1. How long have you been interested in music? When did you begin singing and writing songs?
I sang my whole life. I sang to the trees in my backyard before I had any friends, growing up in Virginia.
I always wrote songs in my head, but I didn’t pursue it formally until my late 20s.
2. Can you share with us a little about your faith journey?
Yes, gladly. I was raised in a Christian home by wonderful, believing parents. Singing was the way I accessed church and I always sang in church services – from about the age of 6. So Christianity for me was really about being able to sing at church.
I lived in NYC during 9/11 and witnessed that tragedy first-hand. Experiencing death like that – on such a large-scale shook me out of a spiritual slumber I was in. I went to Redeemer Presbyterian Church after 9/11 and sometime in October 2001 I had a powerful encounter with Jesus during a Redeemer service.
The rest is still the journey.
3. What is the songwriting process like for you?
Songwriting for me is mostly agonizing, painful, and something I try to avoid. This is not an overstatement.
Sean Astin has proven himself one of the most versatile and underrated actors of my generation. With a resume that contains such films at The Goonies, Rudy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and television shows like 24, Astin has transcended the typical life of a former child star and parlayed his talent into a career that has lasted over a quarter century. He currently appears in the new film Mom’s Night Out, and in an interview with Fox News on the movie’s release, Astin opened up about his Christian faith:
Astin, who is “technically Lutheran” after he, his wife and three daughters were baptized in the same church, never thought about defining his faith until he was asked in a live interview to share his religious beliefs.
“I thought, ‘Huh, I guess I have to have an answer’,” he recalled. “I consider myself a Christian. I don’t know if I’m a very good one but I’m praying the forgiveness thing is legit.”
While Astin’s answer is confident now, his road to faith was a winding road. Raised by his mother, actress Patty Duke, and father, “The Addams Family’s” John Astin, in what he describes as a secular home, Astin was exposed to a variety of religions before coming to his own faith.
“My mother was a Catholic who had been kicked out of the church at one time and she put me in Catholic school in sixth to eighth grades and I wanted to become a Catholic then,” he said. “But my father, who was an atheist because his parents were a scientist and school teacher, later discovered Buddhism.”
In addition to his exposure to Catholicism and Buddhism, Astin’s oldest brother “went to India, shaved his head and lived on an ashram and became Hindi.”
In 2003, Astin decided to “embrace Christianity” and develop his own “relationship and understanding with God.”
Astin admits that, while he doesn’t choose his projects along faith-based lines, he will turn down a role “if I feel it has zero moral redemption.” He laughs at the idea of being pigeonholed as a Christian filmmaker after taking on roles in films that appeal to a Christian fan base. He admires a new generation of Christian directors and producers who try to get messages based on timeless biblical principles into the marketplace in fresh ways:
“Hollywood is antagonistic to Christian films because of forces that are hard to describe, but Christians have made things difficult for themselves by the way they approach the outside community,” he continued.
Astin said people need to forget about those “who grab the microphones and yell the loudest.” The fact is, people are hungry for family-friendly, faith-based entertainment and studios are finally starting to listen.
“The Christian ground game is presently revolutionizing marketing in filmmaking,” he explained. “It’s not a subtle thing, and it’s a great thing and it’s not owned by the Christians. They are just getting there first because they’re tired of not being able to get their product into a wide marketplace.”
Are you just a physical entity, ultimately reducible to the physical entity known as your brain? Is that organ—a bundle of neurons weighing about three pounds—the source of all your thoughts, feelings, and any illusion you may have of a “soul” or a “spirit”?
I recently finished reading a 600-plus-page book by a group of academic psychiatrists, psychologists, and philosophers, called Irreducible Mind, that argues exactly the opposite. The book presents a huge body of evidence from scientific studies of psychokinesis, split personalities, psychic healing, near-death experiences, and other phenomena that seems to constitute powerful proof that, while the mind and the brain obviously interact, the former is not reducible to the latter and there are circumstances where consciousness clearly exists and functions independently of the brain.
Irreducible Mind is a subversive endeavor, swimming against the tide of about a century of scientific reductionism (though not, it should be stressed, in quantum physics) that says all phenomena, including your most delicate or exalted sentiments, are ultimately physical. The book has definitely had some impact; googling the title gets almost two million results, and though published back in 2007 it keeps selling well on Amazon.
One of the coauthors is Bruce Greyson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia and leading researcher of near-death experiences. A few months ago a video surfaced of a lecture Greyson gave in India in 2011. It’s about an hour long, fascinating, and seems to point to even more dramatic findings since Irreducible Mind was published seven years ago.
Greyson presents four lines of evidence for the mind as an independent entity, which I’ve taken the trouble to summarize, and they could be an eye-opener. First he gives this caveat:
The evidence that I’m going to discuss…is derived entirely from scientific research. But I do not want to give you the impression that this evidence is…accepted by Western scientists. In fact, most Western scientists are completely unaware that this evidence even exists.
What is wrong with my children? Why won’t they let me completely immerse myself in their lives?!
Beverly Goldberg, The Goldbergs
Last week, my husband and I fell over laughing at the best line in the entire first season of ABC’s The Goldbergs. Just renewed for a second season, the autobiographical series created by Adam F. Goldberg (no relation) features, in his own words, “the orginial sMother” Beverly Goldberg, archetype of Jewish moms the world over. In his comic genius (complemented by Wendi McLendon-Covey’s masterful performance) Goldberg has managed to take a figure much-maligned over the past few decades and craft her into a clan leader who is as lovable as she is obnoxious. With her ballsy, brash bravado, Beverly is the living, breathing Jewishness in a show otherwise lacking in Jewish culture. For The Goldbergs, Jewish is not about kashrut, holidays or simchas; it is about a mother who smothers her children with equal parts love, confidence, and overprotection.
Thanks to Freud and Friedan, Jewish moms have taken a beating over the past few decades. Friedan used her own mother’s discontent with being a housewife as the impetus for her brutal criticisms of motherhood and housewifery, going so far as to describe the latter using Holocaust imagery. What Friedan failed to note early on was the antisemitic influence on her mother’s behavior. Not only was her educated mother forced to become a housewife the minute she married, she was also the victim of lifelong antisemitic prejudice. This attitude, something internalized by both mother and daughter, would later come out in brute force through Friedan’s feminist critiques of the Jewish mother. It was a position that Friedan would eventually come to regret. According to historian Joyce Antler:
…in later life [Friedan] has joined the modern aspirations of feminism with the popular emblems of her Jewish heritage, understanding that the myth of a controlling, aggressive Jewish mother has been as dangerous to the self-esteem of Jewish women (including her own) as the earlier “feminine mystique” was to all women.
The real-life Beverly Goldberg views her son’s television show as a “validation of everything she’s ever done.” I’d take her observation a step further; I believe Adam F. Goldberg’s seemingly simple, humorous portrayal of “the original sMother” is a much-needed cultural validation of the Jewish mother figure at large. Beverly Goldberg may not have the zaftig figure of her televisual predecessor Molly, but she has a zaftig heart, one that infuses the kind of family love into a sitcom setting that hasn’t existed since the Huxtables went off the air. In the midst of intense cultural debates on the value and future of motherhood, Beverly Goldberg’s intense devotion, undivided attention, and proclivity for jaws-of-life hugs are refreshing.
Happy sMother’s Day to Jewish moms around the globe. Just please remember to let your kids come up for air once in a while.
The Introduction to Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge: Starting Down the Yellow Brick Road…
Part 1: The Mask of Marxism
Part 3: Who Needs a Brain?
Part 4: Are Conservatives Cowards?
“The August 1991 coup in Moscow collapsed three days after it had started, providing the ultimate, ironic proof that nothing, not even a coup, could succeed any more in a society whose vital arteries had been calcified by 70 years of disinformation and dismal feudalism. The main loser was the Communist Party.”
– Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa
Both the Democrat and Republican parties have been disinformed by Marxism. The Liberal wing of the Democrat Party has been duped into putting their faith in Marxism’s many forms (socialism, economic determinism, progressivism), while the Republican Party has legitimized Marxism as a form of party politics instead of a murderous, atheistic religion that empowers despots. The Conservative movement, by and large, is slow to recognize Marxism’s true nature, because we are a nation that has been drugged by Disinformation. Pacepa continues:
At the end of the 2001 summit meeting held in Slovenia, President George W. Bush said: “I looked the man [Putin] in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.” Unfortunately, even President Bush was deceived by disinformation. Putin consolidated Russia into an intelligence dictatorship, not a democracy. During the Cold War, the KGB was a state within a state. Under Putin, the KGB, rechristened the FSB, is the state. Three years after Putin enthroned himself in the Kremlin, some 6,000 former officers of the KGB—that organization responsible for having slaughtered at least 20 million people in the Soviet Union alone—were running Russia’s federal and local governments.
…Is it too far-fetched to suggest that this new Russia calls up the hypothetical image of a postwar Germany being run by former Gestapo officers, who reinstate Hitler’s “Deutschland Über Alles” as national anthem, call the demise of Nazi Germany a “national tragedy on an enormous scale,” and invade a neighboring country, perhaps Poland, the way Hitler set off World War II?
That is the secret power of disinformation.
Pacepa share these thoughts with me mere weeks before the Ukranian revolution and secession of the Crimea to Putin’s Russia. Disinformation is wielding its power on the American homefront as well. In his critique of Thomas Piketty’s new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, David Brooks embraces Piketty’s idea of a tax on the wealthy’s investment capital in order to create intellectual equality among the classes:
Think of how much more affordable fine art would be. Think of how much more equal the upper class would be.
His musings aren’t that far off from those of Russian intellectuals, who are “making do” with their government’s clampdown on free media and the right to protest. In exchange for their rights, these Russians whose intellectual arteries have been “calcified by disinformation” are being doted upon by their increasingly despotic government:
All sorts of entertainment is being lavished on Russia’s hipsters. Their favorite public parks have splashy, beautifully designed restaurants and clubs, comfortable biking areas and luxurious places to chill. Sanctions or not, Fedoseyev’s friends can still dine out at restaurants full of expats, take shopping trips to Milan, or buy their electronic gadgets online. Fashion Week this weekend was another party blooming with charming models and celebrities; the usual hipsters clubs, Solianka, Simachev, Oldich Dress and Drink or Strelka, felt as cuddly and crowded as ever.
To paraphrase Brooks, it would seem that the fine art is quite affordable in Russia these days. Like junkies seeking a quick fix, Russian intellectuals pursue disinformation at the expense of their freedom. Is Brooks suggesting we do the same, or have we already succumbed to the addiction? In either case, what we need to know now is: What is the antidote to disinformation?
In an entry titled, “Christian women: feminism is not your friend” published on his popular Matt Walsh Blog in April, the conservative Christian commentator concluded that Christian “women (and men)” needed to stop identifying with feminism because the movement is essentially all about abortion.
Embracing the stereotypical liberal definition of feminism as a movement dedicated to starting and waging the War on Women, Walsh discussed the feminist fight for equality:
This is a pretty convincing indication that feminism has, at the very least, outlived its good. There is nothing surprising about that, because feminism, unlike Christianity, is a human construct. It’s an ideology. It’s a political theory. It’s a label. It is not eternal, it is not perfect (there’s the understatement of the decade), and it is not indispensable.
Feminism, like ‘liberalism,’ like ‘conservativism,’ like the Republican Party, like the Democrat Party, is a finite thing that exists and serves a certain purpose in a certain set of circumstances. When the times change, and the circumstances change, it will either die or its purpose will change.
Walsh then dug into medieval history, noting that women were given “equal standing” in certain English trade guilds in the Middle Ages, contrary to the following:
“The fact that guilds seldom permitted women to become masters did in the end relegate them to the least-skilled and certainly least-remunerative aspects of the trade”. This statement shows that the fact that women were not openly admitted to the professional guilds led to the downfall of the woman’s status as a worker during this time period. Since “[m]ale masters displayed no eagerness to train young women, and with few or no women recognized as masters, the guilds did contribute to the narrowing opportunity for women”.
Along with neglecting these facts, Walsh also did not note that neither the Christian Church, nor political leaders who identified with Christianity, demanded that equal professional or political rights be given to women (let alone non-Christians) on either side of the Atlantic.
When the government of Great Britain banned Pamela Geller and me from entering the country for the crime of speaking unwelcome truths about the jihad threat and supporting Israel a bit too vocally, I thought that Britain was a bit too anxious to appease its increasingly aggressive and demanding Muslim minority. When British Prime Minister David Cameron said, “I want London to stand alongside Dubai as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world,” Britain’s surrender to Sharia became an even more pressing concern, as Cameron will discover that Sharia finance cannot be separated from the rest of Islamic law any more than he could separate a bowl of blood pudding into its constituent parts.
But this past week came five signs that Britain is going to capitulate entirely to Sharia – or else descend into chaos and civil conflict — even sooner than most observers think.
5. Muslim terrifies churchgoers, enters church and shouts: “This is rubbish, you should be preaching Allah, turn to Islam”
The Derby Telegraph reported last week that “churchgoers were left terrified after believing a 52-year-old man who walked into their church ‘dressed like a terrorist’ on Remembrance Sunday ‘might be armed with a bomb.’”
Mohamed Dar didn’t just walk into the church: as he walked in during a service, wearing a bandana that proclaimed “Allahu akbar,” Dar demanded that the congregants “turn to Allah.” He shouted: “This is rubbish, you should be preaching Allah, turn to Islam, we send boys of 10 to war.” One of the assembled Christians recounted: “He was dressed like a terrorist, I though he may have a gun or a bomb or some sort of weapon, I was so frightened.”
It is indicative of how much British non-Muslims have learned to put up with this sort of thing that this incident was reported only in one laconic story in the Derby Telegraph, whereas if a Christian had gone into a mosque anywhere in Britain wearing a bandana that said “Jesus is Lord” and had begun shouting, “This is rubbish, you should be preaching the Gospel, turn to Christ,” it would without the slightest doubt have been national and international news, and the subject of numerous earnest BBC chats featuring media-hyped “moderates” such as Maajid Nawaz, Mehdi Hasan, and Mohammed Ansar, all sounding (in harmony) notes of wounded victimhood.
The incident would be taken as an indication of Britain’s deep-seated “Islamophobia,” and dire need to lay in yet more legal insulation against that vile crime. But Mojamed Dar’s little exercise in dawah (Islamic proselytizing)? That’s just life in Britain today.
The Introduction to Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge: Starting Down the Yellow Brick Road…
Part 1: The Mask of Marxism
Part 3: Who Needs a Brain?
Our well-meaning conservatives do not seem to know that today’s socialism is just an undercover form of Marxism.
Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa
Our ongoing conversation focused on the Right Wing reaction, or lack thereof, to Marxism on the Left, to which Pacepa commented:
A few conservative commentators, like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and PJ Media writers who deeply understand Marxism (Roger Simon, Ron Radosh, Michael Ledeen and Victor Hanson are just a few) have warned that Marxism is infecting the country and the Whistleblower, a small but courageous magazine, dedicated a whole issue to “Marxism in America .” But neither the Republican Party nor the Tea Party has even mentioned the danger of Marxism. Why?
Many people, even some on the right – especially those with something to lose, such as re-election or position, or popularity, or money – are simply intimidated by the left, and especially by our idiotic and treacherous “mainstream” news media.
While Ann Coulter would probably agree, at least to a certain extent, with Kupelian’s explanation, fear of being Palin’d (or is it Couric’d?) isn’t enough of an explanation. We still live in a free market economy with free access to alternative media outlets. The problem isn’t just ego, as Pacepa explains, it’s also ineffective P.R.:
…I would only mention that most American youths are fascinated by Marx’s utopian ”to each according to his need.” They are also galvanized by the prospect that the Democratic Party can force rich Americans to pay a part of their own health care, mortgages, loans and school tuition, and it seems that the Republican Party does not know how to handle this new generation.
This is partly because the Republican Party approaches Marxist channels as legitimate political entities instead of fronts being used to launder dangerously corrupt ideology:
Soviet communism has been regarded, both in the West and within its own borders, as a form of government that, although dictatorial, ruled the country through a political party and based its decisions on a political ideology. Only a handful of people working in extremely close proximity to the Soviet and East European rulers knew that after Lenin died his Communist Party gradually became irrelevant.
To the Soviet intelligence bigwigs of Pacepa’s era, “the Communist Party was nothing but a ‘yakkity-yak,’ a place where people sat around beating their gums.” The same goes for many of the pro-Marxist outlets today. How many on the Right of the political spectrum have found their comfort zone in the “yakkity-yak” of party politics? Not that long ago I observed:
Politics may be a popularity contest, but pundits like Glenn Beck shouldn’t have to tell the American public about Cloward and Piven, nor would they have to if you’d stop giving into lunatic liberal logic in favor of a seat at the cool table in the Capitol cafeteria.
Pairing that observation with Pacepa’s knowledge leads to the question: Has the Right (Republicans/Conservatives/Tea Partiers/et. al.), along with the rest of America, been collectively drugged into political irrelevance by generations of Marxist Disinformation?
I’ve defended and supported Sarah Palin in the past, but she has jumped the shark this time with her comments to the National Rifle Association on Saturday. Palin told the group (at the 7:16 mark in the video) that we need to put the “fear of God” in our enemies, adding:
Oh, but you can’t offend them, can’t make them feel uncomfortable, not even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.
Palin doubled down on the comments in an interview with NBC News:
Would I make it again? Why wouldn’t I, yeah, absolutely. Terrorists who want to annihilate Americans, innocent Americans, our children – whatever it takes to stop them. If I were in charge, I’d be stoppin’ em.
Aside from the fact that Palin, a professing Christian, describes a sacred sacrament in the context of a practice that many consider to be torture, there is the fact that in many Muslim countries identifying with Christ in baptism can actually have deadly consequences and flippantly inserting baptism into a joke about terrorists is in poor taste.
For example, in May 2010, an Afghan TV channel broadcast footage showing alleged converts to Christianity, including scenes of baptisms. This was followed by Afghan MP Abdul Sattar Khawasi’s call in the Afghan parliament for those featured in the footage to be executed. A crackdown against Christians ensued, and around 25 converts were arrested after a group of Kabul University students shouted death threats and demanded the expulsion of foreigners accused of proselytising. There were numerous demonstrations in the wake of the TV broadcast of the baptisms in different cities throughout the country — Herat, Baghlan, Mazar-e Sharif and again in Kabul. This resulted in a Christian cleansing of sorts in Afghanistan, as hundreds of former Muslims who had converted to Christianity fled the county, including hundreds who ended up in New Delhi, India, and now live in a legal limbo, still fearing for their lives. Christianity Today reported last year:
Although the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees has recognized Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs fleeing Afghanistan for India, the Indian government’s refusal to do so means that Afghan Christians cannot seek legal protection from discrimination from other religious groups. Such discrimination often arises from Afghan Muslims who have also sought refuge in India. Many Afghan Christians make a meager living as translators for Afghanis seeking medical care in India, but the language and social challenges continue.
In other words, the Christians who fled to India after their baptisms were shown on TV continue to be persecuted by Muslims in what they thought would be their country of refuge. Examples abound of Christian persecution in Muslim countries and the public act of baptism is one of the main ways converts are identified and targeted.
I’m not a bit worried about offending terrorists (in fact, I share that sentiment with Sarah Palin), however I do object to Palin’s insensitivity to the brave Christians who are willing to pay with their lives for the privilege of being recognized as Christians through the sacrament of baptism in hostile countries around the world.
I love ya’ Sarah, but this is one you should walk back.
Hiding the ugly face of Marxism has become a real science.
– Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa
We get it: Intellectuals who fall to the Left of the political spectrum dig Marx. Cultural critics like Ben Shapiro and Ben Stein have already made the excellent argument that academia is ideologically corrupted by said intellectuals, arguments that can be backed up by practically every conservative college graduate in the country. Now the focus has turned to public education, specifically the battle over Common Core Curriculum Standards (CCCS). You know what I’m talking about: Those crazy grammar assignments or math problems-cum-memes that pepper your Facebook and Twitter feed, usually accompanied by sarcastic comments like “Common Core is making me stupider.”
From a governmental point of view, Obama’s CCCS look like Bush’s No Child Left Behind on steroids: high-impact grant funding legislation that increases federal influence at the local level. Public school districts must report boatloads of data showing quantifiable achievements if they are to be rewarded with government funds. Many Americans doubt that a quality education can be quantified, but as Stalin was fond of saying: “Bureaucracy is the price we pay for impartiality.”
Which brings to mind Pacepa’s remark:
After the Kremlin expelled Romania’s King and declared the country a Popular Republic, the new government nationalized the school system, and decided to create its own type of intellectual — the “new man”.
Romania had its intellectuals before the Revolution. Most fled to Western Europe with death sentences hanging over their heads, still more wound up in gulags, and yet others elected to support the communist regime. A new generation of intellectuals would grow up behind the Iron Curtain, cultivating a subculture all their own filled with bootleg records and western media. They’d take menial bureaucratic jobs that would give them enough time to think and write – secretly of course – and maintain the culture their government denied them. Today’s Russian intellectuals have inherited the complacency of their parents’ generation, willing to “make do” as the government clamps down on free speech. It would seem, as Pacepa puts it, that their “vital arteries [have] been calcified by 70 years of disinformation and dismal feudalism.”
The harsh reality is that most citizens of the former Soviet Union do not know how to defend freedom because they’ve been educated to live without it. As the Wizard so kindly explained, the Scarecrow didn’t need a brain; he needed his intelligence to be quantified through a degree conferred by an authoritative source. This doesn’t mean that public education is a sham; on the contrary, this should illustrate how powerful an education can be in the hands of the educators as well as the minds of the educated.
We’ve discussed Marxist influences in our contemporary culture, but do we have the courage to confront Marxism in our daily discourse? Stay tuned for the next installment of Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge.
Yesterday I volunteered at the campaign headquarters for a candidate who is running in the the Republican primary for the 14th congressional district seat in Ohio. State Rep. Matt Lynch is challenging Congressman Dave Joyce, who replaced Steve LaTourette (of Mainstreet PAC fame). Lynch’s campaign has an uphill battle against incumbent Joyce, who is being heavily funded by LaTourette’s SuperPAC (more than $80,000 to date). In fact, Lynch only decided to run against Joyce when LaTourette’s daughter, Sarah LaTourette, filed to run against Lynch for his seat in the Ohio House, ending the Ohio Republican Party’s de facto ban on challenging incumbents. (Yes, these Mainstreet folks really are working that hard to eliminate conservatives).
I had never met Lynch but showed up at his campaign headquarters today after seeing a plea on Facebook for help to get a huge mailing out. I decided to help with the campaign after listening to the Plain Dealer editorial board’s interviews with Joyce and Lynch. A devout Christian and running on a platform of “Faith, Family, and Freedom,” Lynch sounds less like the preachy moral majority candidates of the past and more like Mark Levin with a bit of a religious bent. Dave Joyce sounds like President Obama with a Republican bent. I enjoyed spending time with an enthusiastic group of volunteers who were committed to the conservative movement.
At lunchtime Rep. Lynch showed up with pizza and asked one of the volunteers if he would bless the food. The man recited a quick prayer he had memorized. Lynch held up his hand and said he would like the opportunity to pray for all of the volunteers. It was clear that he is a man who is no stranger to prayer. He prayed naturally and from the heart. After we all said, “Amen,” a man in a uniform (who had stopped by on his way to work) put his arm around Lynch and said he would like to pray for him. So we all prayed again. Lynch was obviously touched by the gesture.
It was such a natural, spontaneous moment. It wasn’t scripted, but everyone seemed to know what to do and it wasn’t a bit awkward. And yet, as I consider the current environment in this country with religion (and in particular, Christianity) under attack, it was in some ways a remarkable moment. Here was an elected official taking time from the heat of the campaign trail to seek God. No “Freedom from Religion” bigots could stop that prayer and certainly, no government official could censor it or demand that it be religiously “neutral” (as if such a thing were even possible).
While we’ve always had one form or another of a civil religion in America, the true heart and soul of our country has always been individuals and groups praying quietly in their homes, churches, and other meeting places. James 5:16 says that “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” God takes no pleasure in coerced prayers or prayers led by those who are not his true followers. In Proverbs 15 King Solomon writes, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but he loves him who pursues righteousness.”
We don’t need to demand prayer in schools or in city council meetings — or even in Congress — to find God’s favor. Indeed, in this modern era of “Coexist” it’s likely that such prayers would be offensive to God and would make things worse. We simply need men and women, boys and girls — and elected officials — who are committed to praying and honoring God in their private lives. Such a commitment to private prayer and faith will naturally flow out of the homes and into the public square and in doing so, will positively influence public policy as Americans are drawn closer to God.
Editor’s Note: For years now Walter Hudson has been a perpetual inspiration and a joy to edit. His articles, lists, blog posts, and now podcasts dance across the fault lines of politics, culture, and religion with an always encouraging sense of optimism and clarity. See this compilation today here of his most recent podcasts: Ready For An Argument? 15 of Walter Hudson’s Fightin’ Words Podcasts Not To Miss. Also follow him on Twitter here. For more of of his work check out this collection of PJ Lifestyle’s Top 50 List Articles of 2013, which includes several more Hudson hits. This selection of 10 articles here showcases some of Walter’s most popular and engaging pieces. Please consider adding Walter to your list of #ReadEverythingTheyWrite writers. He’s been on mine for some time now…
- Dave Swindle
1. March 2, 2012:
2. May 9, 2013:
3. April 18, 2013:
4. July 17, 2012:
5. July 6, 2013:
6. July 13, 2013:
7. January 29, 2013:
8. January 31, 2012
9. September 2, 2013:
10. March 7, 2013:
Editor’s Note: Check out Walter Hudson’s podcast Monday-Friday here at PJ Lifestyle and stop by on weekends to get caught up on any you may have missed. Each Saturday we’ll expand this compilation updating it with the newest episodes. What would you like to hear Walter discuss in future podcasts? Please leave you suggestions in the comments.
Most East European governments concealed their road to Communism by posting innocuous nameplates at the door, such as People’s Republic or Popular Republic.
Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa
“People’s Republic” is such a chummy term. In fact, Marxism in general, with all it’s “redistribution of wealth” sounds so compassionate, at least to a Western, Judeo-Christianized mind. A Chinese mind familiar with Mao’s Great Leap Forward, for instance, may have a different take on the benevolent-sounding idea of a “People’s Republic” given the facts:
“State retribution for tiny thefts, such as stealing a potato, even by a child, would include being tied up and thrown into a pond; parents were forced to bury their children alive or were doused in excrement and urine, others were set alight, or had a nose or ear cut off. One record shows how a man was branded with hot metal. People were forced to work naked in the middle of winter; 80 per cent of all the villagers in one region of a quarter of a million Chinese were banned from the official canteen because they were too old or ill to be effective workers, so were deliberately starved to death.”
Mao couldn’t lie his way past a free press in the West. Nor could Khruschev, as Pacepa explains,
The 1963 missile crisis generated by socialist Cuba gave the socialist mask of Marxism a dirty name in the West, and few Marxists wanted to be openly associated with socialism anymore.
But, socialism is still hot. China is still The People’s Republic and “we’re all socialists now,” right? The last installment ended with the question: How have intellectual Wizards manipulated Marxism to acculturate the American mind leftward? Pacepa answers:
[Marxists] therefore began hiding their Marxism under a new cover called “economic determinism,” …a theory of survival rooted in Marx’s Manifesto (another theory of survival), but it pretends that the economic organization of a society, not the socialist class war and the socialist redistribution of wealth, determines the nature of all other aspects of its life.
When economic determinism lost credibility because of the devastating economic crisis in Greece, our Democratic Party began replacing it with “progressivism,” which has become the latest cover name for Marxism. …Today’s Progressive Movement was born in New York’s Zuccotti Park. It was first known as the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which advocated the abolition of “capitalist America.”
Marxists in the West successfully propagate progressivism under the guise of “social justice“ that demands the redistribution of wealth to the less fortunate. Ironically, most people of the Judeo-Christian West accept this Marxist notion out of the goodness of their hearts. However, putting faith in the Marxist lie that human beings don’t have a heart (and therefore are incapable of compassionate decision making) requires handing over all financial power to the Marxist Wizards who proceed to dole out your funds as they see fit.
This speaks to the heart of the question, but how have the Marxist Wizards rendered us so seemingly brainless?
Simon Schama made his reputation as a cultural historian, and one would expect his new “Story of the Jews” to have something to say on the subject of Jewish culture. His incompetence strains the capacity of the Yiddish language for derogation. He is a yutz. Of the many silly things in his PBS series, the silliest perhaps was the claim that Harold Arlen’s and E.Y. Harburg’s song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” expressed characteristically Jewish longing for a better world–as if longing for a better world were a distinctively Jewish activity. As far as music and poetry are concerned, Schama hasn’t a clue; the text and voice-leading of the song following long-established, overused conventions for the evocation of nostalgia. These are taught to undergraduates in musical analysis. Schubert and Wagner among many others employed them. (In the context of a review of Wagner’s Siegfried for Tablet magazine, I recorded a brief discussion of the musical examples, embedded below. The review itself analyzes the musical trick in “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”).
I didn’t like anything else about Schama’s presentation, but I can claim professional credentials in this particular matter.
Cross-posted from Spengler
Marcia Clemmitt, a social policy researcher and former high school teacher, recently published an extensive report on homeschooling at CQ Researcher. In “Homeschooling: Do Parents Give Their Children a Good Education?“ Clemmitt discusses the research of Jennifer Lois, a sociology professor at the University of Western Washington, in Bellingham, and author of the 2012 book Home Is Where the School Is, who described some of the differences between those who homeschool for religious reasons and those who do it for more “pragmatic” reasons, such as safety or educational benefits.
Jennifer Lois said that although homeschooling parents generally acknowledge that “there’s potential for a lot of conflict and emotional button-pushing” between home-schooling parents and their children, she notes that “conservative Christian and other home-schooling mothers generally describe such problems quite differently.”
Lois said that “non-evangelical” mothers are more likely to remark that “we’re not meant to be together all the time; we’re not well matched for that.” In her study of homeschoolers, Lois discovered that these mothers were more likely to spend only a few years homeschooling their children and they were also more likely to complain about the children’s fathers not contributing enough to the homeschooling effort.
Clemmitt explained that women who homeschool for religious reasons are more likely to stick it out for the long haul. “By contrast, most evangelical Christian women whom Lois studied made very long-term home-schooling commitments, often lasting from preschool through high school,” Clemmitt said.
Women who view homeschooling as an integral part of their faith also view the inevitable family conflicts differently than their non-religious counterparts. “Evangelical mothers tended to describe conflicts less as problems and more as opportunities ‘to figure out ways to make their relationships with their children grow,”’ Lois says. Evangelical moms viewed the conflicts as opportunities for relationship building.
No word on how the dads view these issues (at least not in this study).
I approached Lisa De Pasquale’s new book Finding Mr. Righteous with some trepidation. Ann Coulter referred to it as “a true Christian story disguised as racy chick lit.” The reader reviews on Amazon contained phrases like “gets to the inner workings of the mind of an insecure young woman” and “as [if] she was writing about my loving and sexual past.” Our own David Swindle called it “a time bomb waiting to explode.” I thought, ohhhhhh boy. But when David personally recommended it to me, I figured it must be a good read.
Lisa didn’t disappoint. It seems a little weird to refer to her by her first name, since doing so goes against everything you learn about how you’re supposed to write, but after reading Finding Mr. Righteous and talking to her a little about it on Twitter, I feel like I’ve known her for a long time.
Finding Mr. Righteous jumps in to Lisa’s romantic and sexual life with gusto. She never pulls any punches when it comes to her experiences. Situations get steamy from time to time, but I never felt like I was on the verge of being offended. This is no creepy confessional or salacious tell-all — it’s a memoir of a mature woman telling it like it is, warts and all. More often than not, I’d finish a chapter thinking, so that’s what women think about men.
Lisa is a keen judge of human nature as well. She provides astute glimpses behind the facades of the men she’s dated. She offers plenty of fascinating observations like:
Chris was a cat person. But having one view wasn’t enough for him. He had to denigrate the opposing view. Chris’s cat versus dog views were like his views on religion. It wasn’t enough to just accept that some people are religious and some people are not. You had to be an atheist or true believer. And if you were a true believer, you were ignorant.
Editor’s Note: See the introduction to this series here: Pacepa’s Seeds of Knowledge: Starting Down the Yellow Brick Road…
“Seen through the perspective of history, Marxism was actually such a raw, ill-defined and malleable philosophy that one could make of it whatever one wished.”
- Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa
For Lenin, Marxism was a tool to enact his own version of the Russian autocracy his Communist Party claimed to destroy. Lenin exercised his autocratic power in much the same way as the Czars: through his own secret police, the Cheka. “Lenin’s new political police was the fastest expanding Soviet organization after the Revolution: it had started out with only 23 men, but within a couple of years it had numbered over 200,000 employees.”
Stalin, who had grown up under the watchful eye of the Czar’s secret police, was so acculturated to the concept that he embraced it with full fervor, crafting Lenin’s brigade into the GPU, a secret police force answerable only to Stalin himself. The GPU deported Trotsky. Re-christened the OGPU, it weeded out Lenin’s Bolshevik party. Then, re-named the NKVD, the secret police force liquidated the Red Army and Supreme Military Council. 3 name changes and 7 million lives later, the NKVD (later to be re-named ”KGB”) secured a firm stranglehold on Soviet Russia. Yet Stalin, adored by his people, remained above the fray, the “Little Father” to his people, thanks to the disinformation campaign mounted and executed by the intelligence wing of the NKVD.
The malleability of Marxism explains why, despite mounds of physical evidence, Marxist ideology is still ardently defended by those who claim to be Marxists, but who haven’t had the “privilege” of living under Marxist rule. An architectural plan can look great on paper to an unskilled eye. The most ardent voices who speak out against Marxist regimes are the ones who’ve had the unfortunate experience of living under them. They’re the skilled eyes who can easily tell that the blueprints will generate a crumbling structure.
If acculturation is the key to an individual’s interpretation of Marx, it is easy to understand why Marxism is so popular among the young upper-classes who have never struggled, nor suffered economically. It’s easy to be a Marxist when you’ve got the latest smartphone and can Tweet out your wants, needs, and location of the nearest FedEx where you can pick them up. It becomes harder to defend the philosophy when you’re living under the autocratic ruler who you empowered, whose government and economy have rendered technology unaffordable and/or unaccessible, and who has stripped your town of its grain and redistributed it to more productive, and therefore more worthy, citizens.
So, what of this side of the globe where Marxism walked down the yellow brick road of liberalism? How have intellectual Wizards manipulated Marxism to acculturate the American mind leftward? Stay tuned for the next seed of knowledge from Pacepa.
Last week here at PJ Lifestyle, we saw a lively debate over the difference between altruism and giving out of love — particularly in a Judeo-Christian context. My colleagues Walter Hudson and Susan L. M. Goldberg eloquently shared their thoughts on the nature of altruism in a series of compelling posts:
April 8: Altruism In Religion’s Free Market
April 9: Love And Altruism Prove Opposite
Walter, Susan, our editor David Swindle, and I continued the discussion on Facebook, which morphed into a bigger exploration of faith and religion. At one point, Susan brought up the notion we often hear from secularists that “God doesn’t want us to be happy.” I replied:
I don’t think God wants us to be happy, either. He wants us to be filled with joy. Happiness is temporal and circumstantial, while joy is sustained.
There’s a clear difference between happiness and joy. Circumstances and relationships determine our happiness. An ice cream cone can make you happy. A great comedy can make you happy. An upbeat song (even that ubiquitous Pharrell Williams tune) can make you happy. But happiness is transitory and momentary — and ultimately external. Psychologist Sandra A. Brown writes (particularly in the context of relationships):
Happiness is external. It’s based on situations, events, people, places, things, and thoughts. Happiness is connected to your hope for a relationship or your hope for a future with someone….
Happiness is future oriented and it puts all its eggs in someone else’s basket. It is dependent on outside situations, people, or events to align with your expectations so that the end result is your happiness.
And happiness can disappear as quickly as it comes. The same people who make us happy one moment can hurt us or let us down the next. That great meal you ate can give you unbearable heartburn. You can grow tired of the songs, films, and shows you once loved. A storm can ruin that perfect trip to the beach. The happiness we seek can often disappear without warning.
On Saturday I made what my Polish family calls “yellow.” It’s a sweet egg custard concoction that I remember my grandmother making every Easter when we visited. She always prepared the “yellow” the day before Easter and it would hang overnight, suspended between two kitchen chairs, wrapped in a cheesecloth, dripping excess moisture so the cheesy blob of yellow would be firm for Easter dinner the next day (the consistency of the finished product is somewhere between that of pudding and cream cheese).
No one in my family even likes “yellow.” I’m not sure why I made it — probably out of a sense of tradition and also for the feeling of accomplishment I get from creating something that required a bit of effort. Perhaps for the sense of accomplishment that comes from doing my part to contribute to my family’s Easter dinner.
When I was making the “yellow” that no one will likely even eat on Sunday, I was thinking about how we try to do that with God. Sometimes, we do things out of a sense of tradition. We “inherit” a faith from our parents and continue to perform the traditions out of either a sense of duty or a desire to honor our family’s heritage.
Other times, we approach God with something in our hands — confident that we have accomplished something that will please Him. If we work hard enough and put enough effort into our faith (or our good works), God will appreciate our effort and approve of us.
As I was stirring the custard on the stove (for a full 40 minutes!) I thought about my own propensity for doing both of those things — both my reliance on faith traditions and my smug assurance that my “doing” is what makes me right before God.
Crossway has a great video series on the days leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — the event Christians around the world will celebrate on Sunday. Filmed in conjunction with Crossway’s book The Final Days of Jesus, the short videos feature theologians and biblical scholars presenting the historical and theological meaning of the events surrounding Easter.
Holy Week, Day 7: Saturday features interviews with New Testament scholars Andreas Köstenberger and Douglas Moo. Dr. Köstenberger explores the role of Joseph of Arimathea in Jesus’s burial as well as first century burial customs. Dr. Moo explains where he believes Jesus was on the Saturday before the resurrection, referring to 1 Peter 3 which talks about Christ preaching to spirits in prison.
Dr. Moo says, “Traditionally, a lot of people have thought [1 Peter 3] refers to Jesus between his death and resurrection, going to Hades, proclaiming the victory he had won, even perhaps proclaiming the gospel to people who had died so they would have a chance to respond to the grace of God in Christ.”
Allowing that it’s a complicated and controversial issue, Moo said he believes that instead the 1 Peter 3 passage is talking about Jesus at his ascension, “proclaiming his victory over evil spiritual beings.” According to Moo, that is how most contemporary scholars are interpreting that text. “If that’s true,” says Moo, “then we don’t really have any New Testament evidence that Jesus went to Hades or went to Hell between his death and resurrection.”
Moo said that the best guess is that Jesus was in the presence of the Father on Saturday.
“He tells the thief on the cross that he would be together with him in paradise that day,” said Moo. “And our best guess — and it’s not much more than that — is that Jesus was indeed in the presence of the Father before his body was raised on Easter Sunday morning. “
Do you agree with Dr. Moo or do you believe Jesus was somewhere else on Saturday?
Watch the rest of the videos in the series here:
Pilot Episode, Scarecrow & Mrs. King (1983)
I dig spy movies. TV shows, too. Most kids growing up in the last decade before the fall of the Berlin Wall have fond memories of their first TV heroine being Jem or She-Ra. Mine was Amanda King. At 8 years old I wanted to partner up with an ultra-cool spy like Scarecrow (code named as a member of the Oz Network - as in Wizard of) and take down the Evil Empire in our midst. So, of course, when my editor Dave Swindle approached me with the opportunity to partner up with KGB defector Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa for a little intelligence gathering, how could I refuse?
Pacepa’s latest book, Disinformation reads like a Russian epic. The chronicle of facts detailing the Soviet disinformation campaign that disarmed American intellectual, political and academic circles over the course of the 20th century should be a must-read in any conservative’s common core. Having relied on it heavily for my PJ Lifestyle series on the Intellectual Love Affair with Marxism, I finished the book wanting to understand exactly where America is at on the road to socialism, and if the facts fit, why so many conservative outlets hesitated to give Pacepa’s book the time of day. So, I began my interview with 15 questions; a few weeks later Pacepa sent me a 12 page reply to the first question on the list. Tolstoy would’ve been proud. ”I’m out of touch with this generation… you speak their language,” he commented rather poetically. He also gave me an assignment: to decode his knowledge into what the Dude would call “the parlance of our times.”
Like Jay Carney, I have an affinity for the Soviet spectrum. Unlike Jay Carney, the goal of my interest is to avoid becoming a citizen of the next socialist empire to tear apart the globe. So, in the interest of achieving that goal, I seek out primary sources who can give me real information on the warning signs that appear within a culture whose political and popular leadership are driving them dangerously close to the brink of socialism with the goal of autocracy in mind.
The prophet said, “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.” God has designed a path; we choose to walk down it and eventually realize what we’ve been preparing for all along. My path began in front of a TV and wound up here, in front of a screen that connects millions today with seemingly ancient truths. I invite you now to walk this yellow brick road with me as we study Pacepa’s seeds of truth and, perhaps, get a chance to plant a few of our own so that we can all find the rest we so desperately need.
Editor’s Note: “Part 1: The Mask of Marxism” is scheduled for Monday at 8:00 PST.
From Sunday at PJ Lifestyle, Susan L.M. Goldberg responded to my opening in this series with “Religion, Politics & Screaming at the Internet” and concluded thoughtfully:
Why aren’t these women loving these men the way they ought to be loving themselves, with respect and honor?
Perhaps that question is the answer to the many you pose about righteousness in America’s religious and political spheres. When we succumb to idols of any kind we become altruistic in our worship, disrespecting ourselves as much as those with whom we interact. Walter and I do agree on the concept that faith is, first and foremost, a relationship with God that is as mutually satisfying as a marriage. When we lose that context to religious, political, or pop culture opinion, we are forced to become ascetics, because no matter how hard you believe, nor how ardently you defend, you will never win the full favor, attention, or love of the idol you worship. It is a thing, an idea, a person so far removed from you that you are forced to be nothing more than its conquered slave. That is the way Ryan the Preacher treated Lisa, and she responded the way any slave would: “…all I wanted was to be wanted.”
An excerpt from page 23:
Dear Lisa and Susan,
I think among the many accomplishments of Finding Mr. Righteous is its portrayal of Chris the Atheist. The passage from page 23 above highlights a number of intertwined phenomena – a sadomasochistic sexual nature, atheist theology, an inability to control emotions, substance abuse, idolizing women’s bodies, and so often the critical piece at root, the lack of a father figure and the corresponding failure to grow up in a nuclear family. In another passage from the book Chris’s destructive tendencies are made more explicit as he discusses the self-inflicted scars on his arms.
Reading these passages reminded me of my own secular dating time during my undergraduate years – a period I don’t like to dredge out from the memory banks all that often because it’s just still too shameful and embarrassing. The experience from this passage isn’t that uncommon and it shouldn’t necessarily be understood as exclusively a men’s issue. (I certainly don’t believe that men are just innately violent.) It goes the other way too. I dated a number of secular, progressive, and feminist women in college who in some ways resembled Chris. Gender isn’t the issue — beliefs, ideology, and the experiences underlying them are what make people hurt one another.
Some of the women I dated would shift the foreplay into one disturbing realm or another, either incorporating pain and degradation into how they treated me or requesting I act that way toward them. Never was it just “for fun” or “to be kinky” or to “spice things up”– always behind these outward expressions some inner emotional wounds ached, unhealed by a spiritual practice.
Or rather, as it turns out, the sex and the pain was their substitute for a religion. Throughout the story of Chris we see one attempt after another to find something to distract from the unresolved demons inside him. The twin cocktail of sex and violence at the same time, heated up by alcohol and Dionysian emotion, is among the most effective throughout history for annihilating the pain of being an individual. There’s a name for this practice beyond just “atheism” and in my research I think Camille Paglia defines it best in her many books of essays, criticism, and literary analysis, summarized in the lead essay in Vamps and Tramps: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality. From page 45:
“Men who kill the women they love have reverted to Pagan cult. She whom a man cannot live without had become a goddess, an avatar of his half-divinized, half-demonized mother, a magic fountain of cosmic creativity.”
So the position I take: Chris was just being a normal, secular teenage boy, the way mother nature created him. This is just how nature operates…
The Following has been excerpted from Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We’re In by New York Times Best-Selling author Robert Spencer:
During his trial, prosecutors showed that several days before his attack, and even just a few hours before he started shooting, Hasan searched the internet for “jihad” and specifically for articles about Islamic jihadists and Muslim clerics calling for jihad attacks on Americans.
Yet despite these abundant indications that Hasan was engaged in act of Islamic jihad akin to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, albeit on a smaller scale, the Defense Department has classified Hasan’s shootings not as a terrorist act, but as “workplace violence.”
Hasan himself contradicted this classification at his trial, when he pointedly registered his agreement with the prosecution’s contention that, unlike some others who had opened fire in public places, he hadn’t just suddenly snapped or been overcome by an overwhelming paroxysm of rage: “I would like to agree with the prosecution that it wasn’t done under the heat of sudden passion. There was adequate provocation, that these were deploying soldiers that were going to engage in an illegal war.”
Nonetheless, the U.S. government has so far continued to ignore repeated requests from the victims’ families to reclassify the killings and make the victims eligible for the Purple Heart and benefits that are normally accorded to combatants killed or injured in the line of duty.
The disconnect from obvious reality has grown ever wider. The Obama administration’s official unwillingness to face the full reality of the Islamic jihad is all-pervasive, affecting both foreign and domestic policy. Echoed in the mainstream media, it has contributed to an atmosphere in which, during Barack Obama’s second term, Americans are arguably less safe and less informed about the threat they face than ever before. Those who are informed about the threat, or who find themselves confronted by it in one form or another, are often intimidated into silence by the politically correct backlash that is sure to come against them if they dare to speak out.
Nidal Hasan’s own coworkers during his tenure as an army psychiatrist were subject to that intimidation, and their choices illustrate show how deadly effective it is. Although Hasan’s jihadist tendencies were well known, clearly fear that they would be accused of “Islamophobia” prevented his army superiors from acting upon signs of his incipient jihadist tendencies. Instead, they kept promoting him. The AP reported in January 2010 that “a Defense Department review of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, has found the doctors overseeing Maj. Nidal Hasan’s medical training repeatedly voiced concerns over his strident views on Islam and his inappropriate behavior, yet continued to give him positive performance evaluations that kept him moving through the ranks.”
And so Hasan rose through army ranks and did so with extraordinarily positive recommendations, even as he justified suicide bombing and spouted hatred for America while wearing its uniform. In an evaluation dated March 13, 2009, just short of eight months before his jihad attack, Hasan’s superiors wrote that he displayed “outstanding moral integrity” and praised his project topic for his master’s of public health degree: “the impact of beliefs and culture on views regarding military service during the Global War on Terror.” They even praised him specifically as a Muslim, in passages that their authors must have remembered with stinging regret after his jihad murders: one said that he should be put into a position “that allows others to learn from his perspectives” and declared that his “unique insights into the dimensions of Islam” and his “moral reasoning” could be of “great potential interest and strategic importance to the U.S. Army.”