Rabbi Michael Shevack

Rabbi Michael Shevack‘s final article in his Re-JEW-venating Civilization series.

In my last article, Creeping Finitism, I warned about the contemporary idolatries that are destroying a solid, prophetic spiritual underpinning to Western Civilization.

In this, Article #5, it’s time to set the world on a new course. Not creeping finitism. But, Infinite Progressivism.

The time has come to bring this series on Re-JEW-venating Civilization to a close. But, can there actually be a close?

Such a close would itself be a kind of “creeping finitism”, a mere, profane “ending”. So, no! I refuse. I can only end this series with an opening– a wide-open, light-breaking, hope-engendering opening to the world: Infinite Progressivism!

As Thomas Cahill described, it was The Gift of the Jews to, in a sense, invent the future. The “future perspective”– that human viewpoint which transforms the past into the present, and the present into the future– a “positivism” that embraces not just the Hebrew people but also all humankind— that, truly, is, a most remarkable gift of the Jews.

Western Civilization must never forget its prophetic Jewish roots!

That such a future-orientation to all human thought should have originated through the Hebrew is rather enigmatic. After all, when you compare this peculiar future-sense to the pre-Israelite perspective, where the world was either stuck in some eternal-now, endlessly-cycling like a washing machine, it is rather counter-intuitive: How can one be in the present, and think in the future? How can one be where one is not? How on earth (perhaps it was heaven-sent?) did the Jews come up with it?

Yet, on the other hand, the Hebrew future-sense is also very understandable. Stripped-down to its most basic, it is simply an advanced expression of the most primitive of nomadic experiences: One begins where one is, and one progresses, one step at a time, never ceasing, and never ending one’s journey.

Just imagine: Walking the wilderness. Experiencing a living relationship with all the active (and sometimes threatening) forces of nature­– rain, sun, snakes. Then, there suddenly dawns an awareness of a Singular Force– more Powerful than and more Inclusive of– all the “little gods”. And this Singular Force, when we enter into relationship with It, actually protects, safeguards, and guides our wilderness-walk. Indeed, we are not alone! We never have been!

Can we live this nomadic experience within the churning and burning “systems” that we humans have invented? Can we find this Infinite Force within our finite societies?

No matter how beguiling our civilizations, our industries, our human-created toys, we must never lose this Hebrew nomadic experience. We must always seek the INFINITE PROGRESSIVE in all things.

Infinite Progressivism is a living philosophy of practical experience. It means that we orient all our human activities, whether they are personal, group, institutional (including religions) to an unlimited horizon, moving forward, advancing, even though we can never be exactly certain of the outcome.

Living with Infinite Progressivism, we seek to shuck off our limitations (sins) that keep us fixed in the imprisoning finite. We continuously seek GOOD. (And “God” is a contraction of this word.)

Infinite Progressivism is FAITH!

Infinite Progressivism means that we continuously improve.

We continuously evolve. We demonstrate, through our thoughts, our feelings, our words, and our actions, the utmost faith in that Unlimited “Attribute” of Deity we might call telos. Infinite Progressivism means looking at life through infinite eyes: there is no present circumstance which contemns or condemns us.

Forward is now!

No! We are not stuck with economic systems that are disgruntled and repressive of human freedom; we may improve them. We are not stuck with technologies that create material blessings at the same time as carcinomas; we may improve them. We are not stuck with juridical systems that are biased by political appointment and economic interests; we can improve them. We are not stuck with dysfunctional families; we can improve them.

We can improve and improve and improve and improve, infinitely.

Why? Because Infinite Progressivism is simply human awareness of God’s Own Creative Self.

There’s a rub here, though. One may improve racism, refine its doctrines, and be ever-more-efficient in circulating its ideology. One may improve Nazism, and perfect it, so it might not be quite so “flawed” as last time. One may progress in our current trans-continental phase of capitalism, seeking more and more profit, infinitely so, without regard to the flesh-and-blood effect on living human souls. All of these demonstrate a critical distinction:

Infinite Progressivism is not mere positivism. Any human thought-system may seek “positive improvement”. But mere improvement is not True Progress, God’s Own Self-Growth, so-to-speak, through our actions. Mere positivism is not necessarily covenantal.

This returns us to the very first article in this series. Our human desires, and their “progress” must always value God’s Creation first, and human invention second. Only upon this Sacred Priority, will we truly progress in our human inventions, our economic systems, our industries, our ego-dreams.

Mere positivism puts human thought and systems before God’s creations, including us. The True Infinite Positive places God’s Creations first, and our thoughts and systems second! It involves flesh and blood “people” in a Jewish sense. It is “incarnational”, in a Christian sense.

Infinite Progressivism is another way of saying Prophetic Universal History, The Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God. But, this is true only when its goals are based upon God the Creator, first and foremost, and God the “Son”, humankind, second and sub-ordinately. The dangerous, still-lingering tendency to not properly qualify the co-equalities within the Trinity still infects Western civilization, severing its Jewish root, justifying Imperial Roman positivism.

True Infinite Progressivism is how we permanently Re-JEW-venate our world, putting it on a correct spiritual foundation.

In this, the last article in this series, I end with a beginning, and therefore, do not end. I call upon all the religions of the world, and all the governments of the world to re-invent themselves. To remove the cheap positivisms left over from failed naïve philosophies of the modernist 1950’s— and fully embrace a Life that is Infinitely Progressive. Progressiveness that is Infinite: not on the order of human design, but on the order of God’s Design.

Pro-gressive means “go forward”. We must be like Abraham, who started out with sand-encrusted feet in the wilderness, but whose journey took him to the farthest distance imaginable: all the way into the future.

Not just any future, mind you. But, a GOOD future. A future of GOD!

Not just any “god”, mind you. But, God the Creator and Redeemer of Israel and the World!

To Re-JEW-venate Western Civilization we must remember The God of Israel. We must remember The Holy One:

Infinite Progress Itself.

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