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Rachael Bregman

The Temple , Open Jewish Project

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What would Open Source Religion look like? How would it work?

As religion becomes de-institutionalized, assuming religion has a place in the marketplace of ideas, how do we update? Given our new social reality, how do we want to/how will we access the wisdom of our ancient traditions? What impact will a new platform for religious living have on the extant institutions and on the religions as a whole?

Background: I am a rabbi in Atlanta GA and am crafting Open Jewish Project in this community (openjewishproject.com). Some of my fellow thinkers at CLAL (CLAL,org) are trying to crack this nut. We know Judaism is changing (all religions are) and the soul reliance big building epi-centers is a way of the past (mega churches get a longer explanation but not for this post), But we are not certain of what is next.

The fear: If religion goes online, what happens to our religious COMMUNITY. I tell my people all the time that Judaism cannot live in a vacuum. To BE Jewish, I propose-as do many others, one must be in community. Will virtual tools of religon take that away and is that a loss which Judaism can take and still maintain its fundamental essence?

Ideas already out there to build on:
Jewish Futures Award winner on Open Source Judaism http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56x46QezJ9k
How to Build Open Source Communities: http://tuxradar.com/content/how-create-open-source-community

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    Nov 30 2011: Kal Busman is a pastor who used a form of "open sourcing" - more accurately "crowd wisdom" - in his congregation. He posted a comment in this conversation opened by, TED speaker, Lior Zoref:


    http://www.ted.com/conversations/7543/do_you_use_crowd_wisdom_to_thi.html
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    Nov 30 2011: Hi Rachael. I too agree that Open Source Religion is in the future, and happening now, for religion all over the world.

    Earlier this month I published my "Discourse on Open Source Religion" which you can read here: http://www.opensourcereligion.net/profiles/blogs/a-discourse-on-open-source-religion

    What does the Open Source Religion look like? Much the way it does today actually, but that's because we're already practicing a great deal of OSR. Whenever a Christian believes in Karma, whenever any person who identifies themselves as a believer in Proprietary Religion believes in something outside of their holy scripture - you've got Open Source Religion.

    I'm really glad to have found this discussion, and on the TED site no less. I've been advocating OSR for a lot of years now and I hope to make the biggest impact regarding it's public acceptance as an active phenomena.
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      Nov 30 2011: This is an issue I too was wary of when I was first constructing the idea behind OpenSourceReligion.net. But I solved it.

      You don't put the content of the beliefs up for modification; instead you look at the modification of structures/foundations.

      For instance a Christian might believe in Karma. The fundamental content of those beliefs are not changed, but the structure of that person's belief system does.

      This is why I came to refer to beliefs like Karma/Salvation/Afterlife/etc as Belief Modules, to help the reader gain a particular perspective of beliefs - that they are modular, able to be extracted, placed elsewhere, changed, destroyed, etc.

      This is the way religious people already operate in todays world, and in the future, will be even more prevalent.
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      Nov 30 2011: Hi Don. I'd be curious about your thoughts on my other replies here in the thread. I operate OpenSourceReligion.net and am always looking for good minds to help get it off the ground.
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    Nov 25 2011: I think open source religion would look like no religion. That is, you, for example, would not even identify as rabbi or as Jewish.

    If anything, you might identify as human and, if you wanted to draw on any source of wisdom whether it comes from an ancient source or from the Muslim kid down the street, you would. And you would not need to.

    Could you live "in community" without your role?

    I think you could.

    You might disagree with me.
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    Nov 25 2011: I think I need to clarify the question given the comments below. Assuming the purpose of a religion's structure is to help people make meaning and to make sense of the world (sociologically speaking), the structures we have been using to make meaning, to make sense of the world, seems to be less effective. Research tells us that the structure of large institutions like synagogues (or churches), is becoming a less effective tool for the current and emerging generation to understand the world. What I am asking is, what would a new structure for religion look like based on an open-source model such as linux or wikipedia. We are not asking about the content or doctrine of religion. That is a conversation for a different time and place. For now, we are merely brainstorming models for a new structure.
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      Nov 25 2011: sometimes i fail to make myself clear. the bottom of my response (pasted below) was the answer to your question.
      ""since every religion on the planet abides by these laws, why not unite by wisdom? the structure of language would be a good template for the structure of a new open source religion. unity by philosophy THEN different religions can branch off into "dialects". forming their culture around it. but i think the fact that religion is simply a "dialect" of wisdom, will effectively preserve the essence of religion while creating the peace we all strive for. you use it to preserve your religous community.""

      an improved stucture of religion has nothing to do with changing the "content or doctrine of religion". i'm proposing that the GOAL for the new structure of open source religion shouldnt be as much to separate itself from other religions as it currently is, but find a way to structure it so that it helps people to see the common purpose of all religions. people today are mismatchers! with the internet people are finding it ever harder to believe in anything becuase there's always so much knowledge available, religious beliefs are constantly being challenged or rejected by people. much of the world believes that God would't want just one way of doing Anything. people are starting to question whether the God they serve is worthy of THEM. living in a state of here and now, not as many people are motivated by fear of God, they want something that'll help them find more meaning in life. the way to make THAT more effective is to make a structure that makes the code/values/morals of the religion more prominent than the specifics. keep re-reading this until it makes sense. and NOW that you have a DEFINED GOAL for your new stucture, you can begin to peice together models of what should be incorporated into the new structure, and what it should look like. GOOD LUCK :/ btw--if you dont attack me after reading this i'd be happy to help.
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      Nov 25 2011: Hi Rabbi !

      I truly admire such an effort, but it is beyond me how the Symbols of your faith, or any faith for that matter, can activate the awareness of the Sacred, through a medium such as this.

      It seems so impersonal at times... and even though I imagine something deeper can develop here, I can't imagine anything even close to an I-Thou relationship ever occuring here, given the contemporary preference for fact over symbol.

      How can cyper-space ever become sacred space ?

      This seems to me to be the crux of the matter... but who knows... perhaps there are sites on here, where this is already occuring.

      You have my deepest admiration for even attempting such a venture !

      I cannot tell you how much I would have enjoyed a visit to a cyber-chapel over this past month. I am very new to the chat-room experience, and although it has been very rewarding, the growth opportunities here have been numerous !

      So all the best with your endeavour, and if I have any suggestions, I will be sure to get back to you with them !

      Respectfully,
      Denis
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        Nov 25 2011: Hi Denis!

        You say: "I would have enjoyed a visit to a cyber-chapel "

        If you like it is possible.
        The circle of the Sufi-movement holds a service regularly that they connect to Skype.
        You can listen and view the event and if you want to participate they even put you on and you can speak as well.

        Follow the link an choose "special events", left/down.

        http://www.sufimovement.us/med_hik_current_english.php
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          Nov 25 2011: Frans...

          I knew from the moment that I starting reading your posts, that your gentle Heart was always leading your Path.

          I cannot possibly thank you enough for this !

          My love of Sufism first took root in my early twenties, and it continues to deepen today!

          I will certainly look forward to this ... but I probably won't do it until next week... as my daughter is visiting from out of town !!!

          Thank you for this kindness!
          Denis
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    Nov 24 2011: Times are tough for old superstitions. People are gradually turning towards New Age nonsense.
    I don't know if any trick or witty make-up can reverse the engine.
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    Nov 24 2011: i personally am irritated by religion for the fact that it gets taken so personally! what we dont realize is that all religions and all cultures are centered around achieving peace. i feel that religions set up a structure for people to divide and conflict with others. when you really get down to it the struggle is for the culture of the story.. lol i think thats irrelavent when you look at what the overall objective of religion should be, which is to create peace. i believe philosophy is the observance of the laws of the universe, philosophy is realizing constant patterns that formed by less apparent forces, such as the laws of physics, phycological development and many of the emerging sciences. and since every religion on the planet abides by these laws, why not unite by wisdom? the structure of language would be a good template for open source religion. unity by philosophy THEN different religions can branch off into "dialects". forming their culture around it. but i think the realization that religion is not just a belief in a version of a story or a set of rules to follow, but actually a "dialect" of wisdom will effectively preserve the essence of religion while creating the peace we all strive for. i think confusianism, the "truth of the crowd" and the "illusion of truth effect" could help you understand a bit more about the value of a philosophy based open source religious structure, and help you use it to preserve your religous community.