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Klavan On The Culture

Don’t Miss “Wizard Wars!”

January 23rd, 2015 - 8:45 am

I’m a sucker for magic and especially for sleight-of-hand magic and it just so happens I’m friends with one of the greatest sleight-of-hand practitioners on the planet (no idle boast: they actually test these things and he keeps coming in at or near the top):  Gregory Wilson. One of my very fond memories is of a dinner he and I once had during which he absolutely amazed me with nothing but a deck of cards. As we parted ways, he ended by correctly guessing the contents of my pockets (two tarantulas, a rocket launcher and thirty-seven cents). The guy really is brilliant and if you ever have a chance to catch his act, grab it.

Greg is part of a very cool SyFy show fronted by Penn and Teller (themselves no slouches in the magic department). It’s called Wizard Wars.  It’s sort of American Idol for magicians.  Its second season begins January 29th.  If you love this stuff anywhere near as much as I do, set the DVR. Here’s the first season trailer:

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Here’s more from the website.

And here’s more from Greg’s website.

Hitler Was A Lefty

January 22nd, 2015 - 7:03 am

Just sayin’…

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No, Pope, No!

January 18th, 2015 - 9:15 am


Here’s the thing. The last two heads of the Catholic Church — Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI — were two of the greatest men to live in my lifetime. The death-defying heroism of the former and the incisive theological genius of the latter will be remembered long after the critics who ceaselessly sniped and jeered at them have been relegated to the Ash Heap of Well-Deserved Obscurity. The fact that these two giants once occupied the Vatican at the same time is an argument for providential history along the lines of Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Franklin turning up all at once in the colonies.

And here’s another thing. Non-Catholics tend to criticize the statements of popes according to whether they violate their own political opinions, left or right. But strange as it is to tell, confirming your political opinions is not actually in the pope’s job description. This is why I tend to shrug it off when the pope says things I disagree with about economics, say. It may well be that a two thousand year old perspective helps him to see things I occasionally miss, who knows. In any case, I’m not Catholic so a lot of times it’s not my problem.

And here’s just one more thing. Pope Francis seems like a terrific guy, he really does. Kissing lepers and what-not. Finding a way to reiterate church doctrine toward gays and divorcees so as to emphasize the love rather than the judgement. You gotta love that. I do anyway.

But all those things said, I really am beginning to wonder what is going on beneath that yarmulke of his. He is a world leader, after all. He ought to think about what he says about world events. And these recent comments he made about the Charlie Hebdo massacre. What? I mean: What?

“There is a limit,” to free speech the pope told reporters on the papal plane the other day. Throwing a joke punch at his travel organizer Alberto Gaspari, he said, ”If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”

He added that he was not justifying violence in God’s name, which he called an “aberration.”

The problem with all this…  Well, for one thing, it’s not right. For another, it’s not true. And for yet another, I can’t even see my way to understanding it as Christian.

You can’t provoke? You can’t insult the faith of others? Really? Let’s listen in on the chief rabbi of Jerusalem circa the year Zero as he reacts to Jesus’s comments on his religion:

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.”

The rabbi sounds pretty provoked to me. Pretty insulted too.  And after that — for those of you who attended public schools — he handed Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified!

So Jesus was not afraid to provoke and insult the faith of others, even when those others were willing to kill him for it.

On the other hand, Jesus himself took a much different approach toward being offended. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other cheek also.” That’s not a call to pacifism — Jesus didn’t say, “If someone attacks your village, rapes your women and kills your men, just stand around and watch!” But it is a powerful demand for radical tolerance in the face of offense. He came, after all, to free us for freedom, as the book says. That’s how that trick is done.

Which is why responding to blasphemy with violence is an aberration — in modern Christian countries.  In militant Islam, murder for blasphemy is actually a requirement! In fact, most forms of Islamic jurisprudence call for death to blasphemers if they fail to repent. Which is pure retrograde savagery. Monstrous. And to stand up before these murdered dead are cold and lend credence to the motives of their mad dog killers is just morally absurd.

So what the hell was the pope thinking? Really — I’d like to know.

Also read: 

What Christians Should and Should Not Judge


Or should we just send James Taylor to serenade them?

As that Insta-Guy would say, asking the important questions:

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Obama Regrets He’s Unable to March Today!

January 13th, 2015 - 7:16 am


“President Barack Obama regrets his decision not to send a top White House official to represent the U.S. at a march in Paris that drew dozens of world leaders in a show of solidarity against terrorism, press secretary Josh Earnest said.” The Wall Street Journal.

With apologies to Cole Porter:

Obama regrets he’s unable to march today, Madam.

Obama regrets he’s unable to march today.

He really hopes France won’t mind.

But he’s leading the free world from behind, Madam.

Obama regrets he’s unable to march today.


He sent three reps to bury the St. Louis thug Michael Brown, Madam.

But when Free Speech is being interred, he has golf to play.

Sure, satirists were shot dead.

But the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet Mohamm Ed…  Madam.

So Obama regrets he’s unable to march today.


Though it’s quite impolite to answer a joke with guns, Madam.

We really must all be careful of what we say.

So when Liberty’s shot to death,

She will whisper to the world with her final breath, Madam:

“Obama regrets he’s unable to march today.”



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The west is in a holy war with militant Islam, our God against their God. The trouble is, we don’t believe in our God, so we can’t see the situation truly.

When I say “we” don’t believe in our God, I’m not, of course, talking about those who have thought the matter through to its core, those who have gone beyond straw-man smack-downs in which Biblical Literalism takes on Scientific Materialism, those who understand that there can be no rational claim to objective good without the existence of a Supreme Good, and who know that evil is evil everywhere, no matter what the culture, what the time. I’m talking instead about those who have been swept away by the prejudices of the age, who wallow in the vague sense that “science” has somehow disproved “religion,” that we’re beyond all that faith stuff now. I’m talking about those who are still in some kind of adolescent-versus-Daddy argument with a medieval authority that no longer exists, or are rebelling against some doctrine they don’t like and haven’t taken the time to understand. I’m talking about our political, journalistic, academic and entertainment elites. Who are fools, as most of us know.

These — our thought-leaders — are walking blind across the holy war’s battlefield, unable to comprehend the motives of our enemies, and unable to defend the values the rest of us hold dear.

When Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan shrieked “Allahu Akbar” as he slaughtered thirteen people at Fort Hood, Texas, in November of 2009, the media scratched their collective head wondering at his reasons. For days afterward — days! — these clowns ran stories offering fantastic theories that Hasan had suffered post-traumatic stress from listening to the war stories of his patients! Our government finally decided it was a case of “workplace violence.” What else could it be?

When Islamic terrorists executed a sadistic massacre at our diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, to mark the 2012 anniversary of 9/11, our leaders blamed it on an obscure YouTube video. Because, you know, Islamic terrorists never act unkindly unless we do something naughty to stir them up. So dedicated was our president to this lie that he stood before the United Nations in the aftermath and declared over the bodies of the American dead, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

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How To Behave During an Islamic Massacre

January 9th, 2015 - 10:20 am

Funny how this Klavan on the Culture video from four years ago keeps becoming relevant again. I wonder why that is:

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America The Graphic Novel

January 7th, 2015 - 7:59 am

I don’t know Anthony Gonzales-Clark, but he brought this Kickstarter crowd-funding project to my attention, and it genuinely looks cool and worth supporting. Gonzales-Clark wants to create a graphic novel called “City On A Hill,” about the history and ideas behind the American founding. There’s a short and touching video on the Kickstarter site that helps you get the idea.

To have such a graphic novel produced by a guy who reads Thomas Sowell (featured prominently in the appeal) would be no small strike in the culture war, so if you have a couple of bucks, try to help Gonzales-Clark reach his 11K plus goal.

We’re ba-a-a-ck!

Holiday’s over. Back to the barricades.

For American artists, writers, thinkers, moms, dads, coaches, teachers, and other human beings, the work to create a counter-culture to end and replace the poisonous culture of the left continues. As our government and academies and entertainers try to sell us on slave values like Equality, we have to rebuild and promote the concept of Individual Liberty, the central value of free men and women. In place of the whining, manipulative Victim Power of feminists and race-baiters, we have to lift up the idea of Power through Personal Responsibility, the only path to dignity. And in place of the cushioned chains of government-sponsored safety Obama and his corrupt minions try to push on us day after day, we have to teach and defend the fearful glory of Independence.

And so we will have to offend people. A lot of people. A lot of the time.

I mention this because I notice the idea has grown up recently — especially among the young — that offending people is wrong per se. This idea — taught at universities and in entertainments and in the media — is wholly false. Rudeness and unkindness are very often unnecessary — much less necessary than many counter-cultural warriors suppose — but offending people is unavoidable. It is a natural outgrowth of telling the truth.

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Farewell to the Holidays

January 2nd, 2015 - 11:02 am

Back to full-time work Monday, but one more moment of hilarity — Jim Gaffigan is great and here, the opening parts about the Christmas tree and Easter are really top stuff:

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