Sensibilities, Transmission, and Deep Metaphors
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Vanessa Ochs has given us a
wonderful gift: a jumping off point for a discussion which--God willing--will go
on for a very long time. I am honored by the invitation to pull up a chair at
the table. My sources are both textual and experiential. I am, by profession, a
teacher of theology at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. I have also
spent the better part of my life as a congregant in various Reconstructionist
communities, finding myself in the role of participant observer. The questions
that most interest my students are the ones being asked in the pews. I see my
role as similar to that often taken by Eugene Borowitz, raising philosophical
issues but always keeping a close eye on the narratives of individuals and
This response will explore three
questions that emerge for me from Ochs' paper. The first is related to Ochs'
choice of sensibilities, particularly her privileging universalistic values to
the near exclusion of particularistic values, especially the value of brit.
While Ochs' own "top ten" happen to resonate with me personally, I believe a
fuller list would more adequately track the sensibilities contemporary
committed Jews are juggling today. Arguably, Ochs' list fails to capture that
which is most distinctive about Jewish values--the persistence into the modern
era of a more tribal understanding of obligation even alongside the universal
The second relates to Ochs' description
of the transmission process. I agree with Ochs that the transmission process is
"helter skelter" but I am less sanguine than she that it will continue to work
in the future. Will these sensibilities continue to be passed down through the
generations at all, much less as identifiably Jewish? Mordecai Kaplan wrote
with a sense of urgency in the early part of the last century, convinced that
unless we rebuilt Jewish communal life we would hardly stand a chance of
passing our values on through the generations. I don't believe we are in any
less of a crisis today. Indeed, the crisis has intensified. While Ochs
distinguishes her sensibilities from halakha, she claims that the
sensibilities "have some of the felt impact of law." Yet the whole question of
norms and how the non-Orthodox Jewish world will relate to them, or how a
community can be sustained without them, is left unaddressed.
Third, I want to explore the
theological question that is not of concern in Ochs' anthropological
perspective. I will do this by looking at two of the sensibilities--"tzelem
elohim" and "yesh tikvah"--as examples of "deep metaphors" as
understood by Don Browning.
I will suggest that we should pay serious attention to recent work in the human
sciences. Developments in the fields of evolutionary psychology, cognitive
neuroscience and mind-body medicine offer new challenges and new opportunities
for theology. Biologically based social science is offering the culture its own
deep metaphors and theologians will need to enter into a "critical
My first question relates to the
choice of sensibilities. It is not entirely clear to me that the values
suggested by Ochs are embraced by Jews more than by individuals from other
traditional religious cultures. For example, as an anthropologist Ochs knows
that havdalah and zechut avot characterize any culture that holds
on to its ritual and mythic past. In the case of some of the values discussed,
I think other traditions may actually give more weight to the value than Judaism
does. For example, Ochs counts teshuva as a Jewish value, but in my
experience, forgiveness (particularly the part about forgiving others) is more
core to the culture of Christians than Jews.
Furthermore, Ochs does not mention
Jewish values that (I am guessing) are less appealing to her. For example, I
would argue that there is a strong cultural Jewish tradition that values the
intellect over other modes of being and knowing. One way this plays out in
health care decisions is that Jews are more likely than others to abort a fetus
with Down syndrome and are less likely to adopt a child with mental
disabilities. As technology develops which allows us greater knowledge and
choice regarding genetic make up, this may be a value we want to examine
critically, despite its Jewish pedigree.
Most important, however, is that
Ochs' list of ten sensibilities is heavily weighted toward the universalistic
dimension of Jewish tradition. Not one of the sensibilities Ochs highlights
comes from the particularistic strand of Jewish sacred texts, communal customs,
liturgical ideals, etc.(her #6, "be a mensch," hedges by talking about
showing compassion to all Jews and also to all people.) Aside from
including a Hebrew or Yiddish word or phrase, each and every one of these "Jewish
sensibilities" could also be found in other traditions. When I selected a
Quaker private school for my children's secondary education, I read over the
list of "testimonies" which they planned to witness as part of the education
and concluded that it was completely acceptable to me. It sounded very much
like Ochs' list.
Yet, surely, the very first
sensibility, "havdalah," is only partially described by Ochs when she
omits the strong Jewish tendency to make distinctions between Jews and non-Jews
(as one of the phrases of the Havdalah service reminds us). There is a
whole complex of values that Jews transmit, sensibilities that are passed on in
the same manner as Ochs's ten, that involve this distinction. These include
special loyalty to the welfare of Jewish people, practices that create
separation between Jews and non Jews, maintenance of boundaries around Jewish
identity, support of the State of Israel, perpetuation of Jewish culture,
preference for in marrying. It is only when one adds these sensibilities to the
mix that one understands the conflicts that are dealt with by individual Jews
and communities when they engage in decision making. In Ochs's own example, the
question of the aliyah to the Torah for a non-Jewish parent is only an
issue if there is a sensibility in conflict with shalom bayit, that is,
Jewish identity boundaries. This is precisely where things get interesting!
The following story will
illustrate my point. Anne was a fellow congregant who came to me seeking
rabbinic advice. She was a Jew from an assimilated background who had recently
been "born again" as a passionately involved Reconstructionist, She had joined
a synagogue because of her husband's interest in Judaism, but had remained
aloof from the project for many years. Her battle with cancer brought her in
contact with the "gemilut hesed" function of the community, and, in the
last year of her life, she found herself increasingly involved in prayer, study
and spiritual practice, especially involving healing. Now, it was time to make
decisions concerning her death. To Anne's surprise, it now mattered a great
deal that she make a choice which not only met her needs but that was in some
sense a proper "Jewish" choice. She wanted help in making a decision.
Her parents had been cremated and her entire family was
more comfortable with cremation. She was personally drawn in that direction as
well. In fact, she had an instinctive fear of burial. She asked me for a
"Jewish perspective" on the question of burial vs. cremation. The classic liberal
version of this process would go something like this: 1) examine the Jewish
tradition 2) ascertain what the individual really wants to do from a personal
and modern perspective 3) conclude that the past has a vote but not a veto and
that the individual is ultimately autonomous 4) set Judaism aside for this
Compared to that process, Ochs' sensibilities approach
has much to recommend it. It allows the decision to be within the Jewish
conversation, as broadly defined. In this case, I was able to share with her
some of the sensibilities Ochs presents as Jewish and allow Anne to see the
Jewishness of her desire for cremation, how Jewish sensibilities might give
rise to and support that option. Nevertheless, as this example makes clear,
something more is needed. Even as I shared the Jewish sensibilities with Anne,
I knew that there were strong Jewish reasons for burial rather than cremation,
but I did not find those sensibilities listed.
When I added them, I was able to engage with her in a
Reconstructionist values based decision making process.
This process assumes that Jewish values(or sensibilities, if you will) are not
always congruent. Anne was clearly needing to juggling values. All the values
in play were Jewish values and she would have to find a solution which could
honor as many of them as possible. Some of the values that spoke to cremation
included shalom bayit (her husband and children would be happier), kavod
av va'em (this respected her parents' ways), briyah (in this case,
her mental health), bal tashchit (ecological arguments for cremation).
There were also values which really mattered to her that spoke to burial: k'lal
yisrael (unity and survival of the Jewish people), kehilah
(commitment to community), and brit (covenanting among members of the
Jewish community). Ultimately, while the options in this case were mutually
exclusive, she began to experience the wholeness of her own value perspective
and knew that she would make a holy decision. She was able to consider
unconventional options such as taharah [process for preparing the
deceased for burial; literally, 'purification'] followed by cremation.
In short, Ochs' approach is helpful in allowing us to
name important contemporary sensibilities as Jewish, rather than setting up Jewish
tradition as an alternative to some other, more attractive and authoritative
truth. In that setup, the liberal Jew will rarely end up opting for the
"Jewish" path. The sensibilities approach keeps Judaism in the conversation in
a positive way. Yet, I would argue that it avoids some of the real challenges
of Jewish values-based decision making by neglecting to acknowledge the
particularistic sensibilities. When those are added, one has a helpful way to
begin to think about challenging choices in a holy and Jewishly informed way.
My second concern relates to the method of transmission
Ochs describes as working to preserve these values through the generations. How
were these sensibilities transmitted in the past and is that transmission
process changing? The problem, of course, is how to make any of this have an
impact on the lives of individual Jews who no longer inhabit organic Jewish
communities. Mordecai Kaplan's dream of reconstituting such a community has not
Of course, Kaplan saw that
coming. In a poignant entry in his diary in 1930 he wrote,
I feel like a polar bear on
an ice floe that is drifting
That home, the organic Jewish community, was indeed
dwindling. While Peter Berger spoke of "the sacred canopy," Kaplan referred to
it as "a roof over the head." In an unpublished 1950 diary entry he wrote,
into warmer zones as he
watches with growling impotence
the steady dwindling of his
The great value that the religious tradition had for mankind lay
not so much in the specific beliefs and practices that it prescribed as in
the general orientation that it provided. As a result of such orientation
human beings felt at home in the world. Men struggled and suffered
but they had, so to speak, a roof over their heads.
Given that our synagogues are not
24/7 communities but rather (in Robert Bellah's term) "lifestyle enclaves,"
what does it mean to talk about Torah as a way of life? In an important
article, Hayim Soloveitchik argued that traditional Judaism's characteristic
mode of transmission was mimetic, "imbibed from parents and friends, and
patterned on conduct regularly observed in home and street, synagogue and
It is just this mimetic learning
which Ochs also relies upon in her understanding of Jewish sensibilities. Yet,
Solovetichik observed that in recent years mimetic learning has broken down in
the Orthodox world and that it precisely this breakdown which has led to the
greater reliance on text and legal norms and to far greater stringency in those
What then shall we say of the
non-Orthodox world where the home is likely to have only one Jewish parent and
where the street and school are not necessarily Jewish at all?
Might not liberal Jews, as well, need to turn to text and to more stringent
norms in the absence of a vital mimetic system? Again, let me offer a narrative
from the community in which I have led my adult religious life, a
Reconstructionist congregation in Philadelphia.
Barry Schwartz, a psychology
professor at Swarthmore, included a discussion of this community in his book The
Costs of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best Things in Life. Barry
Schwartz was a self-declared "pediatric Jew," someone who remembered he was
Jewish only when his oldest child was old enough for a Jewish education.
Indeed, once the younger one was past thirteen, Barry fully anticipated
forgetting it once again. Then something unanticipated happened. He became
excited by the vision of a young Reconstructionist rabbi who told him that
Judaism was about activism on behalf of social justice. As he wrote, "Whether
being a good Jew required this, as my rabbi contended, I could not say. But it
did seem to me that being a good American required it."
No sooner did the new congregation with its progressive
political vision get off the ground than questions began to emerge. In order to
compensate the owners of the building in which we met, congregants had to each
spend one afternoon a year cleaning the bathrooms. Some people wanted to
dispense their obligations on Saturday, even as their fellow congregants were
finishing up their Kiddush, and when the rabbi said, "You just can't clean
bathrooms on Shabbat!" they replied, "Why not?"
Why not, indeed? Who's to say what feels holy to me? For
Barry, it was a startling realization that in his search to fill the moral
vacuum he felt in American society he had landed in a community which was going
to challenge his fundamental sense of autonomy, the distinction between public
and private, and his freedom. Barry began to wonder
Was our community supposed to
become the center of our lives--spiritually,
ethically, politically and
even socially and economically?.Did congregants
have special responsibilities
and obligations? If, by some chance, our community
was able to agree on what
kinds of worship, of diet, of sexual practices, of living
arrangements, of political
involvements were "kosher".were the members of
The community supposed to
abide by those laws? If they did not, could they be
was a strong tendency in our community to
resist any tendency to total
commitment. On the other hand [emphasis added] there was a very deep
longing in people to belong to something.. something that would accept,
nurture and protect those who
made commitments to it..What many of us did not
know at first and slowly came
to realize was that.we would surely have to sacrifice
some of our individualism in
our public lives..and even in our private lives as well.
Let me take up the narrative now in my own voice. As we
struggled with these questions, we came upon a fundamental ambivalence within
Reconstructionist thought. On the one hand, Kaplan said that folkways ought to
be maintained only if they "do not involve an unreasonable amount of time,
effort and expense."
On the other hand, he recognized that "the program of a movement must ask much
and give much."
So, when the rabbi suggested that Shabbat should be the day of worship,
learning, and family and tried to establish Hebrew School on Saturdays, congregants
had to face hard choices. Soccer games were on Saturdays. Would being Jewish
mean actually giving up a staple of suburban childhood?
Barry, who is well-known for his
work on the "paradox of choice"(turns out more choice does not make us happier,
says the psychologist), was actually quite open to clipping his wings in order
to experience the gains of community.
So were some others. Autonomy turned out not to be the biggest issue.
The problem was that the sensibilities around Shabbat as a day of rest were
largely foreign. For many congregants (the non-Jewish partners as well as Jews
who had been alienated from the community for many years, if not their whole
lives), the problem was not one of issues of autonomy but rather, just as
Kaplan had predicted, the loss of the organic community. It was only when we
began to live Shabbat as a group, in part by the bold decision to hold Shabbat
school, that the community began to move forward.
In the absence of a milieu in
which to live the sensibilities, Jews may continue to live out many of the
values Ochs describes, but they will not identify them with their being Jewish.
In fact, it is precisely those particularistic values and sensibilities that
were not on Ochs's list which will become identified in the minds of younger
people as "the essence of Judaism."
Several years ago, I collaborated
with a group of social workers to create a "Youth Mitzvah Corps." We wanted to
provide an opportunity for young people to volunteer in nursing homes, homeless
shelters and tutoring programs as part of their bar and bat mitzvah training.
Before designing the program, we visited a local suburban conservative
synagogue and asked the adults and children what information and skills young
people needed to acquire around the time of their bar mitzvah to become "good
As Ochs would have predicted, the
parents answered that they wanted their children to learn "how to be a mensch."
Being a good Jew meant, in their minds, "making the world a better place." The
children, however, had a completely different response. While these
twelve-year-olds may, in fact, have been mensches of the highest order,
they did not think that their virtues were connected to being Jews. In fact,
they believed that to be a good Jew you needed to "know how to chant Torah and
recite prayers," "read Hebrew," "give money to Israel," and, from the more
cynical among them, "purchase the right clothes and know the right dances for
b'nai mitzvah parties." Perhaps that informal transmission of the universalistic
sensibilities which Ochs describes may be breaking down. Even if the children
are acquiring those sensibilities, they are not identifying them as related to
Jewish identity. Many parents told us they did not need the Youth Mitzvah Corps
as their kids already had volunteer opportunities, since "community service" is
now a requirement in some public school systems.
Jewish educators face the
challenge of limited time and much to accomplish. Here are two vignettes that
illustrate the problem:
ONE: On the weekend of the Columbia space disaster my nine year old nephew attended his Reform Sunday School where the
students were asked to write letters to the family of the Israeli astronaut who
lost his life. When he returned home, his mother mused aloud, "Why would the
students write letters to just the Israeli family? Why would they not write
letters to all the families that lost their loved ones?" It was clear to me
that in two hours a week of Jewish education, the Jewish teacher must attempt
to instill the sensibility that is not being taught the rest of the
week. The children in public school would be encouraged to write letters to all
the families. Jewish education must attempt (often in a tiny window of
opportunity) to instill a sensibility that is quite foreign to American
culture--a special concern for the tribe.
TWO: A friend sent her child to a
Reform Sunday School where each week they learned about tikkun olam. Her
husband, who was raised Catholic and who had agreed to raise the children as
Jews, finally asked one day, "Why do they need to go to Hebrew School to learn they are opposed to the war and poverty? Don't they already know that? Where is
the value added? When are they going to learn about the Bible?"
Jewish supplementary education, in
my view, must teach particularistic sensibilities in an increasingly
assimilated environment, and at the same time teach the sensibilities Ochs
rightly calls Jewish and--here is the key point--help students to identify them
with Judaism and Jewish sources. I believe we ought to do more to provide real
life experiences which both instill these sensibilities and provide skills for
realizing them in daily life in a Jewish milieu.
We must teach a sense of Jewish
peoplehood as well as the more universalistic sensibilities while explicitly
connecting the latter to Jewish life through rooting them in Jewish text,
tradition and communal experiences. Ultimately none of this works unless
we build a rich Jewish culture which can serve as a medium for transmitting
these sensibilities. If we do not live maximal Jewish lives, young American
Jews will develop their humanistic values in their primary environments and see
Judaism increasingly as only concerned with the particularistic values of group
identity and perpetuation.
our sensibilities are rooted not in absolute truths but rather in deep
metaphors, how are these metaphors challenged and/or supported by the thinking
and language of contemporary science?. Eugene Borowitz has written for decades
now about his concern for amkha and "their need for a new
plausibility-structure for the felt duty we call Jewish ethics." The
plausibility of our deep metaphors is related to our ability to enter into a
critical conversation with the human sciences which have always implicitly, and
more recently explicitly, offered their own metaphors and visions of the good
Don Browning has written that deep metaphors, often
embellished into myths and narratives, provide the visional level of practical
As he explains it, when we try to determine what we should do, we ask what kind
of world we live in. In answering this question, we resort to metaphorical
language. It is his contention that "there are deep metaphors and implicit
principles of obligation in the modern psychologies."
In other words, we are all seeking ways to order our inner lives and to decide
how to act in the world. We do so in part through sensibilities shaped by the
metaphors of Judaism and in part by those of the human sciences. Again,
Browning puts it well when he says, "modern individuals live on scraps." 
Ochs makes reference to two "master scraps"--tzelem
elohim and yesh tikvah--which are fundamental to the theology of
many contemporary Reconstructionists. In a course I taught this past year at
the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, we revisited Kaplan's writings in
light of recent work in the social sciences which might best be characterized
as "deepening Darwinism." After a semester of reading, we began to see that
while Kaplan grappled with the social science of his day, the task needed to be
taken up again for our generation. Our spiritual experiences are a new kind of
Mordecai Kaplan's writings concerning God were, as
several authors have shown, inconsistent and ultimately confusing. While
denying aspiration toward metaphysics, he often made claims that could only be
described as metaphysical, and his natural God was quite different than the God
he sometimes wrote about as "transnatural."
When it came to values, however, his position was much clearer and more
consistent. Torah could be understood as being composed of universal ethical
values and of culturally specific vessels (sancta) for transmitting them. The
latter, in Kaplan's view, were human creations, the highest and noblest of our
cultural products, but culturally relative. The former, however, were not human
projections but rather built into the universe.. We do not need the Jewish
people to know that justice is a good thing. We need the Jewish people to give
us the holiday of Rosh Hashanah to embody it for ourselves and our children.
Justice itself is a universal truth.
This view gave a more affirming and positive take on
ritual and traditions (what Kaplan called folkways) than the Reform had offered
at that point, but, in contrast to Conservative Judaism, clearly broke with any
notion that ritual could be understood as law. The truth of the universal
spiritual values was not at issue. He found it easy to make claims about the
"law of spiritual selection"(as opposed to the law of natural selection),
"the eventual triumph of justice over brute force,"
and the "recognition in us of a vital strength that links us with the
inexhaustible life of the universe, with the 'life of the worlds,' with God."
Kaplan reinterpreted tzelem elohim in terms of those aspects of human
nature which he saw as reflecting transcendent spiritual values. Hopelessness
was "the true meaning of damnation," and, by extension, hope was an important
In the course we examined two areas of research:
evolutionary psychology (originally called sociobiology) and cognitive
neuroscience with its offshoot "neurotheology." Both of these fields are
essentially materialist in their understanding of the world. As Browning would
predict, both offer a series of metaphors and have implicit and often explicit
implications for an understanding of obligation.
Evolutionary psychologists such as E.O. Wilson, Richard
Dawkins, Stephen Pinker, Daniel Dennett, and William Sloan Wilson take Darwin's
concept of natural selection and apply it more thoroughly to the understanding
of human nature than what they call the "standard social science model," which
they accuse the of overemphasizing culture at the expense of biology.
Darwin's theory of evolution is not in controversy here, despite the
persistence of creationist views in certain religious circles. That argument
has been concluded in academia, and liberal Judaism, along with its Christian
counterparts, has long since caught its breath and moved on from that
challenge. Rather, the questions being raised have to do with the extent to
which theories of natural selection can be applied to human behavior and human
nature. There is a debate going on of some fury within the academic world over
how far Darwin can go in explaining human psychology. Those of us interested in
values might well attend to this debate.
The evolutionary psychologists would accuse much of
liberal Jewish theological writing on human nature of presuming that people are
fare more malleable than they are. In fact, in their view, human nature and
behavior are shaped significantly, if not decisively, by humans having evolved
through natural selection, the product of a lengthy competitive struggle to
survive and reproduce within a setting of scarcity and danger. They see Darwin's ideas, when fully applied as, in the words of Daniel Dennett, "universal acid;"
that is, "it eats through just about every traditional concept."
This may or may not be true, but it is certainly the case that this line of
thinking offers a different set of deep metaphors and theory of obligation than
traditional Judaism or Kaplan's reconstruction in terms of "spiritual values."
The ethics emerging from this field tends to be utilitarian and the metaphors
reflect and support a capitalist society.
Evolutionary psychologists have advanced a variety of
theories to explain the emergence and persistence of religion. Even mystical
experience can be deconstructed in an entirely material framework. Which brings
us to a second and related area of research--cognitive neuroscience. Andrew
Newberg, a radiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, asked Tibetan monks
and Franciscan nuns to engage in meditation and he did sophisticated SPECT
(Single Photon Emission Computer-Tomography) studies of their brains. At the
moments when they reported transcendent experience, he observed a distinct
decline in neuronal activity in the posterior superior parietal lobe, the
region of our brain that locates us in space and alerts us to boundaries.. The
fluid sense of communion reported by mystics across cultures now has a
biological reference point in the dulling of spatial perception. A person
having a religious experience does, indeed, become "one with the universe."
The authors have coined a culturally neutral term,
Absolute Unitary Being, and they play with the idea that this kind of research
can lead to "neurotheology" and even that they may be taking a "photograph of
While the authors appear to encourage the religious apologists to use this line
of research to their advantage, it seems to also carry quite the opposite
implication. If we are to base our values on experience and our experience is
actually a brain event with very little to say about the world outside, why do
we persist in our claims concerning divine or absolute values? This line of
research does nothing, in fact, to challenge the basic materialism at the core
of today's neuroscience, a materialism which challenges the whole notion of
soul(or mind) as something different from brain.
These bodies of research challenge both tzelem elohim
and yesh tikvah. First, evolutionary psychologists have interesting
insights to offer concerning the persistence of gender inequality, violence,
tribalism and other traits which we prefer to believe are--or should be--on the
wane in human nature. There is no reason to assume a master plan or anything
like a hopeful conclusion to this process. Indeed, there are good reasons to
fear the opposite. Second, they can explain behaviors that we think of as our
"higher selves" in terms of the functions of our selfish genes. Finally, the
whole question of "nefesh" or soul seems to elude us. At which point in
the human evolution from animals do we begin to speak of the tzelem elohim?
(Corresponding ethical questions: How much pain is permissible to inflict on
primates in a lab? At which point does the embryo become tzelem elohim?
When does the image of God fade out at the end of life?) If mystical experience
is seen as an event in the brain what does that do to the values traditionally
derived from those experiences?
At the same time, the biological study of human beings
and human nature may take us in other and more positive directions. Although
Kaplan wrote so much about hope, as someone committed to the best science of
his day, he would not have applied hope to something as specific as praying for
a sick individual. Along with most liberal religionists of his time, he
eschewed a view of healing that was other than strictly medical. Indeed, when I
was trained at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in the late seventies,
no one would think teaching us how to offer prayers for healing the sick as
part of Reconstructionist services or pastoral care.
The introduction of such spiritual modalities into an
understanding of health is now commonplace in liberal circles. This is not only
due to an understanding of how welcome metaphor can be in situations where a
newly humbled science reaches its limits, but also because science itself has
changed. In a recent book, The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the
Face of Illness, physician/research scientist Jerome Groopman relates a
series of compelling narratives concerning the role of hope in the care of
individuals with cancer. In the final chapters he reviews a tiny portion of the
voluminous and growing literature on mind/body connection, on the placebo
effect, on endorphins and enkephalins and how what we believe can have a real
influence on what happens in our bodies. 
So, while there may be no "ghost in the machine"(i.e. a transcendent soul that
is different from a material body,brain,etc), there is a new understanding
emerging from within science of the connections between the different parts of
that machine-thoughts, emotions, body-which may be fruitful for theology.
Thus, Ochs' sensibilities are part
of a full vision of human life which in some ways is at odds with other visions
emerging from the study of human nature today. On the other hand, there are
areas of scientific research which may offer support for some of that vision.
In either case, we need to be mindful that the metaphors will only continue to
sustain a theory of obligation if those who use them remain in serious dialogue
with science and the culture of our time.
Don Browning, Religious Thought and the Modern Psychologies
(Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1987).
See David A. Teutsch, "Values-Based Decision Making," Reconstructionist,
Spring 2001, pp. 22-28; For a list of values and an example of VBDM used for
"Kashrut" see Teutsch, A Guide to Jewish Practice: Introduction,
Attitudes, Values and Beliefs, (Wyncote, PA: Reconstructionist Rabbinical
College Press, 2000). For an example of values-based decision making
shaping social policy, see Homosexuality and Judaism: The Reconstructionist
Position. The Report of the Reconstructionist Commission on Homosexuality (Wyncote,
PA: Federation of Reconstructionist Congregations and Havurot,1993).
Mel Scult, Communings of the Spirit (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001), p. 394.
Soleveitchik, "Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation of Contemporary
Orthodoxy," Tradition, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Summer 1994).
According to the 2000 Jewish Population Study, 45% of Jewish college students
today have only one born Jewish parent.
Barry Schwartz, The Costs of Living: How Market Freedom Erodes the Best
Things in Life (New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 1994), p. 329
Mordecai M. Kaplan, Judaism as a Civilization: toward a reconstruction of
American-Jewish life, (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of
America, 1994), p.439.
Judaism as a Civilization, p.
Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why Less is More (New York: Ecco, 2004).
cit. Browning, p.9
ibid., p. 1
See, for example, Jacob Staub, "Kaplan and Process Theology," in The
American Judaism of Mordecai Kaplan, eds. Emanuel S. Goldsmith, Mel Scult,
and Robert M. Seltzer (New York, NY: New York University Press, 1990).
Mordecai M. Kaplan, Basic Values in Jewish Religion, (New York, NY:
Reconstructionist Press, 1957) [reprinted from The Future of the American
Jew, 1948] p.4.
Mordecai M. Kaplan, The Future of the American Jew (New York, NY:
Macmillan Co., 1948), p. 266.
for a good introduction to the field see Robert Wright, The Moral Animal:
Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology (New
York: Vintage Books, 1994).
Daniel C. Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of
Life, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), p.63.
Andrew Newberg and Eugene d'Aquili, Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and
the Biology of Belief (New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2001). In related
reseach, not yet completed, Mario Beauregard of the Universite de Montreal is
using MRI, PET and EEG to "identify underlying circuitry and neuroelectirical
and neurochemical correlates of the "mystical union with God" as achieved by
Carmelite nuns." Metanexus Institute on Religion and Science, "The Spiritual
Transformation Scientific Research Program," 2004.
Jerome E. Groopman, The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of
Illness (New York: Random House, 2004), pp. 161-207.