Monthly Archives: December, 2017

Suspect the Marshmallow Test?

December 28th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 28 comments

What happens when something doesn’t pass your “gut instinct” test? You read an article, learn about a study or hear something presented as fact, yet it just doesn’t align with your previous knowledge or, perhaps, with your emotions. The two easy choices are to accept the new idea as more up-to-date and correct or to reject it as wrong. The harder choice is to delve deeper and explore the issue.

We constantly face this challenge concerning issues that matter. We can also list dozens of times that ‘experts’ were (intentionally or unintentionally) wrong, be they scientists or theologians, politicians or pundits, iconoclasts or a writer under the imprimatur of a venerated organization. Certainly, the expectation that an article in The New York Times or a statement by a lauded leader deserves an assumption of truth is now laughable rather than plausible.

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A Rabbi’s Warning to Christians

December 28th, 2017 Posted by AAJC Happenings 125 comments

I am certainly not a Winston Churchill. I am not even a Jean Francois Revel. I am having enough trouble just trying to be a Lapin. But I am issuing a very serious warning about a problem with deep consequences, just as they did. It is a warning about the earliest stages of what could become a cataract of disasters if not resisted now.

During the 1930s, Winston Churchill desperately tried to persuade the English people and their government to see that Hitler meant to end their way of life. The British ignored Churchill, which gave Hitler nearly 10 years to build up his military forces. It wasn’t until Hitler actually drew blood that the British realized they had a war on their hands. It turned out to be a far longer and more destructive war than it needed to be had Churchill’s early warning been heeded.

In 1983, a brave French writer, Jean-Francois Revel, wrote a book called How Democracies Perish. In this remarkable volume, he described how communism’s aim is world conquest. For decades he had been trying to warn of communism’s very real threat. Yet in January 1982, a high State Department official said: “We Americans are not solving problems, we are the problem.” (Some things never change.) A good portion of the planet fell to communism, which brought misery and death to millions because we failed to recognize in time that others meant to harm us.

Heaven knows there was enough warning during the 1980s of the intention of part of the Islamic world to take yet another crack at world domination. Yet instead of seeing each deadly assault on our interests around the world as a test of our resolve, we ignored it. We failed the test and lost 3,000 Americans in two unforgettable hours.

I am not going to argue that what is happening now is on the same scale as the examples I cite above, but a serious war is being waged against a group of Americans. I am certain that if we lose this war, the consequences for American civilization will be dire.

Phase one of this war I describe is a propaganda blitzkrieg that is eerily reminiscent of how effectively the Goebbels propaganda machine softened up the German people for what was to come.

There is no better term than propaganda blitzkrieg to describe what has been unleashed against Christian conservatives recently.

Consider the long list of anti-Christian books that have been published in the past few years. Here are just a few samples of more than 50 similar titles, all from mainstream publishers:

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America

The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right’s Plans for the Rest of Us

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason

Piety & Politics: The Right-wing Assault on Religious Freedom

Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism

Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America

Religion Gone Bad: The Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right

What is truly alarming is that there are more of these books for sale at your local large book store warning against the perils of fervent Christianity than those warning against the perils of fervent Islam. Does anyone seriously think America is more seriously jeopardized by Christian conservatives than by Islamic zealots? I fear that many Americans believe just that in the same way that many pre-World War II Western intellectuals considered Churchill a bigger threat to peace than Hitler.

Some may say that today’s proliferation of anti-Christian print propaganda is nothing to become worried about. To them I ask two questions:

First, would you be so sanguine if the target of this loathsome library were Blacks or Jews? Just try changing the titles in some of the books I mention above to reflect racism or anti-Semitism instead of rampant anti-Christianism and you’ll see what I mean.

Second, major movements that changed the way Americans felt and acted came about through books, often only one book. Think of Rachel Carson’s 1962 error-filled Silent Spring that resulted in the pointless banning of the insecticide DDT and many unnecessary deaths. Other books that caused upheavals in our nation were Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, many of Ayn Rand’s books and of course Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

No, I would advise you not to underestimate the power of books to alter the behavior of the American public, and I fear for an America that has been influenced to detest Christianity by this hate-filled catalog.

It is not just books but popular entertainment also that beams the most lurid anti-Christian propaganda into the hearts and minds of viewers. One need only think of who the real targets of the comedic movie Borat are. The brilliant Jewish moviemaker Sacha Baron Cohen, as his title character, using borderline dishonest wiles, lures some innocent but unsophisticated country folk, obviously Christians, to join him in his outrageously anti-Semitic antics.  Cohen then triumphantly claims to have exposed anti-Semitism. In fact, he has revealed nothing other than the latent anti-Christianism of America’s social, economic and academic secular elites.  Many other movies and television productions echo this shameless anti-Christian bigotry in the name of entertainment.  Interestingly enough, their courage attacking Christian beliefs is never displayed by similarly irreverent and insulting assaults on Islam.

Even the recent PBS documentary, “Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence,” managed to do more attacking Christianity than defending Judaism.

Richard Dawkins, an Oxford University professor, is one of the generals in the anti-Christian army of the secular left. American academia treats him with reverence and hangs on his every word when he insists that “religious myths ought not to be tolerated.”

For those with a slightly more tolerant outlook, he asks, “It’s one thing to say people should be free to believe whatever they like, but should they be free to impose their beliefs on their children?” He suggests that the state should intervene to protect children from their parents’ religious beliefs. Needless to say, he means Christian beliefs, of course. Muslim beliefs add to England’s charmingly diverse cultural landscape.

The war is against those who regard the Bible to be God’s revelation to humanity and the Ten Commandments to be His set of rules for all time. Phase one in this war is to make Christianity, well, sort of socially unacceptable. Something only foolish, poor and ugly people could turn to.

We have seen how a carefully constructed campaign pretty much made it socially unacceptable to drink and drive. For years, there had been stringent laws against drunk driving. They achieved little. In the end, the practice was all but eliminated by groups allied with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and their effective ways of changing the way Americans thought about it.

We have seen how a carefully constructed campaign has pretty much made it socially unacceptable to smoke. In the face of a relentless campaign (dare one call it propaganda?), Americans became docile and forfeited the right to make their own decisions. Nobody was willing to stand up to the no-smoking tyrants. Nobody even asked whether health was sufficient grounds for freedom to be reduced. Now, entire cities and even states have banned smoking, not only in public places but even in privately owned restaurants.

Tyranny comes when citizens are seduced into trading freedom for the promise of safety and security.

Considerably more intellectual energy is being pumped into the propaganda campaign against Christianity than was ever delivered to the anti-smoking or anti-drunk-driving campaigns. Fervent zealots of secularism are flinging themselves into this anti-Christian war with enormous fanaticism.

If they succeed, Christianity will be driven underground, and its benign influence on the character of America will be lost. In its place we shall see a sinister secularism that menaces Bible believers of all faiths. Once the voice of the Bible has been silenced, the war on Western Civilization can begin and we shall see a long night of barbarism descend on the West.

Without a vibrant and vital Christianity, America is doomed, and without America, the West is doomed.

Which is why I, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, devoted to Jewish survival, the Torah and Israel am so terrified of American Christianity caving in.

Many of us Jews are ready to stand with you. But you must lead. You must replace your timidity with nerve and your diffidence with daring and determination. You are under attack. Now is the time to resist it.  Defense will be far harder down the road if we ignore the danger signals now.

If your heart leads you to support our work at the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, there are three more days left in 2017!  We feel that it is important to have prominent Jewish voices on the right side in the struggle for America’s future and your gift helps us recruit and train those voices.

Whatever support you can give to our work will be very much appreciated. American Alliance of Jews and Christians (AAJC) is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization (EIN 26-07642520). You can make your tax-deductible gift by clicking HERE, or by mailing in your gift to AAJC, P.O. Box 58, Mercer Island, WA 98040 or by calling (888) 722-2441 and saying that you want to support AAJC.

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How can you and Dave Ramsey be friends?

December 27th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 57 comments

I know we Jews are taught tolerance, etc., but I’m curious about something. As you’ve probably heard, your friend Dave Ramsey signs off his radio show with “…there’s ultimately only one way to financial peace, and that’s to walk daily with the Prince of Peace, Christ Jesus.”

If I’m interpreting Dave correctly, he seems to be saying that the right way to live—in fact the only way—is as an Evangelical Christian. I’d be very interested in hearing about how you were able to forge a friendship with him, despite his position.

I know we can like someone without liking everything he does or says, but given your differences in religion and how fundamental faith is to each of you, hearing how you deal with this might help me in my own life.

Thanks very much!

Sincerely,

A. N.

Dear A.N.,

You are asking a very important question whose answer is fundamental to how people of all religions live peacefully together in the United States.  Interestingly enough, it is in today’s non-religious and even aggressively secular environment of the universities and schools of academia that free speech and ideological latitude are sternly repressed.  By contrast, religiously committed Jews and Christians find themselves increasingly allied in facing common concerns.  This peaceful co-existence among people of different beliefs has been fundamental to America’s success and is today increasingly under assault by hard left groups as well as by many Moslems and others under the camouflage of “political correctness” . 

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How the world REALLY works: What is money?

December 27th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 12 comments

Money is our oldest medium of systematic communication allowing stable communities of productive people to exchange information about trustworthiness, value, productivity, and even need. Money represents the promise of one party to deliver goods or services to another on demand. It is ultimately not a material but a spiritual matter. When trust collapses, so does money. –Rabbi Daniel Lapin, author of Thou Shall Prosper: The Ten Commandments for Making Money

Not Your Average English Country Garden

December 26th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 20 comments

Born to a confused sixteen-year-old girl impregnated by a man she met at an English pub, virtuoso guitarist Eric Clapton didn’t have much of a wholesome family childhood.  His father vanished before he was born and he was raised by his grandmother, led to believe that his mother was his sister.  Young Eric was soon playing guitar on the streets of London while passers-by dropped coins in his hat.

Years later, in rehab for alcohol addiction after having become an international music star, Eric writes in his autobiography:

“…I was absolutely terrified, in complete despair.  At that moment, almost of their own accord, my legs gave way, and I fell to my knees.  In the privacy of my room I begged for help.  I had no notion of who I thought I was talking to, I just knew I had come to the end of my tether, I had nothing left to fight with.  Then I remembered what I had heard about surrender, something I thought I could never do, my pride just wouldn’t allow it but I knew that on my own I wasn’t going to make it, so I asked for help and getting down on my knees, I surrendered.  Within a few days I realized that something had happened for me.  An atheist would probably say it was just a change of attitude, and to a certain extent that’s true, but there was much more to it than that.  I’d found a place to turn to, a place I’d always known was there but never really wanted or needed to believe in.  (emphasis added) From that day until this I have never failed to pray in the morning on my knees asking for help, and at night to express gratitude for my life and most of all for my sobriety. ”

Eric survived and went on to thrive because he took his soul seriously.  Treating his addiction as if it only afflicted his body wasn’t working.  Like the famed twentieth century Swiss psychiatrist who played a role in the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous by recognizing that alcoholism has a spiritual dimension, Clapton involved his soul by using prayer.

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Warmest Wishes

December 25th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 4 comments

Wishing our Christian friends a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Modern Love Outrage

December 21st, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 24 comments

Over twenty years ago, James Finn Garner wrote Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life and Times. Meant as a satire, it takes well-known stories like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and “rehabilitates” them for modern sensibilities. Obviously, a prince rescuing a woman is a knave, not a knight, and story lines are secondary to ideological diatribes.

In Stalinist Russia, the idea of sanitizing stories was not amusing. People found themselves banished to the Gulag or worse for writing something the wrong way. Of course, the correct way one year could become a criminal offense the next year.

Even now in China, according to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal, anyone writing certain true accounts on social media that the government finds offensive finds himself imprisoned and beaten. Naturally, most published material China meets the socialist government’s rules.

With this in mind, I found myself pondering the December 15, Modern Love column in the New York Times. It is a story of a woman with an auto-immune disease whose boyfriend married her in order to bring her under the umbrella of his medical insurance. Written several years after the fact, she acknowledges that without that medical crisis they likely would not have married. She now recognizes her marriage as a gift.

On the surface, it is exactly what the Modern Love column likes to portray; a personal, human-interest story. However, I was struck while reading it by numerous instances of concepts and sentences that should result in a flurry of outraged letters to the editor demanding that the author be sent to a re-education camp. Here are two examples.

  • In the couple’s haste to be married, they needed to gather the necessary documentation and cut through City Hall bureaucracy before the office closed. Speaking of her friend, the bride comments, “Luckily, Rachel, who knows how to flirt, worked her magic on the clerk, and he pushed through our paperwork.”

What an outrage! Rachel clearly needs to be condemned for anti-Feminist behavior. Current ideology claims that women are pure, virtuous creatures who would never use their wiles or bodies to encourage a man to pay attention to them. If a woman flirts it is only because of fear that she will lose her job, not because she is an aggressor in the situation.

My harsher criticism is for Rachel’s sexual harassment behavior. What if twenty years from now, the poor, hapless clerk cannot live a healthy life when he realizes that he was taken advantage of by a woman who manipulated him? The obviously intimidated clerk should have lodged an immediate complaint.

  •   At the end of the article, the author writes, “After my immediate health crisis passed, I was able to look back and appreciate how much Chris had stepped up to take care of me. His passive side disappeared the moment he proposed. I had never seen him take charge like that. (It was sexy!)”

I’m sorry, but clearly this Chris is a danger to society. Politically correct ideology insists that men must be wimps. Next thing we know, this fellow will be thumping his chest and shouting, “Woman, get me a beer.” Perhaps while she was ill, the protagonist of the story wasn’t able to take care of herself, but intimating that his take-charge attitude was sexy is simply pre-historic. Instead of gratitude for his actions, she should end the article by making very clear that if the situation was reversed and he was ill, she would have stepped into exactly the same leadership role (which is quite possible). In either case, it should have nothing to do with being perceived as sexy.

Frankly, the entire notion of a column entitled Modern Love is offensive. It makes those who do not have love in their life feel unwelcome and like second-class citizens. In a proper socialist paper, there should be only carefully censored news and propaganda. There should be no whiff of humor or emotion. Like college campuses today, every word should be vetted for its ability to offend, leaving little room for anything of interest, let alone true.

Over twenty years ago, Mr. Garner’s re-written stories were seen as satire. Today, their equivalents are in classrooms throughout the world. Is there any reason to think that articles like the Modern Love one I just read, where a woman can write of her personal situation and emotions, will be allowed twenty years down the road if society continues on its current path?   

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Worthwhile read

December 20th, 2017 Posted by On Our Mind 3 comments

I’ve been a fan of Timothy Daughtry’s since hearing him speak at a conference a number of years ago. He understands that conservatives need to have a message to share with young people. Winning elections isn’t enough when schools, universities, movies, media and other powerful institutions start training young people from the youngest ages to think in only one way.

Tim’s latest piece is one that I would like to share with you. You can read it here.

 

Learning from all Cultures

December 20th, 2017 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 15 comments

As a Bible believer, is it best for us to follow only Biblical guidelines rather than learning the positive values from other cultures, such as Japanese or Chinese cultural values? I thought this would enrich our lives as well as our Biblical learning, but may not be what the Bible guidelines suggest us to do.

Thank you as always, Rabbi Lapin.

Dear Filemon,

You do ask interesting questions. This question is particularly apt because we are answering your question today, which is the eighth and final day of Chanukah. Despite popular attempts to make the historical battle of Chanukah sound politically correct by portraying it just as a long-ago fight for religious freedom, the holiday actually represents, for all time, the internal battle between those faithful to their faith and those who want to resculpt their faith to fit into the popular culture.

The dominant culture of that time was (Syrian-Greek) Hellenism and many Jews became Hellenists.  As a matter of fact, the ancient historian Josephus records how the most popular cosmetic surgery back then, twenty-one hundred years ago, was Hellenized Jews undergoing foreskin restoration procedures. 

However, the Syrian-Greeks did not, like other cultures, want to exterminate Jews.  They didn’t even demand an abandonment of Judaism. They demanded that Judaism become subservient. If a conflict existed between their values and Judaism, Torah, the constitution of Judaism, took second place. (I’m sure you see the parallels to today.)  For instance, as we hinted at earlier, Hellenists saw the body as perfect and the gymnasium as a temple, thus they forbade circumcision.  Loyal and faithful Hebrews continued to maintain that ritual.  The Maccabees , those who fought the battle, insisted that in every way, Torah values are always paramount. 

However, we don’t reject every idea of Hellenism outright. In Genesis 9:27, God blesses the father of the Greek nation with a gift for beauty. However, and this is vital, He praises it when it “dwells in the tents of Shem.”  In other words, ancient Jewish wisdom recognizes that there are legitimate values to be found in the nations, meaning nations other than those who follow the Torah. The primary condition for accessing that wisdom is that it must always be viewed through the prism of Torah; the Torah mustn’t be judged through its prism.

Today, for instance, in several cultures gender is viewed as fluid and subject to an individual’s choice.  Measured against Scripture’s, “Male and female He created them,” we have to reject the popular view as false.  It’s as if we have a foolproof nonsense detector which we can use to measure the value and authenticity of all ideas.

Not only is there no need to reject learning from many cultures; it would be foolish to do so. However, to explore the values of other cultures one has to feel secure in judging all aspects of those cultures against the Truth and rejecting any ideas that conflict with God’s vision, no matter how tempting, rational or popular they may sound.

Enjoy your studies,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Sagittarius Surprises

December 19th, 2017 Posted by Thought Tools 14 comments

Before dawn, Jerry Westfield and his two excited boys boarded their runabout at Ala Wai Harbor.  Stowing the fishing gear along with their lunch, Jerry yanked the cord and started the Evinrude outboard while his sons tossed the mooring lines onto the dock.

The black sky turned to cloudless cobalt as they slipped out to sea, past the enormous gray hulls of the battleships lying quietly at anchor. It was going to be a glorious day of fishing and their spirits rose along with the sun. The fish were already biting, and the glinting windows of distant Waikiki Beach hotels seemed to be applauding their prowess.  All was well until eight o’clock that morning, December 7, 1941.

To remind oneself of how quickly circumstances can deteriorate, one doesn’t need to reflect back seventy years.  A little over sixteen years ago, on a sunny Tuesday morning in September, the lives of every American changed for the worse.  Most of us can easily identify a moment in our own lives that dashed our dreams.

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