Saturday, October 08, 2005

Celebrity Kabbalah

There's just all kinds of problems with this:
According to Fox News online columnist Roger Friedman, Madonna's upcoming album, "Confessions on a Dance Floor," includes a paean to 16th-century modern Kabbalah founder Isaac Luria. Titled "Isaac," the song features a spoken interlude by Yitzhak Sinwani of London's Kabbalah Centre.
Putting aside the fact that Yitzhak Luria was not the "founder" of the Kabbalah - the primary text of the Kabbalah, the Book of the Zohar, was written at the end of the 14th century, though it is traditionally attributed to Shimon Bar-Yochai, a rabbi who lived in the first century AD - I can't imagine that an artist as shallow as Madonna would dare grapple with the actual nature of his theology. Luria created an extraordinarily dark vision of the world which essentially amounted to the rejection of reality itself in the name of a mystical transcendance which would dissolve the material world into the divine. In Lurianic Kabbalah the physical world is the result of a deformation, a breakage in the divine system that occured in the very moment of Creation. Its a despairing and extraordinary theology that deserves better than a dance number as its tribute. I also can't imagine a rabbi such as Luria regarding the modern day celebrity worship upon which Madonna thrives as anything other than a modern form of idolatry. On the other hand, if this dumbed-down "Kabbalah" makes people less hostile towards Jews and Judaism I suppose it can't do any harm, but it does speak to the seemingly unstoppable modern trend of turning everything - human beings and religions alike - into a shallow, easily digestible shadow of its true self. Personally, I wish Madonna and the rest would stick with nonsense like Scientology and leave something as beautiful and complex as the Kabbalah alone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The trouble is that youth, primarilly, takes expressions from people like Madonna seriously. Everything can be reduced to a Readers Digest easilly "digested", less than five minute... mental effort.
After a while, I can hear the repeated mantra of simplistic easily memorized slogans.
A supposedly intelligent relative of mine watched the movie "JFK", and took it as a documentary...believing every word in it. Fahrenheit 911 comes to mind also.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Jim Naka said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Qualifying Ron Hubbard's Scientology as a "nonsense" entity, sounds not only as silly as qualifying philosophy at large as being a "nonsense" entity, but also makes one wonder: since in another entry you affirmed that you wouldn't state opinion about a movie that you haven't seen...and since I think that you're not a Scientologist scholar...and since one cannot understand it as an outsider...where does this really leave you?
I respect both Kaballah and Scientology, as territories in which my mind still has a long (neverending!?)journey to travel...
Are you placed in a different (superior?) position? Or simply bluffing!? Just curious...

10:21 PM  
Blogger rebelmacaque said...

Anonymous (ironic name considering), the Kabbalah wasn't invented by one man to make money. The good Rabbi never claimed to have visited Venus or the Van Allen Belts as ol' Elron did. Hubbard was a conman and a charlatan. You can't possibly place Hubbard's unintentionally hilarious tomes in the same category as the poetic beauty of the Kaballah. I say this as an atheist, so I'm comparing literary quality here, since I consider them both works of fiction . . . and yes, I've read the Kaballah and Hubbard (A History of Man, Dianetics and KSW). From the sublime to the ridiculous.

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