Sunday, June 1, 2008

Kabbalah on Green: Consciousness and the environment

I picked up this book on a whim at Borders.  I'm exploring how Judaism interacts with nature, so the title piqued my interest.  And then I saw who wrote and published it, and, knowing how controversial the Kabbalah Centre is among the Jewish community, I thought it would make for an interesting read.   It is interesting, but it's also raising a lot of questions, a number of them with Berg's logic.  This book report is different than my others.  I'm writing this one as I read the book, so it is more of a dialectical than a report or a review.

The first chapter talks about Al Gore and how his Presidential campaign losses were destiny, and if he had not lost, he would not have gone on to do the projects he did.  Berg implies that Gore would not have been as green if he had been President.  I don't know about that.  It can never be disproven, of course, but the fact is that Gore has been a proponent of environmental concerns for a long time now.  I remember reading about things he was doing back when I was a kid and really into 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth.  I would argue that Al Gore's green-ness has nothing to do with what happened in 2000 or 2004.

Berg does make a good point about how people tend to think in terms of "cleaning up", rather than preventing a mess.  Especially when it comes to the environment.  It would be better if we could change our focus and prevent the types of crises we get ourselves into, but, alas.  We are who we are.  Berg loses me when he moves on to say that our negative thoughts contribute to global warming, because they somehow rearrange or change atoms into pollution and that if we gave off only positive energy, atoms would become beautiful things like roses.  As I understand it, atoms are atoms.  They are basic and can't be changed from one thing to another.  I have a really hard time with that concept.  People would need to have the power of G-d for that to work.

He uses a lot of observations of word similarities to bolster his arguments.  I don't know enough Hebrew to know if these hold any water.  Adam...atom.  Wholeness...holiness.  They're useful pneumonic devices, but pretty weak evidence.

Lest it sound like I disagree with everything Berg says, or that I read the entire book cynically, I do agree with some of what's written in chapter 3.  I agree that G-d manifests himself in nature, and that we needn't look to the Heavens to find G-d; we can look to the mountains and the trees.  Berg also talks about how everything is interconnected, which makes sense when you're talking about pollution from the United States having an effect on Southeast Asia.  I'm not as willing to believe that lies and disrespect can cause an earthquake.  I think Sharon Stone tried to say something like that recently, and it didn't go over too well.

In the end, I did not finish the book.  I got to chapter 4 and realized that it doesn't apply to what I'm interested in studying, so it's on the shelf.  I'll finish it someday, maybe.

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