I lit Shabbat candles this past Friday night for the first in a very long time. I made the decision somewhere between learning that the Grand Synagogue of Paris had closed its doors on Shabbat for the first time since the end of World War 2 and the starling fact that 15 Jewish patrons of the kosher supermarket in Paris huddled in a storage freezer to avoid being executed by terrorists.
Roger L. Simon wrote a compelling piece in the wake of last week’s barbaric attacks perpetrated by radical Islamists in Paris. Reading his article I observed with irony that he writes about America’s need for a Churchill. Perhaps, pray to God in His mercy we have one, as we are now surely England with a Neville Chamberlain at the helm. Europe, on the other hand, does not have a Churchill in sight. Europe’s Churchills and their children have fled and are fleeing, some at a breakneck pace. The only Churchill I see on the world horizon is Bibi Netanyahu, which is why he will no doubt be elected to another term as prime minister in Israel, regardless of the deals he may or may not cut with the ultra-religious. Internal politics have to be placed on the back burner when international enemies are this bloodthirsty.
I am not one of those people who reflexively think European goods are superior to American ones—you know the kind of people I’m talking about—but boy do I sometimes wonder about the coffee in this country. The average American takes his or her daily caffeine in the form of a tepid, mud-like beverage that delis, diners, and commercial chains have chosen to call “coffee.” Is it? It can’t possibly be. Even the coffee at Starbucks, which is supposed to be something special, more often than not tastes like the business end of a drainpipe. It’s a shame so many people have been duped by words like “venti” and “macchiato.”
This dislike of mine has nothing to do with snobbery. I don’t care about price, brand, origin, or other markers of prestige. I know precisely nothing about the agriculture of coffee beans or the chemistry of brewing. I do know, however, that the proof of the coffee is in the drinking, and the motor oil served at most American establishments is barely potable.
I suspect I’m not alone in this judgment. If not, follow me, dear reader, on a mental trip to the beautiful city of Lviv, in western Ukraine—a place where I found some of the best coffee I have ever tasted. This was after I had tried the product of Vienna’s famous Cafe Hawelka. In fact, to imagine what Lviv is like, picture Vienna, only not as well preserved, with extra grit and grime on the buildings, and with occasional glimpses of drab Soviet architecture.
Located off the coast of Spain, via Instagram user ele_nora11 earlier today:
Since December of 2013 PJ Lifestyle has been collecting sunrise and sunset photos from contributors, readers, and Instagram. Now we’re going to begin an effort to organize the ongoing collection. Revised goals:
1. Collect a sunrise from every state in the union. Completed July 25, 2014 but you can still send in your great photos to be featured.
2. Collect a sunset from as many countries around the world as possible.
3. After getting all 50 states’ sunrises then switch to collecting their sunsets and begin the global sunrises collection.
Updated April 2014: 4. The extraordinary submissions of Mark Baird have inspired a new collection of photographs devoted specifically to our nation’s capital. We’re going to try and organize fantastic sunrise and sunset photos from all the different monuments and scenic views.
Updated August 2014: 5. We’re going to now try and start combining sunrise and pet photos, leading with images and video taken by PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle featuring Maura the Siberian Husky on her morning runs.
The Completed United States Sunrise Collection
Beverly Hills: A California Sunrise in Memory of Shirley Temple
Chicago: 7 Sunrises to Start Your Sunday
Washington and West Virginia
Mars (which we might as well go ahead and start counting as an American state now)
The International Sunset Collection
4. Cayman Islands:
6. Costa Rica:
7. England, 8. France, and 9. Denmark:
23. South Africa:
Starting The United States Sunset Collection:
The Washington D.C. Collection So Far:
- A Capitol Dome Sunrise
- Sunrise Reflected In the Tidal Basin
- Paddling to Sunrise On the Potomac
- The Sun Rises Over The Spot Where Martin Luther King, Jr. Made History
- A Precisely-Timed Sunrise Shot From Inside the Thomas Jefferson Memorial
- A Pink Sunrise Reflected in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Sunrise at the Marine Corps Memorial
- Marine Corps Memorial: A Sunrise to Remember Our Nation’s Heroes
- A Superb Sunrise at the Navy-Merchant Marine Memorial
- The World War II Memorial At Sunrise
- 4 Washington D.C. Sunrises Through the Cherry Blossoms
- The Secret of the Lincoln Memorial’s Equinox Sunrises…
- 2 Beautiful Sunrises From the Washington Monument’s Reflecting Pool
- Remembering America’s Heroes as the Sun Rises Over the World War II Memorial
- Why You Should Never Wade In the Reflecting Pool at the Washington Memorial
- An Amazing Orange & Blue Sunrise at the Jefferson Memorial
- Paddling to Theodore Roosevelt Island at Sunrise
- Sunrise (And the Munchies) from the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial
- The Ducks Make This One of The Best Washington D.C. Sunrises in the Collection
- These 4 Incredible Capitol Photos Taken Over 43 Minutes Show the Colors of the Sunrise
- The Sun Strikes The Sculptures At the Federal Trade Commission Building
- ‘Watching the Sunrise from Inside the Lincoln Memorial You Get a Great View of the Mall.’ – Mark Baird
- An Awe-Inspiring Blue and Pink Sunset at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial
- A Soothing Orange And Blue Sunset at the Lincoln Memorial
- A Phenomenal Photo of the Air Force Memorial at Sunset
- The Sun Sets at the Titanic Memorial
- Rochambeau Stares Into the Sunset
The Siberian Husky Sunrise Collection So Far:
The AP reports that Munich-based Constantin Film will be producing a movie based on German author Timur Vermes’s bestselling novel about the Nazi Dictator. In Er ist Wieder Da, Adolf Hitler “…awakens in modern-day Berlin and becomes the star of a TV comedy show.” No word on whether this “comedy show” will mirror the contemporary Asian game show trend of finding humor in putting fellow citizens in odd, even purportedly life-threatening situations. The film is set to be released in 2015.
Despite Hitler being a “touchy subject” for many Germans, the novel has sold over 1.3 million copies since its debut in 2012. English speakers, have no fear. A translation of the book, titled Look Who’s Back, will be released in April of next year.
In other Hitler satire news, Hitler Rants Parodies (featured above) recently celebrated five years on the web. BothVermes and Constantin Film have as much to do with the YouTube sensation as the psychotic mass murdering dictator has to do with having a laugh. One thing we can confirm: the authors of Er is Wieder Da and Hitler Rants Parodies both know how to humorously kill a conversation.
No word yet on when the satirical biopic about Soviet leader Josef Stalin (working title: Hitler Always Said I Should Laugh More) is set to hit the silver screen. According to several unconfirmed reports, the studio involved is having trouble obtaining a finished draft of the script that isn’t covered in trace amounts of polonium-210.
I hope you all stuffed yourselves on lobster bisque, foie gras, and indulged in a martini or two. If you’re up for another destination of culinary awesomeness, get ready to buy some bigger pants—because your eyes are going to be bigger than your stomach.
Toscana is the name of this jewel and it is located, conveniently, one block east of Union Station. The restaurant is quaint — a bright yellow row-house located on the corner of F Street NE and 2nd Street NE – but don’t let its humble exterior fool you. What it lacks in grandiose landscaping and property, it makes up for in hospitality, flavor, and culinary genius.
The owner is named Daniele — and it is commonplace to see him either in the kitchen, cooking away over a hot stove, or out on the patio, serving dinner to his neighbors and his own family. He likes to chat with patrons and is always interested in how the food tasted. Daniele is a master at making you feel at home — he’s a real, warm Italian. In fact, he returns to Italy each year to lead a culinary and wine tour. (You can sign up for this food and wine tour with Daniele to see Tuscany.)
When some left vs right American cultural battle made the news, friends abroad would either ask for an explanation from my husband and me, both known conservatives, or offer advice for our cultural wars. Almost always, the conversation was cordial but premised on an assumption that the American right held the extreme position.
Europeans made reasonable assumptions based on the tenor and headlines but rarely did the news or dinner party discussion cover the details. So few knew that American conservatives rarely held the extreme position. And American expats often endured some unexpected culture shock, especially concerning matters of race, sex, and immigration.
Abortion provides an excellent illustration of the problem. When the subject came up in the 2008 election, when Europe loved Obama (how times do change) and couldn’t stomach pro-life Palin, one friend advised that we could avoid all of our abortion drama if we allowed for reasonable rules making abortion legal during the first trimester with a committee of doctors to determine case-by-case availability of abortions in the second trimester, like they did in Denmark. Trying not to scoff at just how unreasonable those rules would sound to the American pro-choice movement, I asked for her opinion on later abortions. She was taken aback. She couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do that. Another time, Italians looked at me as if I was crazy when I asked about parental consent for minors. Of course a minor needed parental consent! Was I mad? And wasn’t I the American conservative?
Stories aside, we can easily compare the regulations.
“There was music in the cafés at night
And revolution in the air”
- Bob Dylan, “Tangled Up in Blue”
Finally, a movie has arrived that treats the story of the New Left honestly and in a realistic, mature manner. That film is not Robert Redford’s dreadful The Company You Keep, a paean to the Weather Underground, but the movie by the French director Olivier Assayas, Something in the Air. It takes place in various European locales in the summer of 1971, when the hopes of the European revolutionaries were shattered after the failure of 1968 to lead to revolution. Assayas’ film covers an assorted group of European New Leftists and some American tourist counterparts as they attempt to both get on with their lives and, for some, to keep alive their crushed hopes in a period of ideological and political retreat.
Assayas, who made the quintessential and powerful biographical movie Carlos about Carlos the Jackal, the Left’s most well-known ’70s and 80’s terrorist, now turns his attention in particular to the plight of the young graduating high school student Gilles, played by Clement Metayer, and his new girlfriend, Christine, played by Lola Creton. Each takes different paths. Gilles is guilt ridden over his desire to become an artist and study painting instead of serving the revolution, while Christine, plagued with guilt over her bourgeois existence, opts instead to live with an older man in a revolutionary collective and to devote herself to the task of organizing the proletariat in France and Italy. (All she does, we learn, is shop, cook and clean for the male comrades, as well as provide sex.)
The power of Assayas’ movie is that it takes place in real time, instead of flashbacks and narrative based in the present, as aging radicals try to come to terms with their past. We see these young people facing the options in front of them, each deciding which way to turn, as they experience the pulls to go one way and the warning signs that they had better think twice before acting on their impulses.
With over 40 million views, this video captures the essence of the article you are about to read.
A funny thing happened “on the way” as I was contemplating writing this piece. While listening to a Christian radio station the announcer said, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
At that moment this very familiar phrase hit me like a thunderbolt. For not only is “Jesus the reason for the season,” but Jesus is the reason our world, nation, history, culture and society are the way they are.
So regardless of whether you believe in Jesus, practice another faith, or are devoid of faith, Jesus has impacted you by virtue of the fact that you are alive.
For no person has affected mankind – past, present and future –more than this Jewish teacher who lived over 2000 years ago, whose birth we will celebrate with great fanfare.
Although Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were the impetus behind His followers’ establishing Christianity, the world’s largest religion itself is only the starting point for the influence Jesus spawned in countless non-religious venues as people over the centuries were moved and motivated by Him to express themselves in a multitude of ways that we continue to see played out everyday across the planet.
With so many examples of Jesus Christ’s effect on mankind it is impossible to even mention them all in this short piece — the purpose of which is to not only enhance your celebration of “the reason for the season” but to also increase your awareness of just how much Jesus impacts the world around you every day of the year.
If after reading this piece you are moved to delve deeper into this topic, I recommend a book published in 1994 that has since become a “modern classic,” What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?, co-authored by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy and the still very much alive Jerry Newcombe.
This book had a profound influence on me as it oriented my thinking about Jesus in ways that I had never contemplated.
So here in alphabetical order is only a short, incomplete list of the most obvious “non-religious” aspects of how Jesus Christ has impacted the world.
I recently returned from Vienna, Austria, and was intrigued to see this report from Reuters that the Leopold Museum has decided to self-censor posters throughout the city advertising its exhibit on male nudity. As it happens, I encountered these posters during my stay: they depict three male soccer players, naked except for their socks, standing in the middle of a confetti-filled stadium, facing the camera in full-frontal glory.
The first time I saw this poster, as I walked from my hotel to the U-Bahn station at Schottenring, I did a double-take. I realized that, while I don’t know exactly what the laws are in New York regarding nude advertisements, I certainly had never seen one walking down Broadway. I wouldn’t call it culture shock — more of a quick poke, actually. Austria generally has a more lax attitude toward nudity, despite being a nation that is very particular about etiquette and manners (and this despite its more well known reputation as a laid-back version of Germany).
Those attitudes notwithstanding, the Viennese public was evidently perturbed by the posters, and the museum agreed to cover the men’s genitals with a large red bar (running horizontally, in case you’re wondering).
“Many people told us that they wanted to or had to protect their children,” said a museum spokesman. Some Viennese warned that “if we won’t cover it they would go there with a brush and they would cover it with colour. Already somebody did that.”
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