I’m not opposed to lying to very young children. In fact, my family considers it one of the finer points of good parenting. The art of storytelling, when done appropriately, can soften a harsh reality and bring it into an easy-to-swallow, child-sized bite. In “6 Lies You Should Tell Your Kids“ I shared a few of our family secrets for doing just that. The Elf on the Shelf, however, is a Christmas tale with a dark side that could produce some unintended character flaws that could show up later as adults. Adults, no doubt, that will be living in a very different world.
Before you dismiss the whole idea as harmless fun, it’s important to understand two basic truths that Christmas traditions, as with all family traditions, are vitally important to children. You are always teaching your child–intentionally, or unintentionally.
The Elf on the Shelf is a cheap looking stuffed doll that looks like it came from a dollar store in China. The elf itself is not what has made it a multi-million dollar success. It’s the story behind it.
That’s where we get into some real life issues.
This elf is placed somewhere in the house to observe the children’s behavior. Apparently, this generation’s Santa can’t really see who’s naughty and nice. He needs surveillance elves. The elf is adopted into a family or classroom, given a name and perched somewhere to observe the children’s behavior. Then he receives his magic. Each night the little snitch flies back to the North Pole to let Santa know if the kid being watching is good or bad.
There are two rules, one for the elf and one for the kid: The elf cannot be touched. If he is, he loses his magic and can’t fly back to the North Pole (hence, no Christmas for the kid, and they’re stuck with just the elf). The elf’s rule is that it can’t say anything– only watch and listen carefully. Not a problem for a stuffed doll, even a cheesy one.
This type of tradition fits this generation of parents well. We all know the NSA is listening in, and it produces some great Instagram shots. By the looks of what a simple #elfonshelf search will uncover, naughty and nice parents are having as much fun with it, if not more than their kids.
So what could go wrong with an Elf on the Shelf?
It’s fairly obvious that we Jews just don’t get Christmas. Don’t believe me? Check out BuzzFeed’s attempt to get Jews to decorate Christmas trees. (“Who’s Noel?” “Is that like, ‘grassy knoll’?”) Yet, every year we Jewish Americans wrestle as a people over whether or not to incorporate Christmas traditions into our own Hanukkah celebrations. It’s tacky. It’s trite. And it’s really, really lame. Here are five Hanukkah/Christmas hybrids that all Jews need to avoid this holiday season.
“The due process clause of the fourteenth amendment guarantees, protects the rights of parents but the fact is that we have to put it in law. You wouldn’t think we have to go here. What we’re seeing in our country today leads us to believe that if we don’t put this stuff into law then we are behind the eight ball and we find ourselves with these kinds of situations. I’m just afraid, down the road, we’re going to see more and more cases like [the Isaiah Rider case].” — Ken Wilson (R-MO)
We’re farther “down the road” than most dare to imagine.
The bill Rep. Wilson introduced states that a parent cannot be charged with medical child abuse for disagreeing with medical advice and choosing treatment of another doctor. Yeah. We’re there.
You might remember the well-publicized ordeal of Justina Pelletier. It seemed like a fluke of injustice, an isolated case. So beyond right, it was easy to assume there’s more to the story. In the Pelletier case, rather than receiving discharge papers, parents were charged with “medical child abuse,” the new term that has replaced Munchausen by proxy (MSbP). Mr. Pelletier was surrounded by agents of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) and hospital security and ushered off the premises. Justina became a ward of the state for 16 months and her health deteriorated.
In a press conference, Reverend Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, D.C., and spokesperson for the Pelletier family, made a remarkable statement that became a mirror reflecting an unsettling image of a dangerous mindset:
“t’s easier for us to want to believe, or wrap our brains around the fact that a family is mistreating their child, than the alternative to that, and the alternative to that, is what happened in this case and that is, with impunity government agencies and courts have removed a child from the loving care of their parents—and so that’s that obstacle that no one wants to believe that reality.
“That reality” is the last thing parents think of when they have a chronically ill child or have taken a holistic path to health.
Michelle Rider, the 34-year-old registered nurse and single mother of Isaiah Rider, the boy in the above video, told PJ Lifestyle just why we have a hard time accepting this is happening:
We are taught that hospitals are safe, that doctors are safe, and DCFS intervenes when intervention is needed. So when we accept the fact that this is really happening– we are accepting that we are not safe, and our children are not safe.
While President Barack Obama asks the nation if we will accept the “cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms,” it’s blatantly apparent to parents like Michelle that he isn’t talking about sick children like Isaiah. Agents of the state — with calculated impunity — take their children.
On the very day a law was introduced in his name, his worst fears came true.
Editor’s Note: See the first two parts in Susan L.M. Goldberg’s series exploring ABC’s Scandal through the lens of Biblical feminism: “What’s Evil Got to Do with It?,” ”Women and the Scandal of Doing It All Alone.” Also check out an introduction to her work and collection of 194 articles and blog posts here.
The husband/wife relationship is central to feminism. Historical, first-wave feminism studied matrimony in terms of legal rights. Contemporary, second-wave feminism approaches marriage in terms of sexual and economic power. Biblical feminism seeks to understand the spiritual relationship between a husband and wife, and how that spiritual relationship manifests into physical action. To do so, we must begin at the beginning, with Genesis 3:16:
To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
“Rule over you” is a phrase that sends chills down any feminist’s spine. But, what does it truly mean? A study of the original Hebrew text provides radical insight into one of the most abused verses of Torah:
This brings us to perhaps the most difficult verse in the Hebrew Bible for people concerned with human equality. Gen 3:16 seems to give men the right to dominate women. Feminists have grappled with this text in a variety of ways. One possibility is to recognize that the traditional translations have distorted its meaning and that it is best read against its social background of agrarian life. Instead of the familiar “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing,” the verse should begin “I will greatly increase your work and your pregnancies.” The word for “work,” izavon, is the same word used in God’s statement to the man; the usual translation (“pangs” or “pain”) is far less accurate. In addition, the woman will experience more pregnancies; the Hebrew word is pregnancy, not childbearing, as the NRSV and other versions have it. Women, in other words, must have large families and also work hard, which is what the next clause also proclaims. The verse is a mandate for intense productive and reproductive roles for women; it sanctions what life meant for Israelite women.
In light of this, the notion of general male dominance in the second half of the verse is a distortion. More likely, the idea of male “rule” is related to the multiple pregnancies mentioned in the first half of the verse. Women might resist repeated pregnancies because of the dangers of death in childbirth, but because of their sexual passion (“desire,” 3:16) they accede to their husbands’ sexuality. Male rule in this verse is narrowly drawn, relating only to sexuality; male interpretive traditions have extended that idea by claiming that it means general male dominance.
According to “Live with Kelly and Michael” co-host Kelly Ripa, her 13-year-old daughter Lola isn’t her biggest fan. Yahoo News reports:
“I don’t think she likes me, but I don’t care. I’m like, ‘I’m not your friend, I’m your mom,’” Ripa told Wendy Williams. “I just feel an obligation as her mom to keep her living in the real world. I don’t care who you are or what you do, if you’re a mom, you’re a mom.”
Ripa, 44, explained that not only is she a source of embarrassment for her teen, but recently, she and her husband, Mark Consuelos, were forced to punish their daughter. Ripa said she revoked their daughter’s phone and Internet privileges because she was using her phone when she was supposed to be studying Spanish.
It’s an interesting insight into the private life of a very public figure. As if parenting isn’t fraught with enough perils and pressures, Ripa and her husband, Mark Consuelos, are raising kids in the spotlight — where they’re expected to smile for the cameras and perform anytime they’re in public. Their children are privileged — one percenters by almost any standards — so raising children who are not spoiled brats (see: the debacle they call the Kardashian family) increases the degree of parenting difficulty exponentially.
Kids need to learn early on that the world doesn’t revolve around them and they’re not the center of the universe — they shouldn’t be permitted demand to worship and adoration (things that should be reserved for God). All things considered, Ripa seems to be trying to keep her kids grounded and as she said, “living in the real world,” which is rather refreshing in a culture where discipline and accountability are increasingly out of fashion and parents want their kids to be their BFFs.
But about Ripa’s comment that she doesn’t care if her daughter likes her. Should she care? Should you care if your kids (in particular, kids of the teenage variety) don’t like you? Should your popularity with your kids guide how you respond to them and make decisions about parenting? Or is it better to plow ahead with your decisions, ignoring how your kids feel about you?
If you’re still operating under the false notion that pop culture doesn’t have a real impact on everyday life, take a look at America’s oldest example, Sleepy Hollow, New York.
When Washington Irving penned The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 1820 under the pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon, he probably had no idea that his short story would inspire the beloved town of his youth to turn itself into a living homage to his tale. Settled in the late 1600s, the village was originally an agricultural and manufacturing zone of Tarrytown, New York. Nicknamed “Sleeper’s Haven” by early Dutch settlers, Washington Irving picked up on the Anglicized version of the name, “Sleepy Hollow” when staying with family in the area as a boy. Eventually millionaires like John D. Rockefeller would build mansions around the industrial zone that would become known as North Tarrytown at the turn of the 20th century. But it was Irving’s story that proved eternal when, in 1996, the village voted to rename itself Sleepy Hollow.
Street signs are orange and black, as is one of the village’s fire trucks. The Headless Horseman is the school mascot who, dubbed the nation’s “scariest high school mascot”, runs through every football game at half-time. Police cars and fire trucks also bear the Headless Horseman logo with pride. Halloween is celebrated throughout October with haunted hayrides, street festivals, a parade encompassing both Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown’s main streets, several ghost tours and performances of the Washington Irving legend. The Great Jack O’Lantern blaze puts Christmas light spectaculars to shame and Horseman’s Hollow turns a 17th century Dutch mill into a gory homage to the headless Hessian.
The Old Dutch Church, Ichabod Crane’s presumed safe haven, stands guard over a vast “garden cemetery” designed to allow Victorian families to picnic with their dearly departed. Tours of the cemetery can be taken both day and night and feature stops at the graves of Washington Irving and those who inspired characters in his tale. A fair runs every weekend alongside the cemetery, providing tour groups with the opportunity to walk the grounds with alcohol in hand. The gas station on the other side of the infamous bridge hawks t-shirts and other assorted Headless Horseman souvenirs. And if you’re hungry, there’s always The Horseman Restaurant, a hole in the wall diner that promises you’ll “lose your head” over their milkshakes.
Twenty-four percent of married couple families with children under 15 have a stay-at-home mom. Ninety-nine percent of stay-at-home moms in the movies get a really bad rap. Search “Best Movie Moms” and you’ll get lists that include Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, Shelly Duvall in The Shining, and more than a few mentions of Psycho. The majority of movie mothers are either widowed or divorced, careerists or working class, alcoholics or impregnated by UFOs. The closest you’ll get to a stay-at-home mom in post-1940s cinema is Kathleen Turner playing the psychotic Serial Mom or Michael Keaton taking on the role so his wife can pursue her career in Mr. Mom.
In fact, outside of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side there hasn’t been a truly admirable middle-class, white, stay-at-home mother on the silver screen in over 50 years. Which is probably why Mom’s Night Out received such a negative critical reception when it premiered last spring. We have been acculturated out of believing in the power and purpose of stay-at-home moms. Yet, the criticisms leveled at Mom’s Night Out for its “depressingly regressive” spirit and “archaic notions of gender roles” were not applied to a similar film about a stay-at-home mom released only two years prior. This Is 40 received mixed reviews, but praise for yielding “…some of [Judd] Apatow’s most personal observations yet on the feelings for husbands, wives, parents, and children that we categorize as love.”
So, what made This Is 40 palatable in a way that Mom’s Night Out wasn’t? Is there, perhaps, a culturally acceptable way to be a stay-at-home mom?
Today adds the stories below to these three surveys from last week of the most eyeball-grabbing headlines from around web: Monday: “Will You Follow Monica Lewinsky on Twitter?,” Tuesday: “Why The Dave Matthews Song ‘Crash’ Is Much Worse Than You Realized,” Friday: Honey Boo Boo Cancelled After Mom Returns to Dating a Child Molester.” Also see the previous week’s collection from last Sunday: Last Week’s 125 Most Horrifying Headlines
Houston police are searching for more possible victims of a man who allegedly raped a 14-year-old girl and a 23-month-old girl, infecting them both with HIV.
David R. Wilson, 33, is charged with sexual assault of a child and super aggravated sexual assault of a child. He could face more charges, since it’s a crime for any HIV-positive person to have sex with an uninformed partner.
According to charging documents, family members brought the toddler to Memorial Hermann in November 2013, where doctors discovered a growth on her genitals. Test results came back positive for HIV, herpes and chlamydia.
A doctor told investigators the toddler “had to have been sexually assaulted as evidenced by the presence of three sexually transmitted diseases.”
Doctors performed reconstructive surgery on her because of damage from infection.
2. Man Dug Up Corpses Of 29 Little Girls For Twisted Fantasies — ‘Not Fit For Trial’ [Warning: Disturbing Footage]
A man who was discovered to have stolen the bodies of at least 29 little girls from their graves in order to fulfill his disturbing fantasies will not stand trial.
Russian police found the mummified remains of 29 girls at the home of Anatoly Moskvin, 46, in 2011. Three years after Moskvin was arrested, a judge decided this week that he will not have to stand trial for his crimes, declaring him mentally unfit
And it seems the prosecution agrees, as a spokesperson stated, “After three years of monitoring him in a psychiatric clinic it is absolutely clear that Moskvin is not mentally fit for trial. He will therefore be kept for psychiatric treatment at the clinic.”
Moskvin says that he dressed them up and threw birthday parties for them, obviously in order to fulfill some twisted obsession. He traces his ghoulish fantasies back to the age of 12, when he says he came across a funeral procession, where he was forced to kiss the face of the dead, who happened to be an 11-year-old girl. He says that shortly after that, he developed an interest in the occult.
Strangely enough, at the time of his arrest, Moskvin was a respected historian who reportedly speaks 13 languages, and was described as a “genius” by many.
Did you read anything more disturbing online last week than these sad stories? Here’s the collection, but let’s start off with something to calm the soul first before diving into a survey of the world’s darkness. Here’s an excerpt from page 119 of Rabbi David A. Cooper’s God Is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism, pointing out the paradoxical effect that suffering can bring:
1. This Morning: ‘Honey Boo Boo’:TLC Cancels Show After June Dates Child Molester
TLC has CANCELLED “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” TMZ has learned, in the wake of our story that Mama June is dating a convicted child molester who sexually abused one of her relatives.
The decision comes one day after TMZ broke the story … June has been secretly dating Mark McDaniel, who got out of prison in March after serving 10 years for forcing oral sex on an 8-year-old.
2. Thursday: Mama June Dating Man Who Molested Her Relative
The new guy is 53-year-old Mark McDaniel. He was convicted in 2004 for aggravated child molestation. Prosecutors say he molested an 8-year-old child — forcing oral sex. June was dating McDaniel at the same time he molested the child.
We’re told Bryan and Michelle have been friends for years and he has wanted this baby for a long time.
Our sources say the 2 are not romantically involved but rather extremely close friends.
At the Daily Beast:
Bethany Mandel said in a phone interview that she did a practice dunk while converting in 2011. She claims Freundel told her that he required practice dunks specifically to avoid rabbis seeing women naked during the conversion process. Freundel had created the practice dunks because of an experience with a prior convert, according to Mandel. That woman, Mandel said, in nervousness over the completion of her conversion, “stood up and turned around, and like full-frontal exposed herself to the rabbis… he wanted to do practice dunks so that people wouldn’t expose themselves on mikvah day.”
Even after Freundel’s arrest, most of the women interviewed expressed uncertainty about whether they were targets of the alleged voyeurism. Several said they’d felt the practice dunks were a helpful part of the conversion process—including Mandel.
The evidence supports Wilson’s claim that Brown’s hand was on or near his gun. A forensic pathologist who reviewed the autopsy says the wounds don’t show that Brown was running away or had his hands up.
Since its release, Transmormon has racked up a number of awards, including the Artistic Vision Award at the 2014 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. In the process, 25-year-old Hayward has become a transgender poster child, at least to Mormons. But she is a little surprised by the role. “I’m not trying to break any social norms. I’m not trying to break any walls or do anything they don’t understand.”
Hayward doesn’t mean that with a false sense of modesty. Nor is she taking the rhetorical strategy of playing down how dramatic a push for social change is by making it seem more familiar. She really just wants to be an old-fashioned girl. “I’m saying there is something wrong on the outside, fix it, and I will be a conforming member of society,” she says. After years of struggling to articulate that she was transgender, she is more than happy to have people recognize her as a woman—and leave it at that.
A story about two old Jewish ladies is making the rounds in the Jewish press, but not for the reasons you may think. Sure, they’re bubbes. They’re children of a Holocaust survivor to boot. But the real reason they’re attracting so much attention is that they happen to be retired professional whores.
Dutch twins Louise and Martine Fokkens (probably not their real last name, since “Fokken” is a Dutch term for “old whore”) have become international celebrities since the 2011 release of their biographical documentary Meet the Fokkens. Women’s magazines like Cosmo picked up on their story shortly after the film’s release, publishing quick little details like:
Louise and Martine (mothers of four and three respectively) became prostitutes before the age of 20 in order to escape violent relationships.
It’s an interpretation that, at best, qualifies as a half-truth. Louise was forced into the sex trade by an abusive husband. Martine, however, became a prostitute out of spite:
Martine followed her sister into the trade, working first as a cleaning lady at brothels before she began turning tricks herself. “I was angry at how everybody around us shunned Louise,” Martine said. “I did it out of spite, really.”
Both women eventually divorced their husbands, whom they now describe as “a couple of pimps.” But they continued working in the district “because that had become our lives,” Louise said.
“Our life in the business became a source of pride, a sport of sorts,” Louise added.
In retrospect, both women say they regret becoming prostitutes.
Reading their story, one can’t help but wonder if mainstream feminist advocates for slut walks and “Yes Means Yes” legislation would condemn the pair for regretting the life they chose. After all, their body, their choice, right? They took control of their bad marriages, divorced the husbands they referred to as “pimps” and chose, fully of their own volition, to remain in the sex trade after their exes were fully out of the picture. Martine and Louise, it would seem, are the originators of the Slut Walk.
So far in this ongoing series compiling and organizing the best work from PJ Lifestyle’s contributors I’ve focused on critics and analysts of popular culture from all over the place. To the north in Canada, the punk rock capitalist canadian: “136 Kathy Shaidle Articles That Expand Your Appreciation of Life and Culture.” To the South, guaranteed smiles from a gifted Georgia writer: “116 Articles Exploring American Culture by Chris Queen.” And to the East Coast, in the wilderness of New Jersey, taking back feminism: “194 Articles and Blog Posts Showcasing Susan L.M. Goldberg’s Compelling Culture Commentaries”
Also check out these shorter collections from two newer contributors, focusing on war and comic books: “Don’t Miss These 20 James Jay Carafano Articles Exploring War’s Impact on Pop Culture” and “15 Great Lists Debating Comic Books and Pop Culture by Pierre Comtois.”
Today I highlight two more PJ Lifestyle writers who lead the way in other important fronts in the culture wars. What more appropriate way to promote the section’s family themes than to showcase the diverse perspectives from a mom and a dad? Paula Bolyard and Walter Hudson have both been inspirations to edit, learn from, and befriend over the past few years. They’ve both helped to shape my thinking for the day when I become a parent. Take a look at some of their articles and you’ll see why I’m so optimistic about the impact they can both have on the culture…
Paula is tremendously persuasive and compelling in her journalism exploring the world of home schooling. Her critiques of public school education and teachers unions have also shaped my perspective. When I have children someday they’ll be homeschooled. That’s Paula. She’ll change your mind too.
But Paula illuminates on a whole swath of issues. Our collaborations began when PJ was looking for an Ohio contributor in 2012. Paula provided very insightful, accessible coverage then and has returned to covering her home states’s news political controversies, and culture. Post-election I was eager to see Paula explore other topics. She’s had many successful articles on everything from parenting advice to religious commentaries to life reflections to goofy nostalgia pieces. Her pro-life articles are some of the best I’ve ever read — models of how to articulate values and win over fence-sitters.
After you check out a few of Paula’s articles please get in touch with us and let us know what kinds of ideas you’d like to see her explore in the future. Please leave your comments or hit us up on Twitter: @Pbolyard and @DaveSwindle
And now also check out today: “125 Articles and Blog Posts Showcasing the Wit & Wisdom of Walter Hudson.”
- When Teachers Act Like Thugs ‘for the Children!’
- A Parent Guide to Teachers’ Unions
- Has a Century of Progressive Education Turned Us into Obedient Sheep?
- Should Parents Take Over Failing Schools?
- When Radical Teachers Occupy the Department of Education
- Can the Left and Right Find Common Ground on Common Core and High-Stakes Testing?
- Arming Teachers in Schools
- What is the Cultural Profile for the Class of 2017?
- Shelter-in-Place: This Generation’s Duck-and-Cover
- Weeping, Confession, and Hugs Replace Reading, Writing, and Math at School
- 10 Terrible Common Core Homework Assignments
- Should Colleges Have Parent-Teacher Conferences?
- Are We Getting Carried Away With Common Core Curriculum Phobia?
- 10 Things Your Kids May Never Read Because Common Core Neglects Cursive
- How Parents Are Winning the Common Core Debate
- Common Core: As Untested as the U.S. Speed Skating Suits
- How Can Parents Fight Back Against Federal Bleacher Bullies?
- Ohio Lawmakers Hold Common Core Repeal Hearings
- Terrorist-Supporting Kent State Professor’s Incendiary, Anti-Semitic Facebook Posts
- More Outrage at Kent State About a Sweatshirt Than a Terrorist Sympathizing Professor
- Think You Could Never Homeschool?
- Ohio Gives Homeschoolers Equal Access to Sports and Other Activities
- Will Your Kids Grow Up to Be Weird if You Homeschool Them?
- What If All the Homeschoolers Suddenly Enrolled in Public School?
- 7 Objections to Homeschooling Teens
- How Common Core is Coming to Homeschoolers
- Are Elite Colleges and Universities Discriminating Against Homeschoolers?
- 4 Secrets from the Hidden World of Homeschoolers
- Does Homeschooling Reduce Opportunities for Women in the Workplace?
- An Open Letter to Grandparents of Homeschooled Kids
- Ohio Lawmakers Want Social Workers to Have Veto Power Over Decision to Homeschool
- UPDATE: Controversial Ohio Homeschool Bill Withdrawn After Grassroots Tsunami Opposes
- German Homeschooling Family Can Stay in U.S.
- Do Homeschoolers ‘Rob’ Public Schools of Tax Dollars?
- Strong Religious Beliefs Can Shape How Women View Homeschooling
- 5 Pro Tips for Homeschoolers
- The Top 10 Reasons to Join a Homeschool Co-op
- The Top 10 Reasons to Avoid a Homeschool Co-Op
- Homeschooling Family Ordered to Follow Common Core Curriculum
Family and Parenting
- 4 Benefits of Marrying Young
- What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Your College Kid Home for Christmas)
- Raising Boys Who Grow Up to Be Men Who Go to Combat With Women
- 5 Busybodies Who Want to Parent Your Kids
- Stay-at-Home Moms: Will Your Kids Judge You for Choosing Them Over a Career?
- Small-Town Values and Two-Parent Families
- 7 Quick Tips for Parents of New College Students
- The 5 Best American Historical Fiction Books to Read Aloud to Your Kids
- What We Taught Our Boys About Girls Like Miley Cyrus
- Was Bad Parenting to Blame for the Sandy Hook Massacre?
- Is Your Child a Stealth Dyslexic?
- I Agree With Camille Paglia on This Kind of Family Planning for Teens
- Implementing Andrew McCarthy’s Proposed Compromise on the Marriage Question
- How Do You Survive When Your World Shatters?
- How Did We Survive Childhood Before the ’90s Safety Nannies Came Along?
- How I Evolved on Guns During the #BostonPoliceScanner Manhunt
- Evolving on Guns: Considering the Morality of Gun Ownership Now That I Refuse to Be a Victim
- Evolving on Guns: My First Foray into Gun Culture
- How to Commit Voter Fraud in Ohio
- It’s the Gas Prices, Stupid
- Will We See a Florida Recount Rematch in Ohio?
- Does Obama Have the Stronger Ground Game in Ohio?
- Ohio: Somali Voters, ACORN Tactics, and Voter Fraud Allegations
- Ohio Post-Mortem: Glitz, Gimmicks, Sleight-of-Hand, and Witnessing Fraud
- Is Ohio Governor John Kasich the Chris Christie of the Midwest?
- Cleveland House of Horrors: Should Somebody Have Done Something?
- Cleveland Kidnapper Ariel Castro Sentenced to 1000 Years, Blames Victims
- Cleveland House of Horrors Demolished
- Ohio’s Ashland University Slashes Tuition by $10,000
- Ohio Paper Can’t Find a Single Person to Argue Against Legalizing Pot… Really??
- The Top 10 Things to Do in Cleveland
- Ohio Gubernatorial Candidate Proposes ‘Win Tax’ for Cleveland Sports Teams
- Federal Judge Orders Ohio to Restore Early Voting on 3 Days Before Election Day
- Conflicted About LeBron’s Return to Cleveland
- Ohio Teachers Threaten to Strike Over Being Forced into Obamacare Exchanges
- Cleveland School Dumps FLOTUS Lunches for Chipotle-Style Burritos and Clam Chowder
- Cleveland VA Still Mired in Huge Backlogs
- Hundreds of Drive-In Theaters May Close Permanently at End of Season
- The 1970s Culture Clash in 2 Songs
- 10 Modern Technologies We Lived Without in Primitive, Pre-Millennial America
- 5 Memories That Will Make You Nostalgic for the 1970s
- The 10 Most Terrifying Public Service Announcements from the 1970s
- The 10 Most Essential Women’s Shoes in the 1970s
- Whatever Happened to Our Top 10 Favorite Tiger Beat Cover Boys From the 1970s?
- 10 Comic Book Ads That Destroyed Your Faith in Humanity Before You Hit Puberty
Life Advice and Reflections
- Baseball: The Last Refuge from What Divides Us
- On September 11, Another Pilot Died in His Seat
- 9/11 as the Chilling Details Unfolded Online
- Things We Take for Granted
- Get Off the Phone!
- 5 Reasons To Remain Optimistic That We Haven’t Lost America Yet
- 5 Things to Grab When You Hear the Tornado Sirens
- The Sacrifice of One
- 10 Surprisingly Unconventional Uses for Your Crock-Pot
- Christian Churches Occupied, Shia Mosques Destroyed, Nuns and Orphans Kidnapped in Iraq
- Marco Rubio and the Progressive Atheist Orthodoxy
- Dear Sister Wives Star Kody Brown: Love Should Be Exclusive, not Divided
- The (g)odless Inaugural Prayer
- Is a Spiritual Revolution the Missing Link in Our Quest for a Political Revolution?
- New Great Awakening: Should Pastors and Churches Be Involved in Politics?
- New Great Awakening: America Is Not a Christian Nation
- New Great Awakening: Does God Promise to Heal Our Land If We Pray?
- New Great Awakening: When Politicians Speak for God
- The Atheist Who Silenced the Astronaut
- What Would Dietrich Bonhoeffer Say to Anthony Weiner?
- Fal$e Teacher$ — Christian Rapper Shames Prosperity Preachers
- Is Your Church Too Old — Or Too Young?
- Why Liberals Hate Tim Tebow
- Should Christian Parents Send their Children to Public Schools?
- Will the Tolerance Agenda Destroy Christian Higher Education?
- A Model of Interfaith Dialogue: A Southern Baptist at Brigham Young University
- How about Celebrating Reformation Day instead of Halloween?
- At Least We Don’t Have Marauding Hippos in the Streets of America
- Right This Very Minute Someone Is Being Tortured
- Peace with God Amid Christmas Chaos
- Thanks to Our Atheist, Agnostic, and Liberal Friends for Their Help in the Liberty Wars
- Does God Care Who Wins the Super Bowl?
- The Resurgence of God in Academia
- Will Christianity Survive the Sexual Revolution?
- Is Heaven Is for Real… Real?
- British PM David Cameron Emphasizes the Importance of Christianity in Society
- Where Was Jesus on Saturday Between His Death and Resurrection?
- Have You Done Enough for God This Easter?
- A Moment of Prayer on the Campaign Trail
- Sarah Palin: ‘Waterboarding Is How We Baptize Terrorists’
- 10 Quotes on Faith and Freedom from Eric Metaxas’ Hillsdale Commencement Address
- The Left’s Anti-Christian Bigotry Strategy 2.0
- Jesuit Priest Abducted in Afghanistan
- Extreme Makeover: Planned Parenthood Edition
- 5 Things Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You to Know About Pregnancy Resource Centers
- Can This Powerful Song Change the Hearts of Abortion Supporters?
- Blood on Humanitarian Icon Mandela’s Hands
- The 3 Deadliest Words in the World: ‘It’s a Girl’
- What Happens to America’s Aborted Babies?
- Is It True That 50 Years Ago Christians Didn’t Care About Abortion?
- Obama’s America: Abortion Deserts Across the Country
- Ohio Cracks Down on Unsafe Abortion Clinics
- 5 Covert Conservative Lessons in Downton Abbey
- Best Moments from the Season Premier of Duck Dynasty
- Who Are You to Judge Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson?
- The Touching Asperger’s Storyline on Parenthood
- Why We Will Miss Downton Abbey
- 10 Ladies’ Room Rules That Will Keep Other Women from Hating You
- The 10 Dumbest Fireworks Fails
- The 10 Most Amazing Pet Home Birth Videos
- 11 Curious Spurious Correlations
Activism and Ideology
Conservative columnist Ross Douthat has declared his love for Lena Dunham. It hardly comes as a surprise that a New York Times writer, even one who dwells to the right of the aisle, would find the Girls prodigy appealing. What makes Douthat’s devotion disturbing is that he has managed to transform a goddess chained to a slew of liberal causes into a sacrificial lamb for conservative culture. In his struggle to do so, his misses the mark in what could have been one of the most culturally relevant critiques of Girls to date.
The critic defends Dunham’s showpiece Girls, writing,
She’s making a show for liberals that, merely by being realistic, sharp-edge, complicated, almost gives cultural conservatism its due.
It’s a seemingly ironic observation, based in the idea that Girls “often portrays young-liberal-urbanite life the way, well, many reactionaries see it…” That is, a subculture on the verge of self-destruction due to excessive amounts of what sociologist Robert Bellah dubbed, “the view that the key to the good life lies almost exclusively in self-discovery, self-actualization, the cultivation of the unique and holy You.”
In other words, as Gawker so simply put it:
He likes watching the show because it allows him to feel superior to Dunham and her fellow sluts.
By employing a rote, traditionalist perspective, Douthat argued himself into a hole, turning his love into judgement and burying his point in poorly-worded theory and equally bad theology.
Comic books that circulated from the 1950s to the 1970s were jam-packed with ads that promised everything from fame and fortune to live miniature puppies. You could buy a shrunken head, print your own money, or grow 3″ taller, all for 99 cents, C.O.D. (which meant you paid the mail carrier cash on delivery). Most of the items were junk and for many of us, it was the first buzzkill of our idyllic young lives. Millions of boys were disappointed that they didn’t end up with bodies like Charles Atlas and millions more were devastated when the x-ray specs didn’t allow them to see under the dresses of the girls at school. It was probably a good thing that the FTC eventually stepped in and put some regulations in place so kids could find more productive uses for their allowances, like Wacky Packages and Bubble Yum. Nevertheless, it was fun to dream about what might arrive in the mail after you filled out the coupon from the back of the comic book and waited 4-6 weeks for delivery. Because you never knew…
Here are 10 comic book ads that destroyed your faith in mankind before you hit puberty…
I didn’t fully appreciate how spiritually free I am as an American woman until I set foot on an El Al plane.
“Do you speak Hebrew?” the fretting woman in front of me asked.
“No, not really.”
“It’s okay, I speak English,” she hurriedly replied, obviously looking for a friendly face. “These Orthodox,” she motioned to the people sitting next to her, “they don’t like sitting next to women.”
“Well, that’s their problem.” My response was pointed, matter-of-fact, American.
She smiled as if a light bulb went off in her head. “You’re right!” Her expression grew cloudy. “But what if I take off my sweater? They won’t like that I expose my shoulders with my tank top.”
Again, I simply replied, “That’s their problem.”
She smiled, empowered. Removing her sweater, she took her seat and stood her ground.
And at that moment I thanked God I was raised in pluralistic America, and realized, oddly enough, that the Holy Land was giving me my first chance to practice the biblical feminism I’ve preached.
Israel is a Western nation in that women have equal rights by law. Israel is also a confluence of religious and ethnic cultural attitudes, not all of which are friendly to women. Two days into our trip to Jerusalem, a family member who also happens to be a retired journalist explained the latest story to hit the nightly news. A man accused of spousal abuse was released to return home. Later that evening, police found his wife had been shot dead. The husband confessed to the murder. Apparently, domestic violence and death is a relatively small but significant problem in Israel. When I asked my former journalist why, he pointed to the influence of Middle Eastern (both Arabic and radical Islamic) patriarchal culture as the primary source.
Yet, even religious Jews in Israel (and around the world), despite their insular nature, are far from immune to sexual abuse. Sex scandals among the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) show up frequently on the evening news. In this case it’s not the Arab/Muslim influence, but perverted behaviors that arise from rabbinic abuse of biblical teachings. How do you expect a man to relate to a woman sexually when he’s not even allowed to look her in the eye?
I put off writing this for as long as I could.
I told myself I still had the same headache I had yesterday.
And hey, there’s an Auction Hunter marathon on, and…
Then the irony hit me:
This had been my idea, to write a response to Hand to Mouth, author Linda Tirado’s viral internet “Why I’m poor” post-turned-book.
And that one of the reasons I’m not poor anymore is because I work even when I don’t feel like it, and it feels like a summer day even though it’s the end of September, and…
So here goes:
Click here to start reading Part I of this list-letter to the CEO of Liberty Island with ideas for his team of creative counter-culture writers drawn from my years practicing “pop culture polytheism,” the worship of the images in mass media today.
Dear Adam Bellow,
As this series of films continues I’ll expand the opening index to include links to each of the films that have come before it. Here are links to the first titles I discussed, establishing the paradigm of celebrating both mainstream, big budget films and also more obscure titles that more traditionally conjure up the idea of counter-culture:
48. Yellow Submarine
47. Dark City
45. Dog Star Man
41. The Two Towers
38. The Avengers
I was nervous when publishing the first installment of this series, knowing that I was leaping off into the unknown again and certainly not going as detailed as I’ll need to when explaining these ideas in my book someday. A few commenters pushed back, with criticisms I anticipated — too long, all over the place, titles insufficiently “counter-culture” — and that are partially justified:
How do I defend such a broad understanding of “counter-culture” that the term can include both experimental shorts with moth wings taped to the film and hundred-million-dollar blockbusters? The fourth title from my list of ”23 Books for Counter-Culture Conservatives, Tea Party Occultists, and Capitalist Wizards” remains my favorite definition and general history:
4. Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House by Ken Goffman and Dan Joy
Publication Date: September 13, 2005
As long as there has been culture, there has been counterculture. At times it moves deep below the surface of things, a stealth mode of being all but invisible to the dominant paradigm; at other times it’s in plain sight, challenging the status quo; and at still other times it erupts in a fiery burst of creative–or destructive–energy to change the world forever.
But until now the countercultural phenomenon has been one of history’s great blind spots. Individual countercultures have been explored, but never before has a book set out to demonstrate the recurring nature of counterculturalism across all times and societies, and to illustrate its dynamic role in the continuous evolution of human values and cultures.
Countercultural pundit and cyberguru R. U. Sirius brilliantly sets the record straight in this colorful, anecdotal, and wide-ranging study based on ideas developed by the late Timothy Leary with Dan Joy. With a distinctive mix of scholarly erudition and gonzo passion, Sirius and Joy identify the distinguishing characteristics of countercultures, delving into history and myth to establish beyond doubt that, for all their surface differences, countercultures share important underlying principles: individualism, anti-authoritarianism, and a belief in the possibility of personal and social transformation.
Ranging from the Socratic counterculture of ancient Athens and the outsider movements of Judaism, which left indelible marks on Western culture, to the Taoist, Sufi, and Zen Buddhist countercultures, which were equally influential in the East, to the famous countercultural moments of the last century–Paris in the twenties, Haight-Ashbury in the sixties, Tropicalismo, women’s liberation, punk rock–to the cutting-edge countercultures of the twenty-first century, which combine science, art, music, technology, politics, and religion in astonishing (and sometimes disturbing) new ways, Counterculture Through the Ages is an indispensable guidebook to where we’ve been . . . and where we’re going.
Why Counterculture Conservatives Should Read It:
The key insight in reconciling counterculture and conservatism comes when we define the term historically, beyond just the caricature of the 60s hippie counterculture.
A counterculture is just any group of people who choose to reject some aspect of a dominant culture and then live peacefully in opposition to it. The Jews were a counterculture. So were Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. So were the Christians in ancient Rome. So were the Pilgrims. And the Transcendentalists. And the Mormons.
Counterculture Through the Ages presents an alternative way of understanding the West: what if “Western Civilization” was actually just the compilation of all the best countercultural ideas that worked? What if Western Civilization wasn’t really about places or people or things but about a process to understand ourselves, one another, and our purpose in the world? And how do we figure out what that purpose is?
So yes, I admit it — my list was a mess, and so it shall be going forward. (I can only un-messify Aleister Crowley and Robert Anton Wilson and their basis in Kabbalah and Tarot so much! Learning how to jump from mess to mess is kind of the point. God hides in the spaces between the letters and in the connections between the cards, in the invisible gap between my mind and yours.) Counter-culture is messy — it’s a big muck mixing and gurgling together. But that’s no excuse. I’ll employ the new media tool highlighted in the last segment in an effort to cut down on the word count in this and future installments. Here’s a basic start, as I’ve progressed through writing the list I’ve begun exploring new ways to utilize Instagram, Hyperlapse and other tools:
(I will try to improve the handwriting in future hyperlapses. Over the course of this list I experiment with a number of different configurations improving on that early one. I think for the next round I’ll pick up a white board and dry erase markers…)
In trying to define Western Civilization in broad we have to confront that WE are a mess. Americanism, the idea of the West — we are a mess of conflicting ethnic, religious, and philosophical traditions all crammed together.
But we must overcome our primitive tribal nature. Unfortunately some of film’s most glorified filmmakers rose to prominence through glamorizing and glorifying their tribal identity, building whole careers on mythologizing their tribe, obscuring the ugly truth of their primitive ideologies. The next three titles on the list are by filmmakers I once idolized, though now look at with skepticism. However, each still has a film in their canon that runs counter to their usual output and offer useful lessons for counter-culture crusaders.
‘They Were Teenage Boys, and Their Alleged Assailants Were Female Employees Tasked With Looking Out For Their Well-Being.’
So, what has been going on at Woodland Hills? A 2010 investigation by the Tennessean found a series of allegations that had gone largely uninvestigated and unpunished by authorities. One of the facilities’ kitchen employees, the newspaper discovered, had reportedly given a 17-year-old boy chlamydia, and later lived with a different male juvenile who she had been accused of abusing while he was in the facility. The woman was cleared in four separate state investigations despite failing a lie detector test. She was ultimately convicted only after she turned herself in to police. In another case uncovered by the paper, a different female guard went on to marry a former inmate after he was released from the facility. The woman kept her job even after her marriage came to light.
Such incidents are sadly common inside our juvenile justice system. In the most recent federal survey of detained juveniles, nearly 8 percent of respondents reported being sexually victimized by a staff member at least once in the previous 12 months. For those who reported being abused, two things proved overwhelmingly true, as they were in Woodland Hills: They were teenage boys, and their alleged assailants were female employees tasked with looking out for their well-being. Nine in 10 of those who reported being victimized were males reporting incidents with female staff. Women, meanwhile, typically make up less than half of a juvenile facility’s staff….
The attitude that these boys bear some blame, however small, is dangerous in a vacuum. It’s downright reckless when we know that 90 percent of reported incidents involve male juveniles and female guards. “That minimizing of a serious crime is really contributing to the crisis,” says Stannow, “and we are talking about a crisis here.”
The common theme with most woman on boy sex seems to be that whether the teen is being abused in a juvenile facility or is a 14-year-old forced to pay child support to the grown woman who committed statutory rape against him, somehow he is always to blame.
image via shutterstock / Gts
15. Everything you know about the social stratosphere is wrong…
College is nothing like high school. You understand this in theory, but have never experienced the kind of social freedom you will in college. There are no cliques. There is no lunch table. Welcome to the world of being an adult. For the first couple of weeks you’ll attend pre-arranged mixers, usually orientation events or annoying team-building activities your RA spent all summer training to lead. These awkward moments are helpful for one reason: Discovering who has a car. As a freshman, be aware that the parties you crash at frat houses aren’t for making friends, they’re for getting drunk and hooking up. You’ve been warned.
Raising kids these days isn’t cheap. New calculations from the USDA estimate that for the average family in America, it costs $245,340 to raise a baby. Parents will tell you many things about raising kids — that it’s exhausting, life-affirming, fun and often overwhelming — but they will never tell you it’s cheap. Even the most careful savers won’t make it off easy, but with some flexibility and an eye on your bottom line, it’s possible to minimize the cost of having a baby in your house tremendously. Here’s where to begin:
(Photo: Author breastfeeding at a reststop on a road trip with my daughter)
1. Breastfeed and minimize formula purchasing
Breastfeeding isn’t always easy or fun, but few can deny that it can save big bucks in formula costs. Babies need either breastmilk or formula for the first year of life, and formula costs can really add up over time. If your baby has a sensitive stomach, specialized formulas can cost even more. I’m a big breastfeeding advocate, as I’ve written previously here at PJ Media, and cost is a big reason why. Because I breastfeed, I have fewer costs associated with feeding my baby, no formula and fewer bottles, and no bottled water.
If you’ve found a brand of formula you like, ask for free samples and coupons from friends, your pediatrician and from the companies themselves. While I exclusively breastfeed, I like to keep a canister around our apartment in case I get hit by a bus. I asked my pediatrician, who gave me several, and I also wrote messages on social media to several formula companies, who also gave me free samples. Keeping formula in the house is a known “booby-trap,” which is what breastfeeding activists have indicated can get in the way of a healthy and long-lasting breastfeeding relationship. Despite this, my morbid need to always be prepared led me to keep it in the house regardless. I knew I was determined not to use it, and over ten months into my daughter’s life, I haven’t ever opened a canister.
Pumping can be a chore, and while breastfeeding can save money, that often comes at the cost of a mother’s time, especially if she’s working. Even if full-time pumping isn’t possible, keeping up a woman’s breast-milk supply can minimize formula costs, if it’s impossible to totally eliminate the need to buy formula. Breastfeeding isn’t all or nothing, and any feeding that can be made with breast milk instead of formula can help save a family money.
Insurance companies and FSAs (I get into that more later in the post…) can also help ease the cost of breastfeeding and pumping. Most insurance companies, as part of their increasingly expensive plans, offer breast pumps to anyone interested in ordering one. Contact your insurance company to see how to go about ordering one through them at no additional cost. Breast pumps aren’t “free”; they have been mandated to be covered by ObamaCare, which has increased insurance premiums across the board. While a breast pump through your insurance company isn’t “free” in the traditional sense, it does come at no cost to the mother. If your insurance company for some reason doesn’t offer a breast pump, or the pumps they do cover aren’t what you’re looking for, look into if your or your husband’s office has an FSA plan available. An FSA can pay for many costs related to childrearing, including a breast pump and some basic supplies (extra valves, tubing, etc).
If you’re having trouble breastfeeding, there are plenty of resources available to help ease any trouble you may be having. La Leche League is a wonderful resource, and most of the leaders are certified lactation consultants. They can help for free during meetings, and many will come to your house (sometimes at a cost) to help one-on-one. Even if they do charge for their services, getting off on the right foot with breastfeeding from the start, even if it costs several hundred dollars, can save many more hundreds of dollars down the line. The hospital you delivered at should also have nurses and perhaps even a hotline to help you address breastfeeding issues as well. If you do have to pay for a lactation consultant, inquire with your insurance company if they cover it. If not, this is another example of where an FSA can come in handy.
Also check out Leslie Loftis’ analysis of Beyonce’s performance at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards here.
10. “Bow Down/I Been On”
The Church of Bey has clearly gone to the pop goddess’s head. A critic at New Wave Feminism writes:
Aside from repeatedly yelling “bow down bitches”, the song also contains lyrics such as “I know when you were little girls / You dreamt of being in my world / Don’t forget it , don’t forget it / Respect that, bow down bitches”. Apparently, Beyoncé thought the appropriate response for young women who admired her and looked up to her was to call them misogynistic slurs and demand they genuflect in her presence.
This Bey Anthem doubles as the death knell of the sisterhood.
In “Yes, Katy Perry, Babies Need Daddies,” D.C. McAllister wrote about Katy Perry’s declaration to Rolling Stone that this is 2014 and she doesn’t need a man to have a baby. But McAllister just touches the tip of the iceberg on both Perry and children’s need for fathers.
Perry is being more callous to her future child than the typical woman who realizes that she wants a baby, doesn’t happen to have a partner, and, therefore, for her convenience decides that she doesn’t need a man to have a baby. Perry left her marriage to Russell Brand a few short years ago because he was ready to have a baby and she wasn’t. From a piece I did in 2012 on pop rock and the hookup culture:
In her movie Part of Me, Katy Perry addresses her divorce, essentially stating the Love Myth. “I thought to myself, ‘When I find that person that’s going to be my life partner, I won’t ever have to choose [between my partner and my career].”
Before anyone thinks that this is just the silly and self-centered musings of a Hollywood starlet, this notion of easy love that never requires compromise passes for thoughtful feminist discourse these days.
Perry saw her husband’s desire to start a family as trying to force her to slow down her career when she didn’t want to. To be perfectly blunt, she chose her career over her marriage and her future child’s ability to have a father. She doesn’t have the typical excuse that she was unlucky in love and is now hearing the ticks of her biological clock pound in her ears.
Pop culture has become as much of a religious powerhouse as Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism or any other faith. Don’t believe me? Sit in a college classroom. Better yet, attend a fan convention or simply rent the film Trekkies. Films, shows, bands, comic books and their like have become, for some, sources of spiritual nourishment. Do you feel the power?
12. What was once DVR-able is now weekly appointment television.
“Appointment TV” doesn’t begin to describe your weekly ritual. All pressing engagements are pushed aside, phones are silenced, and ritual food is laid out on the coffee table to be partaken in as the ceremony commences. You still DVR the show for good measure, being sure to re-watch at least once, if not multiple times in deep study so that you may discuss the meanings of both text and subtext with fellow fans.
10. If guys didn’t look like heroin-addicted street dwellers…
Before committing suicide, musician Kurt Cobain copyrighted the grunge look that came to define Gen-X/millennial crossovers in the ’90s. A reaction to the preppie style made famous by ’80s yuppies, grunge involved a level of disheveled that transcended even the dirtiest of ’60s hippie looks. Grunge trademarks included wrinkled, untucked clothing complemented by greasy, knotted hair and an expression best defined as heroin chic. The style depicted an “I don’t care” attitude that took punk’s anti-authoritarian attitude to a darker, more disengaged level. Grunge became the look of resigned defeat among American males.
10. Americans are all obese.
From the messy buildup in the fat folds of Mama June’s neck (affectionately known to her children as “neck crud”) to Honey’s proclivity for bathing in mayonnaise, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo embodies the myth that everyone in America weighs a minimum of 300 pounds. One of the best episodes involves Mama June dumping a 5 pound bag of sugar into 2 gallons of lemon juice in order to make homemade lemonade. For the record, 64% of Americans are not obese. But with shows like HHere Comes Honey Boo Boo, The Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss, Shedding for the Wedding, Thintervention, Dance Your A** Off, Celebrity Fit Club, I Used To Be Fat, and Ruby, we’re just a bunch of big, fat Americans.