I took the plunge today, left the house and finally bought a Swans Island sticker for the car. Not the silly SI that you see about every place from Dorchester (DOT) to USVA.. but a nice unassuming sticker that has the outline of the island. Nothing flashy; just like it is up here.
There have been some "echo chamber" moments since arriving; little bits of the outside world interfering with our time away. I have a work dilemma that i need to work through that I won't be discussing here and some troubling thoughts about the discussion about health care going on among my Facebook friends. I specify Facebook friends because, as you all know, the Facebook friend is a special kind of person. They can range from your spouse to this guy.
Most of my liberal friends have been posting the silly status update about "Everyone deserves health care..." blah, blah, blah. Some of my conservative friends are sniping about Obama the socialist and that the space aliens who believe in the death panels couldn't be more right.
What troubled me more this week was the circulation of a symposium published by Commentary magazine about why Jews are liberal. It could have been easily titles "Why the hell are these idiots still deluding themselves and disobeying the Torah"?
A note of clarification: I am not a registered Democrat. I have voted for Republicans over the years (sometimes as protest votes against entrenched incumbent Congressmen in safe districts who I find to be dismissive and downright hostile at times) and other times because I thought that they had it right on an issue that I cared about. I am not so concerned about the Christian right taking over the country. I think they had their peak and the evidence shows that they are now moving away from the divisive issues like abortion/choice and on to stuff where their agenda overlaps with the left -- like the environment. It's about time. Not to stereotype, but I find those on the Christian right to be mostly earnest, well meaning people. Most aren't looking to walk over Jewish heads to achieve salvation or lock women in cages.
However, I have to say that I disagree with most of their domestic agenda.
As an old friend Dave Ross from KIRO Radio in Seattle used to say, "I am a radical moderate."
So what bugged me so much about the Commentary piece? (FYI, for some reason, the article paginates strangely).
Well, first off with the exception of David Wolpe, they only ask conservatives. Jonathan Sarna, while a great guy, plays his usual role of historian without tipping his hand. Knowing Jonathan, I am not really sure where he is politically.
The other issue is that the article has a tone of derision and critique about the "other". It sounds like the reasons given are that American Jews have forgotten what it means to be Jewish... abandoned the Torah. Now Michael Medved (when I lived in Seattle, at least) was connected to Rabbi Daniel Lapin and Jeff Jacoby goes to the Young Israel in Brookline, MA. But, I kind of doubt that Bill Kristol is putting on tefillin every day.
As you know, I have a real problem with Orthodox-Centricity. (Not a word) or Triumphalism. Liberal Jews embrace the prophetic tradition of building a society that values the downtrodden and tries to help those in need -- however imperfectly. Orthodoxy claims to be interested in the same tradition -- but if you read me regularly, you know my feelings about that.
But no matter. The conclusion of Podhoretz' piece (that I have not yet read), is that American Jews are hopeless and will continue to vote for socialists like Obama like lemmings. Others hope that they will do teshuva and return to a rejection of the role of woman as equals in a modern society and a rugged individualism that leaves most people behind. Maybe that's unfair. It probably is. I think that to write off the majority of their people as irredeemably naive, stupid or apostates is the kind of thinking and writing that makes people want to run the other way.
So they have.
On an island with one laptop in the house there is a great deal of need for other family members to make use of its benefits... the checking of fantasy baseball scores, a visit to Facebook, reading of email and an occasional glance at a "People magazine" article of shopping for bicycle parts or shoes.
So, that's it for me. More when I return to Boston and leave the Island after a week of relative calm.
Shabbat Shalom (or for my conservative friends -- Good Shabbos or Have a Nice Weekend!).