Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

4 Things to Get Liberated From This Passover

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by P. David Hornik

Still-life with wine and matzoh (jewish passover bread)

Passover, which begins today at sundown and lasts for seven days in Israel and eight days in the Diaspora, is one of the major, constitutive holidays of the Jewish people. It commemorates the Jews’ exodus from slavery in Egypt 3300 years ago, which led to the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai and an arduous 40-year trek to the Promised Land.

The basic instructions for Passover are laid down by God in Exodus 12:

And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever….

And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.

The “feast” is the Passover seder practiced by Jews all over the world to this day; the “unleavened bread” is the matza eaten at the seder and all throughout Passover by observant Jews. Passover is a joyous holiday, and in our era it has the added spice of the return to the Promised Land and the rise of a free and independent Jewish state.

Passover coincides this year with a dramatic political event—the crisis and possible demise of yet another Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” this one shepherded earnestly, passionately, and futilely by U.S. secretary of state John Kerry. We are now at a juncture that offers two options: to remain enslaved to the same flawed assumptions that lead again and again to failure; or to finally get liberated from them and reach a Promised Land of understanding and rational policy.

Read bullet | Comments »

Religion, Politics & Screaming at the Internet

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

screamingatcomputer

David Swindle has entered the ongoing  discussion on altruism, religion and politics here at PJLifestyle. In doing so, he’s issued a number of great questions I’ve been wrestling with over the past few weeks. Jumping back in, I’d like to address them one by one, beginning with:

Walter, Susan, Lisa, and anyone else who’d like to join the discussion: am I going too far when I say that for a good number of people “Conservatism” is a form of idolatry?

No. I’ve had a hard, sad reminder of that through some of the commentary I’ve received on a number of articles in the past few weeks. There are some wonderful, insightful people out there who I’d love to have dinner with some day. And then there’s the passionate base who has time to issue verbose rants: Contradict popular line and you can “F-off”. You know this segment of the population; they are the reason stereotypes exist. But, they also prove the point that there are people out there who worship Conservatism above all else. Ironically, they’re as abusively passionate as those “liberals” they are taught to hate.

Read bullet | Comments »

Altruism in Religion’s Free Market

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

tithe

My colleague Walter Hudson recently concluded that altruism has no place in Christian life:

Christian giving promotes life and health. Altruism promotes starvation and death. Altruism redistributes. Christian giving transacts. Christ’s own words assure us of greater blessing in giving than receiving. Christian giving leaves us better off, not worse. Altruism therefore proves atheistic, as Piper declares. We will never give more to others than God will give to us.

Walter’s basic conclusion is capitalist in nature: A Christian should be rewarded in kind (or over and above) for giving of their money, their time, or their talent. On the face of it, his argument makes sense, especially in light of congregational membership. My Christian friends often complain about the concept of “tithing,” a Torah teaching that is grossly abused by the religious establishment. Far too often, “tithing” translates into religious leadership putting pressure on church members to “donate” up to 10% of their annual income to their church. Synagogue membership, on the other hand, is rather simple: The same flat fee is charged to everyone on a yearly basis. No weekly passing of plates, no feeling ashamed; most synagogues have provision to assist members who may not be able to meet the annual sum. Programming fees are charged for additional events, like holiday services and Hebrew school. This model best fits Walter’s description of being rewarded in kind for monies given.

In the era where religious establishments have become places to fulfill business networking and social needs, it makes sense that you’d pay a fee for the religious service as you would any other mode through which these things would be accomplished. You pay for drinks at bars, JDate and Christian Mingle memberships, and head hunters; someone’s got to pay the electric bill so the lights are on when you’re shaking hands. The only question is, where is God in all of this? If the Bible is right, and we were put on earth to walk with Him in a personal relationship, what is He getting for His services rendered? That is, besides a corrupt priesthood on both sides of the aisle, pressuring congregants for cash and willing to let God take the back seat to a business deal?

Read bullet | Comments »

Noah: A Good Jewish Boy’s Cinematic Drash

Monday, March 31st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

AronofskyNoah

Darren Aronofsky’s take on the classic tale of Noah is the Jewish guy’s Bible movie. The narrative, which does remain true to the textual account of Genesis, is crafted in the style akin to a scholarly drash. In another lifetime you might imagine this story to have been generated by a minyan of Talmud scholars poring over the story in their classes. Perhaps that is why the Christian audience has reacted so poorly to the film; it is not, in the words of Walter Hudson, told “from a Christian theological standpoint.” The audience is treated to a wrestling, not recounting, of the text for two very good reasons: A four-chapter story would make for a very short film and Aronofsky, for however religious he may or may not be at the moment, is most definitely 100% a Jew.

Aronofsky’s Noah remains, first and foremost, a story of redemption as it was interpreted thousands of years ago when paired with Haftarah portions in Isaiah (42-43 and 54-55) for the weekly Torah reading. Like the patriarch Jacob, Noah wrestles with God: the battle is a question of original sin and free will. Redemption, Aronofsky illustrates, is a choice entered into by covenant with God. It is not simply a no-strings-attached gift granted to perfectly bad people by a perfectly good looking guy who tests well with focus groups.

Contrary to most Bible epics, a faceless, voiceless God communicates His redemptive plan to Noah through the Biblically prophetic device of a metaphoric dream. “You must trust that He speaks to you in a way you understand,” Noah’s grandfather Methuselah advises. Reminiscent of the Tanakh prophecy “your old men will see visions, your young men will dream dreams,” Aronofsky engages Noah with his aged, wise grandfather, who advises him of Enoch’s prophecy that God would, one day, annihilate the world by fire.

Read bullet | 83 Comments »

A Jew’s Take on Jesus Movies

Sunday, March 30th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

BiblememeAcculturated‘s R.J. Moeller has penned an excellent commentary on faith-based films in light of the Christian controversy surrounding Noah:

…no one who doesn’t already believe in God will go see Son of God. And many who do believe in God and who do go see it are, like me, plopping down $14 or $15 purely from a sense of solidarity with the well-intentioned creators of such projects. There are other, better “Jesus movies.” A dramatic reading of some of the more risqué and exciting parts of the Bible by the likes of Morgan Freeman would interest me more than sitting through Son of God again.

And while neither option likely interests your secular, non-religious co-worker, neighbor, or relative, all of them will go see something like Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. This is why I, as a Christian, am infinitely more excited about Noah than any other “faith-based” film in a long time – regardless of the theology or worldview found in it. I can actually talk to my non-Christian friends about it because they will actually pay U.S. currency (or BitCoin) to go see it.

…what I am suggesting is that while we work to inspire and equip new generations of artists who share our values to boldly venture into the pop-culture fray, we must not miss opportunities to introduce our worldview into the cultural conversation. … Art has the power to transcend and speak to the soul. But it must be able to meet people on their level before pointing them upward.

Upon first read I knew Moeller went out on a limb with his commentary, precisely because what he says is the truth. And truth doesn’t always gel with religious dogma; I’m a Jew, I should know. One advantage I do have over my Christian brothers when it comes to faith is that my Jewish culture encourages — and is built on — wrestling with God’s word. These matches stray far from the polite scenarios common to gentile Christian faith. However, they have resulted in a similarity between us, in that they have developed and sustained a religious culture that reveres commentary as much as the actual Word of God.

Read bullet | 50 Comments »

Glenn Beck, The Church & the Real Secret to Disney’s Success

Monday, March 24th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

BeckDisney

Last week, alternative media mogul Glenn Beck announced that he was going to focus on “taking back” American culture through the power of nostalgia:

In the future, Glenn Beck’s focus is going to be more on influencing culture and less on politics and news. After all, news is only “what the culture allows,” he said in a recent interview with National Review’s Eliana Johnson.

…“Beck is nostalgic for an America of decades past, and his cultural projects will aim to resurrect and revive it,” Johnson writes. “It’s an America where duty trumped desire and Americans were bound together by a sort of civic religion created by that sense of duty. ‘I want to impact the culture in the way that people see good again,’ [Glenn] says.”

Beck’s goal is admirable, to a fault. The period he seeks to resurrect was one in which concepts like “good” and “duty” were defined by a Biblical religion, not a civic one. Any history student will tell you that Marx had his own take on the American Revolution; you can show someone Frank Capra movies until you’re blue in the face and they’re still going to see Mr. Smith as the ultimate community organizer if that’s their moral outlook.

As Amy Kenyon notes, there are pitfalls to what passes for nostalgia these days:

…the historical meanings and usages associated with nostalgia were finally mangled beyond recognition until its chief purpose became the performance of sentimentalism, the parceling out of discount memory via television, advertising, heritage theme parks, and souvenir markets, all aspects of what we might call the “nostalgia industry.” As such, nostalgia became kitsch, trivial and reactionary: hardly the stuff of a meaningful engagement with the past or the workings of memory.

Simply put: Glenn Beck needs to do more than embrace the facade of America, circa 1940. Beck needs to dig deeper, to America’s Biblical heritage, to understand what re-taking the culture truly means.

Read bullet | Comments »

The Latest Outbreak of Golden Calf Syndrome

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

goldencalf

There’s this great story in the Torah that goes a little something like this. The leaders of Israel went up on a mountain for a private conference with God, per His request. With the bosses away, the Israelites decided to throw a party. Grateful to their God for freeing them from slavery, they shaped a golden calf to symbolize Him, worshipped the calf as God, and partied on. When the leaders came back down from the mountain, they were less than pleased. Tablets were smashed, God rained justice, there were a lot of irreversible layoffs. The common understanding of the tale says that God destroyed the Israelites because they worshipped the calf as a god. In reality, their sin was creating an image of God that suited their own liking, then worshipping Him as they wished.

Hollywood, and American culture in general, suffers from Golden Calf Syndrome. Whether you blame it on the instant gratification of social media or simple human impatience, God doesn’t communicate every 5 seconds in 140 characters or less. That’s not enough for us as a culture, so we’ve made a nasty habit out of satiating our need for the Almighty by forcing Him into a box of our own liking. Habit has become trend to the point that we don’t even realize when we’re trying to force God into our mold.

Take, for instance, the conservative Christian idol-worship of Matthew McConaughey for “daring” to use the name “God” in a sentence at the Oscars. Upon remarking on the huge stretch of the imagination performed by Christians (and some Jews, I’m sure) in thinking that McConaughey’s use of the G-word somehow referenced the God of scripture, the common, rather lackluster response I received was best phrased as, “Take it where you can get it.”

One comment, however, caught my eye.

Read bullet | 6 Comments »

Latest Shroud of Turin News with an Exclusive Message from A Renowned Scientist

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 - by Myra Adams

Professor Giulio Fanti, famous Shroud of Turin scientist and research author

In the next few weeks leading up to Easter Sunday you can expect to hear more news about the Shroud of Turin — a mysterious piece of linen that millions of Catholics and other Christians believe is the actual burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

It was during Holy Week last year when the Shroud of Turin generated headlines around the globe. That was a result of Italian scientist and renowned Shroud researcher Giulio Fanti releasing his book, The Mystery of the Shroud.

Fanti is an Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Padua in Italy. His 2013 research book scientifically debunked the infamous and controversial 1988 carbon-14 dating that supposedly “proved” the cloth only dated back to the Middle Ages — more specifically between the years 1260 and 1390.

Headlines such as: “Shroud of Turin is not a medieval forgery” were typical of what appeared across all media platforms especially on Good Friday, 2013.

Now in 2014, Professor Fanti has a new book (only in Italian at this moment) and the title translates into English as, Turin Shroud: First Century A.D.

According to the book’s press release, “The new dating methods are published in prestigious international journals and no one has yet pointed out methodological errors.”

This Shroud dating research project costing $75,000 (54,000 Euro) was funded by Padua University. The funding made it possible to “develop alternative methods of dating the Shroud based on mechanical and opto-chemical analyses after obvious calibration.”

Here is a more simple explanation of the dating methods if you are not a scientist.

Read bullet | 14 Comments »

Purim: The Cure for Vashti Feminists

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are a lot of great lines in the megillah of Esther. The one most often quoted comes from Mordecai: “Who knows whether you didn’t come into your royal position for such a time as this.” It smacks of drama and makes for an excellent movie poster catchphrase. But, it wouldn’t hold half its meaning without the point-blank observation of evil Haman’s wife, Zeresh.

Upon listening to his frustration over Mordecai’s refusal to bow to him, Zeresh tells her husband to hang Mordecai. But, when she finds out Mordecai is a Jew, she does a complete 180 and admits:

If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is a Jew, you will not get the better of him; on the contrary, your downfall before him is certain.

And this is before Esther convinced the King not to massacre the Jews. It’s refreshing to know our reputation precedes us. But it isn’t a reputation we Jews are always glad to have; we aren’t exactly in it for the fame. In fact, like Esther, our first instinct is to keep our heads down and fit in with the rest of the crowd.

Speaking of “the crowd”, modern feminists have managed to twist the humble Jewess into the villain of the tale, instead opting to celebrate the Persian Queen Vashti for her refusal to appear before the King at his whim. Think: Her body, her self, Persian style. Docile, compliant Esther, meanwhile, is a mere pawn whose beauty comes in handy to persuade the patriarchy to let her live another day. This simplistic interpretation, totally ignorant of the promise and perspective of God, relies on the feminist myth that a woman’s worth is in her ability to manipulate her body to her advantage. Esther could never be considered a hero to these women, because she was inspired by a sense of purpose that outweighed the importance of her own skin.

“Don’t suppose that merely because you happen to be in the royal palace you will escape any more than the other Jews. For if you fail to speak up now, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from a different direction; but you and your father’s family will perish,” Mordecai warns before adding, “Who knows whether you didn’t come into your royal position precisely for such a time as this.”

Vashti Feminists like to think the story is about Esther using her body to pursue the King’s favor. In reality, Esther pursues God’s purpose for her life and the life of her nation, Israel. She didn’t choose to sacrifice her body to the Persian King’s whims. On the contrary, Esther chose to devote herself, body, mind and spirit, to the living promises of God. The King, the death decree, even evil Haman, all of them were nothing more than plot devices in the ongoing love story between God and Israel. Esther, Queen of the Shadchans (Matchmakers) arrived on the scene as a reminder that “relief and deliverance will come”.

Esther was just a regular Jewish girl, redirecting her focus away from herself and onto the bigger picture of God’s plan for humanity. Crowned with the desire and humility to walk in faith, she is remembered as a Queen among her people. Vashti-feminists are oblivious to this plan and the honor it bestows, because their focus remains on the image in the mirror, not the person within, let alone the others who may be around.

Thank God, Esther decided that fitting in with the crowd was a bad idea. Had Esther followed feminist mantra, she would have dismissed Mordecai’s warning and followed the example of Queen Vashti, only to wind up exiled or dead. Instead, she trusted that God’s plan involved every part of her, including her beauty, and used all of her gifts to that end. Typical feminists favor Vashti because they worship tragic beauty; Biblical feminists admire Esther because she plays to win.

Read bullet | Comments »

Noah Set to Flip the Biblical Script

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

)

As a Christian and a fan of Hollywood’s past biblical epics, I got excited upon viewing the first trailer for Darren Aronofsky’s Noah. The story of Noah and his ark has resonated through every culture of man, yet has never been the subject of a major Hollywood motion picture.

Alongside my enthusiasm, skepticism lurked. Modern Hollywood producing a biblical epic adhering to the written narrative and theological themes seemed unlikely given a culture increasingly opposed to the source material. That doubt grew with last month’s report that a disclaimer would be attached to the film’s marketing explaining that “artistic license has been taken.”

Any adaptation requires artistic license. Certainly, narratives were added to Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments which fleshed out the characters and layered the world in which Moses lived. Adding Anne Baxter’s Nefretiri to spice things up between Moses and Rameses is one thing. But you don’t add or subtract commandments from the ten. In the case of Noah, the disclaimer added by Paramount addressed criticism from Christian groups who claim that the film deviates substantively from the biblical narrative.

A clue to Aronofsky’s approach emerged alongside reports that actress Emma Watson had become sick during production after the director banned bottled water from their location. Watson told Wonderland magazine that the ban comported with the “pro-environmental message” of the film. The Telegraph recalled that Aronofsky called Noah “the first environmentalist” in a 2011 interview.

Now we have begun to see clips from the film. The one above revealed Aronofsky’s revised reason for Noah to build an ark. “Our family has been chosen for a great task, to save the innocent… the animals,” Noah tells his family.

When one of his sons asks what makes the animals innocent, Noah’s daughter beats him to the punch: “Because they still live as they did in the Garden [of Eden].”

From this we may infer that God regards animals as morally superior to human beings. In the clip, Noah adds, “I guess we get to start over too,” as if the involvement of his family were an afterthought secondary to God’s purpose.

The Bible tells a different story. All creation shares the curse of sin, including animals. The flood surged as judgment against that sin, and Noah’s family was preserved in fulfillment of God’s covenant to provide salvation for mankind.

By turning the story of Noah into an environmental tale, Aronofsky has missed the point. Beyond artistic license, he seems to have defiled the story’s essence. Imagine a film about the terrorist attacks of 9/11 which portrayed the hijackers as Hindu, and you understand the difference between artistic license and fraud. If Aronofsky’s Noah ends up as divergent as the above clip, it will trivialize something sacred, the treasured relationship between God and mankind.

Read bullet | 31 Comments »

5 Mysterious Bible Passages Worth Pondering For Lent or Anytime You Need Stimulation

Sunday, March 9th, 2014 - by Myra Adams

Now that the Lenten Season is upon us and the 40 day countdown to Easter has begun, this is good time to review some fascinating Bible stories that are worth knowing and pondering for their deeper meaning.

The three stories selected are personal favorites because they are filled with supernatural mystery and many unanswered questions that baffle Bible scholars to this day.

In all cases Bible quotes are italicized and taken from the widely used New International Version. (NIV)

1. Job 1: 6-12  

This is what happened when God and Satan had a little chat.

Job, the main character in the Old Testament Book of Job, was wealthy and richly blessed. He had a wife, ten children, many servants and numerous flocks. The second sentence in verse 1:1 described him as: “The man was blameless and upright he feared God and shunned evil.”

Job’s celebrity status was further described in verse 1:3,

“He was the greatest man of all the people in the East.” 

Unfortunately, being THAT awesome landed Job in the middle of a famous (and ultimately very painful) smack-down between God and Satan.

Artist: William Blake

Artist: William Blake of Satan tormenting Job

 

In verses 1: 7-8, Satan, along with other angels presented himself to God. When God asked Satan where he has came from, Satan replied, “roaming through the earth and going back and forth from it.”

Then, because Job was the equivalent of God’s “teacher’s pet,” God bragged about Job to Satan saying,

“Have you considered my servant Job?”

(God is then quoted as saying what was previously stated in verse 1:1)  “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

However, Satan was not impressed because Satan thought Job’s faithfulness to God was a result of Job living the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Thus, Satan asked God in verse 1:9, “Does Job fear God for nothing?”

Satan explained to God his theory that if Job’s good fortunes were to suddenly disappear then Job would turn away from God.

“But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has and he will surely curse you to your face.” (Job 1:11)

Satan’s words set in motion a classic conflict between good and evil, faith and non-faith. Poor Job was about to get zapped with God’s permission.

Read bullet | 9 Comments »

Thank God! Who Is He, Again?

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Matthew McConaughey thanked God for his Oscar win last night and the conservative crowd went wild.

McConaughey’s speech sparked a feeding frenzy for conservatives to outdo each other when it came to applauding him, while simultaneously taking shots at liberals. Rick Perry tweeted Monday morning, saying, “Texas boy counting his blessing.” His tweet linked to a Breitbart piece titled “Matthew McConaughey Praises God in Acceptance Speech, Hollywood Crowd Grows Quiet.” On Twitchy, Michelle Malkin’s site, the speech ran as “Matthew McConaughey rattles Oscar crowd, wins hearts by thanking God.” Fox News got in the game with the headline, “Matthew McConaughey one of few to thank God in Oscar acceptance speech.” And so on.

As the Daily Beast points out, McConaughey’s God-nod was most likely reassuring to a Christian population that’s been ostracized more than not:

In recent decades, religious figures are often found more often in niche movies, wrote Cieply, or if they are in major pictures, they “are often hypocrites and villains, driving plot lines that make, at best, a token bow toward the virtues of a faith-based life.”

One need look no further than a recent episode of the hit Scandal, in which the evangelical female vice president who murdered her gay husband claims she is not culpable because the devil made her do it.

Fair enough. I’m sure the Son of God giddiness also contributed to the Tweetfest, despite the fact that McConaughey never did specifically go beyond the name “God,” let alone drop “Jesus” during the speech. He did, however, express conviction that Miller Lite is served in heaven, which I’m sure won over the Duck Dynasty crowd.

What most conservative Oscar watchers failed to lavish with praise wasn’t the mere thanking of God, but the praising of Him by singer Darlene Love. The career backup singer celebrated 20 Feet From Stardom’s Best Documentary win by singing the refrain from the hymn His Eye Is on the Sparrow:

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

The refreshingly simple, faith-laced, joyful lyrics made up the majority of her acceptance “speech” and were received with a full-house standing ovation led by an incredibly enthusiastic, non-religious Bill Murray. Where’s the barrage of Tweets about that?

McConaughey returned to his pot-smoking, bongo-banging self by the end of his speech, concluding with:

…whatever we look up to, whatever it is we look forward to and whoever it is we’re chasing — to that I say, alright, alright, alright. And then I say, just keep livin’.

It’s a generic statement that illustrates God is “whatever” and “whoever” and, therefore, “alright, alright, alright.” I have yet to read a conservative commentary that points out the many ways this level of ambiguity has eroded our nation’s ability to put faith in the God of our ancestors, let alone have faith in ourselves, both as a free nation and as individuals with free will. But hey, that’s cool; an actor said the G-word on stage and it got captured by social media, which makes it count.

Alright, alright, alright.

Read bullet | 10 Comments »

18 Reasons Why You Wish You Were in Israel Right Now

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

With 49 states buried in snow and most schools in the northeastern U.S. looking at anywhere from 7-10 snow days to make up, our country is ready for a warm up of national proportions. Throw on your heat lamps, put on a bathing suit under that fleece, and cuddle up to these 18 (the number of chai or “life”) warm images of sun, beach and desert (sweet, hot desert) from Israel.

Waking up before sunrise - totally worth it! </p>
<p><a href=Just an abundance of #beauty. #HulaValley #Israel #freedom #River #Mountain #Green

Good morning! בוקר טוב! Bonne journee! Доброе утро! Всем прекрасного солнечного дня! #flowers #instaflowers #nature #4simply4 #ig_treasures

Flowers of the Negev Desert. Цветы пустыни Негев. #israel #ig_israel #gf_israel #e_srael #hapitria #allunique_pro #israeli_moments #Israel_PhotoGraphers #ig_treasures #4simply4 #nature #desert #negev #naturehippys #Naturehippys #ig_captures #ig_captures_nature #power_group #ihavenicepic #nature_uc #awesome_foto #floralfix #_nature_features #ig_diamondshotz

Read bullet | 7 Comments »

The New Morality: Crying Over Served Cake

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

sign

In this day and age, why would you be stupid enough to use your religious beliefs as an excuse to deny someone services?

There are plenty of ways to avoid entering into a business transaction without having to appear discriminatory at all. When I worked for a private repair shop and encountered a client who seemed to be more trouble than they were worth for whatever reason, we used to simply say, “I am sorry, but we cannot provide service.” If people questioned why (which they did, very often and with plenty of attitude), we just kept repeating the same phrase: “I’m sorry, we cannot provide the service.” No one interpreted us as being discriminatory, or went as far as attempting legal action. We were simply annoying, so they moved onto a business that was willing to enter into the transaction. No harm, no foul.

That is the beauty of the free market: You have choices. If a bakery simply said “I am sorry, we can’t provide that service,” and left it at that, a gay couple denied service might interpret the owner’s choice as being discriminatory, but they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on in court. You can’t sue based on an inference. Progressives, however, rely on the courts to push their agenda because Big Government is their god. So the minute you breathe a hint of something that could be misconstrued as an opportunity for a lawsuit, they gain home-court advantage.

By simply saying, “I am sorry, we can’t provide that service,” you may be opening yourself up to some annoying picketing and internet memes, but what’s the worst that will do? Throw you in the same court as Chick fil-A? We all know how well that protest worked out. The bottom line is, you’re letting the free market decide your fate, not the courts.

Read bullet | 116 Comments »

Noah Flooded with Potential for Interfaith Battle

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

All week I’ve been seeing anti-Noah posts popping up on Facebook from Christian friends who are convinced that the not-yet-released Darren Aronofsky epic must be a liberal, secularist perversion of the biblical story, morphing Noah into a drunk and spouting an anti-human, pro-environmentalist message. Where’d the controversy come from? According to Jordan Hoffman at the Times of Israel, entertainment trade mag Variety needed to drum up readership on a slow news day:

A strange agenda group for “faith driven consumers” sent out a push-poll asking if people who hadn’t yet seen the film if they were “satisfied with a biblically themed film… which replaces the Bible’s core message with one created by Hollywood?”

In other words, a bunch of opt-in Christians were asked if they were ready to see what some scarf-wearing artiste from Jew York City had cooked up with his liberal and probably homosexual friends when, you know, they weren’t drinking blood and hoarding gold. Some 98% of respondents said that, no, they were not satisfied.

It would have been a nothing story had the press release not been picked up by Variety (one of the main entertainment trade publications) on a particularly slow news day. The Internet ran with headlines that basically read “98% of Christian audiences are enraged by ‘Noah!’” forcing Paramount, which has already had plenty of tsuris with this film, to issue an explanatory press release of their own.

The stereotypes Hoffman plays with in his commentary entertainingly highlight the unspoken rift between Jews and Christians when it comes to biblical epics. We, for the most part, stand back while Christians re-interpret our history, our people, our nation, and our sacred text in light of their own slightly Aryan (why are ancient Israelis consistently blue-eyed Brits?) Sunday School memories. This time, however, a Jewish writer/director has paired with a Jewish writer to bring a Torah story to the silver screen. That interpretation has caused Christian uproar, something the filmmakers prepared for when they sought out production partner Rob Moore, who is both a vice chair at Paramount and a devout Christian who supports the film.

Read bullet | 81 Comments »

Slamming Torah: There’s an App for That

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
heebsilverman

Sarah Silverman, Hipster Jew Goddess.

Last week the Forward covered a “trendy Jewish spoken word” happening in the trendy neighborhood of Park Slope in the trendy part of trendy New York City known as Brooklyn. If the E! network hasn’t made you wary enough of the word “trendy” this article surely should. Basically, it’s about a doctoral student and an app techie using grant funding to study what makes Judaism trendy with millennials. And if that doesn’t set off any alarm bells in your head, let me be very clear: the title “Sermon Slam” shouldn’t fool you. Despite the religious-themed location, if God was invited to join in the party it was to sit and be talked at, not about let alone with.

For those of you unfamiliar with Judaism or hip lingo: Instead of reading the Torah portion, and perhaps even the Haftarah portion, then wrestling with the meaning of the portion through a discussion involving comparative texts, the Sermon Slam for young adults involves attacking the weekly Torah portion with a style akin to a poetry slam – rough-edged spoken verse rooted in the performer’s emotions and personal (potentially uneducated) perspective:

“Spoken word poetry has become increasingly sexy. …When you synergize that with something that sounds boring, like a sermon… it’s an ancient tradition that we’re now embracing and making our own. It’s for the people, by the people. That feels exciting to those of us in our 20s and 30s.”

I’m far from Orthodox, in fact I don’t identify as a Rabbinic Jew (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or Reconstructionist) at all. But this self aggrandizing hyperbole annoys me more than black hatters arguing over sleeve length ever could. Seriously, is Judaism so desperate for adherents that we’re getting grant funding to make the Torah “sexy”?

It gets worse. Apparently making the Torah “sexy” doesn’t involve actually reading the Torah as much as it involves creating a postmodern pastiche of Biblical words and pop culture lingo:

References to iPhones and to Facebook popped up in the same sentence as “Kiddush.” And the hallowed Hebrew names of God, “Adonai” and “Elohim,” were uttered in the same breath as “s–t.”

And now you know why I avoid obnoxious hipster Judaism like the plague. With its goddess worship of Sarah Silverman and Lena Dunham and its conversion of New York into the New Zion, this religion has nothing to do with God and Torah and everything to do with Judaizing the kind of liberal self help ethos already prolific within the New Age and Buddhist movements. What’s next for Sermon Slam, a Chopra-esque two-hour fundraising featurette on PBS?

hipsterjew

Read bullet | Comments »

Paul, George, Ringo & the Prophet John

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Beatles Generation in the #USSR #socialism #music #beatles

As the world mourned the loss of Soviet evangelist Pete Seeger last week, I encountered stories of real Soviets who found God, not in the hammer and sickle of the USSR, but in the smuggled bootleg lyrics of the Beatles.

How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin is a fascinating narrative detailing Soviet Baby Boomers’ covert love affair with the Fab Four. Interviewing a variety of Russian Beatlemaniacs, including many post-Communist music scene movers and shakers, over the course of nearly two decades, British filmmaker Leslie Woodhead discovered that The Beatles were much more than a band in the U.S.S.R. For many Soviet teens, The Beatles were a glimpse at independence, freedom, and even God.

The idea that a rock and roll band could provoke the understanding of the intertwining of God and freedom, let alone inspire a search for the divine, is one that is largely lost on an American audience. After all, as Soviet teens risked Kremlin hellfire to listen to Beatles tracks, their American counterparts in the Bible Belt were throwing their records on bonfires, forced by a religious hierarchy that saw John Lennon and his band as a threat to Christ. Rock music then became the stuff of hippies, the class that scoffed at religious institutions and, like The Beatles, sought divine encounters and self-empowerment through eastern religions.

Arguably, the advocates of Beatles burnings did more to harm Christ’s reputation and following than John Lennon ever could. After all, as he explained, his ironic quip about Jesus was more of a warning than a declaration:

“I’m not anti-God, anti-Christ or anti-religion. I was not saying we are greater or better. I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I’m sorry I said it, really. I never meant it to be a lousy anti-religious thing. From what I’ve read, or observed, Christianity just seems to be shrinking, to be losing contact.”

Ironically, it’s a warning that post-Soviet leaders like Vladimir Putin have heeded with their own political purposes in mind.

Read bullet | 6 Comments »

Are These Signs Of the Messiah Coming in 2014?

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014 - by Myra Adams
Kaduri

Israeli Rabbi Kaduri predicted in 2005 that the Messiah would return “soon” after the death of Ariel Sharon who died on January 11, 2014.

Anytime you want to start a lively discussion among Christians just ask the question, “Will Jesus return in your lifetime?”

Then of course, some Bible thumper will immediately quote the famous scripture verse from Matthew 24:36:

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” (New Living Translation)

Mindful that believers can never know, but only speculate about the exact date of the “Second Coming” – here are some interesting facts enfolding in 2014 relating to events on earth and in the sky.

First, let’s begin with the earthly facts concerning an Orthodox Israeli Rabbi named Yitzhak Kaduri who died on January 28, 2006 at over 100 years of age. (There is debate over Kaduri’s exact age at his death ranging from 108 to 104.)

From this short video you will learn about Rabbi Kaduri and the mysteries that are still swirling around him eight years after his death.

YouTube Preview Image

As mentioned in the video, Rabbi Kaduri publicly stated in a sermon that the Messiah, who Kaduri said had revealed himself to him, was going to appear to Israel “soon” after the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Not mentioned was Kaduri gave the sermon in 2005 on Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish holidays when Ariel Sharon was Prime Minister of Israel.

At the time this video was produced Sharon was still “alive” but in a coma, after suffering a massive stroke on January 4, 2006.

Then on January 11, 2014 Sharon finally died after eight years in a coma and his obituary from the Washington Post stated the following:

The man who chose the title “Warrior” for his autobiography was for much of his career the darling of the Israeli right, which chanted “Arik, King of Israel!” invoking his nickname and comparing him to the legendary biblical King David.

Is it coincidental that Jesus is also often referred to as “The King of Israel?”

Read bullet | 18 Comments »

The Winning Move in the War Against the Nomenklatura

Sunday, January 5th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

YouTube Preview Image

Here is what I’ve learned from my study of the Intellectual love affair with Marxism, along with one simple solution for winning the war against the Nomenklatura, the intellectual Marxist elite within our government, mass media, and public education systems.

Concurrent to the Russian Revolution, Liberalism in America became Marxism.  Based on my research it would appear that the Victorian social justice movement and an increasingly European-influenced intellectual movement, with the help of Soviet spies and American commie traitors, gave birth to the Liberal Marxist hybrid. Its fate as a movement wasn’t sealed until the 60′s, when anti-Stalinist liberals like the Trillings were washed away by the rising tide of Soviet disinformation that conquered liberalism and began framing American culture for the takeover.

The first generation of intellectuals who first embraced Marx through figureheads like Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin would pave the way for the second generation of intellectuals to assume the role of the American Nomenklatura. Through the Frankfurt School and folks like Susan Sontag and the writers of Partisan Review, it became very clear that Marxism is a lens through which one sees the world. Therefore, for groupthink to succeed, Marxists must imbue doubt in previously trusted individuals and institutions like, for instance, the United States Military and the fine soldiers thereof. Marxism, though, is about structure, not anarchy: For every institution the Nomenklatura destroyed, they provided a Marxist alternative. Nowhere is this more evident than in Second Wave Feminism’s advocacy for the destruction of the roles and institutions of Mother, Father and Family that paved the way for the creation of the Nanny State.

The personal is political” indeed. Marxism is more than a political philosophy; it is the supreme religion of the State. All religious and political gods that contradict the message of faith in the State must be done away with. Despite their best attempts to preach equality among the masses, Marxists must enthrone gods of their own to supersede those of other faiths. Speaking of other faiths, the unconquerable Messiah must be converted to Marxism in the eyes of His worshipers. If His worshipers do not accept this Marxist version of their Messiah, they will be cut off from the State. Those who worship the God with no face must themselves be converted to Marxism, or suffer the consequences.

Read bullet | 19 Comments »

How Peter Beinart Defends the Repulsive Views of the Antisemitic Jew Max Blumethal

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 - by Ron Radosh

ayatollah-ali-khamenei (1)

The Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles this week presented its year-end list of the top 10 antisemitic and anti-Israel slurs. It is an ecumenical list, containing the usual suspects, led by Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, and Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters, among others.

The ninth listing was reserved for writers and is titled “The Power of the Poison Pen.” Sharing the Wiesenthal award is the novelist Alice Walker, who was awarded it for comparing Israelis to Nazis, and for writing that Israelis engage in “despicable and lawless sadistic behavior” and seek to “erase” Palestinians “from their own land.” Jews, she said, “know how to hate and how to severely punish others.”

Sharing the listing with Walker is none other than “journalist” Max Blumenthal, and the Wiesenthal Center makes it quite clear that a Jew can indeed be an antisemite, and that Blumenthal is one. Equating Israelis with Nazis, Blumenthal mentions the Holocaust “only to ask [is it right] to have the Jewish victims of the Nazis impose their independence on another people’s tragedy.” Blumenthal uses the term “Judeo-Nazis” and explains the Israeli-Arab conflict as the result of Israeli politicians “outdoing one another in a competition for the most convincing exaltation of violence against the Arab evildoers.” According to Blumenthal, it notes, Israelis incite “unprovoked violence against the Arab outclass.” They also “indoctrinate schoolchildren into the culture of militarism.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier, co-founder of the Wiesenthal Center, told the Jerusalem Post that he considers Blumenthal to be a “Jewish anti-Semite.” We “judge him by what he writes,” Hier added. “He crossed the line into outright anti-Semitism.”

As I have pointed out in earlier columns, Blumenthal had two appearances in Washington, D.C., one at the National Press Club and the other at the liberal New America Foundation, whose director, Anne-Marie Slaughter, approved his appearance.  Atlantic editor Steve Clemons promoted the first appearance. Writing in his announcement for the event,  he said:

Max Blumenthal’s new book on Israel has received a torrent of attention — some caustic and some effusive.  I think his book is important and revelatory of many untouched, taboo subjects both inside Israel and in its neighborhood

A group called the “Committee for the Republic” sponsored the event. According to Source Watch, it is an ad hoc group that includes C. Boyden Gray, Charles Freeman, Stephen P. Cohen, and William A. Nitze. All are self-proclaimed realists and conservatives who are opponents of both Israel and those they call neoconservatives, whom they attack as supporters of the American empire.

Read bullet | 18 Comments »

Pajama Boy Jewish According to… Marx?

Monday, December 30th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

jewishnose

Jay Michaelson’s whining critique of the conservative slam of Pajama Boy is all at once nerdy, narcissistic, and self-defeating, illustrating the dark void that is the nomenklatura Manhattanite liberal Jewish American psyche. (Go on, say it three times fast.) It leads me to ask: Is there anything liberals won’t do to emasculate themselves in deference to Big Government?

Uh-oh, I said “emasculate.” I must be “unconsciously” sexist now.

In defense of his thesis that conservatives are latent antisemites because Pajama Boy looks Jewish (try to choke down your offense at that one), Michaelson cites research done by Daniel Boyarin (an academic who has no qualm comparing the Israeli government to Nazis) and Sander Gilman. Gilman, who has contributed to the catalog of study regarding Jews and race, has also written on Karl Marx’s own antisemitism. And here’s where a 5 minute Google search becomes vastly entertaining: It would appear that Michaelson falls into the very pit of Marxian, Jewish self-hatred about which Gilman has written. In fact, Marx’s obsession with Jewish physiognomy is the same as Michaelson’s fixation with Pajama Boy’s physical appearance, sexuality, and mode of dress down to eye wear, all of which he cites as evidence of “Pajama Boy’s obvious Jewishness”.

As for all of you straight-haired, unquestionably sexual, well-dressed Jewish men with no glasses, you stand as much of a chance at pulling off your Jewishness as Miley does twerking her way into the soul train.

Read bullet | 39 Comments »

The Biggest Challenge Facing The Church Today?

Sunday, December 29th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

historicJesus

We began this series, some months back, following Shmuley Boteach’s Kosher Jesus. You might remember the first installment Restoring Our Judeo-Christian Culture where, in earnest, I was inspired by the author’s introduction to his work with these words:

“Christianity, too has much to gain from a rediscovery of the authentic Jewishness of Jesus. American culture is less in accordance with Christian theology than many would think. Bringing a bit more Jewish influence to bear would make a great deal of sense for American Christians.

By discovering the Jewish Jesus and the Jewish understanding behind the bedrock premises of Christianity, Christians’ understanding of their own faith will be enriched and riddles will be resolved. Modern American and Judeo-Christian values will be strengthened to the benefit of both Jewish and Christian communities and our society as a whole.”

It’s hard not read the headlines and not shake my head in disbelief, if not disgust, at how far we have fallen as a society. Who doesn’t want both communities strengthened along with society as a whole? However, Boteach misses the mark–at least within the Christian community. His attempt at unity between the faiths rested in presenting Jesus as a fully Jewish man–fully Jewish but fully man.

However, there is a common thread running throughout both Kosher Jesus and Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel. That is the misinterpretations of Jewish culture that has led to much of the antisemitism and Jewish suffering throughout history done in the name of Christianity.

Although Boteach’s intention is to bring the two faiths to a better understanding, one thing I learned from him was that there is a deep, deep wound inflicted on the Jewish people over centuries of Christianity that for many, has yet to heal.

As we finish the last of this series with David H. Stern, Ph.D’s book, Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel: A Message For Christians, I noticed that Stern uses many of the same scripture passages that Boteach does. Although he takes it one step further. Rather than blaming unnamed antisemitic editors that have purposely (for political reasons) turned Christ and the New Testament against the Jewish people, he explains the subtle yet profound misinterpretations.

One other noticeable point, while Boteach (and myself) were focused on restoring values to the culture, Stern is focused on returning the Christian to answering the call of the Great Commission.

As we pray for our nation we often quote, 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” New International Version.

“My people” that are called “by my name” is that Jewish, Christian or both? Whose land?

The answers shouldn’t surprise you.

Read bullet | 10 Comments »

Judeo-Christian Themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ Oceania, Part 13: Freedom

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 - by Chris Queen

wildflowers

Well, here we are at the end of our series exploring Judeo-Christian ideas and themes in the Smashing Pumpkins’ 2012 album Oceania. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them, Throughout this series, we’ve dug into the concepts of the seekerthe sacred Name of Godwisdomunfaithfulnesshopeunfailing loverepentancethe wayfaith, contentment, and the parable of the Lost Son. Last week, we delved into Track 12, “Inkless,” and the notion of being in the presence of God.

This week to close out the series, we’re looking at the album’s 13th and closing cut, “Wildflower.” This song has a subdued, hymnlike quality – vocals and strings dominate, along with a lead guitar line. The image of a wildflower itself conjures up ideas of a certain type of freedom, and the lyrics suggest freedom in their own way as well:

I trim the wick so fine
To carry forth your light
Comfort me
What will leave will leave

[...]

Wildflower in the wilderness outside
Take your chance with love and laughter
And every word I write, yeah

Of course, the concept of freedom shows up throughout the Bible. The Old Testament book of Exodus tells how God gave the Israelites literal physical freedom from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians. Centuries later, God allowed other nations to subdue Israel and take His chosen people into exile as discipline for their disobedience and turning away from Him. However, He released them from exile and paved the way for their return to the land He promised them.

Read bullet | Comments »

Why Jesus Was Not a Christian

Sunday, December 15th, 2013 - by Rhonda Robinson

JewishChristian

Does it seem odd to you that the hottest debate within the early Church was whether or not a Gentile could become a Christian without a complete conversion to Judaism?

This week’s reading of David H. Stern’s Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel A Message for Christians has brought to mind the obvious, yet seldom acknowledged as important: Christianity is Jewish at its very core.

Stern reminds us that the atonement of sin, the need for a sacrifice to God, is rooted in the Jewish sacrificial system. He goes on to point out how other aspects we typically consider uniquely Christian are rooted in Judaism. For example, the Lord’s Supper is rooted in the Jewish Passover.

Did you know that baptism is a Jewish practice? When it comes down to it the entire New Testament is built on the Hebrew Bible’s prophecies and promises of a New Covenant.

None of this may be new or shocking revelations to most Christians. We understand on a cursory level that these are our roots in general but we have little interest in understanding the culture and heritage of the one we call our Savior.

It has cost us.

Read bullet | 58 Comments »