The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'judaism'
Some anonymous person entered the phrase "why are religion so" into Google, and plotted the completions it suggested (based on past searches) in a Venn diagram, coming up with this map of stereotypes:
It's interesting to note that no trait is popularly attributed to all three of the Abrahamic religions. (Perhaps the average web user can't spell "monotheistic"?)
Meanwhile, typing "why are atheists so" suggests the words "stupid", "smart", "intolerant", "mean", "annoying", "angry", "hateful", "hated" and "awesome".
In Poland, where the mainstream culture is dominated by a conservative, nationalistic monoculture, more often than not with an anti-Semitic streak, rebels, refuseniks and rootless cosmopolitanists are embracing all things Jewish. Klezmer bands (comprised mostly of non-Jewish musicians) are forming everywhere, people are taking classes in everything from Hasidic dancing to Hebrew calligraphy, and replicas of 1930s-vintage Jewish merchants' signs are cropping up all over Krakow streets like some kind of theme park:
Interest in Jewish culture became an identifying factor for people unhappy with the status quo and looking for ways to rebel, whether against the government or their parents.
"The word 'Jew' still cuts conversation at the dinner table," Gebert said. "People freeze."
The revival of Jewish culture is, in its way, a progressive counterpoint to a conservative nationalist strain in Polish politics that still espouses anti-Semitic views. Some people see it as a generation's effort to rise above the country's dark past in order to convincingly condemn it.Not everybody's pleased with this:
Many Jews are offended by the commercialization of their culture in a country almost universally associated with its near annihilation.
Others argue that there is something deeper taking place in Poland as the country heals from the double wounds of Nazi and communist domination. "There is commercialism, but that is foam on the surface," Gebert said. "This is one of the deepest ethical transformations that our country is undergoing.Perhaps we can expect to see a new wave of klezmer-punk bands emerging from Krakow any day now?
Santiago Sierra, the Mexican conceptual artist who, in the past, hired labourers to masturbate, created casts of prostitutes' genitals and invited patrons to an art opening which was blocked off (thus demonstrating that they were more concerned with free champagne than aesthetic experiences), is back. His latest project involved turning a former synagogue in Germany into a gas chamber:
The Mexico-based artist has parked six cars outside the synagogue and attached their exhaust pipes to the building using plastic tubes. It is then filled with deadly gas. Visitors are invited to go inside one by one wearing a gas mask, escorted by a firefighter. Before being allowed in, they have to sign a disclaimer stating they realise the room is full of carbon monoxide.Sierra claims that the installation, titled 245 Cubic Metres with chilling blandness, is a protest against the "banalisation of the Holocaust". Germany's Jewish groups, however, don't see it that way and have denounced the exhibit as "scandalous". Visitors' reactions have been mixed. The exhibit has since been suspended until Sierra meets his critics to discuss the project.
The comments in the Guardian's blog raise some interesting points, with some claiming a second subtext, equating personal automobiles with genocide, and others comparing it to a notional installation spraying the inside of a mosque with pigs' blood.
The anti-immigrant right in France has adopted a new tactic: handing out pork soup to the poor and hungry, pointedly excluding Muslims and Jews from their charity.
With steaming bowls of the fragrant broth soon passing through the crowd, Odile Bonnivard, a short-haired secretary turned far-right firebrand, climbed atop a dark sedan with a megaphone in hand and led the crowd in a raucous chant: "We are all pig eaters! We are all pig eaters!"
The movement began in the winter of 2003 when Ms. Bonnivard, a member of a small far-right nationalist movement called the Identity Bloc, began serving hot soup to the homeless. At first, she said, the group used pork simply because it was an inexpensive traditional ingredient for hearty French soup. But after the political significance of serving pork dawned on them and others, it quickly became the focus of their work.
Today, in theological news: the Catholic church is set to abolish the concept of limbo, as a place for the souls of unbaptised children and virtuous heathens, saying that it "has always been just a theological hypothesis".
Meanwhile, terminally ill patients in Israel will be allowed euthanasia, as long as it's carried out by machines and not humans, as that would be forbidden under Jewish law:
A special timer will be fitted to a patient's respirator which will sound an alarm 12 hours before turning it off.
Normally, carers would override the alarm and keep the respirator turned on but, if various stringent conditions are met, including the giving of consent by the patient or legal guardian, the alarm would not be overridden.
Similar timing devices, known as Sabbath clocks, are used in the homes of orthodox Jews so that light switches and electrical devices can be turned on during the Sabbath without offending religious strictures.As Jamie Zawinski said, "Judaism is so awesome -- it's the only religion composed entirely of loopholes!"
A magazine named Radar has the start of a potentially interesting series on Kabbalah (not the Mediæval branch of esoteric Judaism, but the red-string-and-sacred-bottled-water one that's the hottest new celebrity cult in Hollywood):
In December the Guardian of London published a 10-month investigation that revealed the dubious nature of the Rav's qualifications as a religious leader, as well as the Centre's avaricious ways. Then, in January 2005, a BBC documentary caught high-ranking Kabbalah Centre officer Rabbi Eliyahu Yardeni on undercover camera saying that the Jews who died in the Holocaust perished because they weren't studying Kabbalah. The same documentary showed an employee at the Centre's London office selling a man with cancer more than $1,500 worth of merchandise, including Aramaic books he could not read and bottled water with no proven health benefits.
The article promises more details on findings, including:
The false claims the Centre has made about its distinguished origins.
The Centre's use of cultlike techniques to control members, including sleep deprivation, alienation from friends and family, and Kabbalah-dictated matchmaking.
The bizarre scientific claims made by the Centre's leaders on behalf of Kabbalah Water, ranging from its ability to cleanse the lakes of Chernobyl of radiation to its power to cure cancer, AIDS, and SARS.
The Centre's sponsorship of the Oroz Research Centre, a "23rd century" scientific institution that markets a "liquid compound for the treatment of nuclear waste" that also cures gynecological problems in cows, sheep, and other farm animals.
The Bergs' explicit strategy of steering Kabbalah away from its Jewish roots in order to appeal to a wider global market, and their plans to brand both the Centre and family members for maximum popular appeal.
As for steering Kabbalah away from its Jewish roots, isn't that old news, though? There have been non-Jewish self-professed Cabbalists since the time of Aleister Crowley if not John Dee. Though, granted, they weren't peddling overpriced bottled water to celebrities.
(via bOING bOING)
1. Let your mind be as a floating cloud. Let your stillness be as the wooded glen. And sit up straight. You'll never meet the Buddha with such round shoulders.
2. There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And whose fault was that?
I've met quite a few Jewish Buddhists; apparently the phenomenon is so common these days that they even have a name for it. (via MeFi)
Soy sauce manufacturers in China have developed an ingenious way of cutting costs, by substituting soy beans with human hair. Soy sauce technically consists of amino acids, with soy beans being merely the most common source, and other sources (such as, say, human hair) may be substituted whilst still producing something resembling soy sauce. (via Found)
(Which makes one wonder whether the kosher status of human hair sauce would be influenced by whether or not the hair came from a Hindu hair-cutting ceremony.)
Orthodox Jews burn wigs after finding them made of Indian hair, cut during Hindu ceremonies. Orthodox Jewish women are prohibited from showing their hair in public once married; however, wigs containing human hair cut in Hindu ceremonies (from which much of the hair used for wigs comes) are considered idolatrous, because of the Hindu religion's polytheism. This is going to put a damper on the feted merger of Judaism and Hinduism to better compete on the global religious marketplace.
Israeli settlers are planning to use guard pigs to defend settlements from attackers. Pigs are believed to have a better sense of smell than dogs; also, contact of any sort with a pig renders Islamic militants ineligible for martyrdom and the statutory 70 virgins (or was it raisins?). The one catch is that the raising of pigs is forbidden in orthodox Judaism, though settlers are requesting a special exemption for this scheme from their rabbis. (Though couldn't the bombers get a special exemption for fighting off Israeli guard pigs from their imams?)
And while we're on the topic of martyrdom, suicide bombers in Iraq are apparently kidnapping babies, wrapping them in explosives and leaving them in public places as bombs. I suppose if you believe in martyrdom and the absolute rightness of your cause, any act of depravity that helps The Cause can be justified; those innocent bystanders you slaughtered in the course of Getting Your Message Across will get their recompense in the afterlife. (via mitch)