I mentioned in my last post that “I gravitate toward ideas that just might change the world, or at least a small part of it. That’s one reason why the vision statement of Messianic Judaism Media is ‘Changing the world through changing minds about Messianic Judaism.'”
At a stage of life when many my age are retiring to play shuffleboard or Gin, delighted to find a great breakfast special available at an unbeatable price not far from home, I feel like I’m just getting started. To me life matters, and most of all, God and the things that concern Him matter, and because of this, ideas matter, because ideas can change the world in a way that pleases God. And like the Shema says, and Yeshua agrees, Priority One is to love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, and strength.
A few days ago I found a fellow traveler in what some might term an unlikely place, the New York Times, in a brilliant and daring article by Neil Gabler, “The Elusive Big Idea.” (see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/14/opinion/sunday/the-elusive-big-idea.html?pagewanted=all). Gabler is a senior fellow at the Annenberg Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California, which for some people would make him a Leftie, and therefore beneath consideration as a thinker. That just goes to demonstrate how unprepared people are to think new thoughts in a society where increasingly all truth must be reducible to a Tweet.
That, by the way, is where Gabler takes us in his article. Here’s a quote worth thinking about:
If our ideas seem smaller nowadays, it’s not because we are dumber than our forebears but because we just don’t care as much about ideas as they did. In effect, we are living in an increasingly post-idea world — a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them, the Internet notwithstanding. Bold ideas are almost passé.
Many people will protest, pointing to the inventiveness of say, Apple, as evidence that thinking is alive and well, thank you. To these, Gabler says this:
There is a vast difference between profit-making inventions and intellectually challenging thoughts. Entrepreneurs have plenty of ideas, and some, like Steven P. Jobs of Apple, have come up with some brilliant ideas in the “inventional” sense of the word.
Still, while these ideas may change the way we live, they rarely transform the way we think. They are material, not ideational. It is thinkers who are in short supply, and the situation probably isn’t going to change anytime soon.
Nearly fifty years of hobnobbing with practitioners and theorists of outreach to the Jews, while receiving a top notch academic education in the field have proven to me beyond doubt that just about all representatives of the misionary subculture and Messianic subculture(s) stand naked in the shadow of Gabler’s indictment. The gospel has been turned into a profit-making tool, and no one is thinking or doing anything really new. Instead, entrenched power brokers defend old paradigms and act quickly to discredit new ones, or sleeping shepherds murmur peace, peace, where there is no peace.
In this field of endeavor, the best that the best can do is repackage the product instead of rethinking the project.
When I speak of rethinking the project, I am not saying that we should reconsider telling my people about Yeshua. Those who accuse me of such either willingly or unwittingly misrepresent the case. However, I do insist that the product needs to be reexamined like a counterfeit Gucci bag you thought you were getting for a steal, when in fact, it was you who was being robbed. We need to restore Yeshua to his true identity as the champion of the Jewish people who brings to fruition God’s promises to them, bringing Jews to deepest covenant fidelity. I have no interest in a gospel for the Jews that cares about eternal life and not at all about Jewish life. This is as bogus as a fifty dollar Rolex purchased from a sweaty Ratso in a trenchoat on some grimy street corner near Times Square.
Nowadays, most charged with sharing the good news with the Jewish people are like someone with a 51 card deck thinking that his game of Solitaire will at last work out if he only reshuffles the cards one more time.
My friends, and those of you who would not call yourselves that: we need a new deck of cards. In fact, we have to reinvent the game.
I cannot sleep well in a religious world that prefers pundits to thinkers, and defending the party line to even contemplating revolution.
It’s time to think while we still have a memory of what that might feel like.
And in case you haven’t guessed, what I am up to at this time in my life is reinventing the game, I want a new deck.
How about you?