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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 19, 2007 / 3 Tamuz, 5767

You're in a bad neighborhood and 10 men approach you . . .

By Dennis Prager


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A question I pose to atheists and others who argue that religion is irrelevant to moral behavior has been cited by Christopher Hitchens in his national best seller, "G-d Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." And Hitchens's citation has been widely quoted — from the New Yorker to the website of the Oxford evolutionist and best-selling atheist author Richard Dawkins.


This is how the story appears in Hitchens's book:


"A week before the events of September 11, 2001, I was on a panel with Dennis Prager, who is one of America's better-known religious broadcasters. He challenged me in public to answer what he called a 'straight yes/no question,' and I happily agreed. 'Very well,' he said. I was to imagine myself in a strange city as the evening was coming on. Toward me I was to imagine that I saw a large group of men approaching. Now — would I feel safer, or less safe, if I was to learn that they were just coming from a prayer meeting? As the reader will see, this is not a question to which a yes/no answer can be given. But I was able to answer as if it were not hypothetical. 'Just to stay within the letter B, I have actually had that experience in Belfast, Beirut, Bombay, Belgrade, Bethlehem, and Baghdad. In each case I can say absolutely, and can give my reasons, why I would feel immediately threatened if I thought that the group of men approaching me in the dusk were coming from a religious observance.'"


As it happens, Hitchens did not relate my question entirely accurately, as hundreds of thousands of my listeners can attest to, and as many written sources can attest to. I have always asked the question about 10 men in a dark alley coming out of a "Bible class." I wrote a piece for National Review in 1999 in which I posed this question and wrote "Bible class," not "prayer meeting." And Father Richard Neuhaus, in his journal, First Things, quoted me asking this question about men leaving a "Bible class" in 1992. (I have always posed this question to Americans and therefore assumed the question related only to America, but I did not specify 'America' in my question to Hitchens as I did "Bible class.")


I have always specified "Bible class" because I assume that in America, anyone with common sense would in fact be very relieved if they knew that the 10 strangers, all men, approaching them in a dark alley were committed to either Judaism or Christianity and studying the Bible. I never stated "prayer class" because, unlike a Bible class, which more or less confines us to normative Judeo-Christian religions, 'prayer meeting' can signify anyone in any religion or even in some dangerous cult.


Even atheists would have to admit that in America today, they would be very grateful to learn that those 10 men had just been studying Genesis or Isaiah. One does not hear of many Bible classes with students mugging passersby.


I therefore pose this question to make the rather obvious point that nearly all of us instinctively assume some positive things about normative Judaism and Christianity in America.


This question evidently annoys many of those who argue that there is no relationship between personal decency and Judeo-Christian religiosity. So they offer a number of responses to a question that most of us find rhetorical.


The most common is that any of us would also be relieved if we learned that the 10 men walking toward us in a dark alley had just come from a secular humanism seminar or one on photosynthesis. I fully acknowledge that I would be relieved in such cases as well. The problem with this response, however, is that in the real world, in bad parts of our cities, 10 men are rather more likely to be studying the Bible than photosynthesis or secular humanism or any other subject that would bring us relief in that dark alley.


Every response I have seen to this question is an attempt to evade the only honest response. We would all be relieved because when push comes to shove — when we have to make real-life decisions and not theoretical ones — we know that at least in America, the dominant Judeo-Christian values and the religions that adhere to them have generally made better people. This does not mean that all religious Jews and Christians in America have been, or are today, good people, and it certainly does not mean that all irreligious people are bad. It means simply that if our lives were hanging in the balance, we would be inexpressively happy to know that 10 men we did not know, walking toward us in a bad neighborhood, had just come out of a Bible class.


But that is no small thing. And nothing has ever replaced that book and the American religious expressions based on it to make good people in the same numbers that it has.


So although I admire Christopher Hitchens for his understanding — unlike so many of his allies in the atheism vs. G-d and religion debate — that America is fighting genuinely evil people in Iraq, I was disappointed that he could not acknowledge the obvious when I concluded my radio dialogue/debate with him:


Prager: "I do want to return for a moment, Christopher, to the question that you cite me asking you in your book. If you were in an American city that you were not familiar with, alone, late at night, and you couldn't find your car, in a bad neighborhood, and you saw 10 men walking toward you, would you or would you not be relieved to know that they had just attended a Bible class?"


Hitchens: "Not relieved."

JWR contributor Dennis Prager hosts a national daily radio show based in Los Angeles. He the author of, most recently, "Happiness is a Serious Problem". Click here to comment on this column.


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© 2007, Creators Syndicate

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