In this issue

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 May 20, 2011 16 Iyar, 5771

Defining Deviancy Down, Way Down

By Suzanne Fields

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | NEW YORK CITY — The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan caught the decline of the culture two decades ago, observing that we're "defining deviancy down" — lowering the bar for what was once considered deviant behavior, giving a pass to things society once scorned.

Not much has changed over 20 years. The senator was talking mostly about criminal behavior, but it applies now to just about everything. Raunchy, obscene and scatological subjects, once taboo, are the stuff of prime time.

Adolescents are leading adults, and by the nose. Poop jokes, butt humor, middle-finger salutes are not only the stuff of Broadway, they're getting awards for wit and cleverness. "The Book of Mormon," a musical by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the celebrated authors of television's "South Park," leads the numbers for the Tony nominations, the most prestigious prize in the theater.

This is the triumph of potty-mouth, passing-gas, "I have maggots in my scrotum" kind of humor that will leave you rolling in the aisles if you're on the eve of puberty. Or in an expensive seat on Broadway.

What could be funnier than satirical ditties sung by "primitive" Africans blaming the Christian God for everything from AIDS to female genital mutilation? These "heathens" are only slightly more naive than the chorus of Mormon missionaries out to convert them, made up of repressed queens who are trying to learn how to swish-off, rather than switch-off, their libidos. Stuff-shirted missionaries sing a catchy tune, "Shut it Off," with flicking wrists and girlish blushes about restraining homosexual desire. The audience loves it.

"Could Broadway field an all-male chorus that didn't seem gay?" asks Kevin Williamson wryly in the New Criterion, suggesting this isn't quite groundbreaking satire. "That would be a far, far greater technical challenge."

Indeed. But it's politically indiscreet, if not politically incorrect, to say so. "The Book of Mormon" is currently hailed as the greatest musical since "The Producers," which ridiculed theatrical taste with a chorus of showgirls in thigh-high black leather boots, dancing Busby Berkeley style, singing "Springtime for Hitler." But no one's protesting here, not even Mitt Romney, the most prominent Mormon; this "safe satire" doesn't mention polygamy, the television soap opera "Big Love" or even Romneycare.

The oh-so-au courant cultural critics, fawning with admiration, demonstrate just how far they've come in appreciating the adolescent sensibility that has co-opted the culture of the elites.

While "South Park" can be imaginatively edgy with shock value, the writers pull their punches in "The Book of Mormon," setting repetitive four letter words to trite melodies. Aiming at a Broadway audience, they've limited themselves to toothless attacks on such easy targets as white Protestants, Disneyland, Christ and African warlords, one named Gen. Butt-F Naked.

If this musical had been called "The Quran," ridiculing violent Muslims, it might have had bite, but why take a chance ridiculing something that might invite beheading when you know a white Protestant will at worst only grit his teeth?

The authors are still feeling the sting of rejection when episodes of their "South Park" were withdrawn from their animated television series for mocking the prophet Muhammad. But here, the Jesus character parades in a gold robe, halo fixed overhead. The audience roars as one of the missionaries sings about how Christ, facing the crucifixion, learned to "man up."

Tickets run up to $175, so not many adolescents can afford them on a weekly allowance, even on Manhattan's East Side. Too bad, since Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal, a rare dissenter from the ranks of the besotted media, suggests that "12-year-old boys who have yet to graduate from fart jokes to 'Glee''' are the theatergoers who would appreciate the musical most.

Certain other critics seem swept away by the theology of the words and music. Maureen Dowd of The New York Times praises the musical for its message "that whatever our different myths, metaphors and rituals, the real purpose of religion is to give us a higher purpose and a sense of compassion in the universe."

David Brooks, her colleague at The New York Times, observes that the musical plays very well to an educated American audience because of its warm themes of "humanity" and "compassion" embedded in a message preaching "love and service underneath their superficial particulars." No matter that the sticky particulars here apply to Ugandan gunmen who perform sodomy, rape and female mutilation to music.

He adds a warning for the less-learned among us: "It's worth remembering that the religions that thrive in real-life Africa are not as nice and naive as the religion in the play. "The religions that thrive have exactly what 'The Book of Mormon' ridicules: communal theologies, doctrines and codes of conduct rooted in claims of absolute truth." But that doesn't play on Broadway.

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