Book Review: Against Our Better Judgement

I picked up this book because I wanted to learn more about the history of the geopolitical clusterfuck that is the Israel/Palestine issue, but never did I expect to find a history so deep, so bloody, and so one-sided in the treatment it receives by the world as that of Israel. In my case, Weir did exactly what she set out to accomplish: she hit me over the head with a series of truth bombs and left me dumbfounded in stupid shock. Against Our Better Judgment is the abridged history of the Zionist movement, but don’t mistake its brevity for banality. In an exhaustively well-researched book whose footnotes section is twice as long as the actual text, Alison Weir will tell you things about Zionism that you won’t want to believe. It’s outstanding to me that so much knowledge could be so unknown. How, as a historian, have I never come across the history of Zionism before? This major movement, stretching back to the nineteenth century, which permeated American politics and managed to create a nation which now receives more funding from the U.S. than any other country on earth, is somehow never spoken of in classrooms (and certainly not in the media).

I don’t want to give too much away, because I think everyone ought to read this for him or herself. All I can say is: read it; it will challenge your view of the world. It’ll take about an hour to get through (unless of course you have to take a break between chapters to have an emotional reaction like I did). I highly suggest this for everyone, especially the citizens of America and Israel.


Bill O’reilly, Russell Brand, and the Decline of Religion in America

So Bill O’rilley just broadcasted a recent poll which shows that the group of people who identify themselves as Christian has fallen. The fastest growing religion? None of the above.

More and more Americans are giving up on religion and classifying themselves as unaffiliated. Why?

Well, Grandpa Bill says popular culture is to blame. Rap music (black people) and gangs (poor black people), in particular.

Fortunately, Bill isn’t the only news program commenting on the issue. The Young Turks and The Trews (two wonderful internet news programs that I’ll link at the end), also gave their two cents on why Christianity has taken a hit.

The Young Turks view the trend as a good thing. This isn’t surprising, since TYT is run by a mostly atheist intellectual group of reporters. In their view, less religious is good. It equates to more rational, more compassionate thinking. People are abandoning religion, they think, because they’ve realized that their lives are much freer without being constantly told what to believe.

Russell Brand (aka The Trews), thinks that the shrinking number of affiliated Christians in America has more to do with a growing sense of disillusionment than a burgeoning intelligentsia. Growing inequality, rampant crony capitalism, and the failure of Democracy has destroyed the faith of the American people. Christianity has sold out, and Americans are no longer buying in.

So, we’ve got three possible options here. Religion is failing because:

a) Society is becoming more rational.

b) Society is becoming more disillusioned.

c) Black people.

So, either people are leaving Christianity because they have realized the inherent bigotry in antiquated orthodoxy (THT), or they no longer want to be a part of a corrupt institution which serves only power and greed (Brand). Both of these options have truth to them, but they share a major flaw: both commentators assume that most American adults are just as politically astute and passionate as themselves. This is false. I can’t speak for the country as a whole, but most American adults that I know are busy. Between work, education, socializing, and the abundance of entertainment available, the complicated and often depressing subject of politics doesn’t appeal. There’s just too much going on.

Personally, I think that Americans simply don’t care anymore. It’s not a growing sense of disillusionment or a the growth of secular knowledge that’s leading most people away from religion, it’s a growing sense of apathy. Most of my peers would much rather talk about drugs, movies, video games, netflix shows, and other entertaining, transient things then discuss why America has one of the largest income gaps in the world or why, in an age of technological abundance, most of the world remains poor. Subjects like that don’t make for a fun time. In a world where criminals don’t pay taxes and where every supposed world leader has a price tag, it’s much easier and more appealing to focus on distractions and cheap tricks then to stand up for real change. Optimism, hope, faith: these things take a lot of energy, especially today.

Here’s Bill’s segment:

And The Young Turks’:

And The Trews’: