PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS UNDERMINED THE FUNDAMENTAL VALUES OF OUR NATION

PRESIDENT TRUMP HAS UNDERMINED THE FUNDAMENTAL VALUES OF OUR NATION

By pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Trump has now directly, publicly, and openly undermined the rule of law in the U.S. I strongly suspect the president of financial crimes related to Russia and of possible conspiracy to undermine our electoral process, but there’s not yet sufficient evidence to establish this within a sufficient degree of certainty–at least for me at this time. I also question the president’s mental competence to execute his duties, but I don’t know for sure. With the pardon of Arpaio, Trump has essentially given a middle finger to the judicial process and said that criminals can violate the law with impunity as long as they back him before they have served any time at all and before they have even apologized or asked for forgiveness. It also says to racists and xenophobes that the president has their back. This is shameful and a scandal. It undermines our Constitution and therefore violates the president’s oath of office. It promotes a culture of chaos and lawlessness.

Will most Republican politicians do anything? No. They will stand in silence while the president tears down our country so that they can avoid alienating their racist and xenophobic base that might rise up and defeat them in a primary. They too are failing our nation by serving as bystanders to evil. Senator McCain has criticized the pardon, but he also mitigated his criticism by defending the president’s right to pardon. In other words, McCain isn’t likely to defend our Constitution at a time of crisis–let’s hope I’m wrong about that. Republican politicians need to get off their butts and act in defense of our country, whatever the political consequences. This is not a game, but about leadership and courage and the future of a nation that calls itself “the leader of the free world.” Is that the truth or a lie?

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Demonstration of Solidarity of Christians and Jews at Temple Adath Israel: Friday, August 18, 2017

Thanks to support from our Christian friends for the Jewish community on Friday. With me is Rev. Marsha Charles who helped to organize this demonstration of solidarity at Temple Adath Israel. She is a mensch and my former student at Lexington Theological Seminary!

 

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Elie Wiesel: Neutrality

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Elie Wiesel

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Protests Against Trump: A Response

THE PROTESTS AGAINST TRUMP

A friend who was a Hillary supporter recently criticized protesters in our county, saying that we would have criticized Trump supporters if they had done this. Here was my response:

——————-

Look, I’m not out there, and I’m keeping an open mind. Nobody really knows what Trump will do. But, for young people, Muslims, Latinos, and women especially, Trump’s words are real and threatening. That’s all we have to go by.

Young people in particular do not understand how someone can win the popular vote and lose an election. It seems undemocratic, and indeed it is. This is the second time in twenty years this has happened, and many feel disenfranchised. These kind of events where the majority loses strike at the heart of our democratic system and persuade many that this is no longer a free society.

I realize from a political point of view, demonstrating at this time may not be a smart move. I get that.

Yet, a man who threatens to deport an entire population of people and to ban an entire religion from this country is not someone we should ignore. This is a man who promised to torture people and to murder families of alleged terrorists. He recently mocked Somali immigrants in Minneapolis and has made fun of the disabled more than once. He is a self-admitted sexual predator, and many women have come forward to confirm this. His closing advertisement targeted Jews as part of a global economic conspiracy.

Bystanders have not been moral actors in the past. History has taught us that, when politicians make horrifying statements and threats, we should believe them until proven otherwise.

I still hope and would not be shocked to see Trump change. Rhetoric is one thing, action another. But, as a member of a family and a group affected by murder and torture in the holocaust, I’ll be damned if I would expect others to sit down and be silent in the face of hatred. That never works, and it never will. The only chance for Trump to change is to make known to him and his supporters that words have consequences and that we will resist evil when necessary.

This is not merely a political contest between two candidates and political parties. It represents a clash of worldviews, one of which expresses a group (white people, especially those less educated) that feels victimized and has decided to victimize others. This is serious and not a “normal” moment in American history and politics. It’s a visceral threat to many and potentially strikes at the core of freedom and democracy.

Maybe this is not the best political thing to do right now, and I’m not participating (yet), but it is understandable and justifiable given the raging hatred and threats that Trump spewed in this campaign.

Maybe we should all chill and not criticize those who are rightfully frightened.

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Comey Second Letter: The Fog Finally Lifts

COMEY SECOND LETTER: THE FOG FINALLY LIFTS
This reminds me of the battle of the Bulge when the fog prevented air support for the Allied troops in mid-December, 1944. It was a cold, shivering, grim, wet, bloody battle with heavy losses and countless tragic moments. I know many were scarred for life from the viciousness of the fighting with close to 200,000 lives lost on both sides. At Bastogne, the Germans surrounded 20,000 Allied troops who were ready for a massacre. When the Germans asked the Allies to surrender, Major-General Anthony McCauliffe replied, “Nuts.” But eventually near Christmas, 1944, the fog lifted and the planes and bombers arrived to helped Allied troops evict the Germans from their positions with a great victory in the Ardennes offensive.
 
Now the fog has lifted in this election, and the sun shines through the clouds. We just need to get out of our trenches, move forward, and not look back. The end of the battle is at hand. Evil is on the run.
 
This is not a normal election. Trump is not a normal candidate. We all need to stand together, from all parties and points of view, and reject hatred, bigotry, violence, divisiveness, dictatorship, and demagoguery. Trump’s nomination is a shame and a stain on America. Let us do what we can to remove it and stop ourselves from committing national suicide. Finally, the light has returned, and we are on the offense and moving fast against dark forces.
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TRUMP, HITLER, AND THE RETURN OF FASCISM

TRUMP, HITLER, AND THE RETURN OF FASCISM

Laurence H. Kant

 

Many, including Melania Trump, have assured us that Donald isn’t Hitler. Some commentators object to the comparison outright; others simply bleat the equivalence hysterically, without further explanation. All should contend with the evidence:

 

  • Trump’s tweeting a Mussolini quotation and retweeting neo-Nazis, white supremacists;
  • Trump’s belated (and weak) disavowal of David Duke and the KKK;
  • Trump’s refusal to condemn or even rebuke Jew-hating tirades—including death threats and concentration camp oven imagery—against Jewish journalists who’ve criticized   him (Bethany Mandel, Ben Shapiro, and Jonathan Weisman);
  • Official association of Trump’s campaign with white supremacists and neo-Nazis, giving talk-show host, James Edwards, a VIP press parking space and interview with Donald Trump, Jr. at a Memphis rally, and designating William Johnson a California Trump delegate to the Republican convention;
  • Ivana Trump’s Vanity Fair statement (1990) that her husband kept a copy of Hitler’s collected speeches, “My New Order,” in his bedside cabinet (which Trump acknowledged);
  • The right-arm salute Trump invokes at his rallies, recalling the Nazi salute (some dispute this, but, given his media skills, it’s safe to assume that Trump knows the symbolic effect of every image he uses);
  • Trump’s use of “America First,” alluding to an isolationist, early-40’s U.S. movement that was rife with Jew hatred and called for negotiations with Hitler;
  • Trump’s October 13 speech that refers to international bankers, media, and global elites that allegedly strip the U.S. of its rightful power—a trope that recalls the classic Jew-hating screed, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” , and has numerous and widespread parallels in other Jew-hating rhetoric as well;

 

Does anyone really believe that this self-described “really smart” Wharton grad draws on the Nazi tradition of political rhetoric, symbolism, and ethnic/racial scapegoating unawares?

The onus should be on those who deny the obvious connections to explain in detail why they’re not relevant.

Countless other items of evidence connect Trump to fascism more generally:

 

  • Using threatening gestures, encouraging supporters to beat up protesters and intimidate critics;
  • Forecasting (and encouraging) “riots” at the Republican convention;
  • Calling reporters “scum” and implicitly threatening them, and barring major media organizations (left and right) from his campaign events;
  • Calling to change libel/slander laws to curb criticism of public figures;
  • Demonizing ethnic groups: labeling Mexicans “rapists” and “drug addicts,” calling for mass deportation of 11 million undocumented aliens, advocating a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., and demanding the recusal of a judge as biased and unqualified because of his ethnic heritage;
  • Targeting the disabled by mocking the arm and facial movements of New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski;
  • Praising dictators, including North Korean Kim Jong-un, for murdering potential  enemies; Chinese rulers, for cracking down on Tiananmen Square protesters; and Vladimir Putin for being “a leader’’;
  • Openly and frequently calling for the jailing of his political opponent, Hillary Clinton—this happens as a matter of course in totalitarian societies from the Congo to Cuba to North Korea;

 

No, Trump doesn’t outline a genocidal philosophy or well-thought-out plans to implement discrimination—what coherent policy strategy has he ever enunciated?—but he is aware of Hitler and Mussolini and riffs off of them. He knows who they are and borrows their ideas—most notably the use of intimidation and violence to acquire political power.

Does this make him more like a third-world dictator (Marco Rubio’s assessment)? Would Mussolini serve as a better comparison than Hitler? Silvio Berlusconi?

We don’t know what he sincerely believes, but does that really matter? We can only judge him by his words, his actions, and what he promotes.

We d­­­on’t know what Trump would actually do if elected president. Given the American system of checks and balances, his attempt at authoritarian rule would likely be limited by the realities of governance. Yet, is that a risk worth taking?

Why don’t commentators address the specific evidence instead of asserting that Trump isn’t Hitler? Many in the press minimize the Trump phenomenon by laughing off his words or by rationalizing the crazy stuff he does. The reason is clear: because the evidence is so troubling and disturbing, and the implications so appalling, that they would rather it simply go away.

If we’ve learned anything from the holocaust, it’s that we can’t take on the role of bystanders and let troubling events transpire by ignoring or glossing over them.

Too frequently in the past, politicians and commentators trivially compared political adversaries to Hitler and the Nazis, leading to what many call “Godwin’s law”: the inevitable invocation of Hitler or Nazis to refute an argument. Neither mindless name-calling nor willful ignorance force us to face the facts before us.

The facts are clear: Trump uses language, images, and tactics that directly recall those of the Nazis and Hitler, along with other fascists. To allow him to speak destructively by incorporating this pernicious tradition and to permit him to encourage violence without calling him to meaningful account does nothing more than offer him a media get-out-of-jail free card. It amounts to an abdication of the sacred responsibility the founders gave the press in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. Who is willing to stand up and be counted?

 

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Donald Trump: “BECAUSE YOU’D BE IN JAIL” (to Hillary Clinton)

Donald Trump: “BECAUSE YOU’D BE IN JAIL” (to Hillary Clinton).
 
These are the words of a dictator, a fascist, a tin-pot demagogue, not someone who aspires to lead a great country. If one candidate said this about another in another country, we would condemn that process as undemocratic, as would Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others. I would expect to hear something like this in North Korea or Uganda, not a democratic nation leading the free world. And to start the evening with a circus show of women accusing Bill Clinton of sex abuse (which was fully litigated almost twenty years ago and found to have no legal substance by Ken Starr of all people) recalls tactics used by authoritarian leaders of third-world nations who have no interest in democracy or free speech or freedom of the press or freedom of religion. It was a disgusting remark that everyone who cares about our country should condemn.
 
Unfortunately, it was not the only disgusting remark in this appalling spectacle that has lowered political discourse in ways I have never seen. We now have a self-admitted sexual predator running on a major party ticket for president of the U.S.A. who also stands opposed to the democratic values that undergird our government and political process. Sadly at least 35-40% of our population seems to think that’s all right. We can get through this, but we have serious problems to address even if Hillary wins convincingly.
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The Press, the Storyline, and Politics USA

This comment by Belichick says it all about the press and how utterly dense and clueless they can be. All the reporter is interested in is what the STORYLINE is about their quarterback (Jimmy Garropolo), but all Belichick is interested in is getting his work done.
 
And that’s exactly what’s happening with Hillary Clinton and the presidential election. The media is in a frenzy about her health and pneumonia, because they need a STORYLINE to take down the front runner and because they want to equalize the two candidates as if they are both legitimate contenders for the presidency in order to create a horserace to attract more advertisers and readers. That’s their story and they’re sticking with it no matter what.
 
I remember Joe Friday in Dragnet: “Just the facts.” For the media, it’s “Just the storyline.”
 
This is the sad state of affairs that currently passes for the press and media in the U.S.
 
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Hillary, Pneumonia, and Me

PNEUMONIA, HILLARY, AND ME

In late 2012 I had pneumonia, and I waited and waited to see the doctor–mainly because I didn’t know what the cause of my illness was. Finally I got so sick (high temp), was wheezing so much, and was throwing up a lot (which is not typical of pneumonia) that I had Dianne drive me to an urgent care treatment center here in Lexington (KY). I got out of the car while Dianne went to park it. I was so out of it that I walked into the wrong office–a nail salon where the employees spoke no English, and I tried to communicate with them in my somewhat delirious state. Finally I figured out what was going on and walked into the right office. I could barely sign the intake form and finally shakily headed off to the doctor who suggested I get a chest x-ray. I remember sitting in the x-ray room and going into a dream state where I was convinced that what I was dreaming was actually happening. Then the x-ray tech came in, told me put on the x-ray-proof vest, and stand beside a wall to get my x-ray taken. I told her I was feeling nauseated, and she told me that, if I threw up, please do it in the trashcan beside me. I remember looking inside the can and feeling disgusted that I would have to throw up in it.

The next thing I remember was waking up on a gurney surrounded by EMTs with all sorts of stuff attached to me. They were worried I was having a heart attack and doing an EKG (among other things), I said I was fine and felt rested because I had napped a bit. They were giving me intravenous fluids and told me that I had fainted, and they had put me on the gurney. They said I would have to go to the hospital by ambulance, I asked that they let Dianne drive me, but they were adamant. And I ended up at Central Baptist, where they x-rayed me finally, and I was found to have a relatively low-grade case of pneumonia. Apparently I was so dehydrated and wiped out that I had fainted.

Now we have the Hillary episode and the great drama that has ensued in its wake. Yet, all the huffers and puffers seem to have forgotten that pneumonia can make anyone faint and cough a lot, including teenagers. I’m sure that Hillary had no idea how serious what she had was and was just trying to keep her schedule.

And yet the media goes nuts, trying to imply that Hillary has some kind of mysterious disease or that she is hiding a secret health disorder. They are busy criticizing her for her lack of transparency. Say what?

Look I know Hillary has weaknesses as a candidate and does not always interact sufficiently with the press. Yet, the media and the pundits are way off base here. If anything, this incident makes me admire Hillary even more. As far as I’m concerned she’s a hero, a kind of political Wonder Woman, When I had pneumonia, I could barely move, except to engage with the toilet. Now here you have Hillary sitting and speaking at an emotional 9/11 event after having kept a schedule that almost no one could imagine keeping even with normal health.

I cannot think of a time where the media has seemed more pathetic and sexist, busily trying to equalize the two presidential candidates, as if they are both legitimate in their quest for the presidency.

No, Trump is not a legitimate candidate. He is a mentally ill fascist demagogue and con-man who cheats and lies almost every minute of the day and who appeals to hatred and bigotry to get the votes of those whose fears and dark sides have gotten the better of them.

On the other hand, Hillary works her butt off every day trying to make a difference in the world, and she gets smoked for it.

Now we have a woman who exemplifies what hard-working women have generally always done: Keep going and getting the job done no matter how they feel. That’s what makes Hillary a role model here. And I’m embarrassed by a press whose capacity to sink to new lows knows no apparent bounds.

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Workshop in Lexington: “Reading the Bible Mystically”: Dr. Laurence H. Kant: Fall Series: Sunday, November 8, 2-5 pm

Reading the Bible Mystically continues on Sunday, November 8, 2-5 p.m., at 131 Jesselin Drive. Everyone is welcome, whether or not you were able to attend prior sessions. This time we will discuss Genesis 4, the story of Cain and Abel (see some of the question topics below).
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READING THE BIBLE MYSTICALLY: Fall Series
Dr. Laurence H. Kant, Historian of Religion (Ph.D., Yale University, 1993)
November 8, 2015, 2-5 p.m.
Location: 131 Jesselin Drive, Lexington, KY  40503

Everyone comes to the Bible with different perspectives. Lay people appeal to tradition, practice, belief, social justice, evangelism, literal interpretation, and opposition or apathy to religion. Scholars interpret the Bible from their own angles: history, literature, sources, language, theology, and archaeology. No one perspective, however, can encompass and fully explain biblical texts.

For me, a mystical approach to biblical interpretation entails the discovery and creation of profound meaning in the text. Integrative in nature, it uses a variety of perspectives to understand the contexts and multiple (often ambiguous and sometimes conflicting) meanings of passages. We start from the ground up, beginning with small details (word-by-word and even letter-by-letter) as we move through sentences and stories toward apparently hidden and esoteric readings. Usually what we regard as secret or mystical lies in open sight, but seeing it demands close attention and far-reaching awareness of all sorts.

We will spend the bulk of our time this session engaging the text, particularly Genesis 4, the story of Cain and Abel, and ponder some challenging questions: What happens to first-born children in Genesis? Why? Why did God prefer Abel’s offering to Cain’s? How would you describe God’s treatment of Cain? Why did Cain choose to bring Abel to a field to kill him? Why did Cain kill Abel? What is murder? What do life and death mean to those who have never experienced death? What does it mean to be a wanderer? What is the mark of Cain? What does it mean that Cain and Cain’s descendants built cities, played lyres and pipes, and made tools of copper and iron? Who are the descendants of Cain? Who are the descendants of Seth and Enosh? If we have time, we will also consider Genesis 5-6:1-4.

No previous background is necessary. Mutual respect is assumed in an atmosphere open to all spiritual, religious, and non-religious points of view.

Our next date for the Fall Series is Sunday, December 13, 2-5 pm.

The cost of the workshop is $35.00 per person (cash, or check made out to “Mystic Scholar, LLC”), Reserve a place by emailing Dr. Kant at dblk2@qx.net (with “Mystic Scholar” in the subject line). Payment may be made at the door before the workshop. Please read Genesis 4-6:1-4 beforehand. For further information on the presenter, see the attached CV and bio, as well as the brochure with photos.

Dr. Laurence H. Kant
dblk2@qx.net
859-278-3042
http://mysticscholar.org

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Workshop in Lexington: “Reading the Bible Mystically”: Dr. Laurence H. Kant: Fall Series: Sunday, October 11, 2-5 pm

Reading the Bible Mystically continues on Sunday, October 11, 2-5 p.m., at 131 Jesselin Drive. Everyone is welcome, whether or not you were able to attend prior sessions. This time we will discuss Genesis 3: the story of creation, human origins, the quest for knowledge and wisdom, disobedience and deception, frailty and strength, gender symbolism, and the banishment from Eden.

—————–


READING THE BIBLE MYSTICALLY: Fall Series
Dr. Laurence H. Kant, Historian of Religion (Ph.D., Yale University, 1993)
October 11, 2015, 2-5 p.m.
Location: 131 Jesselin Drive, Lexington, KY  40503

Everyone comes to the Bible with different perspectives. Lay people appeal to tradition, practice, belief, social justice, evangelism, literal interpretation, and opposition or apathy to religion. Scholars interpret the Bible from their own angles: history, literature, sources, language, theology, and archaeology. No one perspective, however, can encompass and fully explain biblical texts.

For me, a mystical approach to biblical interpretation entails the discovery and creation of profound meaning in the text. Integrative in nature, it uses a variety of perspectives to understand the contexts and multiple (often ambiguous and sometimes conflicting) meanings of passages. We start from the ground up, beginning with small details (word-by-word and even letter-by-letter) as we move through sentences and stories toward apparently hidden and esoteric readings. Usually what we regard as secret or mystical lies in open sight, but seeing it demands close attention and far-reaching awareness of all sorts.

We will spend the bulk of our time this session engaging the text, particularly Genesis 3, and discussing its use in constructing meaning for our lives. We will explore the story of creation, human origins, the quest for knowledge and wisdom, the consequences of disobedience and deception, frailty and strength, gender symbolism, and the banishment from Eden. No previous background is necessary. Mutual respect is assumed in an atmosphere open to all spiritual, religious, and non-religious points of view.

Upcoming dates in this series are as follows (at the same time from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday afternoons): October 11, November 8, and  December 13.

The cost of the workshop is $35.00 per person (cash, or check made out to “Mystic Scholar, LLC”), Reserve a place by emailing Dr. Kant at dblk2@qx.net (with “Mystic Scholar” in the subject line). Payment may be made at the door before the workshop. Please read Genesis 1 and 2 beforehand. For further information on the presenter, see the attached CV and bio, as well as the brochure with photos.

Dr. Laurence H. Kant
dblk2@qx.net
859-278-3042
http://mysticscholar.org

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Reading the Bible Mystically: Fall Series: Dr. Laurence H. Kant

Reading the Bible Mystically continues on Sunday, September 20, 2-5 p.m. at 131 Jesselin Drive. Everyone is welcome, whether or not you were able to attend the prior introductory workshops. This time we will discuss Genesis 2 and its relation to Genesis 1.

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READING THE BIBLE MYSTICALLY: Fall Series

Dr. Laurence H. Kant, Historian of Religion (Ph.D., Yale University, 1993)
September 20, 2015, 2-5 p.m.
Location: 131 Jesselin Drive, Lexington, KY  40503

Everyone comes to the Bible with different perspectives. Lay people appeal to tradition, practice, belief, social justice, evangelism, literal interpretation, and opposition or apathy to religion. Scholars interpret the Bible from their own angles: history, literature, sources, language, theology, and archaeology. No one perspective, however, can encompass and fully explain biblical texts.

For me, a mystical approach to biblical interpretation entails the discovery and creation of profound meaning in the text. Integrative in nature, it uses a variety of perspectives to understand the contexts and multiple (often ambiguous and sometimes conflicting) meanings of passages. We start from the ground up, beginning with small details (word-by-word and even letter-by-letter) as we move through sentences and stories toward apparently hidden and esoteric readings. Usually what we regard as secret or mystical lies in open sight, but seeing it demands close attention and far-reaching awareness of all sorts.

We will spend the bulk of our time this session engaging the text, particularly Genesis 2, and discussing its use in constructing meaning for our lives. No previous background is necessary. Mutual respect is assumed in an atmosphere open to all spiritual, religious, and non-religious points of view.

Upcoming dates in this series are as follows (at the same time from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, location to be announced): October 11, November 8, and  December 13.

The cost of the workshop is $35.00 per person (cash, or check made out to “Mystic Scholar, LLC”), Reserve a place by emailing Dr. Kant at dblk2@qx.net (with “Mystic Scholar” in the subject line). Payment may be made at the door before the workshop. Please read Genesis 1 and 2 beforehand. For further information on the presenter, see the attached CV and bio, as well as the brochure with photos.

 

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dblk2@qx.net
859-278-3042
http://mysticscholar.org

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Workshop in Lexington: “Reading the Bible Mystically”: Dr. Laurence H. Kant

READING THE BIBLE MYSTICALLY: An Introductory Workshop
Dr. Laurence H. Kant, Historian of Religion (Ph.D., Yale University, 1993)
August 30, 2015, Sunday, 2:00-5:00 p.m.: Encore class
Location: 131 Jesselin Drive, Lexington, KY  40503

Everyone comes to the Bible with different perspectives. Lay people appeal to tradition, practice, belief, social justice, evangelism, literal interpretation, and opposition or apathy to religion. Scholars interpret the Bible from their own angles: history, literature, sources, language, theology, and archaeology. No one perspective, however, can encompass and explain biblical texts.

For me, a mystical approach to biblical interpretation entails the discovery and creation of profound meaning in the text. Integrative in nature, it uses a variety of perspectives to understand the contexts and multiple (often ambiguous and conflicting) meanings of passages. We start from the ground up, beginning with small details (word-by-word and even letter-by-letter) as we move through sentences and stories toward apparently hidden and esoteric readings. Usually what we regard as secret or mystical lies in open sight, but seeing it demands close attention and far-reaching awareness of all sorts.

We will initially have a brief review of some basic Hebrew Bible background, including chronology, history, the source hypothesis, and language issues. We will follow this up with a short discussion of how Jews, Christians, and Muslims, as well as non-believers, non-affiliated, and spiritual-but-not-religious, view the Bible. Then we will spend the bulk of our time engaging the text, particularly Genesis 1, and discuss its use in constructing meaning for our lives. No previous background is necessary. Mutual respect is assumed in an atmosphere open to all spiritual, religious, and non-religious points of view.

The workshop is part of a larger series that continues in the Fall. Upcoming dates are as follows (at the same time from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, location to be announced): September 20, October 11, November 8, and  December 13.

The cost of the workshop is $35.00 per person (cash, or check made out to “Mystic Scholar, LLC”), Reserve a place by emailing Dr. Kant at dblk2@qx.net (with “Mystic Scholar” in the subject line). Payment may be made at the door before the workshop. Please read Genesis 1 and 2 beforehand. For further information on the presenter, see the attached CV and bio, as well as the brochure with photos, below.

Dr. Laurence H. Kant
dblk2@qx.net
859-278-3042

 

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Yes, Charleston Mass Murderer is a “Terrorist”

CharlestonTerrorist1

If we can’t apply the words, “terrorist” and “terrorism,” to this this situation, then they have no meaning, and we ought to stop using them. When someone from the Middle East (or sympathetic to someone in the Middle East) murders in the name of a political agenda, we don’t hesitate to call it terrorism–which it is, of course. When African Americans protest in Baltimore, we call them “thugs.” However, when white people murder African Americans. or when those opposed to abortion murder doctors at clinics, or when anti-government tax protesters kill government officials, the media sympathize with them and label them “mentally ill.” I suspect that the media would not be so sympathetic if an African American had done this in a white church. I’ll bet that the police would have killed such a person immediately on sight, and I can only imagine the horrible words the media would use to label then.

Look, I have no doubt that many of the people engaged in such violent activities are mentally ill (though most of them probably are legally competent to stand trial), but why is it we’re ready to label a white Christian person so quickly that way, but anyone else gets hammered?

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/06/19/refusal-call-charleston-shootings-terrorism-shows-meaningless-propaganda-term/

 

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Workshop: “Reading the Bible Mystically”

READING THE BIBLE MYSTICALLY: An Introductory Workshop
Dr. Laurence H. Kant, Historian of Religion (Ph.D., Yale University, 1993)
June 14, 2015, Sunday, 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Full Circle Massage School: 465 EAST HIGH STREET, Suite 110, Lexington, KY  40507 (Please note that the correct address 465 East High Street)

Everyone comes to the Bible with different perspectives. Lay people appeal to tradition, practice, belief, social justice, evangelism, literal interpretation, and opposition or apathy to religion. Scholars interpret the Bible from their own angles: history, literature, sources, language, theology, and archaeology. No one perspective, however, can encompass and explain biblical texts.

For me, a mystical approach to biblical interpretation entails the discovery and creation of profound meaning in the text. Integrative in nature, it uses a variety of perspectives to understand the contexts and multiple (often ambiguous and conflicting) meanings of passages. We start from the ground up, beginning with small details (word-by-word and even letter-by-letter) as we move through sentences and stories toward apparently hidden and esoteric readings. Usually what we regard as secret or mystical lies in open sight, but seeing it demands close attention and far-reaching awareness of all sorts.

We will initially have a brief review of some basic Hebrew Bible background, including chronology, history, the source hypothesis, and language issues. We will follow this up with a short discussion of how Jews, Christians, Muslims, as well as non-believers, non-affiliated, and spiritual-but-not-religious, view the Bible. Then we will spend the bulk of our time engaging the text, particularly Genesis 1, and discuss its use in constructing meaning for our lives. No previous background is necessary. Mutual respect is assumed in an atmosphere open to all spiritual, religious, and non-religious points of view.

The workshop is part of a larger series that continues in the Fall (September-October). Dates and times will be announced. There is a limit of 24 people for the June 14 session. If significantly more than 24 sign up, I will hold a repeat session at a later date.

The cost of the workshop is $35.00 per person (cash, or check made out to “Mystic Scholar, LLC”), Reserve a place by emailing Dr. Kant at dblk2@qx.net (with “Mystic Scholar” in the subject line). Payment may be made at the door before the workshop. Please read Genesis 1 beforehand. For further information on the presenter, see the attached CV and bio, as well as the brochure with photos.

Dr. Laurence H. Kant, Historian of Religion (Ph.D., Yale University, 1993)

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Israeli Governing Coalition Likely to Have 1-Vote Majority

Barring a unity government (which the Zionist Union under Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni have thus far resisted) or the sudden withdrawal of Bayit Yehudi (Naftali Bennett = the religious settlers’ party), there will be a coalition government of 61 MKs out of 120. This gives a 1-vote majority to the coalition and is a recipe for political instability and possible new elections. [MK = “Member of the Knesset]

Avigdor Lieberman and Yisrael Beteynu made this possible when they opted out of the government for a variety of reasons (see my post from a couple of days ago: See http://mysticscholar.org/lieberman-and-yisrael-beteinu-out-of-israel-government/

Essentially one member of the Knesset can bring down the government. One member can sit out a vote to prevent legislation from passing. One member can exact retribution on political rivals by voting one way unexpectedly or by abstaining. If someone wakes up in the morning on the wrong side of the bed, that MK can simply gum up the wheels of the government. One member can basically do anything he or she wants. It’s a level of political chaos, which even for Israelis is quite extraordinary. I have no idea how much can get done under these circumstances, unless a military crisis compels unity of some sort.

In Israel, they have nicknamed this potential government: “EVERY BASTARD IS A KING.”

For the moment, there will probably not be new elections, simply because the politicians and the voters are exhausted by the previous campaign. No one apparently wants to face an election right way. That will likely change in short order, however, once the political circus again enters into full season.

Israelis are famously tough and resilient in these kind of circumstances. They will have to use every bit of that ingenuity to keep this government afloat for an extended period of time.

Anybody out there have ideas about how all this is likely to play out?

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Lieberman and Yisrael Beteinu out of Israel Government

Uh-ho. It’s possible for Likud/Netanyahu to form a government with 61 MKs out of 120, but that would produce an extremely unstable government. All it would take is one member to bring down the entire government.

This may force Netanyahu to broaden the government to include the Zionist Union (Isaac Herzog/Tzipi Livni) or Lapid’s Yesh Atid. Otherwise, the current constellation of partners would be almost ungovernable. Good luck to a coalition with a 1-vote majority.

It’s well-known that Lieberman dislikes Netanyahu–both personally and politically. He doesn’t trust him, believes him to be opportunistic, and thinks he breaks his word (this is a common complaint even among many Likud members, as well as among Netanyahu’s political opponents). Lieberman also is upset about the Supreme Court, which he wants to diminish in power, but Moshe Kahlon/Kulanu is totally opposed to doing this–and Netanyahu can’t govern without Kulanu. And Lieberman wants pro-Jewish nation state legislation, but Kahlon/Kulanu also opposes that. Further, Lieberman thinks that Netanyahu is soft on Hamas (he wanted him to destroy Hamas in the last Gaza war), though at the same time is more supportive of negotiations with the Palestinians than Netanyahu–a paradox, reflective of Israel’s complex fault lines. And finally Lieberman strongly dislikes the ultra-Orthodox and wants a more secular government–for example on issues of civil marriage and not allowing the ultra-Orthodox to absent themselves from the military. This mirrors his own secular supporters.

I have no idea what will happen, but this does indicate the tremendous complexity of Israeli politics and society and the ideological divisions among Israeli voters.

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http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4653645,00.html

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“Selma,” Film Criticism, History, and Racism

Radio show host Limbaugh speaks at a forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington

Here’s my take. Much of the criticism of “Selma” is accurate. However, why is there so much criticism of “Selma,” but not of other Hollywood historical films? it’s not the substance of the criticism which I find problematic, but the ferocity and amount of it.

From what I know, LBJ and King were partners in the civil rights process, but that relationship later fell apart over the Vietnam War. I’m sure that King was pushing harder for the Voting Rights Act than Johnson, but the dynamic was a lot more subtle than “Selma” shows. I also did not find Tom Wilkinson’s portrayal of Johnson at all convincing. It just didn’t ring right for me. Personally, I was particulary bothered by the absence of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who was replaced by a Greek Orthodox figure. This photo of King and Heschel from the Selma march is iconic, and one has to wonder what was the motive for air-brushing out a prominent Jewish activist. Does this say something about current Jewish-Christian and African-American-Jewish relations? Was this an attempt at Christianizing a more diverse event? Is this about Israel? Or is there something else going on, some kind of Hollywood soap opera? Anyway, I think it’s fair to say that many Jews were saddened by this.

That said, “Selma” was a powerful film with brilliant portrayals of Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King. It shows a flawed hero and the importance of community activism. King did not come out of nowhere, but emerges out of a broad movement (which also includes women).

Where was the same criticism of “Lincoln,” which edited out the prominent role of Frederick Douglas? More recently, the “Imitation Game” played fast and loose with the story of Alan Turing. Turing was not as difficult and rude a person as Cumberbatch portrays (though I thought his portrayal was nevertheless also brilliant). The Turing machine was much smaller than the one depicted. There were others that worked on this project before Turing, particularly Polish mathematicians (never once mentioned). And the depiction of Commander Denniston as a hectoring, bureaucratic bully is not accurate either (thanks to Dianne Bazell for this info).

Ben Affleck’s “Argo” won an Oscar for best picture in 2013, and yet the entire film was essentially a fiction that had little to do with the historical event depicted with Iran and the Khomeini revolution. “Argo” makes “Selma,” “Lincoln,” and “imitation Game” look like milquetoast documentaries (which I realize is unfair to documentaries–a genre that I love). Looking at “Argo” is no better than watching “Quo Vadis” in order to understand the historical Roman world and early Christianity. I noted this in an essay on my blog in 2013, and there were others who did so as well, but the bigger-click oped writers carried the day: and they loved “Argo.” There was very little prominent or strong criticism of “Argo.”

Why do “Argo” and others get of the hook, while “Selma” receives such deep historical analysis? Why didn’t David Oyelowo and Carmen Ejogo receive Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Best Actress?

I think the answer is clear. There is an element of prejudice and racism in the focus on “Selma.” Critics (particularly white liberal critics) are much more defensive of “Selma,” because they feel a personal connection to the event which is not the case with most other films. And they feel hurt and slighted, because they feel lumped together with LBJ as resistant to civil rights progress.

I have never understood why drama and historical accuracy have to be opposed to be one another, but that is the way Hollywood screenwriters, directors, and producers seem to view the matter. That is the reality of these films. Critics, who know this full well, have to be consistent in their critiques. If you criticize historical inaccuracies, then you should do it consistently. Don’t lower the boom on one film, while letting the others slip through the cracks. If you do, be prepared for the return volleys that you will inevitably receive from the other side. This is rightfully so.

 

http://www.salon.com/2015/01/21/maureen_dowds_clueless_white_gaze_whats_really_behind_the_selma_backlash/

 

Addendum:I keep looking at the thumbnail photo accompanying, and I just can’t it out of my mind how Heschel is air-brushed out. I still find “Selma” a superb film, but this erasure saddens me deeply. So here’s the original photo:

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Charlie Hebdo and the Comic Tradition

CHARLIE HEBDO AND THE COMIC TRADITION

I’ve read and watched an awful lot of news analysis of Charlie Hebdo, but rarely do pundits mention some of the salient facts about what Charlie Hebdo actually does and about the tradition of satire:

1) Charlie Hebdo mocks all three Abrahamic religions, not just Islam, and it does so offensively with no special favorites, but Jews and Christians do not attack and demonize Charlie Hebdo;

2) The tradition of satire and caricatures or religion in France is very old going, back to at least the French Revolution, and is tied to the deep distrust of religious institutions (the Catholic Church primarily) that was closely linked to the royal dictatorship that crushed economic, social, and political freedoms in France;

3) Charlie Hebdo does not only mock religion; it mocks other institutions and prominent public figures;

4) Charlie Hebdo is a part of a tradition of offensive satire that goes back to ancient Greek comedy. It includes writers such as Aristophanes whom many profess to love (mainly because they don’t understand, or care about, the ancient references). However, if Aristophanes were alive today, he would probably engender hatred among the people he would gleefully pillory and mock.

5) Commentators are shocked by all the sexual references in Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons. However, ancient comedy (and drama), which is the literary predecessor of Charlie Hebdo, was associated with phallus processions, accompanied by obscenities and verbal abuse.

So what some consider juvenile, stupid, and offensive in Charlie Hebdo has roots in literature and dramatic traditions that we profess to admire and call “classic.” We in the U.S. live in a culture that is still relatively Puritanical in its approach to public sexuality, and that is coming out in the U.S. media coverage.

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Avigdor Lieberman Promotes Peace Deal and Lashes out at Netanyahu

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To say the least, Lieberman’s comments are significant. Overnight they change the electoral landscape of Israel.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.633470

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The Bearded One

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Here are photos of me back when I was a Fellow of the American Academy of Rome in 1986-88. Those of you who know me now may react with some surprise.

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More Photos of My Mother, Charlotte “Lotte” Kaplan, c. 1948

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The Kastonowicz Family c. 1900 in Pinsk, Belarus

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These are photos of my maternal family, the Kastonowiczs, c. 1900 in Pinsk, Belarus. The first photo from left to right: My great-grandmother, Rivka; Uncle Joe; Uncle Oscar; and my great-grandfather, Ya’akov. Uncle Oscar was a wonderful human being, beloved in our family.

I don’t know the names of the children in the second photo: on the far left is my Aunt Bunya (murdered in 1943 in Bobruysk by the Nazis in the Holocaust); the older man on the left is my great-grandfather, Ya’akov. Sitting to his left (our right) is my great-grandmother, Rivka; standing in the center is my grandmother, Leah. Of the four children, I would assume that one or two were murdered by the Nazis in Pinsk, but I’m not certain about that. At least one survived. There were others probably murdered as well (not all born yet presumably), but names and numbers are unclear.

Bunya attempted to come to this country in 1920, but was rejected by the Immigration Service at Ellis Island because of Red Eye (conjuncitivitis). She went back to Pinsk and Bobruysk in Belarus. Afterwards her husband followed her, because he could not live without her. Some of the children went as well. Later they all ended up murdered by the Nazis. My grandmother wept about this loss for as long as I knew her. It left a hole and a traumatic legacy for our family that persists to this day. When President Obama announced his executive order, I felt a measure of relief for my Aunt Bunya that justice had been served in some small way.

While there are several factors, the story of Bunya has a role to play in why I chose to enter the field of history of religion, New Testament studies, and Jewish studies. It is part of who I am today and why I do what I do. It always will be.

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Rape Culture at the University of Virginia and College Campuses

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Rape culture is pervasive in U.S. colleges and universities, but even more so at the University of Virginia. The extent of violence surprised even me.

Interesting that it took Rolling Stone to produce this story rather than one of the mainstream news outlets. So many local newspapers and news stations have essentially enabled this kind of revolting power dynamic at some of our most prestigious higher educational institutions. Many of them are simply advertisers and marketers for their local university and have few real journalists, if any. And most national outlets aren’t any better, as they’re committed to establishment institutions as they currently exist.

This is a story as much about what we allow to happen as it is about what’s happening. If the media and higher educational administrations did their jobs and if we put these students in prison as criminals for the rape crimes that they have committed, then this behavior would diminish. The students who engage in these abusive crimes are criminals, thugs, and our society should treat them as such.
We let thieving bankers, rapists, and police shooters live their lives as respected citizens, but put in prison drug users and the poor who can’t pay debts. There’s something wrong with this picture. If society does nothing to address this, there will be a massive, popular reaction against all the imbalance. Nature abhors a vacuum.

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/a-rape-on-campus-20141119

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Ferguson and Michael Brown

As I read the media accounts of the grand jury on the shooting of Michael Brown, I am surprised that there is so little coverage of how a grand jury is supposed to function. All a grand jury has to do is see if there’s enough evidence to indict someone. It’s not supposed to weigh conflicting evidence, or examine conflicting stories, or assess what the most likely scenario of events was. It’s simply there to determine if sufficient evidence exists to reasonably conclude that someone may have done something.

This grand jury acted as if they were in a trial, but that’s not how it’s supposed to go. And the district attorney acted much more like a defense attorney than a prosecutor, which is very odd to say the least. The trial is where the evidence is supposed to be weighed, not a grand jury.

The joke is that most prosecutors could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. So you can see that the unwillingness to indict the police officer is a bizarre outcome and clearly reflects that something else was going on. I don’t think it’s very difficult to figure out what that was.

It’s really not complicated. According to this grand jury, and many others as well, African American life is worth less than white life. And many jurisdictions view police as judge, jury, and executioner. We are no longer a of laws, but of people. Of course, that’s anti-constitutional, but the situation will improve only when people rise up, protest, and force change.

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Charlotte (Lotte) Kaplan-Kant

 

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My mom, Charlotte (Lotte) Kaplan-Kant, c. 1938 on left in front of a Poughkeepsie shop and c. 1943 on her house porch

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My Great-Grandfather and Grandparents in Pinsk and the U.S.

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On the top left is my maternal great-grandfather (my grandmother’s father), Jacob Kaston (Kastonowicz), in the early 1900s from Pinsk (Belarus). He never came to this country. The photo to his right is my grandmother Leah Kaston in her high-fashion of the day c. 1917 in Pinsk. She was in her early 20s. The third photo is my grandmother c. 1925 with her husband, Nathan Kaplan (my grandfather) in the U.S. While my grandfather sold fruits and vegetables on his cart, my grandmother invested in real estate in Poughkeepsie and managed the family finances. In Belarus she worked in a bookstore in Pinsk. On the far right is my grandfather with my mom’s brother, Alvin, c. 1945. Alvin died tragically of an apparent heart attack in the late 1950s (he was a pharmacist). I still have a stuffed animal lion (which growls when pressed) given to me by him. I think of him whenever I see it. My grandparents sent all their children–Lotte (Charlotte), Ann, and Alvin–to college.

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Dead Sea Relaxation

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Floating and relaxing in the Dead Sea in Israel in October 2012 (with Dianne Bazell).

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Bryce Canyon National Park

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Here we (with Dianne Bazell) are at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah in August, 2014.

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My Grandfather and His Horse

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My grandfather, Nathan (Notke) Kaplan, had a fruit and vegetable cart by which he made his living. When I knew him, he used a truck to transport his produce, but, in the old days, he used a horse to pull the cart. The first picture shows my grandfather with the horse, while the second photo is a picture of the horse with the groom (I think). I’m guessing that these photos are from the early 1920s.

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My Mom as a Girl

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My mom, Charlotte “Lotte” Kaplan, and her sister Ann Murkoff, as girls c. 1934-1938. Left two photos are mom on left and Ann on right. Second photo from right is my grandmother on left (Leah), then mom, then Ann, then my grandfather (Nathan/Notke). Right photo is Ann on left and mom on right with two unknown boys (probably cousins).

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Grand Staircase Escalante

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Here we are in Grand Staircase, Escalante in southern Utah. Above are three photos.

And see these videos below:

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Charlotte Kant Kaplan and Lev Gleason

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CHARLOTTE KANT (my mom) AND LEV GLEASON (comic book publisher)

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Right after college (SUNY Teacher’s College, Albany, math major), my mom (Charlotte Kaplan, 1928-2012) who was from Poughkeepsie, New York, moved to the big city, Manhattan. She worked as a secretary (1950/51-55?) for one of the founders of the modern comic book industry, Lev Gleason, at 114 East 32nd Street. His series included Silver Streak Comics, Daredevil Comics, and Crime Does Not Pay.

Lev Gleason was a brilliant, visionary man. His idea of a comic book written for adults heralded the age of graphic novels in which we now live. My mother valued people like that and looked up to them. She was an extremely practical person, detail-oriented, but she deeply valued vision and imagination. And Lev had that in spades. Gleason was strongly anti-Fascist and opposed Hitler in his comics and other writings. After enlisting in World War II, he continued to publish anti-Fascist comics. For his leftist politics, his association in the 1930s with the communist party (which many on the left in those days had supported because of Hitler, Mussolini, and others, as well as because of the Depression), and his refusal to name names, he was cited for contempt by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Of course, that was the committee associated with the infamous Senator Joe McCarthy (though he was a senator and not directly involved with house committees).

Along with the decline of the comic book industry in the mid-1950s (spurred by attacks that it encouraged juvenile delinquency and moral laxness), the congressional attacks ruined Gleason who ended up becoming a small-time real estate agent. However, his work inspires comic book writers to this day.

For some time, in the 1950s, my mother brought him food and a little money to help support him. What the U.S. government did to people like Lev was reprehensible and wrong.

I’m sure that Jewish youth at that time would have seen Lev (who was not Jewish, though most of his peers in the comic book industry were) as a heroic figure for his fight against Fascism and Hitler. My mom lost one of her mother’s sister’s (Bunya) and much of Bunya’s family in the Holocaust (murdered by the Nazis in Bobruysk, Belarus, in 1943). This affected our family deeply. Still does (unconsciously for the most part). My grandmother (Leah) cried about it for as long as I knew her, and there was always a hole.

For that reason among others, my mother no doubt saw Lev as a figure to admire. My mother was an extremely practical and detail-oriented person. However, she deeply valued people with imagination and vision. And Lev Gleason had that in spades.

Above is a photograph of Lev autographed for my mom and another photo of her with Lev and the staff of Lev Gleason Publications: mom is the one in the middle with the black top; Lev Gleason is the man with the glasses at the far left.

The man on the far right of the photo (to the the right of the woman whose name I don’t know) is Charles Biro, who created the comic book characters, Air Boy and Steel Sterling, and edited Daredevil Comics. He saw comic books as “illustories,” the forerunner of our graphic novels. He’s a major figure in graphic arts and editing.  Stan Lee was asked about his success at Marvel Comics, he said “The secret is Charles Biro” (with whom he spoke by telephone on a regular basis): Here’s more on Charles Biro: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Biro

In Crime Does Not Pay (1942-1945), Gleason and Biro had artists and writers interview real criminals. Though standard operating practice now for crime writers, this was groundbreaking at the time.

The man directly to the right of my mom is Bob Wood, a talented artist who worked for Lev Gleason on many of his comic book series and helped to created the Crime Does Not Pay series. Wood became most famous for murdering his girlfriend Violette Phillips in 1958 and going to Sing Sing for it.

If anyone knows who either of the other two people are, I would appreciate the information.

For more on Gleason, see the following items:

http://harvardmagazine.com/2011/05/leverett-gleason

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lev_Gleason_Publications

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daredevil_(Lev_Gleason_Publications)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_Streak_(comics)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_Does_Not_Pay_(comics)

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Technically my mother was a secretary. According to one of my sisters, she talked about doing menial things, such as retrieving staff dry cleaning and lunch. However, my mother was one of those organizer types, a take-charge kind of person and was extremely sociable. She was magnetic and would walk into a room, and everyone would gravitate toward her, as the photo suggests.  She was the type of person who could organize big events, pull a lot of details together, and make everything work. If she were born now, she would probably end up a CEO. Obviously, that wasn’t possible in those days.

In spite of her extroversion, she was an excellent listener and very private. She did not talk about herself a lot and used her outgoing nature very discreetly. One would never know what was going on inside her, and she would never spill a secret.

What she told me and what I remember is vague. She was also not a person who bragged at all or talked about private matters.  So I wouldn’t take this for fact. But she suggested indirectly to me that she shouldered some responsibility for the business, financial side of things. She may have helped keep the trains running, as some might say, and kept the books straight. She also was a social butterfly who I believe organized some of the parties and get-togethers there.

From what I can gather, Lev was not exactly adept at business, but my mother would have been. She would certainly have helped out in that way. I assume that Lev Gleason Publications comprised an extremely artistic, creative group of people. Mom was very attracted to those kind of people, and she would have wanted to organize them and make things work more effectively. She looked at artists, scholars, inventors as people to manage and keep on track. Of course, she was probably also doing all the things a secretary and female employee did in those days, a lot of which was grunt work.

My mother always mentioned that she brought Lev food and a little money to Lev in jail and that he was destitute for some time. At least, that’s what I thought. I asked my wife, Dianne Bazell, again whether she heard my mother say this, and she said that she had. So it’s not just my own memory here. My mother was not the type to exaggerate or embellish. If anything, her personality would lead her to minimize something like this. She played things down more than she played things up.

But I realize this doesn’t fit with what we know about Lev Gleason. All the stuff I’ve read (cursorily, I admit) mentions nothing about jail or prison. And there’s nothing about poverty. One of my sisters does not recall hearing about any of this from mom. I recognize that there’s something that doesn’t jibe here and hope that more information will come to light.

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Charlotte Kant: 1928-2012

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My mom circa 1946: Charlotte (“Lotte”) Kaplan, 1928-2012.

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Suzanna in Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv

 

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And here’s a 2012 photo from Suzanna, a restaurant in Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv, the oldest neighborhood in Tel Aviv (southwest part of the city near the Arab city, Jaffa) with Irit Averbuch: Great food as always in Tel Aviv.

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Tel Aviv: Eating at Benny HaDayag

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Conspicuous food consumption in Tel Aviv. The first pictures are from Benny HaDayag (Benny the Fisherman–בני הדייג) on the Tel Aviv waterfront. I learned a lot of Hebrew names for fish–I don’t even know all their names in English (see the very last picture). Fish is a big deal Israel–and it’s really good, prepared in all sorts of interesting ways–along with all kinds of great salads, eggplant dishes, and other accompaniments. Dianne and I are eating with our good friend, Irit Averbuch, lover of all things Tel Aviv and Japanese.

And here’s the mouth-watering menu: http://www.bennyhadayag.co.il/

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Arches National Park

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Arches National Park, just north of Moab in Eastern Utah, which we visited in August, 2014 (with Dianne Bazell)

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Dianne Bazell’s Inadvertent Selfie

 

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Dianne took this inadvertently at Monument Rocks, Kansas, in August, 2014. I love this photo.

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Kansas Monument Rocks

 

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Here we were in August, 2014, in Western Kansas at a site called Monument Rocks. Who would’ve thunk it, but in the middle of the plains you find these amazing rock formations from an ancient sea that once divided North America. In the rocks, you can actually see the tiny shells and bones of molluscs, crustaceans, and fish that fell to the bottom as they died millions of years ago, forming a limestone ooze, and hardening over time. I had a little encounter with what I believe was a rattlesnake (I kept on hearing a rattle, and it got louder as I walked until I realized what it probably was and got out of there before I took too close a look). Just stunning the kind of beauty you can find in the most unexpected places.

This site was apparently the first U.S. landmark so designated by the Department of Interior. It takes over an hour and a half to get there on a dirt road, but it’s well worth the trouble. A blast.

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Lawsuit to Block Denton Texas Fracking Ban

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I am not against fracking when properly overseen (our society still requires fossil fuels), but I am appalled (though not surprised) by the lawsuit attempting to overturn the city of Denton’s (Texas) vote to ban fracking. How can people who attack government power and who call for respect for individual rights, especially for property owners, suddenly do an about-face and file a lawsuit to nullify the will of a community? This has nothing to do with principles and everything to do with money and power, pure and simple.

So much for conservatives and property rights. So much for conservatives and local control.

http://www.desmogblog.com/2014/11/06/bush-family-inner-circle-office-denton-texas-fracking-ban-lawsuits

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