Madonna shouldn't be singled out for her mystical awakening when Bono is busy debating religious relativism with the president of the United States. But the fact that you can hear her Jewphilia on a pop station and then flip to alt-rock radio and hear Matisyahu, a burnout Phish head turned Lubavitch Hasid, demanding "Moshiach Now" begs a bigger question: How did Judaism become the new Christianity? Indeed, on "Roots in Stereo," a new duet between Matisyahu and Christian rap-rockers P.O.D., there doesn't seem to be any difference between the two. In the song's spliffy rude boy blur, where we're all "the blood of God's veins," Jewish redemption and Christian redemption turn out to be the same thing after all.
Madonna's always been a reliable trend-spotter, so maybe her embrace of music-video phylacteries and dance-floor Torah tales has been her way of trying to tell us something. In politics, it's the God you pray to that matters the most. In pop music, it's the quality of the pose — any God will do, you just better pretend to pray to something. *