Thursday, September 27, 2007


[In response to my post entitled “Atheology” several people wrote me asking that I elaborate a bit on my own beliefs regarding God. You can read my theological speculations in my books, especially “Minyan” and “The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness,” so I took a slightly different approach here.]

I believe in the god of my own imagination. I suspect you do too.

My god is infinitely patient, merciful, and forgiving. Not because I am these things, but because I need these things. I don’t need a god who is dunning, angry and ready to pour out his wrath every time I fail to live up to my ideals. I have enough people like this in my life already. So I imagine a god who gives me what I need: not money, health, or happiness, but forgiveness, grace, and hope.

I don’t mistake my god for God, I just assume that I can’t really know anything about that God. When it comes to theology I am a Taoist: the tao that can be named is not the Eternal Tao. If you can know the will of God, it isn’t God’s will you are knowing but your own.

That’s why I enjoy talking with people about God. The more they tell me about the god they believe in the more they reveal about themselves. If your god is angry all the time, chances are you are afraid most of the time. If your god is into inflicting eternal torture on those who believe differently than you, my guess is you are a powerless person who dreams of being the bully for a change.

I am toying with the idea of starting a new school of therapy. Call it theotherapy. You tell me about god and what god does and needs and wants from you, and I will tell you all about yourself and how you can heal.

I need a god who is patient? I need to cultivate patience in my own life. I need a god of compassion? I need to become more compassionate myself. I need a god of forgiveness? I need to forgive myself and others. I also need a god who weighs around 155, lifts weights three times a week, and can stare down a bag of Doritos without eating any of them.

I hope theotherapy catches on. I can see myself as a theotherapist taking high paying clients, and freeing them from the gods they worship and helping them cultivate humility and compassion in the face of the True Unknown. I can envision starting a training program for religious studies majors who wish to become theotherapists, and publishing “The Mirror, a Journal of Theotherapy.” This could really have legs. At least it would give religion majors some way to earn a living.


Paddy the Frenchman said...

Sign me up. The ultimate ink blot test.

Immanuel said...

Dear Rabbi Rami

Let us say in truth I am what you are, but in olam hatzurot I am a writer who, after a sustained mid-life crisis has become a Jewish studies teacher. I have been a devotee of non-dualism ever since the age of 18 when, while studying in an ultra-orthodox yeshiva in Jerusalem, a newly chozeyr bitshuva couple gave me a copy of Nisarghadattha Maharaj's "I Am That" (I'm now 43)

I will soon be taking up a post as head of Jewish studies at a liberal pluralist Jewish school and am concerned that when teaching concepts like "tikun haolam" and "tikun hanefesh" I am teaching limited and perhaps slightly misleading concepts, for what we are not cannot be fixed and what we are needs no fixing.

Can you help with this?

shana tova umevurechet vechag sukkot sameach