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Dave Swindle

David Swindle is the associate editor of PJ Media. He writes and edits articles and blog posts on politics, news, culture, religion, and entertainment. He edits the PJ Lifestyle section and the PJ columnists. Contact him at DaveSwindlePJM @ Gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DaveSwindle. He has worked full-time as a writer, editor, blogger, and New Media troublemaker since 2009, at PJ Media since 2011. He graduated with a degree in English (creative writing emphasis) and political science from Ball State University in 2006. Previously he's also worked as a freelance writer for The Indianapolis Star and the film critic for WTHR.com. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their Siberian Husky puppy Maura.
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Depressed? Here Are the 20 Best Shows & Movies on Netflix for Mood Improvement

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

hannahs

Dear Hannah,

I’m so sorry for your troubles this week. I hope this list can help. Here’s some streaming sunshine with potential to provoke more positive moods via a variety of genres.

20. New Girl

I was very shocked at just how effective, funny and likable this sitcom was. Starring Zooey Deschanel as a perky, klutzy young woman moving in with three guys, the show has a sense of lightness and Deschanel is immensely sympathetic and entertaining. I don’t really watch sitcoms these days, but New Girl is done so well and is so consistently funny episode-to-episode that it’s worth checking out.

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The 10 Most Obnoxious, Overrated Alien Cultures in Star Trek

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

10. The Romulans

What exactly do the Romulans have that justifies their defining quality, their arrogance? They’re among the most boring species in all of Trek, the kind of evil twin to the Vulcans, known for their deceitful and warlike nature.

Their only redeeming feature seems to be how cool and genuinely intimidating their warbird ships are:

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The 17 Places and Things We’ll Miss Most About Living in the San Fernando Valley

Saturday, July 5th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

When I was a kid they went to a little more effort to disguise the fact that it was just a toy commercial... What is this Lego movie crap? April and I about to see "Her". Date night.

17. The ArcLight movie theater at the Galleria.

Where: 15301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA

Our theater attendance tended to drop the last few years as my wife’s graduate school workload increased, but when we really wanted to see something projected well and make a nice date of a movie this was our preferred indulgence.

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8 Great Movies and 1 Rotten TV Show You Can’t Watch on Netflix Anymore

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

8. Live And Let Die

Is the first Bond movie with Roger Moore the best one in which he starred? Was it all downhill from here? I tend to think so. Moore took over the series from Sean Connery with this fun 1973 spy thriller set in New Orleans and featuring a blaxploitation and Black Panther-inspired villains. My friend Chris Queen included the theme song on his list of best Bond songs in 2012:

Paul and Linda McCartney banged out a unique title tune for 1973’s Live And Let Die. While previous 007 themes fell into more of an easy listening vein, “Live And Let Die” blends bracing rock and intense orchestration by Beatles producer George Martin, who scored the film.

According to The Billboard Book Of Number Two Singles, Wings almost missed out on the chance to record it, and subsequently the producers almost missed out on the song itself. Martin recalled that when he played the Wings track for producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli, they complimented Martin on the song and asked who should record it.

The producers suggested future disco diva Thelma Houston, and otherwise insisted that a black woman perform the song because of the film’s New Orleans setting. Martin and McCartney held firm that there would be no song if Wings couldn’t perform it. Looking back nearly 40 years later, it’s hard to imagine anyone but McCartney belting those immortal words, “Live And Let Die.”

Did the Bond films just get too silly with Moore? Are they better when there’s more of a balance between tough spy action and the occasional jokes and clever gadgets?

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65 Movies & Shows Come to Netflix in July. Here Are 10 You Should Watch

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

10. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

I suppose in one sense, Netflix serves the same purpose as Facebook: perpetual high school reunion and never-ending nostalgia fests, reminders of a time before adulthood and the weight of responsibilities.

Nowadays when I go back and watch some film that was fun or memorable from childhood or adolescence I tend to see it more from the parents’ perspective, relating to those characters, rather than the kids. I wonder how Honey, I Shrunk the Kids will hold up when rewatching it. Rather than experiencing it as a child wandering through the grass and inner-tubing in a cheerio, I’ll consider it as the father searching for his lost children…

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5 Deep Books For Overcoming Our Addiction to Idol Worship

Sunday, June 29th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Over at the PJ Tatler last week I unveiled my newest e-book size, giant list post: “30 Books For Defeating Valerie Jarrett’s Cult of Political Criminals.”

I organized the list into eight different sections by either theme or author, the second to last being a subject I’ve been preoccupied with perhaps more than all the others the past few years: “5 on cults, idol worship, and the origins of religion.” Here are numbers 21 through 25. I intend to eventually do a much longer, more in depth list devoted specifically to this subject. What other books do you think I should include? I’m now taking suggestions… Also related from earlier this month for those looking for more: ”Is God a Noun or a Verb? 6 Great Books Introducing Jewish Mysticism

"Idolatry comes from the way in which an image is worshiped, and not from the image itself." Leora Batnitzky, page 23 of Idolatry and Representation: the #Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig Reconsidered. #God #Religion #Bible #Judaism

21. and 22. Idolatry and Representation: The Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig Reconsidered by Leora Batnitzky and The Star of Redemption by Franz Rosenzweig

From PJ Media columnist David P. Goldman‘s articles and books I’ve developed a fascination with Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig. This book provides accessible insight into a core component of his thought very much of relevance to those wanting to better understand and overcome the powerful personality cults dominating America today. Leora Batnitzky focuses the discussion of Rosenzweig on idolatry, the primitive religious practice Judaism evolved against. For Rosenzweig idolatry is not based in the images or in the “foreign” customs of competing religions. It’s based in an incorrect apprehension of how to worship. Rosenzweig argues that the postmodernist, Nietzchean, truth-is-relative philosopher engages in the same practice as the ancient idolaters, self-worship, from page 47:

"Rosenzweig's suggestion is that the point-of-view philosopher's worldview is one of self-worship." - page 47 of Leora Batnitzky's fantastic #Idolatry and Representation: The #Philosophy of #FranzRosenzweig Reconsidered

Once I finish reading Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed this year it’ll be time to focus on The Star of Redemption. As Goldman’s first essay book demonstrates, Rosenzweig’s ideas provide piercing analysis of our culture today…

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The 10 Most Terrible, Overrated Shows on Netflix Streaming You Must Avoid

Saturday, June 28th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

10. Amish Mafia

I think it’s with Amish Mafia that the “reality TV” trend jumped the shark. It was at this point that premises for shows had to start becoming so outlandish and ridiculous that viewers could no longer be expected to put up with the charade that they’re watching something “real.” With Amish Mafia the show has to be upfront about the fact that the footage is all actually “reenactments.” It’s the TV version of non-alcoholic beer.

The show’s amusing novelty — hearing the Pennsylvania Dutch spoken by some Amish subtitled and saying thuggish things — wears off quick.

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Seth Rogen’s 10 Best Movies

Friday, June 27th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

When someone is threatened by a murderous dictator it’s usually not something to cheer and laugh about. Unless it’s my generation’s funniest actor-filmmaker being intimidated in response to a satirical film about the tyrant’s assassination.

When one of the world’s most evil men declares your work “an act of war” you’re doing something right. The Verge reported:

The government of North Korea today issued an unsurprisingly harsh statement about Seth Rogen’s upcoming film, The Interview, denouncing the action-comedy as an “act of war.” In the movie, Rogen and James Franco star as two journalists who, after scoring an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, are ordered by the CIA to assassinate him. In a statement published by the state-run KCNA news agency, a foreign ministry spokesman characterized Rogen as a “gangster filmmaker” and called upon the US to block the film, according to a report from the AFP.

“The act of making and screening such a movie that portrays an attack on our top leadership… is a most wanton act of terror and act of war, and is absolutely intolerable,” the spokesman said, adding that the US would face a “resolute and merciless response” if it fails to ban the film, which is slated for release later this year.

Rogen was born in 1982 and is 32 now — making him 2 years older than me and part of my generational cohort of those born 1981-1985, which I argued in this article here should best be understood as stuck between generations, the Millennial-Xer Blend. (Those born 1976-1980 are Millennial-leaning Gen-Xers. Those born 1986-1990 are X-er leaning Millennials. I think it’s only those born in ’71-’75 and ’91-’95 who tend to most embody the peer personality traits associated with the Generation X and Millennial stereotypes.)

So I’m a fan. I think Rogen’s consistently funny and now that he’s expanded into screenwriting and directing he’s  shining. He has real potential to be our generation’s Woody Allen, minus all the narcissistic and creepy stuff. (Rogen doesn’t seem to be particularly self-obsessed and most of his films have a moral core amidst the skillful vulgarity.)

Here’s how I’d rank his 10 best so far. We’ll have to wait until October 10 to find out where The Interview ranks among them…

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3 Videos I Shot This Morning Of Our Siberian Husky Transfixed By Squirrels

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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The Classic Cartoon Reinvented as Video Game

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

It appears like I’m not the only one exploring the animated innovations of the 1930s for inspirations today. The Daily Dot featured this fascinating write-up of a new video game coming this year for X-Box:

The devil and hell setting reminds me of this early entry in the Silly Symphony series, “Hell’s Bells,” animated by Ub Iwerks:

I think where the deepest lasting imprint of the hellfire stuff remains in the Disney cultural consciousness is as the notorious ending of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at DisneyLand, a perpetual mystery to all children who pass through it:

At the end of the ride when you get to hell the room noticeably heats up. I bet it’s just a matter of time before home video games get to the point where they’re shifting the physical environments the players are in to match with the on-screen action…

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The 7 Revolutionary Silly Symphony Cartoons That Won Oscars In the 1930s

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

From 1929 through 1939 the Walt Disney studio released 75 short cartoons in the Silly Symphony series. Starting in March I began watching and featuring them all at PJ Lifestyle to learn more about the culture, history, and technology of the period. It’s really neat to see how the series evolved from beginning to end as Disney utilized it as a kind of experimental laboratory for testing new ideas that would later make it into the feature films. Fantasia – which has become one of my absolute favorite films in recent years, I’ll often have it on in the background while writing — can be understood as the ultimate Silly Symphony. So many of the themes and techniques developed over the decade would find their greatest expression there (a subject that I’ll write about more soon.)

I’ve scheduled the last two Silly Symphony cartoons for tomorrow and Friday. Now that I’ve seen them all I’ll be organizing them into a few lists and collections to highlight the good, the bad, the ugly, and the fascinating. And starting on Monday the PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon feature will take a break from Disney and turn to another company and its standard bearer: Fleischer studios and Betty Boop.

But to start, so others can start to see the fascinating pattern of advancement over the decade, here’s a collection of the 7 Silly Symphony cartoons that won Oscars, along with some remarks on each. 

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VIDEO: For the Hardcore Mega Man Fan With $79.99 to Waste…

Saturday, June 14th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

via Kotaku, hat tip to Ash

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3 Adorable Photos of Our Beloved Siberian Husky Taking Her Afternoon Nap

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

The #siberianhusky #maura takes her afternoon nap.

Dennis Prager’s column of course hit close to home today: “Pope Francis: Pets Can’t Replace Children“:

Pope Francis said something so important last week that it will either be widely ignored or widely disparaged.

The pope criticized “these marriages, in which the spouses do not want children, in which the spouses want to remain without fertility. This culture of well-being … convinced us: It’s better not to have children! It’s better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside; you can be carefree. It might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog.”

He is right. More than ever before, young men and women in most affluent Western countries (and Russia) have decided not to have children. Instead, many shower love and attention on dogs and cats. Ask many young women — married or single — if they have any children, and if they do not, you are likely to be told, “I have two cats” or “I have two dogs.” There are authors whose book jacket photo shows them with their dog or cat.

In much of the West, animals are the new children.

He’s right. Read the whole thing.

My wife and I are of course guilty as charged. But there’s another way to look at it too.

Not that pets have to necessarily be a permanent substitute for children, but rather, a kind of kids-training wheels. My friend and colleague Rhonda Robinson suggested this to me years ago when we were first beginning our collaborations. Rhonda’s a super-mom with 10 (it’s 10, right, Rhonda?) kids and I don’t recall how many grand-kids so far and she’s just full of wisdom and life observations.

And she very much got it right, here. Our Siberian Husky Maura turned five this year (easy to remember since she’s the same age as our marriage.) Over the years Maura has been a strong factor in shifting me from the “kind of maybe want to be a parent” to the “YES. Need to be a dad” mindset.

I just don’t think there’s a rush. Better to wait until after the war is won before starting a family. Today is akin to 1938 and I’d rather wait until 1951 or so and would be more than content to adopt…

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This Nicolas Cage Trolling Pic Is the Most Hilarious Thing Ever

Monday, June 9th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

He’s wearing a t-shirt of himself, at a Guns ‘n’ Roses concert, via Instagram:

Mr Nicolas Cage and Mr Andrew Dice Clay

Defamer points out that his face is in the pose of the infamous online “troll” image:

#Troll #Face

I’m just going to pull this up every time I need to laugh out loud. He’s trolling the world.

Or is this just a paid publicity stunt and totally inauthentic? (But still entertaining…)

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Is God a Noun or a Verb? 6 Great Books Introducing Jewish Mysticism

Sunday, June 1st, 2014 - by Dave Swindle
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One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to read Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed. I have the first volume on Kindle and sometimes read it on my iPhone — a practice I highly recommend. I’m halfway through volume one.

Hi Myra,
I’ll publish your piece on Sunday and provide you with an answer to your question “Why Was Jesus Born Jewish?“ Perhaps I’ll just reprint this email.

“Now, will someone who practices Judaism PLEASE “have an opinion on this” and answer my question?”

There are different kinds of Judaism. Whether you talk to a reform Jew, a conservative Jew, a progressive Jew, or an orthodox Jew you’ll get a different answer. The reason is because all define the word “God” differently.

I generally don’t classify myself primarily as a Jew but the fact is I am one of a particularly marginalized, misunderstood variety — a mystical Jew. Kabbalah and mystical practices derived from the Torah are the foundation of my occultism — as they are in all “right hand” mystical and occult practices. (It’s only the “left hand”  that are engaged in Paganism, earth-worship, demon-worship, sex-worship, and the various practices of the ancient Canaanite fertility cults.)

Your question is a non sequitur for Jews for a number of reasons. Jesus was not “born Jewish” because Jewishness is not a race/ethnicity like being French, American, Spanish, etc. It’s a religion and moral value system. When a baby is born they are Jewish only in the sense that their parents plan to raise them in the Jewish value system, not that they are somehow inherently Jewish in their blood. Jesus wasn’t “born Jewish,” he was raised Jewish. People can become or stop being Jewish whenever they want.

Your questions about why did God do this or that:

Do you believe God made Jesus a Jew just for the heck of it? 

Like do you believe God made you a Jew just for the heck of it?

I certainly do not believe God made me a Jew just for the heck of it.

These questions change depending on how one chooses to understand and define God. By this, I mean this question: most of the time when you think about God, is God a noun or a verb? Is God a thing or is God an action? Is God a guy up in the clouds making stuff happen, or Is God a process of change and transformation?  I take the position of Exodus 3:14.

Central to Jewish mysticism is the idea that God is transcendent – a verb – and as Maimonides argues in The Guide of the Perplexed, all references to God as a thing or a person or a father in the Torah are just metaphors and parables hinting at a transcendent reality beyond our comprehension. So these questions only make sense within a Christian theology that anthropomorphizes God into a person. Hence why you get “no opinion” from Jews. They don’t believe that God operates the way you do.

- David

P.S. Five other book recommendations. These have been some of my biggest influences on why I describe myself as “Pagan Soul, Christian Heart, Jewish Mind, Secular Spirit” and strive to syncretize religious traditions:

1. Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism by Douglas Rushkoff

Page 31: “Maimonides understood that any fixed conception of God must also be a form of idolatry.”

"#Maimonides understood that any fixed conception of #God must also be a form of #Idolatry." - Douglas #Rushkoff page 31 of Nothing #Sacred: The Truth About #Judaism

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10 Recent, Non-Annoying Pop Songs for When You Need the Energy of a Teenager

Saturday, May 17th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

1. “Right Actions” by Franz Ferdinand

This week at PJ Lifestyle for the daily pop culture debates we started a conversation about music. I sympathized with these sentiments from Don in New Hampshire:

In part my loss of interest in much that is called “pop” came from overexposure and, I suppose, disappointed hopes.

I’d done some interesting work, even post Abstracts, including writing and recording for motion pictures. But even at the time, entering my twenties, so much pop music seemed shallow. In its stead I focused on two things:  A return to my early love of classical music, particularly the symphonies of Beethoven and the keyboard works of Bach — these to satisfy the mind — and a turning towards roots music, be it in the form of Delta blues or the more modern Chicago variety — these to satisfy the spirit.

To this day most “pop” music strikes me as very teenagy. So much so that I have trouble understanding how any adult can find it of interest.

Of late I have again started to listen to music once classified as “pop,” but it is from the days when such music was aimed, not a teenagers, but at adults. Music of the Gershwins, for instance, and that of Cole Porter.

And this is, I think, the difference. Today everything in the “arts” seems to be aimed at children.

I was never a huge bubblegum pop music consumer — my tastes ran more toward the “despite all my rage/I’m still just a rat in a cage” Smashing Pumpkins school of adolescent angst. But I do think there is a place for upbeat, fun, simpleminded music: when exercising. I’ve come to appreciate Bach, Mozart, and innovative jazz in recent years but I don’t think it was ever meant to accompany running.

These are some of the tracks that are in my regular rotation for when Maura and I do our morning runs at sunrise. (Note: I make a point to turn the music off at 6:07 when The Morning Answer starts on AM 870 here in Los Angeles. Listening to Ben Shapiro and Elisha Krauss fighting against the inane, narcissistic arguments of their so-called liberal co-host Brian Whitman is also good for inspiring the energy of a teenager first thing in the morning…)

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How 10 Esoteric Secrets Hidden in Joss Whedon’s Best Movie Can Change Your Life

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

This week Walter Hudson joined the pop culture debate and expressed his concerns about DC’s attempt to catch up with Marvel on the movie front, concluding in “DC Vs. Marvel: Why This DC Fanboy Believes Marvel Already Won“:

After Man of Steel’s 143 minute run time, I’m left with little idea of who any of these people are or why I should care. The project rarely stops for breath, has scant humor, and takes itself far too seriously. The Nolan narrative style, skipping back and forth through time, works better when utilized by Nolan himself than by the frantic and unfocused Zack Snyder.

If that’s how we’re going to get introduced to all these characters, to Batman and Wonder Woman and Cyborg, than I fear a Justice League adventure will never be as fun as The Avengers. And that’s sad. Because it easily could be. DC has a rich history to draw from with decades of stories to mine and refresh. These characters deserve the same focused, nuanced, yet lighthearted treatment that Marvel Studios has given its mightiest heroes.

Hannah Sternberg also joined the discussion, declaring her allegiances in the pop culture debate to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly as superior franchises to Star Trek and Star Wars in her post “The Bible of Buffy“:

I’m going to bounce this one back to the committee. Dave, Walter, other PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island writers, — did Joss Whedon change your life, or simply stunt it?

Perhaps this wasn’t the answer that Hannah was anticipating but Whedon’s impact on my life is very different from hers. I never “got into” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, or Serenity. While recognizing their significance to geek culture and respecting the fact that Whedon operates at a level of sophistication well above most creators in the sci-fi/fantasy world, it was another of the writer-director’s works that resonated with me.

Back in January of 2013 I published “10 Secret Reasons Why The Avengers Is the Best Superhero Film.” In the piece — which I’ve decided to republish today — I argued that the movie’s success came from its ability to reinvent classic mythological themes and archetypes.

What do you think? Is The Avengers as good as I claim it is? Should it stand as a model for those aspiring to make big, bold, profitable, mainstream popular culture infused with good values? Would DC striving for a Justice League film end up just a pale imitation of what Whedon already mastered?

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Surely, I’m Not the Only One Who Overdosed on Star Wars and Star Trek

Thursday, May 8th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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Monday’s PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates! writing prompt was: “Star TrekStar Wars, Both, or Neither?

I had my list of “7 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 I Invite You to Burgle From Me Bilbo-Style” in mind when starting this discussion. I still appreciate Star Trek and Star Wars, but nowhere near to the level I did as a child and teenager. The all-consuming, quasi-religious experience of fandom in both franchises is what I had in mind when writing my third resolution:

Why is it today if someone goes home after work and spends 2 hours watching TV we think of them as normal but if they spend 2 hours studying the Bible, praying, and meditating we regard them as a kook?

The term that I’ve come up with for the religion that I used to practice without even knowing it: pop culture polytheism. For so much of my life I devoted myself to the details of TV shows, movies, books, and all manner of pop culture and political celebrities. No more. Today in America fascination with culture isn’t just a hobby — it’s an all-encompassing obsession. I’m done with it. Our popular culture needs to be mocked and trashed much more and with greater intensity. There’s nothing in it that’s sacred.

New Year's #resolution 3: be much more aggressive against the #idols of pop culture.

What happened? Why don’t I appreciate Star Wars and Star Trek to the degree I once did? And which installment of the franchises now has more respect from me at 30 than it did at 13?

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10 Cute Siberian Husky Videos From My Collection

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

My wife does a better job of translating Huskyese than me but I’ll attempt to offer approximations of what Maura seems to be saying in each of the videos…

April 27, 2014:

1. “I love you.”

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The Normal Way Godless Men Treat Women

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Click here for Part 1

Lisa De Pasquale's memoir is extraordinary... Time to take a break to give #maura #siberianhusky her morning run but I'm eager to finish ASAP.

From Sunday at PJ Lifestyle, Susan L.M. Goldberg responded to my opening in this series with “Religion, Politics & Screaming at the Internet” and concluded thoughtfully:

Why aren’t these women loving these men the way they ought to be loving themselves, with respect and honor?

Perhaps that question is the answer to the many you pose about righteousness in America’s religious and political spheres. When we succumb to idols of any kind we become altruistic in our worship, disrespecting ourselves as much as those with whom we interact. Walter and I do agree on the concept that faith is, first and foremost, a relationship with God that is as mutually satisfying as a marriage. When we lose that context to religious, political, or pop culture opinion, we are forced to become ascetics, because no matter how hard you believe, nor how ardently you defend, you will never win the full favor, attention, or love of the idol you worship. It is a thing, an idea, a person so far removed from you that you are forced to be nothing more than its conquered slave. That is the way Ryan the Preacher treated Lisa, and she responded the way any slave would: “…all I wanted was to be wanted.”

An excerpt from page 23:

"He hit me so hard I actually saw stars." - Lisa De Pasquale, in an excerpt from page 23 of Finding Mr. Righteous on her alcoholic, atheist boyfriend Chris...

Dear Lisa and Susan,

I think among the many accomplishments of Finding Mr. Righteous is its portrayal of Chris the Atheist. The passage from page 23 above highlights a number of intertwined phenomena – a sadomasochistic sexual nature, atheist theology, an inability to control emotions, substance abuse, idolizing women’s bodies, and so often the critical piece at root, the lack of a father figure and the corresponding failure to grow up in a nuclear family. In another passage from the book Chris’s destructive tendencies are made more explicit as he discusses the self-inflicted scars on his arms.

Reading these passages reminded me of my own secular dating time during my undergraduate years – a period I don’t like to dredge out from the memory banks all that often because it’s just still too shameful and embarrassing. The experience from this passage isn’t that uncommon and it shouldn’t necessarily be understood as exclusively a men’s issue. (I certainly don’t believe that men are just innately violent.) It goes the other way too. I dated a number of secular, progressive, and feminist women in college who in some ways resembled Chris. Gender isn’t the issue — beliefs, ideology, and the experiences underlying them are what make people hurt one another.

Some of the women I dated would shift the foreplay into one disturbing realm or another, either incorporating pain and degradation into how they treated me or requesting I act that way toward them. Never was it just “for fun” or “to be kinky” or to “spice things up”– always behind these outward expressions some inner emotional wounds ached, unhealed by a spiritual practice.

Or rather, as it turns out, the sex and the pain was their substitute for a religion. Throughout the story of Chris we see one attempt after another to find something to distract from the unresolved demons inside him. The twin cocktail of sex and violence at the same time, heated up by alcohol and Dionysian emotion, is among the most effective throughout history for annihilating the pain of being an individual. There’s a name for this practice beyond just “atheism” and in my research I think Camille Paglia defines it best in her many books of essays, criticism, and literary analysis, summarized in the lead essay in Vamps and Tramps: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality. From page 45:

“Men who kill the women they love have reverted to Pagan cult. She whom a man cannot live without had become a goddess, an avatar of his half-divinized, half-demonized mother, a magic fountain of cosmic creativity.”

"Men who kill the women they love have reverted to #Pagan cult. She whom a man cannot live without had become a goddess, an avatar of his half-divinized, half-demonized mother, a #magic fountain of #cosmic creativity." - Camille Paglia, page 45 of Vamps and Tramps, "No Law in the Arena" essay.

So the position I take: Chris was just being a normal, secular teenage boy, the way mother nature created him. This is just how nature operates…

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PJ Lifestyle’s Top 50 List Articles of 2013

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

shutterstock_140335888In ranking these articles over the past few months I’ve blended a number of different factors: popularity, significance of the subject matter, creativity of the arguments, originality of concept, and I’ve limited myself to only a handful of personal bias.

50. Kyle Smith: 5 Smart Comedies You Haven’t Seen on Netflix

49. Becky Graebner: 4 Ways Being a Sorority Girl Prepared Me for the Real World

48. Paula Bolyard: 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers

47. Kyle Smith: The 6 Most Disgusting Horror Movies On Netflix Streaming That No Sane Person Should Ever Watch

46. Kyle Smith: 10 Amazing Criterion Collection Films On Hulu Every Sane Person Should See

45. John Boot: 5 Actors With Careers That Are Collapsing

44. Charlie Martin: 4 Weight Loss Myths Exposed

43. John Boot: 5 Reasons Zach Galifianakis Is a Hack

42. Megan Fox: 9 Reasons to Abandon the Corporate Gym for a Family Gym

41. John Boot: 4 Ways Star Trek: Into Darkness Shills for Surrender in the War on Terror 

40. Leslie Loftis: The 5 Most Under-appreciated Female Heroes

39. Becky Graebner: 4 Reasons Americans Don’t Care About Cars Anymore

38. Chris Queen: 5 Underrated Disney World Attractions You Shouldn’t Skip

37. John Boot: 5 Reasons Childish Liberals Love Their Hunger Games So Much

36. Bonnie Ramthun: 3 Reasons Why Teens Today Can’t Find Jobs

35. Kyle Smith: 5 Ways Democrats Mythologize JFK

34. Megan Fox: 9 Secrets to Keep Your Daughter From Becoming a Slut

33. John Boot: The 4 Big Lies That Ruined The X-Men Movie Franchise

32. Chris Yogerst: 5 Secrets For Thriving In A World When Everything Happens NOW

31. Walter Hudson: 7 Ways to Reboot Star Trek With a New TV Show

 

30. Kathy Shaidle: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: 6 Gen-Xers I Can Actually Stand

29. Bonnie Ramthun: The 5 Worst Books for Your Children

28. Kathy Shaidle: Why The 3 Best Monty Python Sketches Aren’t Necessarily the Funniest

27. Paula Bolyard: 5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey

26. J. Christian Adams: 7 Times Downton Abbey Has Jumped the Shark

25. Kathy Shaidle: Do These 3 Things To Own Your Name on Google’s First Page

24. Kathy Shaidle: How to Go Galt: 5 Controversial Tips For Enjoying America’s Coming Collapse

23. Paula Bolyard: 7 Bad Reasons to Send Your Teens to Public Schools

22. Walter Hudson: 6 Ways Activists Sabotage Their Cause

21. Rhonda Robinson: 3 Principles of a Biblical Diet

20. John Boot: 6 Kids Films Filled With Green Propaganda

19. Chris Queen: 10 Books Every Disney Fan Should Read

18. J. Christian Adams: How 7 Crappy Green Products Threaten To Annoy Your Family

17. Paula Bolyard: 5 Reasons To Remain Optimistic That We Haven’t Lost America Yet

16. Kathy Shaidle: 6 Classic Songs That Almost Didn’t Exist

15. Dave Swindle: Don’t Forget These 10 Morally Blind Responses to 4/15/13, the Boston Jihad

14. Robert Spencer: 5 Ways Reza Aslan Lies About Christianity

13. Walter Hudson: How 6 Green Lies Threaten To Starve Your Family

12. John Boot: 5 Destructive Ideas Matt Damon Devotes His Movies To Promoting

11. Bryan Preston: The 10 Most Amazing Eateries in Austin, TX

10. Paula Bolyard: How 10 Troubling Homework Assignments Reveal the Truth About Common Core

9. Walter Hudson: 5 Ideas You Need to Escape Poverty

8. Susan L.M. Goldberg: 5 Uncomfortable Truths HBO’s Girls Reveals About American Pop Culture Today

7. Megan Fox: 8 Reasons Homeschooling Is Superior to Public Education

6. Kathy Shaidle: The 8 Most Overrated Musicians

5. Chris Queen: The 10 Things You Must Do At DisneyLand

4. R.J. Moeller: Dostoevsky’s 6 Nightmare Prophecies That Came True in the 20th Century

3. Susan L.M. Goldberg: Admiring Ann: 5 Coulterisms for Counterculture Conservatives

2. Walter Hudson: 5 Tips for Coming Out as a Black Conservative

1. Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa: 11 Reasons To Reject JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories

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Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa

Kyle Smith, Becky Graebner, Paula Bolyard, John Boot, Charlie Martin, Megan Fox, Leslie Loftis, Chris Queen, Bonnie Ramthun, Walter Hudson, Kathy Shaidle, Susan L.M. Goldberg…

This list offers an introduction to some of these writers’ strongest pieces but this is just the tip of the iceberg. They have each thrived in non-list format as well. In the coming weekends at PJ Lifestyle I’ll begin unveiling some of the greatest hits collections and themed article compilations of these and PJ’s other all-star writers. My hope is that these future collections can showcase clearly what I believe sincerely: the team of writers that I’m blessed to work with every day is the most talented, innovative, and exciting online. I want to see my friends succeed and more people all around the world come to recognize the extraordinary insights their articles provide.

So please check back with us at PJ Lifestyle on the weekends for more surprises…

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image courtesy shutterstock /  Dirk Ercken

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Don’t Forget These 10 Morally Blind Responses to 4/15/13, the Boston Jihad

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in on April 19 of 2013 as “10 Depressing, Morally Confused Reactions to 4/15/13, the Boston Jihad” It is being reprinted as part of a weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists.

Reuters reported at 11:54 AM EST on the ideology inspiring the terrorists who murdered and butchered Americans in Boston on Monday:

His “World view” is listed as “Islam” and his “Personal priority” is “career and money”.

He has posted links to videos of fighters in the Syrian civil war and to Islamic web pages with titles like “Salamworld, my religion is Islam” and “There is no God but Allah, let that ring out in our hearts”.

He also has links to pages calling for independence for Chechnya, a region of Russia that lost its bid for secession after two wars in the 1990s.

The page also reveals a sense of humor, around his identity as a member of a minority from southern Russia’s restive Caucasus, which includes Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia and other predominately Muslim regions that have seen two decades of unrest since the fall of the Soviet Union.

“I don’t have a single American friend,” one caption quotes him as saying. “I don’t understand them.” [emphasis added]

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I will state my position about what has happened this way:

Al Qaeda’s Attack on America on September 11, 2001 = the beginning of World War 1

Two NON-ARAB, WHITE, WHOLLY AMERICANIZED Homegrown Millennial Jihadists Take America Hostage And Launch a New Template for How to Wage A DIY, Low Budget-Download-The-Instructions-Off-The-Internet Terror War = the beginning of World War II.

We are now entering a new phase of the Islamic war to replace liberal societies with Sharia law. This is World War IV, a multi-decade conflict that will be for our generation what the war against Nazism and Fascism was for our grandparents. Except it will probably be worse.

As such, I would like to primarily address those who have not yet given up progressivism, moral relativism, and the Democratic party — the three idols I grew up worshiping for the first two decades of my life. (I realize now that the reason I abandoned progressivism is simply that I didn’t go to graduate school whereas most of my friends did. My brainwashing gradually wore off after I got out into the real world and had to try and survive.)

This is not an oppressive, Corporate Imperial war waged against harmless Muslims. It is a war that Islam has declared against Enlightenment-based societies. The problem is not the Koran or Islam. The problem is radical (as in going to the root of the idea) Islam or Islamism, or Orthodox Islam, or the traditional Islam of history that requires the marriage of mosque and state accompanied by full implementation of chop-your-hands-off-style Sharia. Muslims who reject Koranic literalism and affirm Enlightenment philosophy are A-OK. (See Robert Spencer’s article this morning to see the great Jazz music some of them have made. And note Roger L. Simon today — Islam is not a race.) Muslims who embrace America instead of demanding American submission can enjoy the riches of Liberty just as every immigrant who has come to this land throughout the centuries to worship their God and work hard.

We need to stand with genuine Muslim liberals against both the terrorists and stealth (non-violent) jihadists rebelling against the Modern world.

That requires identifying those in the political and media classes who sabotage these efforts. Here are 10 examples of those whose ideas undermine the safety of Americans and the twin projects to nurture political liberalism in the Muslim mind and Enlightenment values in the Islamic soul.

1. Progressive Filmmaker Michael Moore:

“They know nothing.” It’s very important for Moore to try and undermine the credentials of anyone who can affirm that Sharia is a real threat. In Moore’s world Global Warming is more dangerous and cigarettes and car accidents cause more deaths per year than Islamists. Corporations have killed plenty more people than this “one teenager.”

“I guessed correctly. the bombings were not carried out by women.”

There will be more Jihad Janes, Mike…

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Men Should Read Lisa De Pasquale’s Sexy Memoir

Friday, April 11th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

I just finished Lisa De Pasquale's memoir and I am blown away by her courage and talent. A must-read that says so much about the problems in American religious, political, and popular culture. More blogging coming soon on it now that I'm finished... #god #relationships

Beginning a series on Lisa De Pasquale's memoir, hinting at some of the tough truths she has hidden inside it... #religion #relationships #menandwomen #god #Conservatism #Righteousness #Breitbart

Do not be fooled by the innocent cover and former Conservative Political Action Coordinator (CPAC) coordinator Lisa De Pasquale’s friendly public persona. Her debut book is actually a time bomb waiting to explode. Hidden within an accessible, page-turner narrative running through the ups and downs of her Washington D.C. dating life are actually some eye-popping revelations and very substantive critiques of a culture in crisis.

Parts of Finding Mr. Righteous reminded me of the Anthony Weiner scandals — older ideological leader uses position of authority, admiration of younger women, and his cell phone to fulfill his teenage boy-level sexual urges. But this is the Right side of the aisle where politics and faith mingle more freely and stories like this one in the Daily Mail this week also came to mind as a parallel:  Florida megachurch pastor resigns over accusations. Time and again the charismatic, powerful men preach purity from the pulpit while satisfying their inner pagan in private.

Here’s a passage from page 159 in which “Ryan the Preacher” pulls a Carlos Danger move on Lisa, soliciting her for phone sex:

One of the more eye-popping passages from Lisa De Pasquale's memoir #FindingMrRighteous. A Christian preacher who publicly praises modesty in women in private seeks dominating phone sex fantasies with vulnerable women who look up to him as a moral leader. Page 159. Controversial stuff coming...

“I also want to give you some orders”?

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Which Style of iPhone Cover Best Fits Your Lifestyle?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Upcoming product review - iPhone 5s case by Mujjo. Comparing to the Otter Box I already have.

When it comes to cases for one’s phones the differences available range widely in both function and style. As one who has developed the, some would say, obnoxious habit of using the cell phone to film the Siberian Husky running around the neighborhood, I prefer phone cases that offer protection.

Thus, I’m not all that impressed with the Mujjo iPhone 5s case that I received last week to review. The black leather case slips on and leaves the phone’s screen exposed. It offers limited protection for liquid or direct hits onto the screen. But I understand that perhaps those living less active lifestyles might not need as much protection and prefer the Mujjo’s beneficial feature, a space on the back to hold a few credit cards or hotel room keys:

Mujjo iPhone 5s case has a slot on back for cards - the redeeming feature from an otherwise so-so product.

This could work as a vacation case but generally I’m more inclined to lean toward protection over fashion. What do you prefer with your phone case? Is there a sturdier choice than the Otterbox?

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