I Just Read ‘The Great Good Thing’

 

When Ricochet member @andrewklavan posted about his new book called The Great Good Thing – A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ, I was curious. I was curious why he took a little flack from a few Jewish members of Ricochet when he posted about his new book, who didn’t feel he gave Judaism a fair shake. But that’s not why I ordered the book. As a Christian, I was born into the faith, but came to a more personal faith backward and sideways, sometimes kicking and screaming. I was curious to hear about another person’s journey of faith – was it worse than mine?

So I ordered it and threw it up on my bookshelf for another day. Published in 2016, I am three years late in picking it up, but not really. I read it at the perfect time. There are times in a person’s life when a book like this is profound and quite frankly, more appreciated, than other times. The recent deaths of people I love and thoughts about mortality and immortality flowing through my mind, rapidly changing world events, including challenges to people of faith, especially Christians and Jews, with the dramatic rise in antisemitism, religious persecution across the world, and the upcoming peace talks in Israel made it the right time.

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Hot Take: Electoral Shock and Awe in Australia

 

G’day from your friendly neighborhood Yank Down Under.

Australia went to the polls yesterday, and the result has the pundits in shock this morning. A Labor Party victory was widely expected after polls had indicated for well over a year that the country had soured on the right-leaning Liberal Party (yes, we’re talking classical liberalism Down Under) coalition. Conventional wisdom seemed to have coalesced around the idea that this was a change election. Not so much, it turned out.

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Bob Becomes in Thrall to a Treat-Dispensing Device called Dogness

 

There may be a lesson in human behavior from the addiction of Bob the dog to a device called Dogness. Or maybe not. Actually, I’m not sure I’ll find a moral before I end this post. Wish me luck.

Marie and I will be taking a cruise around the Mediterranean in a couple of months, and I wanted to give Bob some comfort while we’re gone. He’s a terribly needy dog with a severe case of separation anxiety. The lady across the street is going to come to the house twice a day to look to Bob while we’re gone, but I know Bob will still miss us. To ease his distress, then, I bought Dogness, the treat-dispensing device you see to your right.

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‘You Are Wrong and Your God Is Wrong.’

 

“You are wrong and your God is wrong.” A statement that a committed Catholic, Christian, or Jew might hear in China, North Korea, or in any number of countries, but not in Canada, and not from a judge.

Mary Wagner may be known in Canada, and in the United States among pro-life advocates, but she is well known in Poland. Poland is under pressure from the EU to liberalize their abortion laws. Poland is also under pressure to repeal a mandatory retirement age for judges, a law that was written to remove judges that were hearing cases during the Soviet occupation of Poland. As one writer put it, Poland was not impressed with the old totalitarians, and they are not impressed with the new totalitarians. Mary Wagner has been honored with a postage stamp in Poland.

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Cultural Incompetence

 

It’s easy to poke fun at foreigners or immigrants when they fail to fully grasp local customs and idioms. But sometimes we fail even at our own customs. That’s when the real razzing begins.

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Socialists, Check Your Incentives

 

Socialism is the Democratic Party’s hot “new” direction, though there seems to be some disagreement about just what “socialism” means. Whether it’s “only” a vastly expanded welfare state tacked onto a capitalist economic engine or whether the government takes ownership of the economy’s “commanding heights” is yet to be determined. Either way, the vision entails government redistribution of wealth to ensure that it is more equitably allotted.

But will redistribution really result in more equality? It might, in the sense that the richer will likely be made poorer, but more redistribution will certainly result in more corruption. The issue is one of incentives. What incentives do the following economic actors have?

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Friday Food and Drink Post: Currying Favor

 

File:Indian Curry Chicken.jpgI love a nice bowl of curry! Unfortunately, I get the same reaction to those words in my married-into family as I get when I exclaim “I love a nice piece of fruitcake!” So to indulge myself, it’s necessary to either go out with friends who share similar tastes, or to hook up, one way or another, with my brother and sister in the UK so that we can have a pig-out. (The Worcestershire area has some very nice Balti restaurants (I prefer the beef), and some of the better Indian restaurants, which offer more of a variety, do lovely curries. I’m not a fan of “curry and chips.” Nor of most “fish and chips” as they manifest themselves in the land of my birth, either, but that’s a whole nother story).

In the matter of curry, I’m pretty indifferent to, and catholic in my tastes, as far as the country of origin and heat output. A nice Thai panang (red or green curry), or Kiang Som Kung (sour shrimp curry) is scrumptious. Vindaloo, ramped up to a heat scale of about nine out of ten is delicious, as is Makhani, a mild chicken dish. Stretching the definition a bit, I’ll throw in a nice jambalaya here as well. The common factor with most curries, worldwide is rice, although the varieties change from place to place–plain long-grain, basmati, jasmine and so on. The subtle flavor of the rice enhances the spices in the curry, or in the case of plain rice, provides a nice contrast, and it’s important to use the right one for the right dish. Or so I think.

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Edward Conard: Economic Growth, Innovation, and Middle-Class Prosperity

 


In this Conversation, businessman and best-selling author Edward Conard shares his perspective on how America can can sustain economic growth, spur innovation, improve productivity, and ensure greater prosperity for the middle class.. Conard counters the commonplace view, today, that the American middle class has been hollowed out and that economic mobility has stagnated. While recognizing a slowdown in productivity and growth in recent years, Conard considers the overall strength and diversity of the American economy, and the relative growth in middle-class incomes in America compared to peer groups in Europe as well as Japan. According to Conard, we must prioritize innovation and growth in order to meet today’s challenges—and he cites America’s opportunity to increase high-skilled immigration as the single best way to jumpstart innovation and productivity now and in the years to come.

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Transgenderism Is Female Appropriation

 

Men who become women, transgender if you like, are simply appropriating the female appearance. Without the proper body functions, this is only a surface change. It is a change in the appearance, not in the genetic material that makes a woman female. Some of the hormones may be added or subtracted, sure, however, it does not mean having a truly female experience.

Transgender women never have a first period. They never have the worry about being pregnant; either that they are or that they’re not. They never have the joy of wondering just how normal their anatomical bits are: they are scientifically implanted or grown and adjusted according to spec. They never grow up with the fear of men.

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A Morning at the Club

 

“Smith,” I said, lowering the Wall Street Journal to address the gentleman seated in the easy chair opposite mine. “This headline says, ‘Trump tariffs likely to hit consumers mostly.’ Is that true?”

Smith didn’t look up from the chess problem he had set up on the board in front of him, but only grimaced in a way that meant that I had just asked a stupid question. To my right, another fellow said, “Oh, Camper! I was so absorbed in this book I didn’t even see you come in. Shouldn’t you be home with that beautiful wife of yours at this time of the morning?”

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The Future of the Democratic Party

 

View original artwork here.

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Fran Lebowitz: Still Upset Fawn Died in Animal House

 

Liberal media, double standards; same song, different verse. We already knew HBO promotes leftist propaganda, whether it’s Vice, Bill Maher, John Oliver, or ensuring its Game of Thrones middle-earth soap opera is diverse enough for their woke overlords. When Vanity Fair Contributing Editor (liberal author) Fran Lebowitz stated to Maher’s barking seal audience that impeachment was not enough for President Trump she added that he “deserves to be handed over to the Saudis” to face the same treatment as the late journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was brutally killed and dismembered.

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Quote of the Day: Debate and Dissent are American Strengths, Not Weaknesses

 

“Our enemies have often assumed that we are soft and vulnerable, that we love luxury and tolerate dissent and argument to the point that it weakens us, They are mistaken. In the Cold War we persevered for almost fifty years (1946-1991), often against strong domestic opposition. It is because our democratic institutions tolerate — no encourage — debate and dissent that we found the resolve and the will to prevail.” — Hans Mark, from An Anxious Peace: A Cold War Memoir

This quote is from a book by Hans Mark that I am reading for review. Mark is best known for his work at NASA, but he spent a good chunk of his career developing nuclear weapons. Mark dedicated his life to fighting socialism, especially that of Communism. He viewed National Socialism through the same lens, seeing it as a second head of the two-headed monster. His family fled Austria when Mark was nine after the Nazis took over that country. He came to the United States as a refugee and became a citizen seven years later. He served in the US Navy in the 1940s.

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What Does “Income Inequality” Even Mean?

 

Income inequality is complex beyond our ability to understand it. For example, I live near Houston, TX. Houston is a less desirable place to live than, say, Austin. Austin is in the Hill Country and has a much better climate than does hot, humid Houston. Moreover, Austin is a fun place to live; its unofficial motto is “Keep Austin Weird.”

As a result, two hypothetical workers – one in Austin and one in Houston – doing the same work, are unlikely to receive the same pay. Austin workers are typically paid less because part of their “total income package” is getting to live in Austin. Houston workers need additional incentives to induce them to suffer through six months of miserable weather each year.

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‘Who Said It’ Quiz

 

“My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular. Where it is safe to say what’s on your mind, especially when everyone disagrees. Where it’s safe to believe what you believe, especially when everyone else’s beliefs stand elsewhere.”

Hint: Not a Republican
Hint: Not a Libertarian
Hint: Not a Democratic Socialist

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Practical Differences Between the Orthodox and Evangelicals

 
First Orthodox Cathedral built in Georgia in 1,000 years.

I am a Baptist and a missionary that was on the field for 14 years and I worked primarily in Georgia but other Orthodox countries as well. My experience with culturally Orthodox and faithful Orthodox believers are from these countries in descending order of interaction, Georgia, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, and America. I was inspired by this post from @heavywater on the conversion of the Bible Answers man to Orthodoxy. What I wanted to do here is to lay out the practical differences I found between not just the teaching of Orthodoxy and Evangelicals generally but how the teaching is put to work in the real world. I am a Baptist and I would be a Reformed Baptist, on the question of salvation, to lay down a theological marker.

I am not trying to win or even make an argument here, I am not interested in this post who better reflects the teaching in the Bible or the wishes of Christ, instead I want to lay out how the differences in the teachings of the two churches play out in the lives of people practicing the two faiths. I want to illuminate what motivates the conversions that move people from Orthodoxy to Evangelicalism and what often motivates the reverse. I intend to take a more bottom-up look at what happens here so instead of starting with theology and then working down to the people I am going to start with the people and work my way up to some insights on the theology.

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Thing a Day 1: Razib Khan’s Latest Article Was Not Good

 

So the last time I wrote a post was July 17, 2018. Sure, I comment around here from time to time (last time: April 16, 2019), and I was on quite the streak of promotions. However, I feel I am not contributing much to the conversation around here, and given I submitted grades this morning and am more or less on my own clock now, I’m going to attempt -this week -to have a thing a day I say something about. Doesn’t have to be long. Doesn’t have to be profound. My goal is just to say something about five things this week. Once a day. We’ll go from there.

____________

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Grumpy Cat: The Sad Tale of Catnip Abuse

 

Tardar Sauce, known more popularly by her stage name of “Grumpy Cat,” has died all too soon at the age of 7. The official cause of death has been ruled by her coroner veterinarian as a “urinary tract infection.” According to the report:

“Besides being our baby and a cherished member of the family, Grumpy Cat has helped millions of people smile all around the world – even when times were tough,” Grumpy Cat’s owners wrote. “Her spirit will continue to live on through her fans everywhere.”

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“Majority” Politics: The “Kids” Are Alright

 

Are state and Congressional Republicans playing into Democrats’ hands once again, helping Democrats realize their vision of a permanent electoral majority coalition of people herded into identity groups? Is there any good reason to abandon and alienate the youngest, newest segment of voters? Would we do better to treat all competent adults as adults, whose support we would like in 2020?

Current politics and culture feature contradictory claims about young people. On the one hand, we are considering treating young adults as wards of the state (free college for all). These young people are being encouraged to live in a state of emotional fragility, fearful of a discouraging word. On the other hand, the same politicians are suggesting the voting age should be lowered to 16 and modern children’s crusades should be taken seriously (gun-grabbers and anthropogenic catastrophic climate change).

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FBI vs. Spy

 

View original artwork here.

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The Winds of War: Herman Wouk Dead at 103

 

He was many things. A gag writer, a sailor at war, a novelist, the grandson of a rabbi. But above everything else, he was a storyteller. Herman Wouk has died at age 103.

He is best remembered for his breakthrough novel, The Caine Mutiny, and an epic pair of television mini-series The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. Caine won the 1951 Pulitzer and was made into a classic film starring Humphrey Bogart as the mentally unstable Captain Queeg.

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Nice Jewish Boy Talks About America

 

Gene Simmons spoke at the Pentagon yesterday (yeah, that Gene Simmons). I heard some people mock the event because … well, because he normally wears makeup and dragon boots, but his speech is worth listening to. He talks about his mother and what America meant to her and his family. Touching stuff . . . really.

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Uncommon Knowledge: Thomas Sowell on the Origins of Economic Disparities

 

 

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