Monday, June 28, 2004

News From Oz

The Land of Oz has a new look, and Yoel has posted a moving tribute to Naomi Shemer, who passed away this past Shabbat. I can't hope to put it any better than he has. Just thinking of her music brings tears to my eyes.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Important Correction

I've corrected the previous two posts many more times than I have ever corrected a blog post after publishing. It had gotten to the point that if someone had posted a comment saying, "please add the words 'elf is a poopyhead'," I probably would have done so.

To clear up some of my own confusion, I decided to re-read the review of Luke's autobiography, XXX-Communicated: Rebel Without a Shul. I admit that, given Luke's general depravity (yes, I am still convinced that he is depraved), I suspected at first that he might be the author of the review (which is generally not positive) and that the book might not exist at all. But it is apparently a real book. It has a cover and everything. So I assume that this review is as reliable a source as any on the history of Luke.

As the title of this post suggests, I made a grave mistake. I learned about Luke gradually, getting little snippets of information from here and there, and somehow I became convinced that he had been denied an Orthodox conversion. That does not appear to be the case. What I thought were references to being denied a conversion were actually references to getting kicked out of shul (which apparently happened to him several times; hence the title of the book).

I owe Luke an apology. Luke, if you're reading this, I apologize. (If you're not reading this, it's probably for the best.)

I would like to make two additional points before (hopefully) putting this subject behind me once and for all:

1. I have nothing against crazy people. Most of my friends are crazy. Not as crazy as Luke, but crazy nonetheless. It is true that I find Luke's particular brand of long-winded craziness rather irritating, but I have nothing against insanity per se. So don't regard the word "depraved" as too much of an insult.

2. Unless you're sensitive to sexually explicit material, I recommend that you read the review. I found the bit about the adult video with readings from Dennis Prager a complete gas. Talk about depravity!

Monday, June 21, 2004

A Global Shtetl

I was chatting with a friend recently and some Protocols-related gossip came up. I realized afterward that I probably shouldn't have gotten into the subject of intrablog politics. I'm not deleting the post, because... well, to be honest, it took a long time to write. I have, however, deleted some information that DH found inappropriate.

After this, it's back to the abstract (religion and morality) and the mundane (food). No more gossip.

UPDATE: I've deleted a few more lines from the previous post on the basis of some information from Steven I (below, in the "comments"). There may be more deletions. The moral of the story is: don't believe everything I write.

I will add one more clarification. I heard from Miriam yesterday, and she said that the guest bloggers were told that their official stints were for one week each, but that they could continue to post indefinitely. This does provide a slightly different perspective on what Luke's been doing.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Spice Blends

We made the famous red lentil soup this week, only with black lentils (it's isn't Shabbat Parshat Toldot, after all) and as a curry to serve over rice, rather than a soup. Here's what gets me: the recipe calls for cumin, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, and chili powder. Now, there are a number of ways to make curry powder, but I believe they all include cumin, turmeric, coriander, and some form of hot red pepper. Chili powder also contains cumin and hot red pepper. See where I'm going with this?

Every time I come across a recipe of this nature, I wonder, does this have something to do with the proportions of ingredients in the blends, or were the people who came up with the recipe just throwing together whatever spices they had in their pantries, without paying attention to their contents?

One of the many things that I like about the Moosewood Cookbook is that it never calls for spice blends. Speaking of Moosewood, a bit of advice: if you don't have it, get it. And if you do have it, try the Mushroom Curry. It's wicked good.

A bit of work to prepare, though.

Shabbat shalom.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

H is for Heresy

I have no idea who "H" is, but he (or she) has posted some interesting comments to OOSJ's blog.

OOSJ has been arguing that Judaism ought to be more of a "moral force" in Israel:

"The concern of many of our religious leaders (haredi and religious-Zionist alike) is so dedicated to the minutiae of the Halakhic observance of their often closed communities that religion is only used as an argument in the public square when it concerns the "mitzvah performance" of those communities.... [B]y concentrating on the material aspect of Jewish life that is halakhic performance they are ignoring the rich moral and ethical tradition that our non-halakhic literature and history has produced."

H contends that religion is "never a 'moral force:'"

"Morality is independent of religion, since religion can be so easily interpreted to fit your own morality."

In a later comment, H elaborates:

"[W]hen religion goes wrong, as it was (largely) wrong 50 years ago about women's rights and is (largely) wrong now about gay marriage, it's secular thought and basic human empathy which leads the way.... Empathy and religion both say "Love thy neighbor," but halakha for example says that gay sex is an abomination and that marrying a non-Jew is sinful."

H has a point. There are at least as many people for whom religion serves as an incentive for callousness and hatred as people for whom it serves as an inspiration for compassion and ethical behavior. However, based on my limited experience, it doesn't seem that "freethinkers" (as they were once called) are any more apt to be compassionate and ethical than their religious counterparts. Not everyone is empathetic by nature, and secular thought is as often cruel as religious thought(think of Social Darwinism).

In the end, I think, each of us is on his or her own when it comes to morality. (This is not a comforting thought.) However, I also think that those of us who lead religious lives can find positive moral guidance in our religious traditions, or in the simple belief in a just and merciful God. And I think that that can have a positive impact on the way we approach the world.

Take a look at the Heretic. Would she be ministering to the sick right now if she didn't believe in God?

Or maybe not.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Why bother?

I've decided to follow Erica's advice: up to three posts a week, and I won't try to make them particularly "good."

Along those lines, here's a comic strip to which "Old Timer" introduced me a while back. It's incredibly corny, but it makes me giggle. (It has gotten a little bit raunchy lately, but I doubt that will bother many of you.) Don't miss the testimonials.

Shabot Shalom!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Welcome Back, Meredith

Meredith is public again, this time as "Fluffy Little Sheep Girl." This should please the old fans.

I warmly welcome her back to my links list.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I'm Ba-ack!

Sort of.

It's been a lousy few weeks (with the exception of one wonderful wedding). I'd like to say that I've been working my butt off, but I'm not sure that sitting in front of the computer and sobbing counts. I have an unfortunate tendency toward depression -- unfortunate particularly because my life is so blessed. All this sadness seems a terrible waste.

I have managed to produce one paper that I think is more or less acceptable (meaning that I expect to let off the hook with a B). Another dealt with a subject in which I have very little interest, and it shows. For the third, I demanded an incomplete ("I really don't think you want to see what I've written so far") and agreed to hand it in by the end of June. I still have a paleography project to finish, which my professor will end up with about six hours to grade. If I ever have students like me, I may go insane.

I have been reevaluating the whole blogging enterprise. I've enjoyed it, and it's helped me keep in touch with old friends and make some new ones (of the internet variety). On the other hand, if I'd spent all that blogging time working on term papers, I probably wouldn't be in this mess.

Instead of leaving off blogging altogether, I'm going to try a little experiment this summer. There will be one or two posts a week (maximally three), and I'll try to make them good. Maybe I'll even proofread. I'm sure that there will be fewer comments, which is a shame (I enjoy your comments), but what can I do.

All right. Back to paleography.