[E]ven your paired down, minimalist God needs defending from forces in
society that are far more powerful than any of the rabbis you write about.
Richard Dawkins, for example, is not the smartest atheist/secularist around
but he gets the most publicity and has the most influence. Even as you’re
railing at a few rabbis who did wrong, and others who didn’t (like Rabbi
Lapin), these secular influences seek to destroy even the faith you think
Jews are called on to preach. It’s like someone, in the midst of the
Holocaust, ignoring what’s going on in Europe and directing all his
righteous wrath at the local country club that excludes Jews. It’s cute to
quote Joan Osborne as a spiritual authority, but where’s your argument
against the culturally dominant secularism that would put you in the very
same category as the "kiruv clowns" and that broadcasts this message with
far more effectiveness than anything anyone is managing in the Jewish world?
BTW, since you place more weight on the pronouncements of entertainers than
rabbis, David Mamet’s new book may interest you. I think it speaks
eloquently to some of the issues you raise.
Here is my brief response:
The Times just gave Dawkins a weak review. The rabbis represent God, like it or not – it’s the way it works. The God Dawkins and others argue against is the minimalist, parochial version spouted by the wise men of Boro Park and Mea Shearim. They and their Muslim and Christian counterparts are what drives Dawkins to distraction. And I don’t see culturally dominant secularism. What I see is a large group of people willing to be moral and to do good, who search for meaning and hope to find it. Many of them are far more religious in nature and practice than our rabbis.