Pope Francis Continues to Be Awesome

Pretty much every day recently, I am shocked to discover that I still like Pope Francis. Yesterday, he released an Apostolic Exhortation urging the world to reject “the new idolatry of money” and calling on the rich to turn back mounting inequality and help the poor. Cool!

It included very capitalist-unfriendly passages like this one: Continue reading

A Bible for Skeptics

Have you heard of the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible? You really should check it out. It’s an incredible, mind-blowing project by Steven Wells where he went through the entire Bible (both Testaments), the Book of Mormon, and the Koran, and elucidated every single contradiction, inconsistency, bizarre passage, and inhuman verse he could find. Whether you’re a believer or not, it’s an incredible read and a very thorough reference. It was the basis for that beautiful map of the Bible’s contradictions I posted in August. And if you’re not an Internet person, there’s a beautifully-bound print version available for purchase.

Oh and Steve Wells tweeted about OMGWTFBIBLE, which is super-flattering!

Is Your Jewdar Working?

In this interview in the Forward, those Hasidic guys who bug people on the streets of New York asking if they’re Jewish explain how they know who’s Jewish and who’s not:

First, said Yisroel, “we call it ‘racial profiling.’ Who looks Jewish?” (When asked to clarify later, Yisroel says it’s not about the nose — a “broad, clear forehead with no creases” indicates a non-Jew, while Jews’ foreheads are sometimes lined.) Next is detecting a subtle vibe of recognition, a process that Levi calls “bageling.” Third is playing the statistics game. One out of every five people in New York City are Jewish, said Yisroel. If you exclude African Americans and Asians, your odds are closer to one in three.

I’m not sure what “bageling” is, but I claim to have a very highly-attuned Jewdar. Mostly, if a girl is wearing long sleeves under a short sleeve shirt in the summer, or a group of non-athletic guys is wearing baseball caps, they’re probably Jewish. Or, if a guy looks anything like me, he’s probably Jewish.

Get Horny with the Bible

As you may have noticed from the podcast, there’s some pretty crazy sex stuff that goes on in Genesis. You know, like girls raping their dad and 3-year olds getting sold to old men. Matthew Stillman noticed it too, and he noticed the beauty in some of the more pleasant sex scenes, so he decided to rewrite the King James Version of Genesis into an erotic novel called Genesis Deflowered.

Here’s a little sample.

And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. And Sarai kept Abram safe by her hand. The Pharaoh craved to know the secrets under the skins of Sarai, and to see her beg for the pleasures of her thighs. And the ochre in her eyes enflamed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh did use his crook upon her. And Sarai ventured to show her fervour when she clasped the Pharaoh. And with flail and crook did they know each other unto the day. And the welts upon their backs and thighs were cooled by kisses; and kisses did cool the welts. Sarai bit upon his crook with ardour; and he brought seed from within Sarai, and watered it. And Abram did keep watch, and abide by them in the night. His staff stood in secret for Sarai. And so Pharaoh entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.

Compare that with my version:

When Abram got to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was just crazy hot. Pharaoh’s officers saw Sarai and told Pharoah how bonetastic she was. They took her to the house of Pharaoh, rewarding Avraham very well for her. They gave him sheep, oxen, donkeys, male slaves, female slaves, lady-donkeys, and camels.

Be honest. Which gets you hotter?

<h/t: Friendly Atheist>

Very Very Little Rivka

In Episode 10, I mention that Rivka, the woman given to Yitzchak, was only 3 years old when Avraham’s anonymous slave found her (at least according to some traditions). Before the episode, I read a few excerpts from “Kind Little Rivka,” a cheerful children’s book that treats this union as though it’s a totally normal, OK thing.  If you want to read this twisted book, order it here!

I first heard about “Kind Little Rivka” in a very thoughtful blog post by Eli Federman in the  Jewish Daily Forward, in which he puts the story in perspective, quoting modern statistics about child brides:

I never expected a kids book to glorify underage marriage. Children are enslaved in marriages, abused, tortured and killed. According to the organization Girls Not Brides, every year an estimated “14 million girls are married before they turn 18. Robbed of their childhood, denied their rights to health, education and security.”

In the book, Rivka helps a blind woman, gives up her seat, and waters thirsty animals.

These are all benign acts of kindness — but they culminate in a 3-year-old girl’s marriage to a man 10 times her age. I don’t want my little daughter thinking that underage marriage, in any context, is ever acceptable. Period.

You should read the rest of the article. It’s a very interesting take from an observant Jew on what happens when people transmit the unseemlier parts of the Bible to their children.


For Fuck’s Sake

For some reason, when I first started telling people about this show, I was surprised when they took offense at its name.

“Isn’t that a little disrespectful?” they usually ask, referring to my use of an f-bomb in such close proximity to “Bible.” “Don’t you think you’ll offend people with that?”

If I’m feeling flippant, I’ll tell them that if they’re offended by the name, OMGWTFBIBLE is not for them. The “fuck” in the title is a built-in mechanism for weeding out those who might not be so into this show.

Usually, that’s enough for people, and I’ll go find someone else on the subway car to give a sticker. And, while that reason is true, there’s a deeper thought behind this show’s name that deserves longer elucidation here. Continue reading

Rabbi David Wolpe, Being Awesome

Because Conservative Judaism know which millennium it is, Rabbi David Wolpe, of the prestigious 107-year-old Sinai Temple in California, announced this week he’ll allow same-sex marriages to be performed at his temple now that it’s finally legal again out there.

Not everyone at Sinai Temple is embracing this move. A congregant named M. Michael Naim took issue with the fact that, you know, man-on-man action is forbidden in the Torah:

“Homosexuality is explicitly condemned in Scripture and has been categorically and passionately rejected by all classical Jewish legal and ethical thinkers as a cardinal vice in the same category as incest, murder and idolatry.”


The Times article goes on for a bit about the culture clash between slightly-more homophobic Persian Jews and the other congregants at Sinai Temple. But here’s the money quote from Rabbi Wolpe’s original statement:

“Our clergy believe that this decision is in the best tradition of the Conservative movement which views the Torah as a living document that allows room for new understandings and approaches. As we have modernized the role of women and many other practices, the demand on the part of our brothers and sisters who are gay to be able to live in a sanctified relationship is a call to our conscience and our responsibility as Jews.”


Please Don’t Watch Princesses: Long Island

Oh god. Oh god. What is this mess? Please don’t watch this ever.

Please do read Stephanie Butnick’s thoughtful review on Jewcy.

And definitely watch Sarah Silverman’s father get mad about the word “JAP.”