Eight-year-old Sholom Auslander‘s father is an abusive bastard, but young Sholom is a first-rate yeshiva boy — smart enough to know that his sins will rack up his father’s account, and, if he’s lucky, force Hashem to kill his dad. What’s a nice Jewish boy to do? Steal, lie, “touch myself,” and chant “shit, fuck, and ass a dozen times each” before bedtime. Does it work? Go to “Act III,” “Oedipus Hex,” of last week’s This American Life to find out. A grown-up Auslander — no rabbi — tells the tale beginning at minute 38 of the program.
They Will Be Your Doctors When You’re Old
Kansas’ State Board of Education is holding a public hearing this Saturday on the proposed statewide science standards which include a redefinition of the word “science” intended to remove bias towards “naturalistic” (non-theistic) belief systems. Pat Hayes, author of Red State Rabble, writes that the rephrasing — proposed by a group of eight Intelligent Design supporters — would remove the sentence “Science is the human activity of seeking natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us.” The eight ID supporters were are a minority of the 26-member committee that wrote the standards, but make a majority on the state board. (Via Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, which reveals the Unwritten Rule of Non-Naturalistic Scientific Method.)
He’s So Unusual
Constitutional “originalist” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (of “secularism led to the Holocaust” fame) yesterday scolded his fellow judges for looking to “abstractions” or “judicial tests” rather than the pure text of the Constitution when deciding religious cases. But what does Scalia mean when he says “pure text”? Not pure Constitution, but “long-accepted customs.” “‘Tradition and historical practice is stronger,’” said Scalia, than “judicial tests” or the notion of a living Constitution that can be interpreted differently in accord with changing times. History, Antonin? Well, that would be a refreshing change from the claims that the 1950 insertion of “under God” into the 1892 Pledge of Allegiance is an expression of the Founders’ will, circa 1776. More to the point though, is Scalia saying that upholding the customs and traditions of the past 229 years — which are pretty wide and varied, not to mention occasionally plain wrong — is more important than trying to apply the Constitution to the disputes that come before courts? How original.
Satirist Fined Over Pope’s Honor
A Warsaw court has fined Jerzy Urban, editor of the Polish newspaper Nie (No), $6,500 for writing a satirical article published in 2002, that ridiculed the pope on the eve of his visit to his native country.
Zondervan Eats Lunch with the Cool Kids
Rolling Stone belatedly decides to accept the new kid in Young-n-hiptown after all of RS‘s friends already have. New kid still humbly “thrilled.”
Russia Remembers Auschwitz
“‘Today is a test,’” said Russia’s chief rabbi Berl Lazar. “‘People are trying to test how society will react 60 years later.’” While the rest of the world observes the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, 20 Russian nationalist parliamentarians are trying on the language of early Naziism, calling last week for an investigation of and possible ban on all religious and ethnic Jewish groups as “anti-Christian,” extremists, a threat to the nation, and guilty of monopolizing power worldwide. Since yesterday, when a top Russian rabbi and Russia’s Israeli embassy condemned the letter, it has been withdrawn by all signees and the Russian Foreign Ministry has said it was “especially regrettable” that the letter became public at this time. Haaretzreports that about 450 Russian scholars and public figures also signed the letter.
He Works with the Medium You Give Him?
Death of a Heretic
In Memoriam: Gary Webb, the Pulitzer-winning journalist who broke the story of the CIA-Contra-crack epidemic connection and paid for it with his career. Why does The Revealer care? Because Webb’s story is about the religion of journalism, its grand inquisitors, and their ability to turn fact into myth. Narco News explains.
Vermont is So Bunny
Bush’s new education secretary, Margaret Spellings, brings a fresh tone to Washington after outgoing secretary Rod Paige disgraced himself by buying off a hack journalist to spin his initiatives. There’ll be no covert culture war for Spellings — she’s taking it to the streets with an opening salvo against PBS for funding “Postcards from Buster,” a travel-adventure cartoon series with one episode featuring lesbian characters – Vermonters, no less! Plus, the main character is a bunny, and we don’t need Dr. Dobson to tell us that bunnies are gay. Unless, of course, they’re Hef’s bunnies. Then they’re probably lesbians. And Vermonters. Rod Paige fans, meanwhile, can take solace in the news that his underhanded legacy continues to reverberate, as word spreads that Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy and a conservative columnist who contributes to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other publications, got paid by the Department of Health to peddle the moral-values mantra.
Which should take precedence — religious freedom or protection from discrimination? The Chronicle of Higher Education hosts an open, online colloquy with David A. French, president of the conservative Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, on why student groups that exclude gays and lesbians should be eligible for official funding. Tell French what you think. But first, read Burton Bollag‘s report on the fight, “Choosing Their Flock.”