Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 18, 2009 / 24 Shevat 5769

This — I don't believe

By Paul Greenberg


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Whoever runs NPR, aka National Platitudinous Radio, can't have read Walker Percy's "The Moviegoer." If they have, they must have missed the definitive dissection he performed on an old radio program called "This I Believe," an Edward R. Murrow special that NPR now has revived.


"The Moviegoer" is one of those little classics (and real spiritual guides, which never advertise themselves as such) that every Southerner should read through once a year — just to hold on to some last shred of sanity in this post-Christian age. An age that no longer has enough character even to be called neo-pagan.


It was a passage from "The Moviegoer" that got me started thinking about NPR and good ol' Binx Bolling of New Orleans, the book's narrator.


Maybe you had to have heard "This I Believe" to not appreciate it. Failing that, a new generation can just turn to "The Moviegoer," pages 102-103 in my prized original paperback edition (Popular Library, 1961, 60 cents), and read Binx's reaction to the show.


With your permission, Gentle Reader, or even without it, I can't resist letting Binx explain his addiction to "This I Believe," for his analysis of it applies to so much of today's genteel, feel-good, NPR-certified American culture:


"Being a creature of habit, as regular as a monk, and taking pleasure in the homeliest repetitions, I listen every night at ten to a program called 'This I Believe.' Monks have their compline, I have 'This I Believe.' On the program hundreds of the highest minded people in our country, thoughtful and intelligent people, people with mature inquiring minds, state their personal credos. The two or three hundred I have heard so far were without exception admirable people....


"I doubt if any other country or any other time in history has produced such thoughtful and high-minded people, especially the women. And especially the South. I do believe the South has produced more high-minded women, women of universal sentiments, than any other section of the country except possibly New England in the last century. Of my six living aunts, five are women of the loftiest theosophical panBrahman sentiments. The sixth is still a Presbyterian.


"If I had to name a single trait that all these people shared, it is their niceness. Their lives are triumphs of niceness. They like everyone with the warmest and most generous feelings. .... Tonight's subject is a playwright who transmits this very quality of niceness in his plays. He begins: 'I believe in people. I believe in tolerance and understanding between people. I believe in the uniqueness and the dignity of the individual—'


"Everyone on 'This I Believe' believes in the uniqueness and dignity of the individual. I have noticed, however, that the believers are far from unique themselves, are in fact alike as two peas in a pod. 'I believe in music. I believe in a child's smile. I believe in love....' "


"This I Believe" never loses its temper. It never forgets its well-modulated radio voice and risks sounding ... alive. It's so empty, so cliche-ridden, so filled with platitudes, that it's only natural it would be revived on NPR.


Eventually, poor Binx can't take the believers on "This I Believe" any more, and fires off a succinct response:


"I recorded a tape which I submitted to Mr. Edward R. Murrow. 'Here are the beliefs of John Bickerson Bolling, a moviegoer living in New Orleans,' it began, and ended, 'I believe in a good kick in the ass. This — I believe.' I soon regretted it, however, as what my grandfather would have called 'a smart-alecky stunt' and I was relieved when the tape was returned. I have listened faithfully to 'This I Believe' ever since."


As an act of penitence, no doubt, for daring to let his thoughts show. For Binx is irredeemably nice himself at the core, no doubt the result of his Southern upbringing, which may be why he has such a hard time breaking through the malaise that envelopes the times.


So does "This I Believe," which seldom strays from its fabricated cheeriness, its cloying niceness, its facade of civility, its unvarying air of insincerity.


In the spirit of the corporate age, "This I Believe" now has returned as This I Believe, Inc., whose Web site informs that it claims certain contractual rights to any submissions aired "so that your thoughtful words can inspire as many people as possible for generations to come."


Binx would see through that kind of blather at once, though he might be too nice to say so.


What the country needs at this juncture, if I may suggest, is a radio program called "This I Don't Believe." As the first unbelievable assertion, I nominate this proposition:


Because no other country or other time has produced such thoughtful and high-minded people, to borrow a phrase from Mr. John Bickerson (Binx) Bolling of New Orleans, La., as many people as possible will be inspired by This I Believe, Inc. for generations to come.


This — I don't believe.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

Paul Greenberg Archives

© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles