While the Christian faith tells us that “the truth will set you free,” it is a lie that set Gabrielle free from Carlos’s bondage to Sister Mary Bernard on last night’s “Desperate Housewives.”
As Carlos pines away for a baby, Sister Mary uses religious and psychological brainwashing to get him away from Gabrielle. Eager to recruit Carlos as a more devout Catholic, Sister Mary goads Carlos into believing his marriage can’t be saved; Gabrielle is only keeping him on a leash by being wishy-washy about having a baby, she tells him. The marriage, therefore, is not a real covenant in God’s eyes and the only solution to an ungodly marriage is to get an annulment (a pamphlet of which Sister Mary has “conveniently” kept in her car’s glove compartment).
After Gabrielle is threatened with an annulment, she goes to confession to complain that she is jealous of the nun’s relationship with Carlos. When asked by the priest whether Carlos and Sister Mary are having an affair, Gabrielle is forced to choose between a truth (‘no’) and a lie (‘yes’). Choosing the lie, Gabrielle then quickly soothes her conscience by confessing–to a different priest–that she lied to a priest, but her lie has already ensured Sister Mary’s quiet transfer to another church in Alaska.
With Sister Mary banished to cold and darkness, Gabrielle shockingly proves that (sometimes) lies are worth telling to get what one wants, even if the future may cause the lie to backfire. For now though, Gabrielle seizes her victor’s title and rewards Carlos with the promise of a baby.
The much-anticipated “Superman Returns” won’t be released for several months, but the trailer is out and contains this shocker: He’s become a Christ figure. We’re used to thinking of Superman as something of a Jewish tale, but it seems like he may have switched teams for this latest movie.
Like so many of the people behind the classic American comic-book heroes, Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were Jewish, and more to the point, their creation had a distinctly Jewish feel. Superman was the Golem, the supernatural figure who wreaks havoc on evildoers, fighting for good and expecting no reward. It should come as no surprise that he first emerged in the late ’30s, as Hitler’s campaign to eradicate European Jewry (which included, no doubt, close relatives of Siegel and Shuster) was underway. As Michael Chabon so poignantly dramatizes in his 2001 novel “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” the fantasy of a Golem denying victory to Hitler was just about all that most Jews could cling to as the horrors unfolded.
The premise of the new film is that Superman has been away from Earth for some time and, as the title implies, returns, presumably to halt some imminent cataclysm. But in the trailer for “Superman Returns” we hear a deep, authoritative voice addressing Superman (using his given name, Kal-El), telling the superhero that, though he has been raised as a human being, he is not one of them–and yet he still has a mission to accomplish among the humans. The voice continues:
They can be a great people, Kal-El. They wish to be. They only lack the light to show them the way. For this reason above all–their capacity for good–I’ve sent them you, my only son.
And there you have it. The second coming of Christ… I mean Superman… hits theaters June 30.
(Special thanks to my old friend Jeremy for alerting me to this.)
Just as Jewish culture isn’t all about black hats and beards, and Jewish humor isn’t all about guilt and your mother, stereotypical Jewish foods such as bagels, matzah balls, and gefilte fish may soon have to share the plate with lesser-known Jewish delicacies hailing from the traditions of Bukharian Jews from Central Asia.
Thanks to a recent New York Times article touting the flavor of the Bukharians living in and around Queens, N.Y., chebureks and kebabs–savory deep fried pies and hunks of crisp lamb fat–get their chance to shine as Jewish food with a culinary conscience.
I came to know the Bukharian culture through my first boyfriend, the child of Russian-speaking Jewish parents living in the Queens neighborhood Forest Hills. His character was spicy and pungent, just like the dishes his mom prepared when I met her for the first time. I was thrilled to have landed a Heeb who didn’t seem, well, the stereotypical bagels-and-lox Jew. But it was always a challenge to explain to friends–Jewish and non-Jewish alike–that even though he had dark skin and listened to music with Arabic-inflections, he was in fact a member of The Tribe. I would tell them he was Bukharian. What? BUK-HAR-IAN.
They didn’t get it at the time, but if the Times article is anything of an indication that the world is ready to broaden its image of Jewish culture, let’s pick up our forks and do so one bite at a time.
Cumin-scented pilaf of rice anyone? Yes, please.
It may be old news, but in light of his recent statement regarding the health of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Pat Robertson’s moral compass is an open target for scrutiny.
Although not as attention-grabbing as his verbal forays into the world of public embarrassment, Pat Robertson’s August 2001 introduction of a recipe for “Pat’s Age-Defying Shake” raised some eyebrows—and some questions. For someone so ready and willing to express the word of God by spinning Scripture into something of an admonishment for the world, Robertson, it seems, is just asking for a taste of his own medicine.
Touting his concoctions’ curative properties, Robertson offers two recipes for time-halting foodstuffs on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s website: one for “Pat Robertson’s Age-Defying Shake,” and another for “Pat’s Age-Defying Protein Pancakes.” The instructions for self-manufacture of these miracle products are available for free after registration. Although this may offer the illusion of legitimacy, it is perhaps the “age-defying” property of these foods that calls for further examination. Does it not defy God to pursue the vanity of youth? Is it not God’s will that you should age gracefully, on His terms? It seems Pat Robertson has failed to consider one of the most ignored of the seven deadly sins, the sin of pride.
Even more provocative is the televangelist’s turn as entrepreneur; a similar product he developed for weight loss has become a readymade vehicle for profit. In a deal with national health and nutrition chain GNC, Robertson is marketing “Pat’s Diet Shake” in two flavors: classic chocolate and its milder counterpart, vanilla. Although there is no co-branding with his nonprofit endeavors evident on the label or in its marketing, the use of his name, a moniker synonymous with “The 700 Club” and the Christian Broadcasting Network, is as easily identifiable as, say, “Atkins” or “The Zone.” So even though Mr. Robertson has the freedom to explore business ventures outside the confines of his media empire, profiting off his already well-publicized personality is neither a righteous nor an ethically sound means of adding money to his coffer.