Is religion a fantasy, a fancy of the imagination, an illusion?
The sacred chain of tradition that envisions a coherent narrative beginning with Adam and Eve or Abraham and Sarah and continuing to the end of time, so that we may imagine this history as our story, is certainly a fancy of the imagination, but not necessarily a fantasy. The idea that all of religion is an illusion mocks the truth. The atheists are printing readers and evangelizing their cause. They do not understand allusion so see only illusion.
If all of religion is illusion, than so is all fiction, and all who imagine an end to the nightmare of history. The fantasy of a messiah and the dream of Isaiah of a world that learns war no more are also aspects of religion. We are chained to the narrative of the facts of history if we do not have a dream that is better than our history.
Jews are master story tellers and have always understood that prophets are inspired poets, and that the language of Torah is often figurative. Our Rabbis entertained the idea that Job was a fictional character. Our Midrash assumes the right of every reader to paint the portraits of biblical characters with their own colors. We are all invited, in the midrashic process, to be writers of historical fiction. If all the biblical characters never existed we are still left with the truths of our fantasy.
The teaching that Moses received an Oral Law and the Kabballah along with the Written Torah on Sinai is a fantasy in triplicate.
While a fancy of Rabbinic imagination, “Torah from Moses on Sinai” as a concept serves the legal need of an open ended ideal constitution that may be changed, so the chain of tradition does not become the chains of tradition. Digging deeply into Torah the rabbis mine precious Jewels from every letter of scripture.
The Written Torah inspires interpretation with a sparse narrative that defines character by actions more than physical characteristics. Biblical personalities are imagined differently by every reader because of this narrative style. Week in and week out for three thousand plus years we have learned eternal truths from Torah.
The primacy of imagination and allusion assure a future for rabbinic Judaism. Contrary to Freud, the future of the allusion is bright.
Religion orders our thinking by asking the most fundamental questions about existence. Religion orders our life via daily prayer and an expectation of daily study and weekly community involvement.
The future of Religion is not exclusively orthodox, conservative or reform, and the same holds true for the future of Judaism. The Ten Teachings still retain their authority, including the Shabbat. A rigid puritanical definition of this obligation is rescued by the imagination, by allusion.
My vision of a better world to come includes sailing and swimming and other activities forbidden by the orthodox. I will not use this as an excuse to ignore the teaching to remember and guard the sanctity of the Sabbath.
Dull vapid (jejune) Shabbat services will be re orchestrated to include every type of music that inspires the soul. We want Classical and Jazz and Hard Rock services. Hard Rock. Now that is a name for scriptural production company.
Christians will attend this worship and renew their covenant with the God of Israel. Interfaith couples will lead the way.