A staggering story of faith and courage in Dachau

I sincerely hope this Facebook embed code works. If it doesn’t, go here to read an incredible story of faith and survival in Dachau:

Rabbi Yosef Wallis, director of Arachim of Israel, talks to Project Witness about his father, Judah Wallis, who was born…

Posted by Dani Rakoff on Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ted Cruz needs to explain to non-Evangelical voters that they need not fear him

Cruz and a crossNow that Ted Cruz, for the time being at least, is the front-runner, I’m starting to get emails from conservatives in Marin who are disturbed by his open expressions of Christian faith.  Just like their Progressive neighbors, they’re worried about finding themselves in a theocracy.  I therefore think Ted Cruz needs to start campaigning beyond the Evangelicals he’s courted.  This requires him to say something along the following lines:

“Yes, I am a person of deep faith.  My faith is the most important thing in my life.  It informs my values and keeps me humble by reminding me every minute of every day that I am not the most important thing in the world.

“In addition to being a Christian, though, I am an American and a strict constitutionalist.  I would never seek to impose my religion on others, although there is no doubt that my religion shaped my values.

“It’s because of my faith that I value life, liberty, and happiness.  After all, my religion tells me that God gave us the gifts of life, individual freedom, and the capacity for joy.

“You can like or dislike the religious values that shaped me, but you should never worry that I will try to force my religion on you.  The Founders, in their great wisdom, understood that there is no surer way to impose tyranny than to make government an arm of a church, temple, or mosque.”

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A quick point about Ted Cruz’s Christian faith

I want to comment on a poster that’s causing concern amongst some conservatives in the blogosphere:

Ted Cruz Christian

The poster obviously implies that Cruz will turn America into a Christian theocracy. I’m a Jewish sort-of agnostic, sort-of theist, but I’m not worried one little bit.

As I’ve pointed out time and again, Cruz has a rare reverence for the Constitution. That means that, while his religion will inform his views (for example, his Christianity doubtless leads to his pro-Life stance) he has no intention of running a theocracy. He likes our political system.  There’s no more risk of a Christian theocracy than there was under all other American presidents before the modern era.

There’s one other thing I like about Cruz’s allegiance to God: it means that Cruz is not your typical navel-gazing Leftist who makes decisions based upon how he “feels” about issues rather than basing his decisions on larger issues of absolute morality and justice — and how he “feels” invariably involves grabbing guns, aborting babies, embracing criminals, and generally dividing the world into victims and more victims, all at the mercy of evil white men. Put another way, each Leftist is his own little god.  No Christian should be, and I prefer it when my president doesn’t confuse himself with God.

Someone who gives primacy to the Judeo-Christian God, however, isn’t going to make that mistake. Believing in a just and moral God also means that the politician knows that something much bigger than the public, or the media, or the FBI is looking over his shoulder and judging him. That ought to keep him honest.

The Bookworm Beat 12-3-15 — the mini round-up and illustrated edition

Woman-writing-300x265I’ve come across a few fascinating and delightful things and am tossing into this Bookworm Beat both posts and pictures:

A study about Palestinian violence explains the “lone wolf” syndrome

Every time Muslims commit mass murder in America, our elites in the Obama administration and the media (but I repeat myself) tell us that it’s not jihad, it’s just a “lone wolf.” What these great Progressive thinkers mean, of course, is that the acts are not being committed by a member of a formal army, receiving orders from a central command. Their logic is that, if there’s no central command point, there’s no jihad; there are just a few wacky individuals who happened to be in touch with overseas terrorist masterminds, who were recognized by all as a devout Muslim (although this devotion was often of recent vintage), and who somehow managed to throw a few “Allahu Akbars” into the carnage.

Israel, of course, has lately had a plague of “lone wolf” “lone wolf attacks,” often by teens and women, none of whom are taking direct marching orders from command central in either Hamas or the PA. Daniel Polisar did a study about Palestinian violence against Jews and he distilled the results of his long-term study to examine the current “lone wolf,” knife-stabbing.  What Polisar discovered is that these “lone wolves” aren’t really alone at all.  That is, they’re not aberrant outliers.  Instead, they are reflecting the central tenets of their society and acting on the dominant paradigm in their community. In their world, it’s praiseworthy to kill Jews, both because Palestinian society at large says that Jews deserve to die and because the same society says that each Jewish death advances Palestinian social and political goals.

In other words, once a society has embraced a corrupt idea, “command central” is no longer necessary to take practical steps to advance that idea. Instead, each individual appoints himself as a soldier in a very real, albeit unstructured, army.

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The Bookworm Beat 12-1-15 — “Last month of the year” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265We’re 11/12 of the way through a rather challenging year. I wonder what the last month will bring, not to mention the remaining 12.5 months of Obama’s presidency. Well, the future will be what it will be. Let’s use this round-up, which I compiled with a friend’s help, to focus on the present:

JFK’s assassination killed America

The 1950s had its economic ups and downs, its worries about a nuclear future, its Red scares, its Jim Crow/Civil Rights face-off, etc., but overall the 1950s was defined by its boundless optimism. People, including Democrats, believed that America was a wonderful, world-saving country, and that the future held immeasurable promise. In other words, the general outlook was a complete 180 from the dislike Progressives feel for America and the despair with which conservatives view it.

George Will says that Kennedy’s assassination did this.  What Will adds to this bromide is important.  It wasn’t Kennedy’s actual death that wrought the change, he says. Instead, in order to avoid admitting that a communist killed their hero, Democrats had to savage America:

Three days after the assassination, a Times editorial, “Spiral of Hate,” identified JFK’s killer as a “spirit”: The Times deplored “the shame all America must bear for the spirit of madness and hate that struck down” Kennedy. The editorialists were, presumably, immune to this spirit. The new liberalism-as-paternalism would be about correcting other people’s defects.

Hitherto a doctrine of American celebration and optimism, liberalism would become a scowling indictment: Kennedy was killed by America’s social climate whose sickness required “punitive liberalism.”

[snip]

The bullets of Nov. 22, 1963, altered the nation’s trajectory less by killing a president than by giving birth to a destructive narrative about America. Fittingly, the narrative was most injurious to the narrators. Their recasting of the tragedy to validate their curdled conception of the nation marked a ruinous turn for liberalism.

Punitive liberalism preached the necessity of national repentance for a history of crimes and misdeeds that had produced a present so poisonous that it murdered a president. To be a liberal would mean being a scold. Liberalism would become the doctrine of grievance groups owed redress for cumulative inherited injuries inflicted by the nation’s tawdry history, toxic present and ominous future.

That’s as scathing an indictment of the Leftist mindset as one can imagine, as well as a sad eulogy for the end of the American dream at the hands of the people who claimed most to represent that dream.

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Coincidence or a message — what do you think?

Aslan roaringBear with me, because I have a story to tell about something that was either an amazing coincidence or a sign.  And regardless of what it was, it makes for a fun little tale.

I was sitting at my desk yesterday, sorting mail and speaking with a friend.  The conversation got around to morality and the afterlife.  Neither my friend nor I are actively religious — that is, he doesn’t practice the Christian faith in which he was raised, and I don’t practice the Jewish faith in which I was raised.  Nevertheless, both of us believe there probably is a divine being.

I know that I’ve long since concluded that the Big Bang theory is not an answer, but just a big question, I remain neutral as to whether that divine being is the God of the Bible (either Old Testament or New, or both combined).

My theory of morality and the afterlife continues to be defined by what I think is the greatest religious parable in modern history:  C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle, a book that, to my mind, has gained even greater traction since 9/11. For those unfamiliar with the book, The Last Battle essentially tells of Armageddon, with the Western-style kingdom of Narnia attacked, and then destroyed, by the neighboring Calormenes, who are modeled on medieval Saracens (i.e., Muslims). Given that today’s radical Muslims, like Narnia’s Calormenes, are medievalists who want to destroy the West, the parallels seem pretty darn perfect. Indeed, the Calormenes are kind of like the Iranian Shias, who believe that they must bring around the end of days — which is what happens in The Last Battle.

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It’s okay to be judgmental — as long as you’re making the right judgments

Facebook intifadah“You’re so judgmental, Mom,” my teen told me yesterday.  The reason for this statement (and he totally missed the irony of his judging me for being too judgmental) was the distaste I expressed for Mark Zuckerberg.

I didn’t defend myself against my teen’s charge.

“You’re damn right I’m judgmental.  Zuckerberg deserves to be judged.”

When my teen expressed incredulity at my claim, I elaborated.  I told him that groups such as Hamas frequently use Facebook to disseminate incitement to kill Jews.  They put up cartoons, videos, instructional posters, and just about anything else that tells Hamas’ Facebook friends to slaughter Jews on Israel’s streets.

That’s bad.

What’s worse is that Facebook isn’t doing anything to stop this outpouring of genocidal antisemitic incitement.  It’s gotten so bad that thousands of Israelis have joined Shurat HaDin – The Israel Law Center in a lawsuit against Facebook demanding that it remove this material:

Shurat HaDin wants to force Facebook to not only remove the terrorists’ pages, but also to better monitor and block users who post videos glorifying and encouraging terrorist attacks, and publish messages with instructions on how to carry out an attack.

“The terrorists do not come on their own; they write posts and encourage their friends to kill Jews,” Israeli attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin, told Fox News. “Facebook has been transformed into an anti-Semitic incubator for murder.”

[snip]

The lawsuit says that since Facebook uses algorithms that match users with personalized ads and connect them to potential “friends,” the company should have the ability to monitor and block such postings.

Facebook’s defense is that it can’t possibly do what is asked of it because there’s just too much going on.  Cry me a river. . . .

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Don’t blithely believe the study that allegedly “proves” that religious kids are not nice people

children sharingProgressives are tremendously excited about a study that purports to show that kids raised religiously are less nice than atheist children:

According to a new study published in the journal Current Biology, children that come from non-religious households behave significantly more altruistically than those from religious households, as measured by greater acts of generosity towards others.

[snip]

Over 1,100 children, aged 5 to 12, from the United States, China, Canada, Jordan, Turkey, and South Africa were chosen to participate in the study. Most of the children came from Christian, Muslim, or non-religious households. To test whether children raised on religion would behave more morally than non-religious children, they were asked to play what’s called a “dictator game.” In this game, children were shown 30 stickers and told that they could pick their favorite 10 to keep for themselves. The children were then each told that the experimenter didn’t have enough time to play this game with everyone, so some of the children at their school wouldn’t get any stickers. What the results showed was that children from Christian and Muslim households were both significantly less generous than children from non-religious households when it came to sharing their stickers with anonymous peers.

The findings not only show that religious kids aren’t more altruistic than non-religious kids; it suggests that not being religious may actually increase moral behavior. To most this would seem counterintuitive. The authors of the study have an explanation that involves an interesting phenomenon called moral licensing. The term refers to a sort of mental glitch—whereby doing something that enhances one’s positive self-image makes them less worried about the consequences of immoral behavior. For instance, research has shown that men who report being very opposed to sexism later go on to hire men for what would traditionally be considered a man’s job. They do this because they feel that since they are not sexist—at least, in their own minds—a decision to choose a male over a female can’t be immoral.

[snip]

The study also showed that children from religious households were more willing to give harsher punishments to people who committed acts that harmed others, like pushing or bumping into another. Although this could be interpreted as showing that religious children are more concerned with justice, it may also demonstrate that non-religious children are more tolerant of others’ behavior, and more willing to forgive.

Please, please let me count the ways in which I part ways with what I perceive as a ridiculous excuse for science.

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The Bookworm Beat 9-25-15 — the “bon voyage, Boehner” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265I’m doing something that’s a little more fun than the legal work that usually comes my way: I’m working on a project for Fleet Week to help welcome sailors and marines to our fair City. My work is editorial, which suits me to a “T.”

I haven’t been ignoring the news, of course. I know that Boehner is on his way out. Democrats on my Facebook thread are shuddering in horror that the man they view as the least awful Republican has left the House and are already having nightmares about the inevitable Tea Party fanatic who will replace him.

Among Republicans, there are pragmatists who say that, given Obama’s refusal to work with a Republican Congress, there was little Boehner could do, while more ideologically committed people say that the least that Boehner could have done was to be a spokesman for conservative ideas — such as pointing out that it is Obama who is flouting the majority of Americans through his refusal to accommodate any legislation that doesn’t match his minority political view.

I think Boehner’s right to leave. The only people whom he made happy were those on the Left who gloried in his failure either to carry through legislation or be a spokesman for conservative ideas.

And now to a few things that caught my eye:

If Caitlyn Jenner is a woman, I’m Winston Churchill

I admire Winston Churchill tremendously. He had his faults — big ones too — but he was an extraordinarily brilliant man, a tremendous communicator, a dynamic leader for a country under siege, and for a long time the only world leader to stand up to the Nazis.

Admiring Churchill, though, does not mean I am Churchill. Even if I gained weight, shaved my head, started smoking cigars, drank a lot, and went around giving speeches in a British-accented bulldog rumble, I would not be Churchill. In the same way, none of those Elvis interpreters in Las Vegas are actually Elvis, and that’s true no matter how many may secretly believe they’re his incarnation.

But in modern America, Bruce Jenner, with his male skeleton and musculature, his fake breasts and his apparently still-intact penis, and with a complete absence of female sexual organs, is now identified as a woman as a matter of law. Leftists will say that this is every bit as reasonable as holding — as we in America do — that corporations are legally people.  If that’s true, they argue, there’s no reason Jenner can’t be a woman.

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It’s time for Christians to stand up against the Gay Mafia

Gays protesting El CoyoteMy super-smart sister-in-law wrote the following rant and gave me permission to share it with you:

Dear Christians,

I think you are taking this “turn the other cheek’ thing too far. Please don’t let yourself get thrown to the lions again while you clasp hands and pray. This is one problem that will not go away just by being moral and living right.

When Californians voted (against) gay marriage in 2008, “No H8” signs appeared everywhere. In a popular Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, El Coyote, a Mormon employee donated a mere $100 to support traditional marriage. For weeks shrieking gays harassed patrons in the parking lot, ultimately intimidating this woman out of her restaurant for many months.

It might seem a tad much for a mere $100 donation, but Gays said they took her donation personally because they had patronized her business and she had always been pleasant and nice to them. So, they felt betrayed by her. Her religious beliefs were merely manifestations of hate in their eyes and her pleasantness was interpreted as merely hypocritical betrayal.

The Gay Lobby has made it very clear they will ruin you professionally and financially if you stray from overt support of them. They have made it personal. The message is that religion, specifically Christianity, hates. Religious people, specifically Christians, are haters. Religious practitioners, specifically Christians, will be sued.

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The Humpty Dumpty remedy for the Church’s gay marriage problem

vintage-bride-and-groom-illustration-modern-design-7-on-cake-wedding-ideasThe fact that I’ve been too busy to blog does not mean I’ve been too busy to think.  My thoughts of late have turned to gay marriage.  I predicted a long time ago that turning gay marriage into a Constitutional right would open the way for a direct attack on religion — or, more accurately, on traditional Christian faiths — and I was entirely correct.  NRO’s David French has been busy tracking the immediate legal, political, and financial attacks aimed at the church in the wake of the execrable Supreme Court decision. It no longer matters that the Court could have reached a similar, constitutionally correct, outcome without destroying religious freedom. The reality is that the Court did what it did, and the Left is armed and ready to fire.

Another thing I observed back in 2008 or 2009 is that the gay “marriage” problem is, as much as anything, a question of semantics.  Although America long ago constitutionally separated church and state, our concept of marriage remained stuck in the British tradition, one in which church and state were the same thing.  Marriage was seamlessly a civil and a religious event.

In the past century, and with accelerating speed in the past two decades, Americans have turned to the word “marriage” to represent two entirely different events:  The first is the religious, or quasi-religious, coming together of a man and a woman before their friends, their God, or their New Age guru; the second is a bureaucratic process notifying the government that a couple wants the economic and contractual benefits and burdens the government bestows on those who live together with the presumptive intent of having children.  The word “marriage,” therefore, has two fundamentally unrelated meanings, one purely religious and one purely civil.

Because this semantic difference is causing real problems thanks to same-sex and polygamous “marriage” demands, I have been arguing since 2008 that America’s federal and state governments should get out of the marriage business entirely and, instead, sanction only “civil unions.”  Under this scheme, states can sanction whatever the heck “civil unions” they want — man/woman, man/man, woman/woman, cow/pig, man/women, etc..  Each state would be an experiment in determining what unions most benefit society as a whole, the state’s economic well-being, and, most especially, children’s ability to thrive.

But that’s not what Justice Kennedy did.  Instead, he looked at the U.S. Constitution and found hidden in it, hidden behind the unicorns and rainbows, a constitutional right holding that everybody’s dignity is such that they can marry whomever or whatever they want.  Most of the Founders would be horrified about this hitherto unsuspected “civil right,” although I suspect old Benjamin Franklin would have been amused.

Still, as the old saying goes, if the mountain won’t come to Mohamed, than Mohamed most go to the mountain.  Because Kennedy has insisted that government “owns” marriage, it’s time for the church to let go of marriage entirely and try something new.  Now, don’t get too upset.  Hear me out, because I think the Left has shown traditionalists the way to go. You need to think about the stories that have been dominating news headlines for weeks, even years, of late.

Rachel Dolezal has shown us that all people, no matter their genetic racial make-up, can be whatever race they prefer. Of course, this can be a bit of a double-edged sword as the media showed with George Zimmerman.  Race becomes a fluid concept depending on whether you’re the right kind of victim or not. If you’ve been beaten up by a white guy, you’re undoubtedly black or Hispanic (or gay, or all of the above), but if you’re a light-skinned Hispanic who killed a murderous black man in self-defense, you’re first white and, when that fails, you’re that new breed of race called “white Hispanic.”

Of course, successful racial re-identification isn’t limited to blacks and Hispanics. In academia, the favored racial “borrowing” is Native American. Andrea Smith, Elizabeth Warren, and Ward Churchill have shown us that, no matter the absence of a single drop of Native American blood in your body, if you think you’re an Indian, then you’re an Indian.  (Actually, Irving Berlin had already figured this one out a long time ago.)

The most exciting type of re-identification, of course, has to do with sex.  Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner has shown us that anyone, no matter his or her X and Y chromosomes, or the conspicuously present or absent dangly bits in a person’s crotch, can be whatever sex he or she prefers.

This ability to define reality to suit oneself isn’t limited to ones own body.  It can also apply to events.  For example, despite overwhelming proof to the contrary, poor deluded Emma Sulkowicz is a rape victim.  Lena Dunham’s drunken, consensual hook-up?  Rape and she’s a victim too.

The important thing to remember with all these re-imaginings of ones self is that, no matter how ludicrous they are, everyone else is honor bound to accept them as truth. Despite Caitlyn’s massive upper body, missing waist, present penis and testes, and absent (but not surgically removed) ovaries, uterus, and milk ducts, Caitlyn is henceforth a man.  That’s reality.  You’re not allowed a gracious, polite accommodation of her delusions.  Instead, when you use those feminine pronouns to describe Caitlyn, you’d better mean them.  Anything else, any doubt about reality, is grotesque cisgender heteronormative sexism. Oh, and while you’re at it, we’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

What’s scary is that this kind of delusional thinking (of the “we have always been at war with Eastasia” stripe) is not limited to lay people.  A doctor I know insists that Caitlyn Jenner, having undergone breast augmentation and hormone treatment (although the dangly bits apparently remain intact), has actually “changed” from one sex to another.  The fact that the changes are superficial or transient, and that they do nothing to alter Bruce/Caitlyn’s gender-based bone structure, internal organs, and DNA is irrelevant.  To the doctor, the magic is real:  Caitlyn and others similarly situated are truly changed, rather than merely having undergone procedures bringing their physical shape into greater conformity with their personal desires and sense of self.

I’ll add here, as I often do, that I have no particular beef with Caitlyn Jenner, although I find distasteful her relentless exhibitionism. If you want to have me pretend you’re a woman, and are not insisting that I abandon reality and my society’s stable social structure to do so, I will happily refer to you as “Miss.” Heck, I’ll call you Loretta or perhaps I’ll call you a cab — anything you like as long as your delusion isn’t foisted on me.

What the Left has done is put its imprimatur on the Humpty Dumpty school of defining words. As H-D famously said to Alice in Through the Looking Glass,

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

It seems to me that, now that the Church faces the threat extinction at the hands of Leftists with the Obergefell bit in their teeth, it’s time to go Humpty and turn the Left’s tactics back upon it.

I once said that the state should get out of the marriage business. Since that’s not going to happen, traditional religions need to get out of the marriage business. The big announcement should go out: In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell, it’s become too financially risky for traditional religious institutions to conduct marriage ceremonies any longer. To the extent Obergefell governs a constitutional right to “marriage,” the traditionalists are taking their marbles and going home.  They simply won’t play the marriage game any more.

That’s not as draconian as it sounds.

Just as Columbo always turned away, only to turn back again with that one last question, religious organizations might have a tag end to that “end of marriage” announcement:

“Oh, by the way . . . . One more thing. Having searched through our religious texts, we’ve discovered that what God actually requires of the faithful isn’t ‘marriage’ at all, but a “covenanting ceremony.”  And in case you’re wondering, it’s just a coincidence that this covenanting ceremony looks precisely like the weddings of old, right down to the one man/one woman aspect, the prayers and blessings, the officiating priest, minister, rabbi or imam, or anything else. No matter what you, the Leftist might think, these are no longer marriage ceremonies, any more than Caitlyn is still a man, George Zimmerman is Hispanic, or Emma Sulkowicz is a delusional girl rather than a rape victim. They have been transformed.”

I’d like to add one other point while I’ve got your attention.  Straight people, when they marry, proclaim their love and commitment to each other in the presence of God, their family, and their friends.  The civil aspect is simply a pragmatic step to obtain the benefits of civil marriage, irrespective of some of the corresponding civil burdens.  The Left, with its “#LoveWins” battle cry has made clear that, when it marries, it wants Big Brother to proclaim its love for them. That’s really kind of sad when you think about it, isn’t it?

The Bookworm Beat 5-26-15 — the “mad, mad, mad, mad world” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265No time for chit-chat. I’ve got stuff to share:

America’s values have turned upside down

It’s a time-honored custom for older people to look at changes in the world since their youth and to bemoan those changes. I’d like to think I’m neither that rigid nor that old. There are so many things in the modern world to love, especially when it comes to technology.

What does seem extremely unlovable, though, is that we are living through a time in which moral values aren’t merely being loosened (a la the rising hems of the flappers) but are being turned completely upside down. In one of the best articles I’ve seen in forever at National Review, Quin Hillyer focuses on the sea change in our moral and political values. If you’ve already read it, read it again and share it with your friends; if you haven’t read it, by all means do . . . and then share it with your friends:

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