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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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10 Provocative Perspectives on the Death of Robin Williams

Monday, August 18th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

1. Matt Walsh at his eponymous blog: “Robin Williams didn’t die from a disease, he died from his choice

I’m not normally one to write a blog post about a dead celebrity, but then I suppose there is no such thing.

There are only living celebrities, not dead ones. In death, wealth and prestige decay and we are brought into a new reality, the only reality there is or ever was — one which, for much better or much worse, doesn’t care at all about our popularity or our money.

The death of Robin Williams is significant not because he was famous, but because he was human, and not just because he left this world, but particularly because he apparently chose to leave it.

Suicide.

A terrible, monstrous atrocity. It disturbs me in a deep, visceral, indescribable way. Of course it disturbs most people, I would assume. Indeed, we should fear the day when we wake up and decide we aren’t disturbed by it anymore.

….

We tend to look for the easiest answers. It makes us feel better to say that depression is only a disease and that there is no will and choice in suicide, as if a person who kills themselves is as much a victim as someone who succumbs to leukemia.

2. Jim Geraghty at National Review: “Robin Williams and Our Strange Times: Does our society set the stage for depression?”

The constant online presence would lead to a world of nonstop instant reaction, where everyone could immediately transmit the first thought that popped into his head in response to news. Everyone’s first reaction would become his defining reaction, particularly if it’s dumb or knee-jerk. If it was racist, sexist, hateful, or obnoxious, even better. Those horrified would then share and retweet it to their friends and followers, spreading the perception that the world was overpopulated with hateful idiots, and that average Americans — or average human beings! – were rather nasty, ignorant creatures unworthy of respect or affection. Many people would quickly and easily forget that the people who comment on Internet websites represent a small slice of the population, a fraction predisposed to getting pleasure from posting shocking, obnoxious, or hateful material.

The widespread perception that almost everyone else was a moron — why, just look at the things people post and say on the Internet! – would facilitate a certain philosophy of narcissism; we would have people walking around convinced they’re much smarter, and much more sophisticated and enlightened, than everyone else.

3. Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler responding to Walsh: “Chasing Shadows in the Death of Robin Williams”

Anyone who has seen true mental illness up close knows that the idea of choice gets bent and blurred.

I’ve seen Alzheimer’s Disease up close. It’s not depression, but it is a different disease of the same organ, the brain. Alzheimer’s sufferers do not choose to lurch from the present to three decades into the past in an instant. They don’t choose to forget who you are, what your name is, who they are, where they are, everything they have ever known and everyone they have ever loved. They don’t choose to become hostile to those they love who are caring for them. They are not choosing any of that. Yet what is happening in their brains impacts their behavior and can be incredibly frustrating and crushing for their loved ones. It’s heart-breaking, one of the most heart-breaking experiences a person can experience.

There is no more choice in that than there is choice to come down with cancers unrelated to behavior. There is no more choice in that than the choice to grow old, see your organs wink out one by one, as you approach the end. Did the boy who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, an organ disease which will probably kill him in his 20s, choose that? Depression, like Alzheimer’s, is a disease of an organ, the brain. Where choice begins and ends in the mind of someone with clinical depression is quite blurry. I don’t pretend to know where it is. Depression is the ultimate mind game, only your own brain is working deviously against itself.

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15 Authors Who Can Help Men and Women Better Understand Each Other

Monday, August 11th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

a5bf2fb0abc011e38e04127d69c3cd5e_8 (1)

Last week I presented an exploration of many popular beliefs that can disrupt our lives and undermine our relationships: “30 Bad Ideas Men Should Embrace if They Want to Destroy Themselves.” The list utilized books from gifted writers exploring concepts across culture, history, and religion. Here are links to their books and where you can read more of their writing in the series:

1. Lisa De Pasquale with her memoir Finding Mr. Righteous

The seven men from Lisa’s book were each explored throughout the series starting with Chris the Atheist and ending with Brandon the Non-denominational Believer.

2. David P. “Spengler” Goldman with his essay collection It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You

3. Leora Batnitzky with her scholarly study Idolatry and Representation: the Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig Reconsidered.

Goldman’s books are great introductions to the tools of Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig for understanding the impact of Paganism, Judaism, and Christianity on modern thought. Batnitzky’s book provided an opening for understanding the differences within Christianity as relative to their attitudes to Judaism.

4. Camille Paglia with her essay collection Sex, Art and American Culture and magnum opus Sexual Personae

Discussed to illustrate points here and here.

I just finished a first-rate, 150-page primer in idolatry: Elizabeth "The Anchoress" Scalia's Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life. Great book! #religion #God #Bible #secular #idolatry #idols my wife's #Beyoncé #goddess painting in background (art with a comparable message...)

5. The super-blogger the The Anchoress Elizabeth Scalia with her very accessible introduction to idolatry, Strange Gods: Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life

My list discussed Scalia’s perceptive insights on technology addiction and workaholism.

6. Five Feet of Fury Blog Empress Kathy Shaidle with her great culture critique and memoir e-book Confessions of a Failed Slut

Kathy points to the future that’s coming and how technology is transforming the way men and women relate.

7. Robert M. Hoffstein with his revealing A Mystical Key to the English Language

Exploring the word Love here.

8. PJ Columnist Dr. Helen Smith with her important manifesto Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters 

Here in the list I explained where I agree and disagree with Dr. Helen.

9. Harvey C. Mansfield with his book Manliness

This and the next two books are useful for understanding men and women who have fallen into a nihilistic ideology

10. Allan Bloom with his classic The Closing of the American Mind

11. Andrew Breitbart with his memoir Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! 

12. Douglas Rushkoff with his introduction to a more mystical, “open source” Judaism, Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism 

13. Franz Rosenzweig with his The Star of Redemption 

The series concludes with an author Goldman has inspired me to dig deeper into understanding.

In two of the posts preceding the series I also suggested these authors and their books as important for understanding humanity’s fallen nature and marriage’s ability to raise us upward:

14. Michael Ledeen with his Machiavelli on Modern Leadership

15. Shmuley Boteach with his integration of Eastern and Western mysticism, The Kosher Sutra

Need more books that’ll transform the way you understand the world?

For the next big list coming I’m planning on naming some great movies and explaining how they can inspire us….

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30 Bad Ideas Men Should Embrace if They Want to Destroy Themselves

Sunday, August 10th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Two of my favorite recent books - I recommend reading these together in tandem for added insight... #culture #religion #relationships #marriage #god

See the previous parts of this ongoing series exploring culture, relationships, and religion through books:

April 11: Men Should Read Lisa De Pasquale’s Sexy Memoir

Lisa’s book provokes many questions and this post is the beginning of a series to host and encourage a discussion about them. Lisa organizes her book around 7 different men — Chris the Atheist, Joe the Catholic, John the Evangelical, Preston the Quaker, Ryan the Preacher, Adam the Jew, and Brandon the Nondenominational Believer — and how her pursuit of them shaped her own religious journey. I’m going to give each one at least one blog post excerpting from her book and raising a question for debate…. Lisa’s memoir is an inspiring journey through her own struggles with the idols she’s worshiped. In future posts I’ll consider an idol-based reading of her book in juxtaposition with other texts and the stories of the day. Recognizing the idol we’re worshiping that’s keeping us enslaved is the first step to picking it up, smashing it, and finding the free life God wants us to have. Lisa’s book collects the fragments of seven of her smashed idols and there’s much we can learn from her. Stay tuned, in future posts I’ll also consider Lisa’s insights alongside two related books I’ve read recently, Kathy Shaidle’s Confessions of a Failed Slut (which Ed Driscoll interviewed her about here today) and Dr. Helen Smith’s Men On Strike

April 17: The Normal Way Godless Men Treat Women (A discussion of Chris the Atheist’s sexual violence against Lisa and its ancient cultural roots.)

June 26 at the PJ Tatler: 30 Books For Defeating Valerie Jarrett’s Cult of Political Criminals.

That Sunday, June 29, excerpting a section of it at PJ Lifestyle: 5 Deep Books For Overcoming Our Addiction to Idol Worship

Here are links to round 1 of a debate at PJ inspired by the “spreadsheet husband” that ran July 20-24:

This extended list article (see the original publication of the 3 parts here, here, and here) draws from the debate’s comments and juxtaposes them with excerpts from Finding Mr. Righteous, 3 of the 5 books on idolatry, and a few more related titles.

This can be understood as opening up Round 2 and and inviting others to participate. Send submissions in response to these subjects to DaveSwindlePJM {@} gmail.com or please leave comments below or feel free to get in touch on Twitter: @DaveSwindle (We should start featuring more Twitter discussions at PJ Lifestyle…)

*********

Dear Lisa,

I hope your last few months have been less tumultuous than mine. After almost a month in our new apartment in South L.A., April and I are starting to get comfortable and settled — we finally tested out the pool yesterday. (Siberian Husky Maura remained skeptical and chose not to go in even though our landlord said she could. Someday we hope to get her swimming. She does enjoy going to the beach.) Here’s a picture of her exploring the new town, I’m going to try to collect more sunrise pictures of her:

A great #sunrise in #socal this morning as the #siberianhusky and I try and wake up today...

After the first two posts in the series on your book I ran into a writer’s block, a challenge that I’ve now at last overcome: how best to explain the difference between Judeo-Christians and pagan Christians, one of the phenomena your book illustrates so vividly. This is my way of trying to contribute to understanding the wide range of religious relationship experiences you had over the years and why they varied so much amongst men who were supposedly committed to the same holy book, worshipping the same God. Illustrating the paganism of your first failed Mr. Righteous, Chris the Atheist, was easy enough. Camille Paglia is probably the most perceptive writer today analyzing the cultural blend of secularism and amoral neopagan values.

But in analyzing the varieties of Christianity in the context of their ratio of pagan to Jewish influences, there’s another writer — who’s exhibited an even stronger influence on my views the last three years — who I want to encourage you to consider both for future writings and for his insights on life in general.

David P. Goldman is a PJ columnist with a diverse background and a knowledge base ranging from economics and finance to history, philosophy, art, music and culture, to religion and theology. I read his book How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam is Dying Too) a few years ago and make it a point to try and edit as many of his pieces here at PJ as I can. I’ve just recently acquired and read his essay collection It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You: The Great Extinction of the Nations.

Among Goldman’s unique insights is to apply the theological writings of Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig and his magnum opus The Star of Redemption to understand demographic and cultural trends today, particularly why it is that so many nations and people around the world choose to destroy themselves. Goldman’s answer: secularism produces hopelessness and does not inspire people to marry and reproduce. There is a big link between religiosity, family size, and happiness. Goldman lays out the data to both show that it’s there and then, through explaining Rosenzweig’s analysis of pagan, Jewish, and Christian cultures, explain how to fix it.

And it starts with applying it to our own lives — his ideas are just as useful at the macro level as they are for understanding ourselves and interpersonal relationships. The same techniques the West needs to use for defeating the sex-and-murder worshipping barbarians on the global stage we can use for overcoming these challenges in their smaller manifestations in the people around us and in our own unruly, jealous hearts.

So here are some of the bad ideas that your book does a great job of exposing — warning signs for both men and women — and some related ideas too that will yield further insights into the challenge of overcoming the stumbling blocks preventing us from being the righteous people our friends and family need us to be.

What does it mean to be a righteous man in America today? Question of the day. #manhood #masculinity #God #men #women

For this compilation I’ve assembled an index for easier browsing:

1. Drunken, Chain-Smoking Cynicism

2. Racial Nationalism

3. Pauline Christian Apocalypticist Paganism

4. Catholic Paganism

5. Theological Idolatry

6. Secularist Sex-Worship

7. Evangelical Idolatry

8. Secularist Nature-Worshipping Paganism

9. Right-Left Political Idolatry

10. Technology addiction

11. Internet Porn Idolatry… and its coming Spawn of Virtual Reality Sex Addiction

12. Christian Protestant Pagan Sadomasochism

13. Worshipping Our Own Ugliness

14. Apollonian Radical Pagan Materialism

15. Buying Love Through Excessive Gift Giving

16. The Jesus Wannabes

17. Atheist Anarcho-Capitalist “Libertarianism”

18. Catholic Christian Objectivism

19. Arminian Christian Paganism

20. The Idol of Self-Reinvention

21. Hedonism

22. Obama Worship

23. Blatant Ignorance of Female Nature

24. Political Science Idolatry

25. Politically Correct, Man-Child Cowardice

26. Permanent Adolescence

27. Workaholism

28. “Marriage is the only voluntary relationship that is fundamentally about sex.”

29. Nihilism: The worship of nothing

30. Narcissism

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5 Art Images That Capture the Fun and Silly Wit of Boomer Humor

Sunday, August 10th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

bamuserscover

Dear Bruce,

It was so wonderful having the opportunity to reconnect last month. I enjoyed getting to know you better and coming to understand more of the parallels in our political and spiritual journeys. I look forward to many more deep discussions in the future.

I also really appreciate the book recommendations. These titles on the harmony between religion and science by Gerald Schroeder I put on hold at the library right after getting back from our lunch:

Two books reconciling #Science and #religion by Gerald L. Schroeder that I'm looking forward to reading. Hat tip: Bruce

I look forward to exploring these subjects in pieces more soon and think we should continue brainstorming together; let’s definitely plan on collaborating more in the future on ways to explore these concepts in articles, perhaps with some of your delightful artistic illustrations?

I want to congratulate you for your invention of the Bamusers, as showcased in your new collection of sketches that straddle the line between art and humor.

We’ve already talked about a few directions you might want to consider exploring using the Bamusers style of quick, simple illustrations accompanied by short titles. Today, I wanted to encourage you to consider another that could have some potential, both as a way to make perceptive cultural commentary and connect with new audiences: generational theory. Here are two books I’ll throw back your direction:

Two of my favorite books laying out the evidence for #generationaltheory one of the concepts I'm expanding for my book.... #millennial #genx #babyboomer #generations #howestrauss

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30 Bad Ideas Men Should Embrace If They Want To Destroy Themselves, Part III

Friday, August 8th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Two of my favorite recent books - I recommend reading these together in tandem for added insight... #culture #religion #relationships #marriage #god

Click here for Part 1, and here for Part 2 of this list-letter to Lisa De Pasquale in response to her memoir. Also see here for Hannah Sternberg’s contribution to the discussion, “5 Life and Relationship Lessons from Finding Mr. Righteous.”

21. Hedonism: “It is perfectly possible for entire peoples to live only for their own pleasure and feel nothing for their prospective obliteration.” – David P. “Spengler” Goldman, page 351 of It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You: The Great Extinction of the Nations.

"It is perfectly possible for entire peoples to live only for their own pleasure and feel nothing for their prospective obliteration." - David P. "Spengler" Goldman, page 351 of It's Not the End of the World, It's Just the End of You: The Great Extinction of the Nations. #God #religion #culture #spengler #history #tragedy #immortality

Dear Lisa,

I concluded part II with this question:

What does it mean to love someone? How do we learn to do it?

Amongst my book piles, I stumbled across this excerpt from page 141 of A Mystical Key to the English Language by Robert M. Hoffstein which points to the linguistic similarities between LIVE, LOVE and LEAVE as a clue:

"This is the essence of love: to be able to sacrifice, give up, and abandon the self for the sake of the other, or for the sake of God." Page 141 of A #Mystical Key to the English Language by Robert M. Hoffstein. #siberianhusky #cutedog #maura #god #religion #narcissism #secular

I think the concept of what it means to “worship” someone, something, or God is no longer understood by most people. Do you think there’s a significant difference between love and worship? Are the series of patterns that you identify throughout the men in your book indicative of links between the way humans’ interpersonal relationships mirror their intellectual relationship with transcendence? Does the way in which we try to love others mirror the way in which we have learned to love God? Is worship a kind of training for loving others?

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10 Classic Disney Cartoons For Introducing Mythology & Morality to the Next Generation

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

My New Year’s Resolutions this year:

Last New Year's #Resolution: write down your days more. Write what you want to make happen. Write how you want your #soul to transform. Then set about reprogramming yourself with the mass of word possibilities in front of you.

Dear Spencer Klavan,

I’d like to congratulate you for your first PJ Lifestyle piece that we published today, ”10 Movies Stolen Right Out of The Odyssey.” Editing it and talking with you inspired me to finally get around to finishing a list that’s been on my mind lingering for a few weeks now. But I’m also going to twist things up a bit to really start pushing this list business further. I wrote my previous list post in letter format to Lisa De Pasquale in response to her book Finding Mr. Righteous, and I think it’s a style I’m going to continue and encourage for others as a way to, borrowing a phrase from my wife, kill two stones with one bird. This month I’m going to start focusing to try and write more lists myself but they’ll be with the increased goal of trying to encourage dialogue between writers and readers and to inspire ideas for more articles.

Over the course of several months this spring I watched through and featured all of the Silly Symphony Disney cartoons from the 1930s in the PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon feature. They’re all available on YouTube and are filled with insights into the period’s culture, fashions, racial shortcomings, and technological developments. In studying them and now in comparing to other studios’ generally less impressive releases, it’s clear how Disney dominated: he continually pushed the technology further and he used it to develop meaningful art drawing from deep, substantive mythological sources to promote positive moral values. I believe cinematically these efforts reached their peak with Fantasia, what has become my favorite film of late, and whose pieces can be seen in some of these earlier efforts.

Spencer, with your background in classics and your interest in bringing out some of the dark, hidden aspects of Greek and Roman mythology and their relation to our culture today I’m really excited about the ideas you’re going to start developing. Here are some of the ideas that I’ve been considering courtesy of some of the mythology, folklore, and fables Disney drew from in making his shorts.

CCing some of the other Lifestyle writers exploring pop culture and moral value themes on occasion too: Chris Queen, Susan L.M. Goldberg, Kathy Shaidle, and Hannah Sternberg, I’d invite you to consider these subjects too in your own writings. (And if anyone else would like to submit a blog post responding to these ideas DaveSwindlePJM @ gmail.com or lets talk on Twitter: @DaveSwindle. I’d like to start featuring more Twitter discussions at PJ Lifestyle.)

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30 Bad Ideas Men Should Embrace if They Want to Destroy Themselves, Part II

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Two of my favorite recent books - I recommend reading these together in tandem for added insight... #culture #religion #relationships #marriage #god

Click here for Part 1 of my list-letter to Lisa responding to her great memoir of her journey searching for relationships with both men and God.

11. Internet Porn Idolatry… and its coming Spawn of Virtual Reality Sex Addiction: Men who expect real-life women to behave as their porn star goddesses do, that is, if they’re still interested in flesh and blood women at all.… As noted in Kathy Shaidle’s must-read e-book culture critique Confessions of a Failed Slut, a compelling exploration of the last four decades’ sexual confusions:

An excerpt from Kathy Shaidle's ebook memoir/culture critique Confessions of a Failed Slut on the strange sexual world emerging out into the open today...

That porn could warp young men’s sexual expectations was a commonplace talking point during the feminist ‘porn wars’ of the Eighties. The notion was roundly dismissed, but now it looks like the ‘anti-s’ were onto something.

Dear Lisa,

In the previous part I already highlighted how some New Testament-centric theologies provided rather inadequate answers to questions of love, marriage, and sex. In the Evangelical Christian youth culture of my teen years it was abstinence until marriage and each lustful thought was morally equivalent to actually cheating on your future spouse. Jesus supposedly knew every bad thought that popped into our heads and each one was responsible for pounding those nails into his innocent flesh.

Just as I showed in point 3 how some Christians snip out a verse from Paul like some kind of biblical bandage to justify their demands for a wifely hooker performing on demand, the end of the sex discussion for those not yet married was Matthew 5:27-30:

27 You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.”[a] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Is it any wonder that sex and violence seem so joined at the hip when it’s ingrained in so many Christians that lustful thoughts should be banished with thoughts of self-mutilation?

None of the commenters responding to my posts even bothered to acknowledge the alternative solution to the Pauline Christian approach to sex that I’d put up in the beginning:

282616 Kosher-Lust-Cover-jpeg-251x369

Just as Christians and secularists would feel better physically by adopting a food diet closer to Kosher, so too the ideals and approach toward a Kosher sexuality in marriage is also the attitude to pursue.

And part of that comes in recognizing what junk food and porn sex have in common: they’re both the products of an emotional, feelings-based pagan culture that we indulge in because of our inability to develop self-control through finding a higher pleasure than the escape of orgasm and the endorphin rush of the tasty food.

This great video of John Piper that Walter Hudson shared in his article “10 Barriers to Healthy Relationships Explored in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon” is worth considering again:

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30 Bad Ideas Men Should Embrace if They Want to Destroy Themselves, Part I

Monday, August 4th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

Two of my favorite recent books - I recommend reading these together in tandem for added insight... #culture #religion #relationships #marriage #god

See the previous parts of this ongoing series exploring culture, relationships, and religion through books:

April 11: Men Should Read Lisa De Pasquale’s Sexy Memoir

Lisa’s book provokes many questions and this post is the beginning of a series to host and encourage a discussion about them. Lisa organizes her book around 7 different men — Chris the Atheist, Joe the Catholic, John the Evangelical, Preston the Quaker, Ryan the Preacher, Adam the Jew, and Brandon the Nondenominational Believer — and how her pursuit of them shaped her own religious journey. I’m going to give each one at least one blog post excerpting from her book and raising a question for debate…. Lisa’s memoir is an inspiring journey through her own struggles with the idols she’s worshiped. In future posts I’ll consider an idol-based reading of her book in juxtaposition with other texts and the stories of the day. Recognizing the idol we’re worshiping that’s keeping us enslaved is the first step to picking it up, smashing it, and finding the free life God wants us to have. Lisa’s book collects the fragments of seven of her smashed idols and there’s much we can learn from her. Stay tuned, in future posts I’ll also consider Lisa’s insights alongside two related books I’ve read recently, Kathy Shaidle’s Confessions of a Failed Slut (which Ed Driscoll interviewed her about here today) and Dr. Helen Smith’s Men On Strike

April 17: The Normal Way Godless Men Treat Women (A discussion of Chris the Atheist’s sexual violence against Lisa and its ancient cultural roots.)

June 26 at the PJ Tatler: 30 Books For Defeating Valerie Jarrett’s Cult of Political Criminals.

That Sunday, June 29, excerpting a section of it at PJ Lifestyle: 5 Deep Books For Overcoming Our Addiction to Idol Worship

Here are links to round 1 of a debate at PJ inspired by the “spreadsheet husband” that ran July 20-24:

This extended list article today, tomorrow, and Wednesday Friday draws from the debate’s comments and juxtaposes them with excerpts from Finding Mr. Righteous, 3 of the 5 books on idolatry, and a few more related titles.

This can be understood as opening up Round 2 and and inviting others to participate. Send submissions in response to these subjects to DaveSwindlePJM {@} gmail.com or please leave comments below or feel free to get in touch on Twitter: @DaveSwindle (We should start featuring more Twitter discussions at PJ Lifestyle…)

*********

Dear Lisa,

I hope your last few months have been less tumultuous than mine. After almost a month in our new apartment in South L.A., April and I are starting to get comfortable and settled — we finally tested out the pool yesterday. (Siberian Husky Maura remained skeptical and chose not to go in even though our landlord said she could. Someday we hope to get her swimming. She does enjoy going to the beach.) Here’s a picture of her exploring the new town, I’m going to try to collect more sunrise pictures of her:

A great #sunrise in #socal this morning as the #siberianhusky and I try and wake up today...

After the first two posts in the series on your book I ran into a writer’s block, a challenge that I’ve now at last overcome: how best to explain the difference between Judeo-Christians and pagan Christians, one of the phenomena your book illustrates so vividly. This is my way of trying to contribute to understanding the wide range of religious relationship experiences you had over the years and why they varied so much amongst men who were supposedly committed to the same holy book, worshipping the same God. Illustrating the paganism of your first failed Mr. Righteous, Chris the Atheist, was easy enough. Camille Paglia is probably the most perceptive writer today analyzing the cultural blend of secularism and amoral neopagan values.

But in analyzing the varieties of Christianity in the context of their ratio of pagan to Jewish influences, there’s another writer — who’s exhibited an even stronger influence on my views the last three years — who I want to encourage you to consider both for future writings and for his insights on life in general.

David P. Goldman is a PJ columnist with a diverse background and a knowledge base ranging from economics and finance to history, philosophy, art, music and culture, to religion and theology. I read his book How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam is Dying Too) a few years ago and make it a point to try and edit as many of his pieces here at PJ as I can. I’ve just recently acquired and read his essay collection It’s Not the End of the World, It’s Just the End of You: The Great Extinction of the Nations.

Among Goldman’s unique insights is to apply the theological writings of Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig and his magnum opus The Star of Redemption to understand demographic and cultural trends today, particularly why it is that so many nations and people around the world choose to destroy themselves. Goldman’s answer: secularism produces hopelessness and does not inspire people to marry and reproduce. There is a big link between religiosity, family size, and happiness. Goldman lays out the data to both show that it’s there and then, through explaining Rosenzweig’s analysis of pagan, Jewish, and Christian cultures, explain how to fix it.

And it starts with applying it to our own lives — his ideas are just as useful at the macro level as they are for understanding ourselves and interpersonal relationships. The same techniques the West needs to use for defeating the sex-and-murder worshipping barbarians on the global stage we can use for overcoming these challenges in their smaller manifestations in the people around us and in our own unruly, jealous hearts.

So here are some of the bad ideas that your book does a great job of exposing — warning signs for both men and women — and some related ideas too that will yield further insights into the challenge of overcoming the stumbling blocks preventing us from being the righteous people our friends and family need us to be.

What does it mean to be a righteous man in America today? Question of the day. #manhood #masculinity #God #men #women

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‘Man Is More Inclined to Do Evil Than to Do Good’ – Machiavelli

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

 shutterstock_2728058

See the first five parts of this ongoing discussion and you are invited to leave your ideas in the comments or submit via email: DaveSwindlePJM AT gmail dot.com

Dr. Helen Smith: Would You Want a Wife This Clueless About Sex and Your Emotions?

Dave Swindle: Would You Want a Husband This Incompetent at Turning You On?

Dr. Helen Smith: A Classic Example of White Knighting

Dave Swindle: Deeply Religious Marriages Are Better Than Secularist Civil Unions

Francis W. Porretto: Some Thoughts on Sex and the Bonded Couple

Dear Francis,

I very much appreciate your contribution to the discussion about sex and marriage yesterday. As I made explicit in my answer to Dr. Helen Smith’s reply, I think these disagreements about marriage and sex are really expressions of more fundamental philosophical and religious conflicts. These comments of yours in particular jumped out, indicating that our worldviews start from very different places as I already knew from these years of enjoying your great comments and occasional pieces. Emphases mine:

Male orgasm — his spasmodic release of tension and seminal fluid — is not the reason a decent man cherishes his lover’s body and access to it. That there are a fair number of “indecent” men roaming about need not cloud the central issue.

Indeed, a mature, self-assured man, properly reared and past the urgings of adolescence, is less concerned with his own physical pleasure than with bringing pleasure to her. Her desire for his desire, with all that follows from that, gives him what he most wants: the opportunity to bring her pleasure, even if he gets little or none for himself. This has often been dismissed as merely a form of politeness, but in fact it’s the source of his greatest sexual fulfillment and, apart from progeny, his principal reason for wanting her to want him.

Yes, there are men so self-absorbed that a woman’s sexual desire is merely an opening through which to seek their own fulfillment, including the evanescent and essentially trivial pleasure of orgasm. Yes, there are men who never bother to learn “what she likes.” But in any decent society these will be a minority.

I’ve written over the years about my ideological shift from Nation-style progressivism to Tea Party conservatism. I’m not the person today that I was a decade ago at 20, in the middle of my undergraduate days when I expanded my studies from English to political science. Amongst the many shifts that I’ve made gradually over the years as life experiences and new philosophical influences chipped away at the ideology I was indoctrinated in from K-12 through college, one of the most fundamental has been my change in understanding human nature. It’s a change from what Victor Davis Hanson has described as the “therapeutic view” to the “tragic view.”

When I was a progressive who supported big government programs and a dovish foreign policy it was because I naively assumed that most human beings wanted the same things, were decent people at heart, and could be trusted not to deceive others. Multiculturalism taught that all cultures were equal and all religions expressed the same basic, universal moral values. Anytime someone did something wrong it was because they were ignorant or mentally unbalanced in a way that was distorting their perception of consensus reality. Sure, occasionally nature would make a mistake and burp out serial killers, child molesters, or Hitlers but in general such people were aberrations. Thus it was possible — and necessary — and moral to move forward with trying to reason our way to a perfect, peaceful world by convincing everyone else what was best for them to do.

But I don’t believe that at all anymore. Now I believe the exact opposite. The state of nature from which humanity escaped is chaos, cruelty, hatred and selfishness. More people in the world are evil than good, more of the cultures in the world will die through suicide rather survive. It’s more normal for humans to worship death than for them to pursue eternal life. And the pimp-prostitute, promiscuous, polygamous sexual culture is more natural and universal than monogamous marriage. The absolute nuclear family that powers American prosperity is an aberration that we take for granted — see James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus’s amazing America 3.0 for more on this. And in failing to understand and defend this culture today it’s slipping away.

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Deeply Religious Marriages Are Better Than Secularist Civil Unions

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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Dear Helen,

Thank you so much for your provocative, engaging reply to my post challenging you on the issue of who is ultimately to blame for sexless marriages:

I have a few questions for you, Dave. What if the man does all of the things you suggest such as put her in the mood, goes through all of the rituals etc. you suggest and then ends up with nothing? Then what? The man should then continue in a sexless marriage? Bask in the glow of his “self-control” as he wonders where the sex went? According to you, he alone (the loser!) is to blame. It takes two to tango, if you blame him alone for their lack of sex, you see women as having no responsibility and no agency in sex. Isn’t this a little sexist?

In framing the question this way, you’re kind of understating the degree of our disagreement. What I advocate for in my post goes far deeper than just rituals and more foreplay. I put the philosophy embedded in Shmuley Boteach’s three books on Jewish mysticism and Biblical marriage on the table. It’s not that this is just some magic trick that will result in more sex, it’s that I’m advocating that both husband and wife together choose to embrace a religious attitude toward sex and marriage instead of being secularists.

A sexless marriage is not an actual problem — it’s just one outward symptom of a deeper disease. In focusing on fixing sexlessness in a marriage we miss the source of what’s driving it. In any marriage — apart from where physical illness prevents partners from performing — when either husband or wife all of a sudden isn’t interested in sex the reason is so obvious and simple it seems silly to point it out: something else exists that is more important to them than their marriage. They have found a new idol and their devotion to it will destroy their lives as a result. They are engaged in self-sacrifice in service to their new deity.

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Would You Want a Husband This Incompetent at Turning You On?

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Dave Swindle
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There are plenty of Biblically-based books on the market for men serious about inspiring their wives to want to have more (and better!) sex.

Yesterday, Dr. Helen blogged about a viral story of a husband who compiled a spreadsheet of every time his wife turned down his requests for sex (24/27 over 7 weeks) and who responded by posting it on the internet: “Would You Want a Wife This Clueless About Sex and Your Emotions?“:

And she seriously wonders why the guy is mad? She has sex three times in seven weeks and he has probably been angry and boiling for some time before that. Why is she posting their problems on Reddit? She mentions his immature behavior; is hers any better? She says he wouldn’t talk to her about the chart etc., so maybe during this quiet time, she should stop and think about her behavior.

But more importantly, the husband should reflect on his marriage and ask himself a few questions. So far, there are no kids. If she lets her job interfere with her sex life, what about the kids? Will he have an eighteen year chart of excuses and pain? If kids are involved and he wants to get out of the marriage then, he is going to have a much harder time. Perhaps he simply needs some quiet time to reflect on what to do, whether this is going to work in the long run and why his wife would turn to strangers on the internet and post his chart on a Reddit site instead of sitting back and giving him some breathing room. This does not reflect well on how things will go for him in the future if they stay married.

What do you think?

I’m actually going to take the wife’s side in this dispute. I have absolutely ZERO SYMPATHY WHATSOEVER for this loser. Why?

Because it’s not a wife’s responsibility to be her husband’s happy whore, eagerly providing him with his orgasms on demand.

Dissatisfied husbands, want to know the secret to having sex with your wife whenever you want? It is not your wife’s responsibility to be ready to go on command, it’s YOUR responsibility to know your wife so well that you are capable of seducing her anytime. When you want to have sex with her you don’t ask her, you put her in the mood yourself. It’s really that simple: know you wife well enough so you can push the right buttons, say the right things, and create an environment where sex just naturally happens.

Unfortunately, that’s more work than most men are used to for getting orgasms. Twenty or thirty minutes of close attention, massage, and foreplay first? Taking the effort to really get to know your wife’s unique preferences and turn-ons? Learning how to read her moods? That’s effort — and energy.

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4 Incredible Cult Films Coming to Criterion Blu Ray In August, September, and October

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

4.  Y Tu Mama Tambien on August 19, 2014

Special features of note:

  • Two new pieces on the making of the film, featuring interviews, recorded at the time of production and in 2014, with actors Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, and Maribel Verdú; Alfonso Cuarón; cowriter Carlos Cuarón; and Lubezki
  • New interview with philosopher Slavoj Žižek about the film’s social and political aspects

This 2002 coming-of-age comedy-drama from Mexico was one of my favorites during my high school and college years working at an art house movie theatre. It starts with the American Pie premise but infuses it with amazing, artistic photography and then deeper insights about life and death, philosophy, friendships, and relationships. Looks like it’s on Netflix streaming… I should probably give it a re-watch…

And what’s the deal with this trendy neo-Marxist, postmodernist “philosopher” Slavoj Žižek showing up all over the place? His documentary The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology is also on Netflix and while I’ve tried watching it a few times I have yet to succeed in completing it… So silly and boring, but, alas, rising in influence and popularity in the culture such that he’s probably in need of a dissection soon in list form…

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Depressed? Here Are the 20 Best Shows & Movies on Netflix for Mood Improvement

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

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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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