News & Politics


DDD: The 'Duck Dynasty' Deflection

My resolution for this year: I promise to no longer take seriously any mock public controversies, especially those involving celebrities engaged in the culture wars. When all is said and done the ten day media driven frenzy surrounding Phil Robertson?- patriarch at the heart of A&E’s smash reality hit Duck Dynasty?- who equated homosexuality to bestiality and claimed blacks were happy working in cotton fields was itself a reality show. The cast of characters played its role perfectly according to script. First, we had our left wing stars who turned some carnival......

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"What If?": Inside Llewyn Davis

I walked out of the theater after seeing?Inside Llewyn Davis,?the Coen brother’s phenomenal new film feeling as I always do after seeing a Coen brother’s film: humbled, dazed, out of breath at the mysterious, subtle, and unpredictable relationship between our own individual stories and dramas with all their twists and turns and the cosmic, metaphysical reality which we have absolutely no control over. With their unique attention to detail, aesthetic, and character, the Coen brothers invite us to reflect upon the meaning of life in general and of our own life in......

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Santa Is White, Really!

You can’t make this stuff up. FOX News’ Megyn Kelly reassured her viewers that Santa really is white. At first, at least, it sounds nuts. Where to begin? The claim that a mythic figure is “really” anything? Ms. Kelly’s need to reassure people that a much loved icon could be anything other than white? It really is hard to know where to begin. And then I wonder, if in addition to those serious questions about the sanity and ethics of Ms. Kelly’s assertions, something quite sane and more than a......

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Video: Hope and Gardens on the Moon

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: This week, NASA announced that they plan to do the “first life sciences experiment on another world” in 2015 when they send a terrarium with basil, turnips and cress to the moon via their Lunar Plant Growth Habitat project.? It’s exciting not just on its own merits, but for the message of hope and optimism it sends, says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, “…we don’t just build what we need in the present, but we actually invest the future because in investing in the future we......

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The Rise of Slum Tourism

Have you ever heard of slum tourism? Vacationers on holiday arrange sight-seeing visits to poverty-blighted neighborhoods so they can take in some of the poorest communities in the world. (An estimated one in eight people worldwide live in so-called slums.) Although controversial – it has been labeled “poverty porn”- this new kind of tourism has become a popular way for tourists to engage with poverty on a close-up level. But now there’s a twist: I honestly don’t know what to think about this trend, though I do know how I feel: I’m......

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Video: Our Shrinking World and the Typhoon in the Philippines

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: “Can our sense of neighborhood expand to those who are 10,000 miles away?”? That’s the question Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership asks in the wake of the typhoon in the Philippines which has taken the lives of thousands of people.? As the initial media coverage recedes in favor of front-page stories that are more immediately relevant to our lives as Americans, how do we respond to the humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold? Odyssey Networks......

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Dodging Default Bullet Doesn't Equal Peace

Peace.? It’s not just the absence of war. ?And security, whether it is military, economic, or emotional, is about much more than the absence of an active battle. “The U.S. economy dodged a bullet today. But the reprieve will be short,” Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at IHS Global Insight, said Wednesday in an analysis. ?Scary stuff, because dodging bullets is not the same as making peace — just ask any soldier who has gone to war. We need more than bullet dodging. ?We need to address an imperiled economy, persistent......

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When We the People Don't Vote, We Don't Have a Voice

Whatever one’s politics, it is pretty clear we have a dysfunctional government in which partisanship and party lines trumps compromise. ?It’s easy to blame politicians, to judge their motivations, but where is our own responsibility? Where are “We the People” in all of this? The fact is relatively few of us vote – less than 60% in presidential years and only 40% in midterms – which, makes us 120th of 169 countries on voter turnout. If we don’t vote and only those who are the most passionate and ideological do – especially......

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New Movie Wadjda Sparks Reflection on Gender Equality

In this week’s Week in Wisdom, our weekly round up of what we’re reading and watching, I shared the trailer for the film Wadjda, a compelling film – one of those films you wake up thinking about the next morning.? It evokes so many questions and feelings. How will we in the West deal with the Arab Muslim version of feminism, which will be very different from ours? (Do a search for Arab – Muslim feminism and you will get close to 3 million results.) Can Muslim feminists reclaim their religion and......

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Video: Brad Hirschfield on Washington's Bad Example

From Odyssey Network’s Faith on the Record series: “This week the political fight in Washington came to a crisis point over the Affordable Care Act and the debt ceiling, leading to a shutdown of the federal government.? There is a lot we can learn from the bad example being set in our nation’s capital, says Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, President of CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership.? “When doctrine and dogma get in the way of addressing the real pain that people are feeling, something is terribly wrong.”” Odyssey Networks......

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