Tag: Religion

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When Joy Behar joked that VP Pence might be mentally ill because he allegedly believes Jesus actually talks to him the inevitable backlash was predictable. And unfortunately the response has been mostly about religious identity politics rather than the profound philosophical and theological discussion it actually is. Mollie Hemingway, a devout conservative Lutheran, defended Pence on Fox […]

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Morality pure and simple accepts the law of the whole which it finds reigning, so far as to acknowledge and obey it, but it may obey it with the heaviest and coldest heart, and never cease to feel it as a yoke. But for religion, in its strong and fully developed manifestations, the service of […]

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Religious Discrimination or Protecting the Homeland?


There seems to be no end to the government’s infringement on our freedom of speech and religion. And now the latest excuse is that the Catholic diocese is threatening the safety of our citizens with their advertisements. An article in The Federalist explained the problem.

On October 24, the archdiocese submitted advertisements to be displayed in the DC Metro. In response, the Metro explained that the ads were not in compliance with Metro guidelines and therefore couldn’t be posted. Under those guidelines, “advertisements that promote or oppose any religion, religious practice or belief” were not permitted. They further explained that the religious scene in the ad promoted religion.

After unsuccessfully appealing to Metro officials, the diocese sued:

From Israel: Different but the Same


Irreverent and funny; devoted, kind, and humorous. The first description is of Menashe; the latter is Alizah. They are two lovely people who are making my first trip to Israel in 45 years sweet, informative, and engaged.

Let me tell you about Alizah. I met her on the telephone as a Torah study partner and the cell phone towers have kept us connected ever since. She has an East Coast accent that colors her Hebrew comments. So, meeting her in person was a delightful experience. She somehow fit the voice that I had learned to appreciate for the past year and a half. She has a wry sense of humor, and we definitely connect on that level — our rejoinders come naturally.

Alizah is a Haredi Jew — ultra-Orthodox. Some people were concerned about my coming to Beitar-Illit because it is a very religious community. Men walk rapidly in their black clothes, kipas, and black hats, many with flowing beards and flying payos. Like most of the women, Alizah wears longish skirts and a wig; much of her clothing, however, is colorful with lots of purple. (She also enjoys wearing her tennis shoes which are color coordinated.)

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I’m finding it hard to put into words how sad, shocked and angry I feel about what happened over the weekend in the small, rural town of Sutherland Springs, Texas, where twenty-six people were murdered and 20 injured, sitting in church, in yet another mass shooting. When I pulled up the news to find out […]

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In June, I posted on using music to “Retell[] a Poem – the Sacred in the Secular“. Then, I took you behind the scenes, into what the process of setting a poem to music looks like, in the middle of things, while the draft is still incomplete. Now that the draft is completed, in honor […]

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Did Evangelicals Really Pick Trump Over Jesus? We’ll ask Erick Erickson.

Hugh Hefner has passed away, and leaves a legacy of liberal hypocrisy behind.

Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Spain?


The terrorist attack in Barcelona has once again caused many of us to reflect on the ominous effects of Muslim immigration in Europe. Although all citizens of every country in Europe are at risk, Jews in particular feel vulnerable to the intense hatred that is part of the radical Muslim ideology. The Jews in Spain are no exception.

As a result of this latest bombing, Barcelona’s Chief Rabbi warned Jews in Barcelona to leave while they could:

I tell my congregants: Don’t think we’re here for good. And I encourage them to buy property in Israel. This place is lost. Don’t repeat the mistake of Algerian Jews, of Venezuelan Jews. Better (to leave) early than late.

Implicit Bias is the New Original Sin


Voltaire once said that if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him. Fast forward to today, and the left has invented everything required for social control that used to be provided by religion, except a replacement for God. Their most recent innovation in this field is “implicit bias,” which acts as a stand-in for original sin.

Before we dive into the technical details, it’s worth taking a moment to review how America got here. The left in America for at least the past few generations has viewed the world with an implicit Marxian frame. That is, they view the world as consisting of groups of people who are oppressed, and other groups of people who do the oppressing. In the traditional Marxist (note the subtle difference here, between -ist and -ian) formulation, that would be the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, respectively. This was a psychologically useful delusion until the end of the Cold War decisively proved that communism is a complete failure whenever it is implemented. It’s pretty hard to convince people they should create a Worker’s Paradise in America when so many of the Worker’s Paradises look less like an actual paradise than the status quo. There’s only so many times you can say “well, nobody has really tried communism yet” before normal people smile, nod, and walk backwards toward the nearest exit.

Unfortunately, like most people with unpopular ideas, the left looked at all of this and said to itself “Well, our ideas are obviously correct in spite of all evidence to the contrary, so the problem must be that we cannot communicate such that American people can understand us.” So, this is where the new fad “intersectionality” comes in. Intersectionality is a theory that basically says that you can be oppressed in a multitude of ways depending on your identity, and because most approaches to dealing with oppression usually only address one of those ways in which you are being oppressed, the “structures of oppression” “intersect,” e.g., coordinate their activities accordingly such that the “cycle of oppression” is free to continue indefinitely.

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Hillary Clinton wants to be a preacher, and a Duke Divinity School alum who served as her spiritual adviser during the 2016 presidential campaign says Clinton would be powerful in the pulpit. “I think she would be a terrific preacher,” said the Rev. Bill Shillady, who has been a friend and a pastor to the […]

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Mike Pence: A Man of Virtue


The word “virtue” has become besmirched by its inclusion in the term, “virtue signaling,” a term used to discredit one’s practice of virtue, when a critic doubts the virtuous person’s sincerity. In creating this term, however, I think it has made some of us skeptical (in these chaotic times) of any person’s sincerity and credibility as a notable and admirable human being.

That’s why I was glad to see Mollie Hemingway’s Federalist Daily Blog post on the results of a poll taken by the New York Times/Morning Consult poll that surveyed the public’s reactions to Mike Pence’s position not to dine alone or drink alone with women, other than his wife. I was delighted to learn that both men and women respected his decision, in spite of the outrage by the mainstream media. In an age where tradition is disparaged, I thought about all the ways that Mike Pence represented conventional beliefs and values, and how people sometimes disparage those who emulate honor, respect and virtue.

In one way, it would be easy to try to damage Mike Pence’s reputation; he is, after all, a politician. Some in the media say that he is already planning a 2020 presidential run; that he has made mistakes; that he should stand up to Trump more often. These comments amuse me, since there is no way to prove their veracity, and they demonstrate Pence’s humanity to me. There is nothing he has done that I’m aware of that would damage his credibility as a decent human being. Any person who can be seen as a person of character, in spite of all the political stereotypes, is worthy of our appreciation.

Politics Belong on the Pulpit Too


There is a strong case to be made, not only for keeping religion out of politics, but for keeping politics out of religion. “A rabbi should never discuss politics on the pulpit,” the rabbi of a large Conservative congregation told me. “Everyone who walks through the door of the synagogue should feel welcome, and any discussion of politics will alienate someone.”

This sentiment is echoed by Bruce Bialosky in a recent article at Townhall.com. Non-Orthodox Jews are notoriously left of center, and Bialosky finds himself a distinct minority in his Reform Jewish congregation and the movement generally. He describes his rabbi’s alienation of his right-of-center congregants, and asks: “At a time when Temple membership is floundering across the nation, why would any rabbi antagonize part of their congregation because of their personal political views?”

Obsession with Health


I am keenly aware of the continual onslaught of medical studies that are written, supposedly to improve our health: studies that talk about eating disorders, obesity, helpful drugs, dangerous drugs, unhealthy foods, fiber-rich foods. And I stopped paying attention to them a while ago. No one is going to stop me from drinking my glass of zinfandel at dinner, my full-test coffee at breakfast, and my chocolate chip cookie after dinner. But I’m concerned about my fellow Americans, especially regarding their growing concerns about health. So I decided to do some research. I learned more than I wanted to know: we are obsessed with our health. I also came to the conclusion that these obsessions may say less about our health and more about our search for control, perfection and meaning.

Now I’ve been aware of this pre-occupation in our culture for many years. It’s important for me to state that I am not describing people who have serious, debilitating and painful health concerns; a number of Ricochettis bravely struggle with these kinds of issues. Instead I am speaking about the overload of information that we continually receive about what people should put into their bodies and how they respond to it. And we aren’t alone in this country; many articles I read were published in British newspapers. What does this obsession look like, and what is it telling us about ourselves?

Most of us know about the various eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and other conditions. Ironically we live in a time where obesity has become epidemic. Yet there are those who go in the opposite direction, focusing on everything they eat:

Retelling a Poem – the Sacred in the Secular


The long shadow Easter casts on our culture is light in darkness rather than darkness in light. The poem off to the right here is lit by that shadow. So much of the poem’s language reduces humanity to mere biology – our ghosts are merely the bioluminescence of the worms feeding off our corpses, rebirth is perhaps nothing more than dirty fertilization, whether of plants or of people – but all is framed to subvert that reduction. The poem shows a light beyond nature and nature’s endless cycling, light from a dawn that remains fixed for all time: the Easter dawn. Really, it’s impossible to put what the poem is saying into words any better than the words of the poem itself. Not all restatement is verbal, though.

Setting a poem for singers will literally restate the words, as they are sung. But the music written for the words is, even when the words are removed, its own retelling. Plenty of us are amateur poets, but not all of us write poems worth saying. Fortunately for amateur poets with some training in music, our own play-acting as poets can help us retell other, much better, poets’ poems in musical form. The following is one such half-finished retelling, which, being half-finished, with sketchiness and seams still evident, gives a behind-the-scenes look at how it’s done:

Coming to America: FGM


I couldn’t bring myself to spell out the initials in the title: Female Genital Mutilation. In fact, I nearly didn’t write the post, the topic is so abhorrent. But given the facts, and the manner in which this crime has been reported, I felt compelled to write about it.

Just over one week ago, Jumana Nagarwala was jailed in Detroit for practicing female genital mutilation on two, seven-year old girls. Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said, “The Department of Justice is committed to stopping female genital mutilation in this country, and will use the full power of the law to ensure that no girls suffer such physical and emotional abuse.”