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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

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 Nov. 8, 2006 / 17 Mar-Cheshvan, 5767

Stranger than fiction

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Even though the elections are finally behind us, something happened this season that deserves a second look.


I'm talking about the tactics of Sen. George Allen of Virginia, whose campaign tried to cast his opponent, Jim Webb, as unsuitable because of his fiction writing.


As was widely discussed at the time, the Allen camp issued a press release with carefully selected passages from novels Webb wrote based on his experiences during the Vietnam War. Some of the passages are, indeed, unseemly and disturbing, including one suggestive of incest.


Others apparently selected to demonstrate the author's sexist attitudes described women in sex-related activities, including some unusual stage acts best left to the imagination.


I have no interest in defending Webb's writing, though his work has been lavishly praised by writers such as Tom Wolfe. But we all have an interest in defending literature and art against the kind of literal-mindedness that undergirds this sort of political tactic.


For the benefit of those who require some assurance of verisimilitude, much of what Webb wrote is not unfamiliar to Vietnam vets. Family and friends returning from Southeast Asia following the war recounted similar tales, some of which I heard myself. Webb said during a radio interview that he personally witnessed what he described.


It's usually interesting to hear an author discuss his work but, in this case, I don't care. More troubling than anything Webb wrote is the idea that a novelist aiming for public office — or any occupation — should have to explain what he had in mind while writing fiction.


And far more perverse than a staged sex act in a wartime novel is our incremental trending toward literalness at a time when literal-mindedness is the blunt instrument of those trying to drag Western civilization into a new dark age.


We should all wreathe ourselves in garlands of garlic before accepting Allen's premise that examining fiction for insights into a writer's character is fair game in an ideologically inflamed world. Didn't Torquemada exhaust the market for this sort of thing?


Lest the literalists protest, no, I'm not comparing George Allen to Spain's Grand Inquisitor. And, no, I'm not comparing America's political strategists to Osama bin Laden.


But there's not much distance between the sort of attitude that instigates offense from a literal reading of fiction and that which justifies death to infidels in a literal reading of scripture. We've witnessed where this kind of moral mind-reading leads.


The riots and death threats that evolved last year from publication of a series of Danish cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad were precisely the result of such literal-mindedness. True believers saw blasphemy in those images and, based on a literal interpretation of received dogma, set loose the dogs of Allah.


In fact, there is no injunction in the Koran against images of Muhammad. The alleged prohibition is merely a popular consensus handed down from early Muslim theologians who embraced [misreading of — editor] the Jewish prohibition against graven images.


History is a riot of ironies, but it would be nice if American politicians would resist compounding the hilarity.


What distinguishes Western culture from the fanaticism of the Muslim world — at least on our good days — is our evolution away from such literal-mindedness. We may still have literal-minded contingents among certain religious strains, but at least we're free to identify them as such.


Otherwise, we no longer banish infidels, burn witches or mount inquisitions against nonbelievers.


That said, civilization is a fragile affair. It is not so difficult to move populations from the sublime to the hideous when emotions can be exploited with scripture — or fiction — to justify our worst impulses.


The literal mind led to the fatwa against novelist Salman Rushdie, as well as to the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. The literal mind envisioned and executed 9/11.


We can confidently assume that Allen had no sinister intentions when he urged constituents to treat Webb's fiction as a literal indictment of his character. He was just playing good ol' boy politics, after all.


But the impulse that invites such a witless interpretation of fiction comes from the same dark ignorance that fuels the self-ratifying fanaticism of radical Islam.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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