Then Moses and the Children of Israel chose to sing this song to Hashem, and they said the following: I shall sing to Hashem for He is exalted above the arrogant, having hurled horse with its rider into the sea.
–Exodus 15:1 Stone Edition Chumash
Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took her drum in her hand and all the women went forth after her with drums and with dances. Miriam spoke up to them, “Sing to Hashem for He is exalted above the arrogant, having hurled horse with its rider into the sea.”
–Exodus 15:20-21 ibid
“How can you sing when my people are dying?”
–Talmud Sanhedrin, 39b
I quoted from today’s Torah Portion and from Talmud as much as a lesson to myself as for others. I’m not speaking so much about celebrating or cheering when our enemies (or people we just don’t like) die, even a very deserving demise. I’m addressing how we cheer when we think we’ve trounced some else’s opinion particularly in the realm of social media including the blogosphere.
Believe me, I’m as guilty of this as anyone else.
But it occurs to me that at some point, when we attempt to champion our own cause at the detriment of someone else’s, we are trying to harm the other person.
Recently on Facebook (clicking that link will take you to an image some would find offensive so choose wisely) I engaged another person, someone in my local community who I used to work with, over the matter of women dressing up in vagina costumes for the national Women’s March of a weekend or two ago. To me, it looked incredibly degrading and seemed to be communicating that these “progressive” and “liberated” women saw themselves as nothing more than their genitals.
I believe they were actually responding to a comment attributed to Donald Trump which he made some years back (and which was recorded) about grabbing women by their “p*ssies which I indeed do find highly offensive.
However, I’m not sure that responding by dressing up as the object of Trump’s interest (as suggested by his comment) is the best way to protest and I said so.
Of course, I was accused of misunderstanding the symbolism involved and maybe even somehow denying these women the right to choose their own symbols.
We went back and forth a few times and then I dropped it (not everyone else did) figuring I’d made my point and people were free to disagree with me.
Did he “win” and I “lose” because I didn’t continue the “battle?” More importantly, if I had continued the exchange and if he became silent, should I have celebrated his “defeat?”
Just so you don’t misunderstand me, I do believe in standing up for morality and I believe vagina costumes and some of the language used by the women and men (yes, some men dressed up for the occasion as well) involved was offensive.
Now I know I can be accused of supporting the “Patriarchy” for that comment, as if I, as a religious male, have some sort of right to control the behavior of women. No, it’s not about control. I don’t “control” the behavior or dress of my wife and daughter (they’d explode if I even tried) and only exercise some control over my granddaughter’s choice of apparel because she’s just two-and-a-half.
Women are free to wear whatever they choose and to behave in any manner they desire (short of breaking the law or otherwise causing harm), but in this nation of free speech rights, I can choose to express my opinion on what I think is acceptable and unacceptable behavior from men and women based on my moral and ethical values. I would also object to men protesting while wearing “penis” hats (my friend said somewhere on Facebook that the Washington Monument is a giant penis symbol which I find kind of ridiculous since not everything that is taller than it is wide is a penis).
If I were a better person, I probably wouldn’t get into these debates at all since long and bitter experience has taught me that they do absolutely no good in changing anyone’s mind.
And yet, if no one objects to offensive and ludicrous imagery and symbolism, that amounts to tacit acceptance and agreement.
How far can we go in objecting before we find ourselves driven to metaphorically “kill” the person with whom we disagree?
For more, read Mrs. Lori Palatnik’s article When Evil Falls. It doesn’t directly address my point, but it is illuminating nonetheless.
Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf made an appearance on evangelist Paula White’s Instagram, much to the chagrin of her followers.
“Little Red Riding Hood with the Big Bad Wolf (emojis)️ #love #marriage #life #fun #makingmemories” the newlywed posted.
The post has more than 1,500 likes and hundreds of comments.
“By dressing up for Satan’s holiday, you are praising him. This is righteous judgment, not pointing a finger. The enemy needs to be exposed openly,” one commenter posted.
Another wrote: “Dressing Up in a Costume…(Costume Parties-Fall Festival-Family Day,…) There is NOTHING WRONG with that…”
The back-and-forth is similar to conversations Christians have had in recent weeks regarding celebrating Halloween.
“Paula White Halloween Photo Stirs Religious Controversy” CharismaNews.com
This morning (Friday as I write this), on our commute into work together, I was talking with my son about how news and social media has seemingly lost their collective minds. It’s like people take offense at just about anything anymore. Further, it looks like our universities are actively teaching young people when, how, and by what they should be offended.
We’re raising a nation of complainers and victims.
I usually leave these sorts of rants to Facebook and for the most part, they go little to nowhere, but then I saw something in my twitter feed, a link to Everything’s A Problem. The specific comment on twitter was that all the members of Monty Python are white and male. I couldn’t find the specific complaint on the “Everything’s” blog, but I found plenty else that sounded just as silly.
At first, I thought it was all parody, but the little articles seemed to lack that kind of “eye twinkle” that tells the reader “I’m being ridiculous to illustrate how complaining about these things is ridiculous” (such as the film The Martian promoting, among other things, colonialism). The Tumblr site appears to be an extreme example of how a certain social and political perspective has turned “majoring in the minors” into a fine and highly prolific art.
But then, I also saw the CharismaNews.com article about Paula White (I had to “Google” her to find out she’s a Christian televangelist) dressing up as Little Red Riding Hood and her husband donning a Wolf costume so they could pose for a photo together and then post it to instagram.
Going back to “Everything’s” for a bit, here are some sample “problematic” complaints.
About Colonizing Mars
Short answer: without a rigorous regimen of social justice, they can’t. Space will be white and male and sexist and probably cisnorm and filled with aliens attempting to gain “dubious consent” (i.e., space rape culture). SMDH [Shaking My Damn Head].
I have to be honest, the most horrifying aspect of this whole Mars obsession is the glorification of colonization. I was “lucky” enough to attend an early screening of “The Martian,” and there’s a minutes-long monologue in which Matt Damon (who is terribly problematic already) goes on and on about how one is technically a “colonizer” after one successfully plants a crop.
AYFKM? This is a good thing? Did Hollywood even think about how this speech would trigger colonized peoples? Does no one out there read Aura Bogado? What is this, the 16th century? Why not just release this movie on Columbus Day while punching an indigenous person in the face? I can’t. I just can’t.
This is so nuts. Some might think it’s silly to suggest that a tossed off line in a novel about the activities of two kids represents massive levels of sexism in society. These people don’t understand that everything must be examined with a critical lens. Problems must be denounced, and harshly.
It’s bad enough that The Martian praises colonialism like it’s a great thing and stars an actor who has Bad Thoughts on diversity and said that it’s hard in Hollywood for gay actors. That it is also an actively sexist production that has no love for lady-geeks is the hardest blow of all. SMDH, The Martian. SMDH. And SMDH at all you lady-nerds who thought this movie was okay after seeing it this weekend. You know who you are.
I give the transgression of having female characters but not having them be female enough or something except when they’re being too female or whatever four problematics.
Some people think it’s cute when people lay in bed with their loved ones, holding each other in their arms. This act is commonly referred to as “spooning.”
Other people—enlightened people—realize that spooning is a deeply problematic way that power structures propagate themselves. Fortunately, such enlightened people are dominant in the media and can explain to us how we should be Good…
Now for the other side of the coin, so to speak. What did some of the readers over at CharismaNews.com have to say about Paula White and her husband?
Umm… Dressing up for Halloween is the least of Paula’s problems. Discerning Christians have seen through Ms. White’s brand of heresy for years now.
I think what is really sad is that there are “Christians” who actually can’t see through her. The lady is not a Christian, folks. Wake up and measure her actions according God’s word. While we are not to judge the world, we are absolutely mean’t to measure those who claim to be one of us by the word of God, and Paula White fails the test (John 10:10-13).
WWJD????? Would JESUS celebrate this worldly pagan holiday? Should Christians celebrate it? It has NOTHING to do with JESUS, nothing do with Christianity. What do right and wrong have in common? What do the saved and the unsaved have in common? Is there anything GODLY about Halloween? What about ghosts, goblins, graveyards, bats, witches and brooms, plus skeletons and tombstones, have to do with anything Christian? GO figure that one out? It’s not just innocent fun. I’m sure many of her supporters are disappointed. The word of GOD says in the last days there will be many false prophets.
Christians (real ones that is) are to be children of the light, and not the dark. There is no light in Halloween. It’s all dark like a chamber, or a dungeon, just dark and black and dreary…
JESUS was the light of the world and we were to imitate JESUS, and not satan.
Some people have no problem with adultery and false teaching. But put on a costume on Halloween, and they go bonkers
And the beat goes on.
I’m not attempting to defend or criticize White and her husband Jonathan Cain, nor making a commentary on Halloween in specific or secular and religious holidays in general (so please don’t start).
I am saying that we’re a complaining lot and being able to blog or comment on news and social media so easily has just made things worse. It used to take some effort to type a Letter to the Editor and then mail it to the local newspaper in the hopes it might actually be printed, but now, anyone can say anything and gain an instant audience.
I did find something enlightening on the web that I’d like to pass along (with the knowledge that I’m obviously not following its sage advice).
“Silence is a fence around wisdom.”
I don’t expect the secular media or those who communicate through it to acknowledge that bit of wisdom, but those of us who call ourselves disciples of Rav Yeshua (Jesus) should hold ourselves to a higher standard. I really don’t care if Paula White or whoever dresses up as a fairy tale character for Halloween or any other day of the year (I wonder what the folks commenting at Charisma News would think of Jewish kids in Israel dressing up in costume and going door-to-door on Purim?).
I did give into temptation and made my own comment in response to the White article:
I never comment here since these discussions are rarely productive, and I had to Google “Paula White” to find out who she is, but with all of the real woes in this world, all of the unanswered prayers that we, as believers, could answer and fulfill (feeding the poor, visiting the sick, pick a need…there are plenty out there), why is Paula White and her husband choosing to dress up in costume an issue? I know I’ll probably get blasted for even asking, but it seems that we Christians are just as guilty of complaining on social media over the tiniest things we find offensive as our atheist counterparts. Perhaps someone should tell us to “get a (Christian) life” and then *do* our faith.
So far, no one has “flamed” me, but I believe it’ll happen fairly soon. Religious people can be a mouthy bunch, and those (including me, alas) who responded to that bit of cheap click bait aren’t living up to the highest standards of our teacher and King.
"When you awake in the morning, learn something to inspire you and mediate upon it, then plunge forward full of light with which to illuminate the darkness." -Rabbi Tzvi Freeman