First of all, the finale is up at Jewcy here. A bigger post, and an episode page will show up on this site tomorrow, around the time you’ll be able to download episode 22 in iTunes.
Second of all, I’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to help ensure this podcast keeps going and gets better and better. Please, watch the video above and head on over here to contribute. Every little bit helps!
Isn’t it crazy that only 20 years ago, if a singing nun won “The Voice of Italy” or whatever singing competition TV show we had back then, you wouldn’t hear about it until days later? Back in good ol’ 1994, you wouldn’t be able to immediately watch video of that nun singing “What A Feeling” from Flashdance? I mean, maybe you’d see it eventually, but it’d be on a weird video site called “Uncle Bobby’s Crazy Things” and it’d be a grainy realvideo file that you downloaded in a zip along with Arnold Schwarzenneger’s Japanese TV commercials and the unaired episodes of David Lynch’s sitcom. Also, this nun would’ve been 5 years old back then. It’s pretty wonderful that we live in world with ready access to so many insane things.
Here are some brief notes on this video.
If our civilization is completely wiped out and this video is the only remaining artifact, I think future generations will actually do a pretty good job of piecing together how we lived
Sister Cristina Scuccia’s English is very good. The only song I know in Italian is “Volare” and I’m pretty sure that’s not even what it’s called
I really like #SisterAx. That is very clever.
The nuns dancing in the audience are amazing. I am fascinated by the way they’re dancing. It’s almost as though they’re experiencing a never-felt joy that’s trying to burst through bones and joints that haven’t moved this loosely in ages
The Times is already worried winning this singing contest will lead Sister Cristina to abandon Jesus: “The bigger question mark in a country where some polls suggest that a majority of Italian women aspire to television fame is whether success will go to the head of the 25-year-old nun, possibly leading her astray from her calling.”
Also, what kind of polls are these? Television fame? Why are Italian woman aiming so low? Why not movies?
I don’t know if you’ve realized, but by making fun of religion, OMGWTFBIBLE is actually serving a greater sort of holiness. In The American Scholar, Brian Doyle writes about the benefit of weaving humor into religion:
For all that religion has been a bloody enterprise through history, and for all that religious people seem often the most almighty easy people to offend, and for all that there are many people in my faith tradition who think I am an idiot to grin over the most colorful of our traditions, I think we should grin over the more colorful parts of our faith traditions. For one thing, they are often funny—imagine the wine steward’s mixed feelings at Cana after the miracle, for example—and for another, it seems to me that real honest genuine spirituality is marked most clearly by humility and humor. The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Meher Baba, Flannery O’Connor, Sister Helen Prejean, Pope Francis—all liable to laughter, and not one of them huffy about his or her status and importance. Whereas all the famous slimy murderers of history—Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, bin Laden—what a humorless bunch, prim and grim and obsessed with being feared. Can you imagine any one of them laughing, except over some new form of murder? Think about it—could laughter be the truest sign of holiness?
This month, Rabbi Joshua Yuter joined me as we read chapters 42-44. When we started, Joseph was stuck in jail. By the end of the episode, through some very unlikely dream analysis, Joseph ends up running the show in Egypt. Along the way, Rabbi Yuter and I discussed an Orthodox approach to Biblical criticism, what Pharaoh’s birthday parties must have been like, and alternate analyses of Pharaoh’s dreams.
Here’s my attempt to modernize the interpretation of those dreams:
At that point, people saw dreams as either telling about a thing that had happened, reflecting a thing that’s going on right now, or as predicting the future. And people immediately say “OK what does this dream predict?” Which is not something that we do. Now we tend to think of dreams as reflecting a vulnerability, reflecting our unconscious. So I thought about that and tried to figure out what, if we were to use that kind of analysis, what Pharaoh’s unconscious might be saying.
What was Rabbi Yuter’s analysis? Listen to find out. But not here! Head on over to Jewcy.com to listen there, the ONLY place on the Internet you can get new episodes of OMGWTFBIBLE. Until tomorrow.
Episode 5 guest Esther Werdiger once submitted a whole bunch of cartoons to the New Yorker. It’s true. She did. And then she never heard back. If you know Esther’s style, you know that she usually tells longer, more personal stories. So seeing her try to cram all of that into a single frame is very interesting. You can read them all at The Awl, but this one is my favorite:
If you intend to be out and about in New York City this weekend, you MAY run into some of what many people called “Hasidic Jews.” You’ll recognize these creatures by their ubiquitous black hats, beards, and forelocks. When you see them, you may freeze, unaware how to act among these strange individuals. Never fear! Gothamist has you covered:
[The] Jews have also survived under such difficult circumstances by getting along well with their neighbors, treating them fairly in business, and establishing mutually rewarding personal relationships. Sure, it may take more time for you to make your first Orthodox pal, but if Shmuley Boteach and Cory Booker can be best friends, you can probably get to at least a first name basis with your local Kosher butcher. Try starting with a friendly “Hello! How is the chicken liver today?”
No, but seriously, read the link. It’s actually a pretty thoughtful dive into the history of Orthodox Jews in New York.
You can all rest easy. Finally, finally, an Orthodox Rabbi has declare that marijuana is kosher. Of course, he feels it should only be used to relieve pain, and using it to “escape this world in any excessive way is certainly forbidden.” Well, duh. Nobody should escape the world excessively. Always in moderation.
And, according to Rabbi Efraim Zalmanovich, who made this decree, if you provide cannabis to someone who’s using it to relieve “the pain of being a man” (to quote the late Dr. Johnson), well then that’s a mitzvah. Presumably, if one tunes into Episode 9 right before, that’s a double-mitzvah.
No word yet on whether it’s acceptable to toke up on Tisha B’av.
Well, this definitely isn’t in the Torah. Yesterday, a redditor posted this image of a Chasid wrapped in a plastic bag aboard an airplane. The poster assumed it was to avoid touching women, which while TOTALLY INSANE, is not really that crazy an assumption. Another was quick to point out that this was likely a Kohen (or priest) protecting himself from the impurity he’d pick up from flying 40,000 feet over a cemetary. And that this solution was prescribed by the venerable Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv. OK!
Isn’t kind of a suffocation hazard? What will this dude say when his children start hanging out in plastic bags and tell him “we learned it from watching YOU!”?