Thursday, May 27, 2010

This Makes Me So Happy!

I can't believe I missed this!

From The Daily Show:
Tuesday May 11, 2010

Jason Jones meets a pastor who teaches mixed martial arts and an evangelist who breaks inanimate objects in the name of Jesus.

This! Fits with what I've been saying for a while now.

I feel better about spending this Shabbat engaged in acts of war.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hanukkah Stubs

Cleaning out my notebook.  Ideas to develop more fully later:

  1. What do people really mean by "Freedom of Religion"? Religious freedom vs. Freedom of MY religion.
  2. Israel (Macabbees): Palestein = Assyrian Greeks: Israel (Modern)
  3. Was the Macabbee war really the first war for religious freedom?
  4. How much are the origins of our holy days romanticized, ala the US Founding Fathers?
  5. We as modern, secular, integrated Jews are the ones "Seduced by the alien culture" that Macabbees opposed.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


My feeling about miracles has always been that they're not about some seemingly impossible thing happening, they're about the right thing happening at the right time. In the story above, the "miracle" is not that David was able to kill Goliath (to paraphrase Salvatore, a rock through the head ends life quite naturally), but that when someone was needed to defeat Goliath, David was there.

Similarly, I've never had a problem with the attempts to scientifically re-explain the Exodus; if anything, I think they make the story cooler. A God that can reach down and smite pharaoh or part the seas? Interesting. But one that causes volcanic eruptions on the other side of the ocean in order to set off some Goldberg-esque series of events that would lead to our freedom? Neat! Besides, I think all evidence supports the idea that God would never take the simple and direct route when some unnecessarily difficult method was available.

The miracle was not that it happened, but that it happened at the right time, when we needed it.

Of course, this raises the question: on all those other occasions when we needed a miracle and nothing happened, where was God?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Saudi Woman Beats Up Virtue Cop

For those that have yet to see the story:

When a Saudi religious policeman sauntered about an amusement park in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Al-Mubarraz looking for unmarried couples illegally socializing, he probably wasn’t expecting much opposition.

But when he approached a young, 20-something couple meandering through the park together, he received an unprecedented whooping...

...the woman then allegedly laid into the religious policeman, punching him repeatedly, and leaving him to be taken to the hospital with bruises across his body and face.
This is a cool story for many reasons, not least of which is the "Virtue Police" totally deserve it and have well and truly made their own bed. Other people will cover the triumph of women's rights [interesting aside: Blogger's spell checker does not recognize the phrase "women's rights". Of course it also doesn't recognize "Blogger's", so don't read too much into that], the pro-feminist aspect, and, I'm sure, the positive effect of American culture on the rest of the world.

I want to point out a slightly different angle, though. Many people will praise this woman for her actions (In fairness: Jezebel also points out that " 'speaking out' is probably the safer, and ultimately more effective, route"), which amounted to beating a man lying on the ground. When was the last time a story reported positively on a man beating a woman, regardless of her current posture?

If this story was just about "rebellion against the oppressors" it wouldn't matter. I suspect, however, that most commentators will put some sort of gender-based spin on it. And the story wouldn't be nearly so salient if it was the woman's male companion who beat the cop. So let's look at it as a gender-based issue. How would this story read if the genders were switched, and it was an oppressed man striking the female representative of an oppressive regime?

Yes, I know; that scenario doesn't exist often outside of genre fiction and comics. Still, this story provides an interesting lens to consider our assumptions about and reactions to gender-based violence.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nun Excommunicated For Recommending Abortion

Not surprising, just disappointing.

A Phoenix nun has been "automatically excommunicated" for recommending an abortion to save the life of a woman, raising the question of how much the Church hierarchy really cares about women's lives.