Editors’ Blog

Remixing Religion: Ben Brown’s (RE)velation

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

By Larry Smith

josh-kilmer-purcell-2.jpgWhat does it mean to not consult wizards?

I’ve just learned that this steer-clear-of-wizards business is one of God’s 613 Mitzvot, or the commandments the big guy handed down to the Jews. These 613 laws are the backbone of a new people-powered project from Ben Brown called (RE)velation. The site lays out the Mitzvot—which are kind of fascinating once you dig into them—and then asks for your current interpretations, implementations, and understandings of these laws. Brown explains:

(RE)velation is an effort to more deeply understand God’s 613 Mitzvot—the commandments handed down to the Jews which touch almost every aspect of life. Some of these laws make sense in a modern context, while others have simply lost their meaning. What, after all, does it mean to not consult wizards? How relevant to us is the commandment to salt all sacrifices? We seek to remix, reimagine and reinterpret these laws for a modern audience in both serious and humorous ways, and to apply these Mitzvah more practically to every day life.

Some examples? “Don’t sit on my bed OR put your dirty feet on them,” is a remix of Mitzvah 610. “Don’t download music,” an update on Mitzvah 274. “If you’re going to dress in drag, buy your own damn clothes!” is this modern world’s of Mitzvah 365—and words to live by, brothers and sisters.

Some of the offerings at (RE)velation will be presented at DAWN at the new Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco on June 7, 2008. Jonathan Safran Foer will be there (if you need the Jewish pot sweetened a bit).

Brown himself has been the wizard behind many projects, including Consumating (RIP) and Offsprung. Some call him “the Internet Rockstar.” In his own response to the the wizard law, aka Mitvah 338, he offers, “There is no magical solution to your problems.” Here at SMITH, where he helped relaunch our site earlier this year with his wizard-like touch, we’re not so sure about that one.

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One response

  1. Call for Submissions: Own Your Failure | Obsessions says:

    [...] and cheering for Barack Obama’s Mile High acceptance speech. If so, you were in good company: friend of SMITH and “Internet Rockstar” Ben Brown was doing the same last Thursday when a phrase caught [...]

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