This morning I paid a visit to the Chabad synagogue in Southwest Portland where I used to pray. I hadn't seen the shul since the fire. (There were actually two fires - the first probably accidental, the second almost certainly arson.) I'd heard at the time that it had been "damaged", which I assumed meant something short of "completely gutted", and in my imagination I pictured perhaps a few scorch marks around the roof. That was wishful thinking. What I saw when I got there was that the building was completely boarded up on all sides, and padlocked. It was readily apparent that there were going to be no prayer services held there at any time in the near future.
The congregation also operates a religious school across the street, and I believe that's where they are holding services now. Still, the burned building was a grim sight.
The period following the mourning of Tisha b'Av (commemorating the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem) is designated as a period of consolation, when we look forward to the redemption of a better era in the future. And that's the feeling I will try to hang on to now.
It's been said that the Garden of Eden was not an economy, because there was unlimited abundance and no scarcity.
I would amend this to say that there was no scarcity for material goods (food and drink), but there was indeed scarcity because there was something that the humans desired (the forbidden fruit) that was not available to them.
And I think this points us in the direction of realizing that humankind has needs that are not purely physical in nature, but rather spiritual. And that those spiritual needs are intimately connected with the need to exercise free will, to make one's own choices (and one's own mistakes), to provide for oneself and for others, and to act with awareness and dignity as a being created in the image of G-d.
'The two visions differ fundamentally, not only in how they see the world, but also in how those who believe in these visions see themselves. If you happen to believe in free markets, judicial restraint, traditional values and other features of the tragic vision, then you are just someone who believes in free markets, judicial restraint and traditional values. There is no personal exaltation inherent in those beleifs. But to be for "social justice" and "saving the environment" or to be "anti-war" is more than just a set of hypotheses about empirical facts. This vision puts you on a higher moral plane as someone concerned and compassionate ...
In short, one vision makes you somebody special and the other does not. These visions are not symmetrical.'
- Thomas Sowell, 'Intellectuals and Society'
I think this passage gets a lot of things right about the appeal of the leftist program: if you believe the doctrine, then you believe that what distinguishes you from people who disagree with you is that you're a *better person* than they are.
A few pages earlier, Sowell fleshes out the concept of the tragic vision:
'..."the darker picture" painted by Thucydides of "a human race that escaped chaos and barbarism by preserving with difficulty a thin layer of civilization" based on "moderation and prudence" growing out of experience.'
I do not think conservatism, as Sowell formulates it here, needs to accept that it is doomed to follow an uninspiring vision, i.e. the tragic vision. I'm not keen on the term "tragic vision" because it sounds too, well, tragic. I would prefer to call it the "triumphant vision" because it affirms the possibility of triumph at every moment over the forces that would make us less than we truly are.
Target has joined Whole Foods in showing my in-store purchase history when I'm logged in on my online account, even when I have not used a club card. I can only assume that the retail industry was able to quietly overcome whatever legal obstacle previously prevented them from tying your purchases to your bank card directly.