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Feminism: Adding an ‘F’ to LGBTQ Activism

Thursday, January 15th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

When you’re constantly relying on a third party to define your sexuality, you’re inevitably going to write yourself onto the sidelines of social activism, which is precisely what contemporary feminism is currently doing. With its insane Marxist belief that biological “sex” and “gender” are two separate entities that do not overlap or influence each other, contemporary feminism has bought into postmodern subjectivity. Issues are left to be parsed in terms of value judgments rendered by individuals on the basis of sheer whim. This includes defining what it means to be a woman.

It’s bad enough when contemporary feminists attack shopping malls for categorizing “boys” versus “girls” clothing. The complaint is always the same: “My daughter wanted a superhero shirt that was unavailable in the girls’ department!” Pants were unavailable in the girls’ department 100 years ago. Women wore them anyway. Instead of raising independent thinkers, contemporary feminists raise dependent complainers who derive their entire sense of gender identity from a store’s marketing department. This is the dark side of allowing society to define your gender. Suddenly a generation of women is convinced they have male tendencies because they have a penchant for Superman. It couldn’t be that they want to wear his logo because they find him strong, appealing, or — God-forbid — attractive. Because his logo is sported in the boys’ department only, it must mean any little girl who wants to wear his shirt is obviously a trannie.

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70 Years Later, a New Solution to the Same Old Problems

Monday, January 12th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

#shabbatshalom #Paris #JeSuisJuif

A photo posted by Shosh (@slmgpix) on

I lit Shabbat candles this past Friday night for the first in a very long time. I made the decision somewhere between learning that the Grand Synagogue of Paris had closed its doors on Shabbat for the first time since the end of World War 2 and the starling fact that 15 Jewish patrons of the kosher supermarket in Paris huddled in a storage freezer to avoid being executed by terrorists.

Roger L. Simon wrote a compelling piece in the wake of last week’s barbaric attacks perpetrated by radical Islamists in Paris. Reading his article I observed with irony that he writes about America’s need for a Churchill. Perhaps, pray to God in His mercy we have one, as we are now surely England with a Neville Chamberlain at the helm. Europe, on the other hand, does not have a Churchill in sight. Europe’s Churchills and their children have fled and are fleeing, some at a breakneck pace. The only Churchill I see on the world horizon is Bibi Netanyahu, which is why he will no doubt be elected to another term as prime minister in Israel, regardless of the deals he may or may not cut with the ultra-religious. Internal politics have to be placed on the back burner when international enemies are this bloodthirsty.

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How to Outwit a Radical Feminist

Monday, January 12th, 2015 - by Spencer Klavan
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Oxford — a mental battleground.

There’s an intellectual war going on, and conservatives are surrendering. In elite universities all over America and Europe, incoherent and destructive ideologies are taking hold. Radical feminism, socialism, cultural relativism: these are philosophies founded on logical fallacies and barefaced dishonesty.

But they’re gaining ground.

Take a look at Brendan O’Neill’s article in The Spectator: universities are getting colonized. Oxford, Harvard, Princeton: the “best and brightest” are buying into the maundering nonsense of the radical Left. And the good guys aren’t fighting back. Libertarian and conservative students — the counterculture — are letting the Left dominate social media and campus activism. Maybe we’re scared of being unhip, the bad guys. Maybe progressivism is so obviously absurd we think we can ignore it.

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Indiana Jones in Reverse

Monday, January 12th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Remember after 9/11, when all kinds of bloggers posted that clip from Raiders of the Lost Ark?

You know: The one in which, bored with an Arab swordsman’s show-offy moves, Jones pulls out his pistol and shoots him dead?

Seeing all those posts really cheered me up back then.

“Wow,” I thought. “America is gonna go kick some ass!”

And then those same bloggers and pundits — many of whom I respect mightily — kept repeating the words of some Iraqi guy during the invasion, who was gleefully shouting, “Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!”

Those bloggers and pundits were certain that this meant millions of Muslims had been dying (literally) for the good guys to rescue them.

They wanted the same things we wanted. George Bush said so in his Second Inaugural.

I wanted to believe. But I wasn’t so sure.

Any more than I was as certain as these bloggers that the future lay in the latest cool gadgets, and how cameras and computers were getting cheaper all the time, and Bush just got reelected and hey, Who’s going to the Rose Bowl this year?

Maybe because I’m Canadian.

Maybe because I’m a girl.

Maybe because I was raised Catholic.

Maybe because I’m naturally contrarian.

For whatever reason, all this boyish bluster, I thought, didn’t bode well.

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Thank God for Marvel’s Agent Carter Feminism

Saturday, January 10th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Don’t let the stereotypical G.I. lunks distract you with their butt-smacking, “don’t you need to file something” portrayal of 1940s masculinity. Marvel’s Agent Carter is far from your oh-so-played-out second wave feminist portrayal of manhood – and womanhood, for that matter. Which is why it’s the best show going on television for feminism today.

For every lunk there’s a hero, Carter’s colleague Agent Sousa being one of them. One brilliant expository exchange sets the tone, demonstrating exactly how appealing real men find Carter’s fearless independence:

Carter: “I’m grateful. I’m also more than capable of handling whatever these adolescents throw at me.”

Sousa: “Yes, ma’am. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

Carter: “Well that’s another thing we have in common.”

Carter is a fully empowered female. Sousa knows it, respects it, and likes it. And Carter likes him for it. This kind of His Girl Friday exchange gets equity feminism the screen time our culture so desperately needs. Unlike her Avengers’ counterpart the Black Widow, Agent Carter isn’t squished into slicked up body suits and forced to perform gymnastic feats in order to intrigue her male audience. And unlike gender feminists, Carter draws authority from her sex and uses it to save the day.

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Gadflies and Offense

Friday, January 9th, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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Je Suis Charlie. Actually I’m not Charlie.  I’m Sarah.  But for the purposes of this disquisition, I wanted to indicate that I stand with Charlie Hebdo, the magazine in Paris where people were murdered for drawing cartoons of the prophet Mohammad.

In the wake of this dreadful event, we were treated to a spectacle of frothing at the mouth, whining and screaming – no, not in support, though heaven knows quite a few brave souls rallied to support – about the people who refuse to give in to the head-slicers.

People on Facebook, before the blood stains dried on the floor of the magazine headquarters, were whining about how the “right wing” would take “advantage” of this, and claiming that the magazine “really was very bad” and that they knew what they were risking and therefore had it coming.

Crazier fringes of social media, for instance, my colleagues, either claimed that it is still easier to be a cartoonist in France than a Muslim. (Question for the class: if it’s so difficult to be a Muslim in France, why do they immigrate there? Oh, wait, because it’s more difficult to be a Muslim – or alive – in the majority Muslim countries they came from.) Or that the “right wing” was demanding all Muslims apologize – this from a leading light who then apologized to Muslims for this – or that the right wing was filling Facebook with negativity. This last, the precious flower who claimed this, countered by posting pictures of baby animals.

A particular jewel of preciousness residing in California tweeted the following:

@SofiaSamatar when you live under white supremacy & Islamophobic paranoia, the line between supporting free speech & bolstering hatred is so thin.

I’m not a hundred percent sure what they think white supremacy is, or what race they think the Muslims in France are. However, let me clarify that for them: France is while a bit more xenophobic than the States not in any sense white-supremacist. And the Muslims in France are mostly of Mediterranean origin, that is about the same color I am.  Or, you know, the same as Portuguese, Greeks, and Italians who also immigrated to France.  I don’t see any of those being driven mad by “white supremacy” and killing cartoonists.

And if this precious flower thinks that the US is a white supremacy regime after electing a black president twice, she might need therapy. Whatever she’s seeing is not reality.

Then there are the people who say that Charlie Hebdo had it coming because they were “nasty” and “disrespectful” to everyone, not just Muslims, that they were a polluting element in society, which “upset” people.

I have for years now decried the nonsense of trigger warnings and people who confused PTSD with “being mildly inconvenienced.” I’m not doubting the existence of PTSD, mind, I’m saying that when you get to trigger warning for “holes” or “spiders” for people READING a text, you’ve gone well beyond sanity.

I suspect half the people who say Charlie Hebdo courted their fate are people who believe they have a right to be protected from unpleasantness.

To them I say: Grow up. (Actually I say something more forthright, Anglo-Saxon and four letter, but PJMedia would cut it out.)

Oh, sure, you’re free to say whatever you want – see, our side recognizes that – but I’m also free to tell you to make the sign of the double emu with an umbrella up in that part of your anatomy where the sun don’t shine.

You don’t have a right to never be offended. You don’t have a right to never be questioned. You certainly don’t have a right to never be made uncomfortable.

This is not only because giving you that right would cause other people to be uncomfortable.  No.  This is because giving you that right is actively detrimental to civilization.

First of all, people can find offense and things to upset them in just about everything, regardless of content. I recently talked to a young lady whose parents forbid music with a rhythm – even classical music – because they deem that sexual. I know people who consider fiction – all fiction – offensive, because it creates something that doesn’t exist. I know people – and for those who’ve read me and know the most sex in my books is a kiss this will be great fun – who think my books are pornographic. I’ve simultaneously been accused of proselytizing Christianity and of being anti-Christian for the exact same book.

People can find offense wherever. Give the pointing finger the right to decide what anyone can do and no one will do anything. Some people will object to chipping flint, as it violates the rocks of Mother Earth.

Second of all, civilization needs reality checks.  Most people like the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo are gadflies.  They will attack everyone equally and most of their attacks will be somewhere between fart jokes and armpit noises.

But sometimes the gadflies are needed to point out what’s wrong with things that have gotten entrenched in society to the point no one analyses them anymore.  Take Marxism. (Please! I’ll give you a free barf bag as an additional prize!) Most people aren’t aware of the extent to which it has penetrated their thoughts, and it takes a joke juxtaposing, say, equality of results and the town drunk for them to see what is wrong with it.

And sometimes the gadflies expose the amount to which the “reasonable people” are cowards who have allowed themselves to be cowed.  Their silly bravery in the face of physical attacks and eventually death stands in contrast to the fear at CNN which immediately banned all non-respectful references to “the prophet” as though there were only one.

They definitely expose the hypocrisy of those who constantly chide others for “victim blaming” but who would blame these most hapless victims who were killed over some lines drawn on paper?

Je suis Charlie, even though this is Sarah – but Charlie is 100% with me on this – we will not shut up, we will not be cowed, we will not kowtow to desert hillbillies who critique art with machine guns.

We will write and say what we want to, and we will defend the right of free speech of everyone else. Even of Ms. “White Supremacy Believer” above, and of CNN.

Even as we think they should do the sign of the double emu with an umbrella up in the part of their anatomy where the sun don’t shine. And THEN open the umbrella.


Je suis Charlie, C’est vrai — mon prénom est Charlie. But for the purposes of this article, my point, as with Sarah’s, is to indicate my support for free expression against the people who want to tell me what to think or what to say.

All of them.


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Wisdom From My Internet
By Michael Z. Williamson

You learn some amazing things on the internet. The War of 1812 was just a dispute over labor and hiring practices. Pico de Gallo was not a conquistadore. Hugo Chavez is not a line of clothing. There was no medieval siege engine called the Battering Lamb. Americans apparently like debt–they keep voting for more of it.

Join SF writer and satirist Michael Z. Williamson for a collection of snark, comments, random typings and alcohol-fueled puns that is worth at least half the cover price.


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Nocturnal Lives (boxed set)
By Amanda S. Green

This “box set” includes the first three novels in the Nocturnal Lives series.


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Duty from Ashes
By Sam Schall

Major Ashlyn Shaw has survived false accusations and a brutal military prison. Now free, she finds her homeworld once again at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy everything she holds dear. Duty has Ashlyn once again answering the call to serve. She has seen what the enemy is capable of and will do everything she can to prevent it from happening to the home she loves and the people she took an oath to protect.

But something has changed. It goes beyond the fact that the enemy has changed tactics they never wavered from during the previous war. It even goes beyond the fact that there is still a nagging doubt in the back of Ashlyn’s mind that those who betrayed her once before might do so again. No, there is more to the resumption of hostilities, something that seems to point at a new player in the game. But who and what are they playing at?

Will Ashlyn be able to unmask the real enemy before it is too late?


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One-Eyed Dragon
By Cedar Sanderson

One-Eyed Dragon is a story of medieval Japan, a man retired from war, and the quiet village he set up shop in. When a strange woman comes to him for a tattoo, he reluctantly takes her money, and tries to unravel her mystery. Meanwhile, savage men threaten his newfound peace. Can there be friendship in exile, for a man who is so scarred and cast out?


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Rainbow’s Lodestone
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

A lost birthright and unending agony.

On a whim, the rainbow’s child falls to earth, where a cruel adversary takes advantage of her innocence. Can she reclaim her thunder-swept heavens? Must she dwindle and die? This transcendent short story of J.M. Ney-Grimm’s troll-ridden North-lands explores how inner freedom creates outer opportunities.

Earth trumps heaven until ancient music plays.


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Star-drake
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

Gefnen – troll-herald and hound for Koschey the Deathless – hunts life across the moors of the far north.

Not deer, not pheasant, not meat for the table. His master eats choicer fruits. When the piercing scent of youth tingles his senses, Gefnen focuses his chase. The prey – a boy – lacks guardians strong enough to best a troll. Swift triumph awaits.

But other seekers tilt the chances of this game. Spirit of storm, poignant memories of a sea-prince, and something more ancient than memory or the wind shape the looming tumult.

Gefnen hunts victory, but a darker victory hunts him.

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The West’s Multiculturalist Elite Proves the Greatest Threat to Islamic Reform

Friday, January 9th, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Ahmed Merabet, the police officer who first responded to the terror attack at the Charlie Hebdo offices only to get shot to death at point-blank range by the attackers, will inevitably become the poster boy for both sides of the Muslim debate. His truth was that of a Muslim who integrated into French society and professionally defended Western values resulting in his untimely murder at the hands of Islamic radicals. That truth is already being manipulated by multiculturalist news outlets bent on defending universalism despite its deathly consequences.

The Atlantic is using Merabet’s story to drum up what they believe to be obvious anti-Muslim sentiment in France, obvious only because news agencies scrambling to cover the Charlie Hebdo story didn’t jump on Merabet’s paragraph to defend Islam against radical Islamic terrorists. (Priorities, people.) Joining with The Atlantic crowd, Max Fisher opines at Vox:

Here is what Muslims and Muslim organizations are expected to say: “As a Muslim, I condemn this attack and terrorism in any form.”

This expectation we place on Muslims, to be absolutely clear, is Islamophobic and bigoted. The denunciation is a form of apology: an apology for Islam and for Muslims. The implication is that every Muslim is under suspicion of being sympathetic to terrorism unless he or she explicitly says otherwise. The implication is also that any crime committed by a Muslim is the responsibility of all Muslims simply by virtue of their shared religion.

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Christian Parents Blamed for Joshua (Leelah) Alcorn’s Suicide

Thursday, January 8th, 2015 - by Rhonda Robinson

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Another tragic death of a teenager has ignited a cultural firestorm. Once again, angry voices drape their political agenda over a coffin. Although this time it’s different. The deceased’s mother is not getting the empathy and support of the mainstream media. 

A confused and depressed 17-year-old young man walked four miles from his home in Ohio to a highway, where he stepped in front of an oncoming tractor-trailer. Joshua Alcorn died at the scene. When he didn’t show up to delete a scheduled post on Tumblr, it surfaced as a public suicide note.

He wrote that his life was not worth living as transgender. He also wrote of his loneliness and his parents’ refusal to get him gender-reassignment surgery. Instead, he lamented, they would only take him to “biased” Christian therapists.

As you might expect, the “proud” and “tolerant” community are rubbing a grieving mother’s face in her dead son’s troubled life. Without a second thought, their bony fingers of blame point to the parents for the child’s suicide and they scream murder. The purveyors of progressive ideology are doing their best to smear the blood of this precious child on the face and hands of his family and their Christian religion.

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Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

Jimi-Hendrix

Last year I read three books that challenged the mainstream view of the 1960s.

(Herewith I’m employing the folk definition of “The Sixties” as that stretch between the Kennedy assassination in November 1963 and the May 1975 fall of Saigon.)

I say “mainstream” because I haven’t entertained many illusions about what really happened during that overlong Baby Boomer idyl since I was a kid.

In the first place, I grew up “soaking in it,” in the dishwashing liquid commercial catchphrase of the era, and I hated almost every minute.

In the second, as an adult, I discerned certain disruptions in the official “peace and love” narrative.

Being a bratty pest by temperament, I’ve made a minor career out of helping debunking the myth of the selfless hippie, the noble white liberal, the enlightened radical, the powerless housewife and the era’s other stock characters.

(I’m also rather fond of rehabilitating the laughingstocks of the age.)

This year, I read three books that, to various degrees, reinforced my view that what we call The Sixties — an allegedly Edenic era that canny progressives continue to evoke when crafting 21st century policy — was a Potemkin village of the imagination, or, in the words of the narrator below, “a mass hallucination”:

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The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015

Thursday, January 1st, 2015 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Take one look at Mic’s list of feminist triumphs for 2014 and you’ll get the feeling that most of us have over the course of this rather petty year: American feminism doesn’t know what to do with itself. Sure, it pays lip service to international women with its only PC figurehead, Malala Yousafzai, taking the list’s lead. And yes, the editors made sure to include a proportional number of women of color on the list, even if they included Ferguson protestors, leading one to ask why the feminist movement would want to associate itself with the kind of race riots we haven’t seen in this nation in nearly 50 years. But when your greatest triumphs include hashtag activism, conquering “manspreading,” and harassing Bill Cosby over decades-old alleged rape accusations, you illustrate how pathetic you’ve become.

A few of these so-called feminist triumphs were listed among the top feminist fiascos of 2014 in the L.A. Times, along with some real head-hanging, shame-filled moments stretching from #ShirtStorm to #BanBossy. One item on the list, however, strikes a sobering note: Rotherham. The complete lack of American feminist response to the sex trafficking of women in this British town for over two decades should be enough to shame feminists into pursuing a new direction in 2015. Feminism as a biblically grounded, non-sectarian movement for women’s independence can once again play a vital role in American and global culture, as long as its gaze is redirected from the navel to the critical issues facing women today.

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Stop Gun Violence, Bring Your Parents’ Gun to School

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

It’s hard not to wonder what the flash of brilliance looked like as it crossed filmmaker Rejina Sincic’s face with this idea for a public service announcement (PSA). Did she think, “I can make this a better world and reduce gun violence in schools and communities by teaching children to steal their parents’ guns and bring them to school”?

What this activist did achieve, is to create a teachable moment for children and adults alike.

The video, now mysteriously marked as private on YouTube, depicts a young, middle-class boy who looks to be around 12 or 13. As he comes out of his basement, he peeks around the corner at, one can only presume, his mother. We find her curled up on a couch with a blanket and a book in her lap.

The boy then goes into her bedroom, pulls a handgun out of her dresser drawer, takes it to his room, and puts it in his school backpack. The next scene has him in a very small, diverse classroom. To highlight his responsible nature and mature insight, he waits until all his other classmates leave the room.

The polite young man then presents his mother’s gun to his startled, elderly teacher. He then utters the first, and only, line in the entire video:

Can you take this away? I don’t feel safe with a gun in my house.

What we have here, boys and girls, is a wonderful example of a kid committing several crimes. Can you count them?

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4 Fallacies Killing Feminism

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson, two wannabe-famous New York twenty somethings, teamed up to talk sex via their “running soap opera,” “almost reality TV show” podcast Guys We F*cked. Broadcasting under the “anti-slut shaming” banner makes Guys We F*cked appealing to the contemporary feminists at Salon who never turn down the chance to normalize twisted sexuality. Salon assistant editor Jenny Kutner sat down with the comedy duo more commonly known as “Sorry About Last Night” who, as they enter season 2 of their famed podcast, are looking to crowdsource funds from fans while noting that their careers are “…getting better because of the podcast, which is really exciting.”

Performing an editorial feat, Kutner defines the duo’s narcissism as “comedy with a purpose” in her attempt to define the two as feminists. In doing so, the assistant editor at Salon exposes exactly why contemporary feminism is failing 21st century women: Today’s feminists have worked to sever feminism from its historical roots as a biblically-grounded movement for women’s independence. What they’re replacing it with, a “social media feminism” as artist and feminist April Bey has dubbed it, is a mere mask for narcissistic, death-obsessed, goddess worship.

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Judeo-Christian Angels And the Power of Pagan Art

Friday, December 26th, 2014 - by David P. Goldman

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Joseph Bottum is my favorite among Christian writers; I read him religiously, as it were, for a decade before we met, and before he asked me to join the masthead of the monthly magazine First Things in 2009. The fact that he is a close friend, therefore, has nothing to do with my admiration for his work; I have several close friends who write badly, and admire any number of writers whom I abhor as human beings. His Christmas meditation “Angels I Have Heard on High” was a holiday delicacy to be savored. Jody has heard angel voices singing, “high in the wind, across a western meadow frozen stiff and covered with the fallen snow.” I  wish him many more such blessed encounters.

Jody is now writing Christmas carols, and we’ve been corresponding about the form, from an aesthetic vantage point, to be sure. The great poet of Spain’s Golden Age, Lope de Vega, wrote a marvelous song in which the Virgin Mary responds to the glory of angels ruffling the palm trees by asking them to hold onto the branches and quiet down; her child, she explains, is already exhausted by the world’s suffering and needs to rest. The juxtaposition of maternal ordinariness and supernatural splendor is a successful poetic conceit. Christian poets work wonders with angelic encounters, and Lope’s famous Christmas meditation is sublime. One really must read it in the original: with its Romance meter (comparable to our ballad meter) and unrhymed alliteration, the poem bestrides the divide between sublime and secular in technique as well as content.

By pure coincidence, the conversation around the Shabbat table last week at Hong Kong’s modest Israeli synagogue, Shuva Israel, centered on angels as well. Jews sing “Peace onto you, ministering angels” before Friday night dinner, on the basis of an ancient homilectic that two angels accompany a Jew home from synagogue on the eve of Shabbat:

Peace upon you, ministering angels, messengers of the Most High,

of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

Come in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

Bless me with peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High,

of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

May your departure be in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High, of the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.

Note that the appearance of the angels is a scheduled weekly occurrence, to be welcomed, but nothing to get excited about. The odd thing, though, is that the angels are asked to leave. One hears many explanations for this, but I like best the one proposed by the Chafetz Chaim, the leader of observant Jewry in Eastern Europe during the interwar years, and recounted last Friday by a young Israeli rabbi. When the high priest entered the Temple’s Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he went in alone–not even an angel dared accompany him into this most holy place. The recreation of the Temple in the Shabbat table of a Jewish home is so holy that even the holy angels cannot abide there; after they have done their job of accompanying us home from synagogue they are politely asked to go away.

The Holy of Holies in Judaism is found in the most ordinary things of life once they have been dedicated to the Holy One, blessed be he. The Shekhinah (the Indwelling of God) resides on the Shabbat table, and in marital relations between husband and wife. Such things surpass the holiness even of angels.

The holiness of the sanctified ordinary, to be sure, doesn’t always make for compelling poetry; as a latecomer to Jewish observance I tend to sniff at the poetic merits of the classic songs sung around the Shabbat table, although some of them, drawn from the Psalms, are hauntingly beautiful.

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Why Do Jews Struggle with Chosenness?

Monday, December 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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I have no interest in seeing Ridley Scott’s epic IMAX 3-D meisterwerk Exodus: Gods and Kings. Why would I want to spend money on a “gloriously junky” movie that turns my history into a collection of high-tech special effects laced together by a biased, biblically-inaccurate script? Yet, for however lousy the movie itself might be, it has inspired some interesting commentary on Jewish peoplehood from Emma Green over at the Atlantic. For Green, the film inspired a polemic that highlights the seemingly eternal struggle Jews have with the idea of being called out, that is to say “chosen” by God.

I’ve always found this to be rather asinine as far as ideological burdens go. Most people struggle to find their purpose in life. Jews are born into it. We are here to bring God’s teachings into the world in order to make this earth a better place. This chosen status, this calling doesn’t make us any better than anyone else. It simply gives us a job to do, a role that manifests itself through every aspect of existence, every academic discipline, every profession we’ve ever encountered. Whether we’re religious or not, or politically Left or Right, we (for the most part) are bent on doing our part to make the world a better place. Which is probably why those who hate us the most love to rub our chosenness in our face, intimidating the Emma Greens among us into second guessing our God-given responsibility.

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If You Love Your Kids, Kill That Elf on the Shelf

Friday, December 19th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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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?

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Handcuffed or Spanked?

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

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The obvious answer is “neither.” Who wants their child, at any age, handcuffed by police – let alone at age 6? Sorry if I misled you with the title; you don’t have the option between spanking and handcuffs. Children are not being spanked in school and obviously not at home. That would be just wrong, right?

Handcuffed for bad behavior? Yeah, that’s happening today.

As the wife of a retired police officer, I have some very strong opinions about the role of the police. This, however, is an entirely different matter. A police officer in an elementary school is not the same as an officer on the street. This isn’t about police. It’s about developmental behavior, abdicating responsibility, and the natural consequences of cultural Marxism.

It’s a given that one or two instances doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s commonplace, although it is an issue that is occurring more often than most of us realize. I defy you to find one story of this happening even in the turbulent years of the ’60s and ’70s.

Believe me, it would have made the news. But back then we had segregated classrooms–average children were in one room, obnoxious kids in the hallway, and autism was one in 2000 students. Most schools never saw one autistic child.

There’s a lot of blame to go around here, so I’m going to narrow it down to a cultural issue that parents need to recognize embedded in how we view the family.

Before I explain that statement, let’s take a look at a couple cases at hand.

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5 Ways to Avoid Christma-fying Your Hanukkah

Monday, December 15th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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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.

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9 Ways Pop Culture Gets Childbirth Wrong

Friday, December 12th, 2014 - by Bethany Mandel

There’s no shortage of media representations of childbirth, between television and movies. The scene, which has played out for as long as babies have been “born” on television, is fairly cookie cutter: the woman’s water breaks and there’s a mad dash to the hospital — otherwise the baby will be born in a stalled elevator. The woman screams in pain, begging for drugs, and then out comes a beautiful, usually clean baby who cries immediately before being wrapped and placed in mom’s arms.

As with all mainstream media representations of real-life events, writers and producers take a lot of liberties with the scene and how it plays out in real life. Since having a child myself, I often wonder if anyone on the writing or producing staff has ever been present for the birth of a child, given how diametrically different these moments are in real life.

The way childbirth is portrayed isn’t just inaccurate, but also fuels a false perception in our society of childbirth as scary, dangerous, and often negative. Several aspects of how childbirth plays out on screen also affect how real life couples may process their own experience in the moment. So what can a couple expect out of the birth of their child? What does the media get wrong? This list is just a start:

1. Babies come out pink 

One of the scariest moments for any parent who has seen enough babies being born on television is the color their child comes out. While some people may be ready for the goop and slime that coat a baby’s skin, the color of their skin usually comes as a total shock, even if intellectually one has been made aware that often babies don’t come out flesh-colored or pink right out of the womb.

On the series Parenthood, which, unsurprisingly, has seen quite a few births over the course of the last six seasons, the youngest son of the clan, Crosby Braverman, had a daughter with his wife Jasmine. She came out looking like this:

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The very first moments a baby comes into the world, before they’ve had an opportunity to get oxygen into their bodies, a baby’s skin tone, regardless of race, is often a deep shade of purple, which can be petrifying if unprepared, which most parents are. Those first fleeting moments are usually forgotten in the haze of new parenthood, but it’s a shame that most first-time parents find themselves scared for their child’s safety and well-being before the cord has even been cut. Better images would go a long way in changing our image of brand new human beings, highlighting what can be normal in healthy childbirth.

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3 Top Lessons from the New Republic Implosion

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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Now that the pixel dust has (mostly) settled, we can begin trying to glean some lessons from the sudden crack up of The New Republic.

Since its inception 100 years ago, TNR has positioned itself as the journal of American liberalism, when that word was still synonymous with patriotism, freedom and even a hawkish foreign policy.

The magazine cheer-led for Stalin longer than was seemly and opposed the Vietnam War. However, it was also critical of the New Left’s excesses and, under contentious editor Martin Peretz, became largely pro-Israel.

It may have been “the in-flight magazine of Air Force One” during the Clinton administration but that didn’t prevent TNR from being highly critical of his (and Hillary’s) policies.

So it wouldn’t be entirely fair or accurate to describe The New Republic as a “liberal” magazine, although that’s what a lot of conservative commentators have been doing since this week’s Chernobyl-level meltdown.

In a magazine landscape in which The Nation is unmistakeably far-left, and National Review and the Weekly Standard are clearly “right wing,” The New Republic sometimes seemed… confused — a reflection of the particular passions of whoever happened to be editor at the time.

And many of those editors over the years have been quite young.

As have the magazine’s writers.

That’s why it’s likely that the prospect of having a 28-year-old owner didn’t immediately strike fear into the hearts of New Republic stakeholders.

Ooops.

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Should We Care When Our Political Leaders Fail?

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Editor’s Note: See the first four 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,” “The Key to a Woman’s Sexual Power,” and “Should You Trust Your Gut or God?“ Also check out an introduction to her work and collection of 194 articles and blog posts hereWarning: some spoilers about season 3 discussed in this installment.

Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She obeys no one, she accepts no correction. She does not trust in the Lord, she does not draw near to her God. Her officials within her are roaring lions; her rulers are evening wolves, who leave nothing for the morning. Her prophets are unprincipled; they are treacherous people. Her priests profane the sanctuary and do violence to the law.

Zephaniah 3:1-4

Our culture has a seemingly natural distrust of people in power, but that wasn’t always the case. Before November 1963 we put great faith in our political and spiritual leaders. Those pre-’63 figureheads like JFK, Ike and FDR, Fulton Sheen and Billy Graham are still heralded as role models of moral society. Today’s faith is different. We look for hypocrisy and mock it intensely. All spiritual leaders are televangelists skilled in chicanery. Our politicians are now supposed to be our messiahs, and when they fail we as a nation fall into despair and chaos. When did we forget God, and why does it matter that we’ve left Him out of the equation?

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VIDEO: How Leaders Should Celebrate Diversity

Monday, December 8th, 2014 - by Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Rick Lynch

See Part I in this ongoing series about applying leadership principles to the big problems our nation faces and to our every day lives: “Leaders See Opportunities, not Obstacles.” Also pick up the book Adapt or Die: Leadership Principles from an American General.

I continue to find myself worried about the future of our Nation. The current situation in Ferguson, Missouri and other parts of our country is of great concern. Unfortunately, there are elements in our society who want to emphasize divisiveness over diversity. They want to drive a wedge between us. I saw this in Iraq during my service there. Folks there committed specific acts of terror to inflame tension between the Iraqi Shias and Sunnis. We can’t allow that to happen here in the United States of America.

I argue continuously that families, communities and organizations should celebrate diversity.  They must move beyond simple tolerance and truly embrace and celebrate diversity.  If they do that, everyone will flourish. All indicators of success will dramatically improve. We will be exponentially more effective. The US Military is a case in point.

In 1948 President Truman issued an executive order that it was his policy that all members of the armed services of the United States be given equal opportunities regardless of race, religion, color, or source of national origin. Today the US Armed Forces celebrate diversity. We embrace the concept that different folks bring different strengths to the table. We judge a person not based on their color, but on their character, competence, and contributions. We are far from perfect, but we in the military are quantum leaps above the rest of society when it comes to celebrating diversity.

Why can’t we as a Nation do that? Why is it necessary to stereotype someone based on his or her color or religion? Why can’t we celebrate the differences, and use everyone’s contribution to improve our society and make America better place for all to live and flourish?  It can be done.

I am convinced that our Nation is in imminent danger from terrorists of all types, including domestic terrorists. There are folks among us who want to incite fear and inflame riots and demonstrations for the sole purpose of establishing divisions between us. They want our Nation to be broken into subgroups as opposed to emphasizing our diversity.  We must put an end to this.

The solution to this problem will not be found in Washington DC, but rather in our own homes and communities. Let’s look closely at how we are living our lives, make appropriate changes, and truly embrace and celebrate diversity. Our children and their children will thank us for that.

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Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part Two)

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

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The “Christmas single” phenomenon is unknown in the U.S., unless you’ve ever watched Love, Actually.

It’s sort of the “Black Friday” of the British music industry. Since so much music is sold (or, at least, used to be) during the holiday season, having the #1 song on the charts during that time gives one lucky record company a financial boost.

After Slade took the top spot in 1973 with their “Merry Xmas Everybody” — beating out  “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” by Wizzard — “an emotional attachment to the Christmas countdown has developed, and for many [in the United Kingdom], it is part of the fabric of their childhood.”

So I doubt many American readers care that there’s a campaign to get Iron Maiden’s old chestnut “The Number of the Beast” to the top of the charts in time for Christmas, “for a laugh.”

What’s really funny (sort of) is that, during the early 1970s, such a campaign would have been denounced on the front page of every British tabloid, and remarked upon within American newspapers’ “entertainment” sections, at the very least.

Why?

Because culture-watchers would see it as yet another sign of the satanic takeover of the culture, and the world — the one I wrote about last week.

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Why You Should Visit California’s Wonderful Dark Place, Borrego Springs

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 - by Arlene Becker Zarmi

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While driving on a desert road in Borrego Springs, California, if you see a massive undulating serpent whose tail is waving in and out of the sand on one side of the road you’re driving on, with the rest of him, including his fearsome almost two-story head, sticking out of the sand on the other side, you are not having a desert hallucination. The three hundred and fifty foot serpent and other fanciful and realistic metal sculptures, including scorpions, spiders, dinosaurs, wild horses rearing their heads, and an array of human like figures doing human-like activities, dot the landscape near the town of Borrego Springs, and the historic La Casa del Zorro Resort. In fact the artist, Ricardo Breceda, who sculpted these surreal creations, has his studio at one end of the resort’s 42 acre property.

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Should You Trust Your Gut or God?

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Editor’s Note: See the first three 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,” and “The Key to a Woman’s Sexual Power.” Also check out an introduction to her work and collection of 194 articles and blog posts here.

The idea of Olivia Pope is one of a woman who trusts her gut instinct so implicitly that she bases her every decision on it. As a result she unwittingly justifies a range of crimes, puts her life and the lives of her employees and friends at risk, and helps terrorists escape the country. Sometimes listening to your gut just isn’t good enough. Which is probably why God provides a wise alternative in Torah: the prophet.

Biblical culture believes that God speaks to human beings. Sometimes this is done in a group setting, like when the Israelites entered into a covenant with God on Mount Sinai. Other times this is done on an individual level, as when God called out Abraham, spoke to Moses through the burning bush, and when God speaks to His prophets. Given that God spoke to His priests through the long-ago destroyed Temple, Rabbinic Judaism tends to view prophets as the stuff of biblical history, despite the prophecy of Joel:

And afterward [after the restoration of Israel], I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.

The Spirit of God in prophecy, known in Rabbinic Judaism as the “bat kol,” is highly regulated by Rabbinic law and culture:

In any event, the consensus in Jewish thought is that no appeal to a heavenly voice can be made to decide matters of halakhah where human reasoning on the meaning of the Torah rules is alone determinative. In non-legal matters, however, a Bat Kol is to be heeded. …In modern Jewish thought, even among the Orthodox, claims to have heard a Bat Kol would be treated with extreme suspicion and dismissed as chicanery or hallucination.

But is it really wise to always trust your gut?

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