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November 4, 2006

Mamet and Moses


In his new nonfiction book, The Wicked Son, playwright David Mamet rebukes, with a gusto and combativeness found in many of his characters, irreligious or anti-Zionist Jews -- "self-hating Jews," seems the term he prefers.

Where to begin? Perhaps with this interesting point Mamet made while discussing the book on WGN radio recently:

If you look at the five books of Moses, the Torah, it's a complete record of the people, the Jews, who don't like it.... The Abrahamic text is about this desert people who had this revelation and fought it tooth and nail every page until the end of Deuteronomy.

Mamet wants us to see this as evidence that faith has doubt under control. That the irreligious can find themselves -- and answers to their doubts -- in the Bible. We might instead wonder if faith can ever escape or subdue doubt -- even among people who claimed the most intimate experience of God. We might wonder if the whole miraculous production wasn't hard to credit even then.

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at November 4, 2006 3:58 PM


It seems pretty likely that all kinds of faiths, including all kinds of religious faiths, are vulnerable to doubt. No belief system, even the most tightly argued hegemonically-bolstered one, can prevent leaks forever. I haven't read the book. But, Mamet's account is pretty leaky, conflating as it apparently does, anti-Zionist Jews (so religious they believe Israel should not exist as a political state), self-hating Jews (who object to cultural traditions of Jews) and irreligious Jews (who don't practice Judaism but may admire its culture).

Posted by: george at November 5, 2006 9:23 AM

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