Friday, December 31, 2010

I LOVE these stories, love Yitta Halberstam's books, I admit it. In general, they're based largely on research and verification, to the extent possible with such stories, and include those of the authors. The more I read such stories, truly, the more invigorated I am in my belief that God Cares, that our lives matter and He acts in this world, by whatever means.
What I do not appreciate, and never have, is the shoulder-patting "let me tell you a story" chizzukh, where the story teller is trying to give you not a factual example from life, or anyone's life, of Divine engagement with the world, of a world of meaning - but a religious or belief affirmation wrapped in a fictional tale in the psychological quasi-"story teller" tradition. Many Chassidim believe such stories, as taught by Reb Nachman for example, are some form of revelation (I have no idea why others would feel compelled to accept this). Such variations on the "therapeutic value of story telling" are fine for Baby Boomers and toddlers, but are truly lost on a generation that doubts there's any truth-claim value to religious affirmations at all - or that arguments for such affirmations can be even reasonably defensible. We have enough trouble believing that what is true is true - we do not need 'wondering' sages telling us that what is not true is true...or even more true than the truth...with a hug, cholent and contrived Old World accented Yiddishisms. They only feed the postmodern condition and subtly suggestion the adoption of fideism, the last refuge of a Judaism left defenseless by the cultural excesses and detachment from reality of the 60s, in pursuit of "higher truths" that were so often pipe/bong dreams.


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