More Ideas, More Rushkoff

Mobius over at Jewschool has posted a long and thoughtful response to the “Next Big Jewish Idea” question.

Rather than promoting any singular form of Jewish identity or expression — be it by supporting a specific denomination or specialized small-scale organizations — Jewish institutions should invest in initiatives that give support to the widest array of individual communities possible. In that respect, rather than funding specific communities or initiatives, Jewish organizations should be spotting trends in various communities and developing resources that can be shared by individuals, communities and initiatives with overlapping interests. (MORE)

Perhaps most interestingly, Mobius also brings Douglas Rushkoff’s thinking into the mix, also finding Rushkoff’s writings on business innovation and branding profoundly relevant.

So is it time to bring Rushkoff back into the fold?

It was a few years ago that Rushkoff published Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism. I didn’t read the book, but I remember the excitement that Rushkoff was turning his media-savvy mind to Judaism — and the serious criticism that followed the book’s publication.

Rushkoff’s flirtation with the mainstream Jewish community was short-lived (he participated in the first Lishmah conference in New York). People seemed to think that he was making a lot of strong and grand statements about the nature and future of Judaism without having much perspective on Jewish history and knowledge. (I remember hearing one Jewish leader say that there were factual errors on every page of Nothing Sacred.)

But the experience didn’t deter Rushkoff. When looking into Rushkoff’s Get Back in the Box, I came across his Testament, a now year-old comic book series that continues his exploration of Judaism.

I got blacklisted by some Jewish groups who never even read the book — just reviews of the book,” Rushkoff stated. “I learned early on in life that if you have something that might be truly dangerous to say, say it in comics.” (MORE)

Testament weaves together a biblical narrative and a modern day tale. Here’s a summary of the first collected edition Testament: Akedah.

Rushkoff sets two story lines going here. In one, the draft has been reinstated in a near-future U.S., and potential draftees are implanted with chips that make their whereabouts traceable and allow the government to compel compliance. The other consists of three episodes in the story of Abraham: the near-sacrifice of Isaac, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the battle that Abraham leads to free his nephew, Lot (in Genesis, however, the battle precedes Sodom and Gomorrah). The two plots develop in tandem, with characters in one corresponding to those in the other, and the cosmic conflict between Jehovah and the combined forces of Astarte and Moloch framing both.

Rushkoff certainly has eclectic interests, but he’s an exceedingly talented and intelligent guy. If he’s this interested in exploring Judaism, I’d like to think that we could find a way to include him in the conversation.

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