Happy Birthday DennisI have been a regular listener of Dennis Prager's show for several years. When I say listener, I unfortunately mean that I record it on my computer and listen to it in the evening. My work tends to make it impossible to listen to the radio for any extended period during the work day. If you are in a similar situation then please be aware that both his show and Hugh Hewitt's are iTunes listed these days. I have a sneaky feeling that once they get this working well there will be a small fee for the service which is fine by me.
Anyway, Dennis asked for a Birthday present this year. He asked regular listeners to email him with a short note as to how his show had positively impacted their life. I decided to think about that for a bit, blog it, then send him a link. So here goes.
Happy Birthday and we hope that you have many more years of prosperity and productive public life. In short I would say that your show provides me with a daily "Grandpa" dose. I lost my paternal grandfather when I was a young teenager and the other one just a few years ago in my 30's. I consider myself very lucky to have had 3 living grandparents into my 30s. Good grandparents provide a clarity and wisdom that we generally don't start seeing from our parents until well into adulthood if at all. In part I think this is because of the differences in roles that parents and grandparents play in our lives. Obviously part of it is because of the age and life experience differences.
You have more clarity than any radio host I have ever heard. You can walk someone unfamiliar with a topic through your own thought process with an ease and grace that is truly rare. In clarity there is wisdom. I will give an example that has reappeared recently with the Mel Gibson anti-semitic episode.
As a Christian I watched the kerfuffle over the "obvious anti-semitism" of the then unreleased "The Passion of the Christ" with amusement because of your early explanation. You had the opportunity of seeing an early version of the film before even most of the Christian screeners. I will not be as eloquent as you were in explaining the nuance of this but I will try to summarize the main points.
1. Jews and Christians sitting side by side in the theater will be watching two different films. Christians will be watching the a film of their Savior voluntarily dying on the cross for their sins. Jews will be watching a film of Jews killing Jesus.
2. Neither group is crazy. American Christians as a whole are not anti-semitic and are taught in their churches that the death of Jesus was not the "fault" of the Jews, it was a preordained event that was necessary for the salvation of the world. American Jews know their history well enough to know of the atrocities committed against their ancestors in Europe and the Middle East under the charge of "Christ-killers", particularly following the "Passion Plays" in Europe. They have every reason to be a little paranoid about this topic.
3. American Christians being inherently not anti-semitic would be unlikely to commit bad acts against their Jewish neighbors even if the film were blatantly anti-semitic. Furthermore, if the film were blatantly anti-semitic it would be a box office failure. With the exception of the idiots in the KKK and other radical groups who are already proudly anti-semitic the American Christian teaching is to fight anti-semitism not to be influenced to violence because of it. So even if #1 and #2 aren't true, American Jews have nothing to fear from their Christian neighbors or the film.
4. 1-3 are all about American Christians, not European Christians or Middle East Muslims whose history and teaching are different.
Now, whether you like Mel's movie or you didn't it is very hard to argue with the above. When the film did release I saw it twice and I own a copy. It was a highly emotional roller coaster of a film for me. There were no acts of anti-semitism caused by it in the US. Without your wisdom I would have been at a complete loss to understand why there were Rabbis on my TV telling me that this film was anti-semitic. I have Christian friends who saw the film and did not like it for very different reasons but I have no Christian friends who thought it was anti-semitic in the slightest. My pastor, who also saw the film in pre-release and arranged a showing for our church at a local theater, made the following point before the showing date, again paraphrasing.
"In the film you will see two groups of people. You will see Jews and Romans. Almost all of the Romans are bad guys. Some of the Jews are bad guys. Some of the Jews are good guys. Even excluding Jesus, who was a Jew, the best people in the film are all Jews. Mary, his mother, Mary Magdalene, Paul, John, etc. etc. are all Jews. This film is not about Jews killing Jesus, it is about the sacrifice Jesus made for you and for me."
That's good. That's probably pretty typical of what American Christians heard in churches across the country. It is clear and accurate. You were wise far beyond this simple statement because your clarity and ability to hear clarity allowed you to evaluate based on your own heritage and mine at the same time. Your wisdom then allowed you to articulate both sides clearly. This is a rare talent and you use it well.
I could give several examples like this every week. This one was special because I got to watch the rest of the country thrash about like a fish out of water because they weren't smart enough to listen to the Dennis Prager show every day.
I have tried with some success to apply the clarity you display every day in matters you don't discuss on your show. Every show gives me some little gem that helps me to continue this process of self improvement.
Happy Birthday sir and thank you for everything. May God bless and keep you and your family for many years to come. Your children were lucky. Your grandchildren will be very lucky indeed.