Gift/Bible Study/Omitting Beauty and Green

Here’s something I
have two of, someone

said, which meant
much, and then

someone without
a word handed

me the one
thing she had—

and I could
barely, in my one

head, hold it.  

Bible Study
How does a five-
year-old learn

to play dead?

Trump Trauma: Where Reality TV Meets ‘Reality by Decree’

IT’s 2004 AND, despite my best intentions, I’m a pop-culture junkie. While my one-year-old daughter is napping, I watch an episode of a new reality TV show, The Apprentice, hosted by New York real estate mogul, Donald Trump. The show’s premise: Sixteen to eighteen individuals, divided into two teams, test their business acumen by competing in a series of moneymaking challenges. At the end of each episode, Trump calls the losing team into an ersatz boardroom where he delivers his signature tag line, “You’re Fired!” to the individual he determines most guilty of gumming up the works. I remember noting what seemed to me an unprecedented televised celebration of US capitalism with its corresponding culture of authoritarianism and non-empathy.

Human Rights on the Mountain of God

FEW WOULD TAKE ISSUE today with the claim that religious Zionism is the most particularistic and self-centered of contemporary Jewish identities. While many streams of Judaism and Zionism place the well-being of humanity at the center of their world view, mainstream religious Zionism seems only concerned with Jews. This trend is most painfully apparent in Israel’s religious Zionist political party, “The Jewish Home” whose flagship projects consist of Jewish domination of Arabs (including spearheading brutal discrimination on the West Bank), Orthodox domination of Israeli society, and shifting Israeli public school curriculums away from democracy and towards Jewish particularism. For some of its most prominent Knesset members, the “Jewish Home” is also virulently homophobic. Clearly, something has gone very wrong in the place where Jewish religion and nationality meet.

Tikkun Recommends

If you want to taste some of the diversity and complexity in Jewish thought, these four books offer a wonderful way in. Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Geraldine Brooks brings the reader into the mind of Natan, one of Judaism’s earliest prophets, as he tries to make sense of his own life as a collaborator and spiritual guide to a murderous King David who managed to conquer and then create Jerusalem as the Jewish people’s fantasized “eternal capital.” Unlike many of the prophets who eventually had a book written by or about them in the Bible, Natan shows up only in the stories about King David, most significantly when he challenges David for having stolen Batsheva by sending her husband, a commander in David’s army, to a mission designed to be certain death. This was the classic moment of speaking truth to power at the risk of having that power also kill the truth-teller. Building on the Bible, but with her own imaginative creativity, Brooks brings us to the midst of the intrigues that is said to be the family of a future messiah. Eleven hundred years later a similar courage contributed to making Rabbi Akiva, one of the most important figures in the Talmud, a folk hero because of his refusal to abandon the practice and teaching of Judaism commanded by the Roman occupiers of Judea.

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Trump’s Evil Policies, Democrats Aligning with the Deep State, and the Left in Shaming and Blaming

This Summer 2017 edition of Tikkun has several articles focusing on the trauma that the Trump presidency has generated. While many liberals and progressives responded to this trauma and horror in the earlier months with mass demonstrations and a commitment to resistance, it soon became clear that, as important as they were for reviving the spirit of people on the left,  the demonstrations did not make much of a dent in the consciousness of the tens of millions of people who voted for Trump. Moreover, the liberal and progressive forces continue to demean, shame and blame all those who did not vote for Democrats in the 2016 election. This takes the form of suggesting that all of these tens of millions of people who voted “the wrong way” did so because they are racist, sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, coarse, bullies or just ignorant. These characterizations do not fit everyone that voted Trump, though they may describe some of his supporters, and a large number of the people he has appointed to key positions in his Administration.

The Winter of Trump

But when he is shown the impeachment door, his rabid evangelical successor seems almost sure to sharpen the testicular knives. These are moderate concerns of the dreams that visit me at 3AM.