so abstruse, so involved and so dull that few of those who pick up the volume will finish it. There is none of the satire of the Screw Tape Letters, none of the practicality of some of his later radio addresses, none of the directness of some of his earlier theological books.

Pub Date: June 15, 1949

ISBN: 0060653205

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1949

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Internationally renowned because of his earlier books, among them tape Letters, Surprised by Joy, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis making religion provoking, memorable and delightful is still more latest Reflections on the Psalms. Though he protests that he writes learned about things in which he is unlearned himself, the reader is likely thank God for his wise ignorance. Here especially he throws a clear lightly or not, on many of the difficult psalms, such as those which abound with and cursing, and a self-centeredness which seems to assume' that God must be side of the psalmist. These things, which make some psalm singers pre not there, have a right and proper place, as Mr. Lewis shows us. They of Psalms more precious still. Many readers owe it to themselves to read flections if only to learn this hard but simple lesson. Urge everyone to book.

Pub Date: June 15, 1958

ISBN: 015676248X

Page Count: 166

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1958

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