“It does not try to use big words or clever ways to rephrasing questions in an effort to convince us that our problems are not really problems, but the we only think they are.” p. 1In one sentence he writes off all the contributions of the great thinkers of the past. All the Rabbis, philosophers and theologians who have tried to deal with the big question of pain are just being sophists. This seems a bit arrogant, but maybe in his pain he is over stating his case.
His second basic assumption about the world is a bigger problem. He states that he believes in the “goodness of the world.” With this simple statement he separates himself from the Biblical Judaism that he purports to espouse. With this statement I assume that he represents the Reform branch of Judaism. In Christian terms this would make him a United Methodist, United Presbyterian or Unitarian.
As you read through the book you notice that he rejects the idea of sin and the fallen nature of man. I am not an expert in Jewish theology but sin and the fall are certainly in Genesis. Also consider this from the Jewish Publication Society Bible.
(Psalms 51:5 JPS) (51:7) Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.And yet he rejects this with a pat on the head to those so provincial that they believe it.
“Perhaps, depending on the religious tradition in which you were raised, you were told that all human beings, Adam’s and Eve’s descendants, were doomed to die as sinners because of that original disobedience.” p. 74This is one of those Continental Divides between what the Bible teaches and our pagan culture rejects. The world is not now, nor will it ever be in this age, good. It is under the curse of sin. If you reject that you might as well reject the rest of the package, which Kushner has done even if he does not realize it. I may come back to this.
Third, he is rethinking all he has been taught about God and His ways. Thinking is good. Thinking about God and His ways is good. Rethinking is a constant process. The problem is that Kushner insists on rejecting all sources outside his own world view and his worldview has rejected the teachings that God gave in the Bible. You can’t have it both ways. Either you accept the God revealed in the Bible or you are simply another member of the Belief of the Month Club.
The problem I am seeing as I read is that he sets himself above not only the wisdom of ages but seems to be moving toward remaking God into the author’s own image.
To be continued...
Kushner, Harold S. When Bad Things Happen to Good People. New York: Schocken Books, 1981.
homo unius libri