Tidbits 9/19/13

    1. Religion as a native language
    2. Life without deep intimacy
    3. When your only tool’s a hammer, loan it to Bibi
    4. I ♥ Chipotle
    5. “Silent Pope”/President/Prime Minister


These days, except for tiny Jewish minorities in gentile lands, or for the Orthodox who live among other Orthodox, Judaism is not native to anybody. Even many Israelis are now estranged from, and don’t understand, Jewish religious practice. So, for most of the Jewish world, Judaism the religion is now a learned practice. It can still give great joy and meaning to one’s life, but most of us can never practice Judaism in the easy, unearned way that, say, I can celebrate the rituals of being American: the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Super Bowl parties.

(Mark Oppenheimer in The Tablet) Rod Dreher also commented on this, and on a few other Tuesday web appearances.


I feel an enormous amount of anguish and frustration when I tell young gay Christians that, yes, I do think, on the authority of Scripture, that God is asking you to live without gay sex. I cringe when I tell you that because, in our current climate, that often means living without deep intimacy.”

(Wesley Hill, The Tears of Things)

Corollary: in some climates, deep intimacy might be possible without sex? I think that’s true. But I think I get the point about our current climate, too.

Non-rhetorical questions, and stereotypes about promiscuous gay men aside: is gay sex even a halfway good proxy for “deep intimacy” in our current climate? How does one, gay or straight, achieve deep intimacy today?


“When your only tool’s a hammer” usually concludes “every problem looks like a nail.” But it seems that the story isn’t quite that simple this time.

Lindsey Graham may have tools besides war, war, and more war, but he wants to suck up to religiously-misinformed voters by making sure that constitutional niceties don’t get in the way of the President bombing the hell out of Iran when God’s [putative] Special Favorite, Israel, gives the sign:

He wants to give Obama a blank check for war on Iran, then stampede Obama into starting the war.

On Fox’s “Huckabee” Sunday, Lindsey laid out his scheme:

“I’m going to get a bipartisan coalition together. We’re going to put together a use-of-force resolution, allowing our country to use military force … to stop the Iranian nuclear program. … I’m going to need your help, Mike, and the help of Americans and friends of Israel.”

In July, Graham told a cheering conference of Christians United for Israel: “If nothing changes in Iran, come September, October, I will present a resolution that will authorize the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.”

That Graham is braying that he intends to give Obama a blank check for war on Iran is not all bad news. For he thus concedes Obama does not now have the authority to attack Iran.

And by equating Iran’s “nuclear program” with a “nuclear bomb” program, Graham reveals that his bottom line is not Obama’s bottom line, but Benjamin Netanyahu’s.

Obama has said only that Iran must not be allowed to build a bomb. Bibi says Iran must not have a nuclear program.

Yet, make no mistake. The goal of Graham, the neocons, Israel and Saudi Arabia is not a negotiated solution permitting a peaceful nuclear program in Iran. The goal is a U.S. war to smash Iran.

On Nov. 10, 2010, Graham let it all out: “Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure, I think we’re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime’s ability to wage war against us and our allies. … [We must] destroy the ability of the regime to strike back.”


I ♥ Chipotle Mexican Grill, and this and this are summaries of why (though my usual Chipotle purchase is Vegan).

That can tell you something about which side I’m on in the debate NPR touched on Tuesday Morning. about whether American farmers are “feeding the world.” And I can’t exactly agree with the guy playing the role of “neutral expert,” the Cornell economist who says both sides are right. Hear him through and he basically admits that the major U.S. crops aren’t that nutritious (in addition to 40% of the corn going to ethanol and soybeans going to feed animals).

That suggests to me that the American farming slogan of “feeding the world” is more than a bit delusional. We could do much better, though I’ve forsaken the simplistic veganesque thinking of the original Diet for a Small Planet.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the inner circle of Winston Churchill were informed of the destruction of European Jewry by Jan Karski of the Polish underground, yet were dismissive of his pleas. Why is there so much talk of the “silent pope” but not the “silent president” or the “silent prime minister”?

History is written by the victors. World opinion is formed by carefully crafted media manipulation and the disinformation networks within the international intelligence communities. The general population is simply not diligent about questioning news sources. The accepted reality of the actions of the world leaders of the era versus that of Pius XII is a perfect example. The truth is that it was Pius XII who acted deliberately and directly to save Jewish lives and he did so from ground zero of the war in Italy. The Vatican was infiltrated by spies and surrounded by hostile forces. The Catholic Church under the pontificate of Pius XII acted to save more Jews than all of the world’s religious leaders combined. This fact is inexcusable as many of these leaders lived in the safety of neutral nations, in the US and the UK, for example.

(Interviewing Gary Krupp on the Pope and the Jews; critical reading recommended)

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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.