My theology is one of distributed divinity.
Every person is a swarm of divine sparks of intuition seeking pluralistic unity in a self — I. Every self seeks pluralistic unity with other selves — We. And each We seeks ever greater scales of pluralistic unity — We expanding toward and beyond the bounds of universality.
This my understanding of the meaning of the “raising the sparks” at the heart of Kabbalah.
Distributed divinity is politically enacted through distributed judgment in all its various forms (liberal-democratic, economic, cultural, etc.)
Any group who aspires to centralize judgment around its own ideological convictions of what is true and just suffers from collective hubris.
I believe with the Greeks that tragedy is the fate of hubris.
I understand comedy and tragedy to be a matter of perspective.
Tragedy is hubris experienced from a first-person perspective (I or we).
Comedy is hubris witnessed from a third-person perspective (he, she or they).
Whether something feels playful and comic or serious and tragic has everything to do with whether it pertains to you as a first-person being or whether you detach yourself and view it from a third-person vantage.
Staying aloof, refusing to engage in the first-person, and viewing what others take seriously as comic — these are all ways to savor power and invulnerability.
This is why we mock enemies with a smile.
A smirk of this kind says “I don’t have to take you seriously”.
A punch in the face says “Yes you do.”
Revolutions are what happen when words stop working.
Especially right now, decent people must do their part to make words work.
To make words work, we must really listen to reason, which means seeking the validity of other views, not dismissing, condemning or mocking them.
We must seek persuasion, and settle for nothing less. We must approach others as equals, and try earnestly to persuade them, while remaining open to being persuaded ourselves. This is entirely different from convincing ourselves that we are right by making arguments that demonstrate to our own satisfaction the superiority of our own view. It is also different from polemically bludgeoning another person until they surrender just to make the bludgeoning end.
And when seeking to persuade, never forget that nobody is fooled by feigned listening. Forced politeness is never mistaken for real respect. If you can’t find it in yourself to respect the other, don’t talk to them, because it will make things immeasurably worse. The use of pretend listening and faked respect as rhetorical tools — liberal “dialoguing” of the Al Gore variety has insulted and alienated at least two generations of conservatives, and it must stop or progress will continue to reverse.
Reason only works when it is underwritten with authentic respect and equality.
If you can’t see how you can possibly be wrong — if you can’t understand how someone could believe what they do — if you cannot imagine changing you mind on on some moral matter — none of these are evidence of anything other than a personal incapacity — an incapacity that can be overcome through dialogue.
We never see how wrong we are — or how much more right we can be — until the very instant an epiphany hits and we suddenly and spontaneously conceive an insight that, just a moment before, was inconceivable.
Faith in dialogue has superseded my commitment to all other particular beliefs.
My Judaism is existential.