Common cup II: intinction and infections

LsIn response to my last post on fears that shaking hands and sharing a common communion cup just might increase the chances of infection during flu season, reader Garrett Brown pointed us to an article by Anne LaGrange Loving, a professor of microbiology.

Loving shares the results of two studies that she conducted. The first pitted the process of intinction — in which the wafer or bread is dipped into wine and distributed to parishioners — against the more pedestrian process of people lining up and taking sips out of the same cup.

The one time I visited an Orthodox church, intinction was the mode of communion. The priest dumped a bunch of bread squares into a big chalice of wine and fished them out with a ladle to place them on people’s tongues. But I digress.

The intinction study found what one would might expect — that this variation on the common cup transmits less bacteria rather than no bacteria. Loving explains that as a member of a church "where many members use intinction, I was able to observe that the fingers of the parishioners and ministers often dip into the wine during the process of intinction," so she had a good idea of what she would find in advance.

But Loving was curious about the rates of infection for those who drink out of a common cup vs. those who don’t, and so she conducted another test. Here the results should cause some brows to furrow. The results of a ten-week survey of 681 people revealed essentially no difference in reported illness between those two groups. Those who supped from the chalice weekly or even daily were no more likely to get sick than those who got drunk the night before and slept in Sunday morning.

Now, it is entirely possible that Loving’s methodology was flawed. At a glance, I’d say that different groups might have reasons to report that they felt "sick" at varying rates. While the survey data may be useful, I would place a lot more trust in it if they had taken weekly throat cultures or similar, more objective, markers.

Still, the piece is well worth the price of admission. We learn about the various strategies by Christians who share a common cup to minimize the risk of infection, including using wine with higher alcohol content, coming up with crazy compartmentalization schemes, or (for the priests) wiping down the chalice with linen that’s been soaked in vodka.

There’s also an interesting inference from Renaissance art that I’ll leave you with:

Alternatives to the common cup have evolved over the 2,000 years of Christianity. Leonardo DaVinci’s "The Lord’s Supper" depicts the disciples with separate cups of wine, indicating that this practice may have been customary during his lifetime.

[A footnote: Yeah, I know what you're thinking. I thought that Loving's name practically screamed hoax but it turns out she's legit -- I think. There really is a Felician College, and one "Ann Loving" is listed as a professor emeritus in the directory. The journal that the article is said to have appeared in really does exist, though the archives do not go back as far as this particular issue. Same goes for the Journal of Environmental Health.]

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The Washington Post needs to listen to Dowd's brother

compcondoms 2A decade ago, a sharp Harvard-educated think tank wonk named Stephen Bates wrote an important book — praised by everyone from E.J. Dionne Jr. to Father Richard John Neuhaus — that I still hear quoted in Beltway discussions from time to time.

It was called Battleground: One Mother’s Crusade, the Religious Right, and the Struggle for Control of our Classrooms. Bates thought he would be on the side of the educational establishment. He ended up worried that American public schools are in danger — because educators cannot not get themselves to be fair to the religious conservatives in their desks. I cannot possibly do justice to the book in a few paragraphs. But here is a chunk of an interview I did with him at that time:

It speaks volumes, said Bates, that the educational establishment will accommodate so many other special interest groups, but not conservative Christians. Driving millions of people away from public schools will only increase support for the ultimate weapons in education battles — tax-funded tuition vouchers and school board takeovers, he said.

Thus, it undercuts education, and threatens religious liberty, when state officials attempt to woo children away from the religious beliefs of their parents.

“I’m afraid that public school leaders are cutting their own throats,” said Bates. “They are going to have to realize the importance of being sensitive to the beliefs of all kinds of faith groups — big, little or whatever — before it’s too late.”

I thought about Bates’ book while reading a Washington Post piece titled “Some Abstinence Programs Mistead Teens, Report Says.” Ceci Connolly’s report offers half of a very important story. I have no doubts whatsoever that this hit piece has unearthed some wonderfully wacky examples of religious-right influence in some abstinance-based sex education programs.

I also have no doubt that the conservatives behind some of the better programs have science that they can quote to back their arguments. This is another one of those reports in which it is assumed that every anecdote and statistic the progressives quote is accurate and every anecdote and statistic the traditionalists quote is wrong — with almost no details cited on the source of anything being quoted by anyone. The left could be using highly politicized studies funded by Planned Parenthood, for all we know. The right could be quoting Focus on the Family. Who knows?

You can read the details for yourself. Here is one of the key summaries, drawing on research pushed by the office of Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.):

Several million children ages 9 to 18 have participated in the more than 100 federal abstinence programs since the efforts began in 1999. Waxman’s staff reviewed the 13 most commonly used curricula — those used by at least five programs apiece.

The report concluded that two of the curricula were accurate but the 11 others, used by 69 organizations in 25 states, contain unproved claims, subjective conclusions or outright falsehoods regarding reproductive health, gender traits and when life begins. In some cases, Waxman said in an interview, the factual issues were limited to occasional misinterpretations of publicly available data; in others, the materials pervasively presented subjective opinions as scientific fact.

The story is simply loaded with statements sure to inspire hand-to-hand combat between apologists for the sexual revolution and apologists for, let’s say, Evangelical-Catholic-Muslim-Hindu traditions about the moral status of sex outside of marriage.

Back to Bates, for a moment. Here is the hard part of the issue the Post is trying to cover. How does an institution funded with tax dollars offer sex-education materials that say that sex outside of marriage is just peachy — or that it is sin, sin, sinful — without attacking the moral beliefs on one or the other side of this divide?

How do schools, and newspapers, treat both sides with respect? I would imagine that the progressives quoted in the Connolly piece would say she treated them fairly, while the conservatives scream bloody murder. If you want to hear what they would scream, you can read Maureen Dowd’s account of her Thanksgiving visit with the red-zone traditionalists in her family. At one point, she lets her brother Kevin — a salesman from Montgomery County, Md. — air some of his views about the 2004 election. He writes:

We do not live in a secular country. There are all sorts of people of faith that place moral values over personal freedoms. They are not all “wacky evangelicals.” . . . They don’t like being told that a young girl does not have to seek her mother’s counsel about an abortion. They don’t like seeing an eight-month-old fetus having his head punctured and his brains sucked out. They don’t like being told the Pledge of Allegiance, a moment of silent prayer and the words “under God” are offensive to an enlightened few so nobody should be allowed to use them. . . . My wife and I picked our sons’ schools based on three criteria: 1) moral values 2) discipline 3) religious maintenance — in that order. We have spent an obscene amount of money doing this and never regretted a penny. Last week on the news, I heard that the Montgomery County school board voted to include a class with a 10th-grade girl demonstrating how to put a
condom on a cucumber and a study of the homosexual lifestyle. The vote was 6-0. I feel better about the money all the time.

There you go. That’s the divide that Bates described so well in his book. It’s the divide that the Post failed to cover in its story on the Waxman report.

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Managed death care

Dead_babyPundits belittled Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop in the 1980s, when their book and film series Whatever Happened to the Human Race? predicted that euthanasia and infanticide were the logical companions of unrestricted abortion.

When Ronald Reagan nominated Koop as surgeon general, Elisa Isaacson wrote in The New Republic, “Dozens of newspapers and national organizations oppose Koop on the basis of his doctrinaire anti-abortion stance, his backward views on women’s and gays’ rights, and particularly his inexperience in the field of public health.” (This was before Koop won over all but his most vociferous critics with his stances on AIDS, condoms and smoking.)

Now the Netherlands seems hell-bent on proving that Schaeffer and Koop were connecting the ethical dots, albeit a few decades before euthanasia and infanticide were mentioned regularly in the same sentence as “dignity,” “compassion” or “mental retardation.”

Toby Sterling of the Associated Press delivers the grim news in his terse opening:

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — A hospital in the Netherlands — the first nation to permit euthanasia — recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives.

The practice is beginning with the hardest cases of suffering infants:

The Groningen Protocol, as the hospital’s guidelines have come to be known, would create a legal framework for permitting doctors to actively end the life of newborns deemed to be in similar pain from incurable disease or extreme deformities.

The guideline says euthanasia is acceptable when the child’s medical team and independent doctors agree the pain cannot be eased and there is no prospect for improvement, and when parents think it’s best.

Examples include extremely premature births, where children suffer brain damage from bleeding and convulsions; and diseases where a child could only survive on life support for the rest of its life, such as severe cases of spina bifida and epidermosis bullosa, a rare blistering illness.

But there are the standard voices arguing that if a culture is going to kill babies, at least the killing should be supervised by the state:

“As things are, people are doing this secretly and that’s wrong,” said Eduard Verhagen, head of Groningen’s children’s clinic. “In the Netherlands we want to expose everything, to let everything be subjected to vetting.”

To see where such vetting may take a culture, consult P.D. James’ dystopian novel, The Children of Men: in a world rendered sterile by an unexplained catastrophe, old people begin killing themselves in despair. The state begins supervising those suicides so everything will be orderly, clinical and tidy — and before you can say “I’d like to join the Hemlock Society,” euthanasia becomes mandatory.

Sterling gives the prolife movement’s concerns a few mentions, including this remark from Wesley J. Smith: “The slippery slope in the Netherlands has descended already into a vertical cliff.”

But he closes with another “Let’s end the hypocrisy” argument:

“Measures that might marginally extend a child’s life by minutes or hours or days or weeks are stopped. This happens routinely, namely, every day,” said Lance Stell, professor of medical ethics at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., and staff ethicist at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. “Everybody knows that it happens, but there’s a lot of hypocrisy. Instead, people talk about things they’re not going to do.”

More than half of all deaths occur under medical supervision, so it’s really about management and method of death, Stell said.

Well, that’s a relief.

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Yes, we read the Brooks column about Stott

All_souls_1As you would imagine, legions of readers from around the world saw fit to email us copies of David Brooks’ op-ed page tribute to the great evangelical Anglican apologist John Stott. Nothing causes evangelicals to cut and paste and then click send (or forward) as much as a kind word for traditional faith in the pages of the Bible of the blue zip-code elites.

Perhaps they were surprised that Brooks, who leans left on the hot social issues, was so kind to an intellectual who has for decades defended the concept of eternal moral absolutes. I was not surprised, in part because I have interviewed Brooks and knew of his interest in the ideas and influence of C.S. Lewis. If someone starts reading Lewis and then follows that side of the traditional Christian thought into modern evangelicalism, he will bump into Stott sooner rather than later.

Once upon a time, the New York Times used to admire the writings of Lewis and his ilk. Perhaps Brooks is the rare person at the TImes who still read serious books by traditional Judeo-Christian thinkers.

This was, in a way, the point of the column by Brooks. He was steamed (amen, brother) by the astonishingly stupid sight of Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton sitting on "Meet the Press" trying to discuss religion and public life with Tim Russert.

Earth to Russert: What were you thinking? I realize that there were other people on the show, including some fairly logical usual suspects on the left and right. But anyone who still thinks that Sharpton and Falwell have anything insightful to say about the views of the religious left and right should go see a journalism doctor, quick. As Brooks said:

Inviting these two bozos onto "Meet the Press" to discuss that issue is like inviting Britney Spears and Larry Flynt to discuss D. H. Lawrence. Naturally, they got into a demeaning food fight that would have lowered the intellectual discourse of your average nursery school.

Thus, Brooks asked: Why do so many media people quote Falwell and Pat Robertson, people whose influence is long gone, instead of interviewing people such as Stott? The sermons and books from the legendary voice of All Souls, Langham Place, in London (shown in the picture) have influenced evangelicals around the world for decades and will continue to do so for years to come.

Brooks is asking a question that is at the very heart of the mainstream media’s problems with religion coverage — when dealing with the religious left as well as the right. Why not turn to the bright lights on the left and right, instead of merely seeking the familiar red faces that provide emotional heat?

It isn’t fair to have stupid conservatives paired off with smart liberals or, perhaps on Fox, the other way around. And it isn’t fair to contrast, in the name of diversity, a few smart evangelicals on the left with the old voices of the simplistic right. The reason Brooks saluted Stott was because the low-church Anglican priest is nuanced, sympathetic, quotable AND a traditionalist.

Stott is so embracing it’s always a bit of a shock — especially if you’re a Jew like me — when you come across something on which he will not compromise. It’s like being in "Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood," except he has a backbone of steel. He does not accept homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle, and of course he believes in evangelizing among nonbelievers. He is pro-life and pro-death penalty, even though he is not a political conservative on most issues.

Most important, he does not believe truth is plural. He does not believe in relativizing good and evil or that all faiths are independently valid, or that truth is something humans are working toward. Instead, Truth has been revealed.

As I said, this is a matter of how journalists do their homework and find sources. Another interesting article on this same subject — entitled "Faculty Clubs and Church Pews" — showed up at Tech Central Station, of all places. In it, Harvard Law School professor William J. Stuntz jumps behind the red and blue imagery to discuss what he has learned in the bluest of blue environments, the faculty club at Harvard, and what sounds like a pretty red environment, his own evangelical congregation.

Not surprisingly, each of these institutions is enemy territory to the other. But the enmity is needless. It may be a sign that I’m terminally weird, but I love them both, passionately. And I think that if my church friends and my university friends got to know each other, they’d find a lot to like and admire. More to the point, the representatives of each side would learn something important and useful from the other side. … You wouldn’t know it from talking to the people who populate universities or fill church pews.

Church people assume that universities are no longer interested in fair debates. You can see where I am going with this idea. Church people make precisely the same assumption about newsrooms. Thus, everything Stuntz writes about his university faculty club can also be applied to the need for newsrooms to be more open-minded in seeking diversity in sources about religion news. At one point in the article a professor friend turns to Stuntz and says: "You know, I think you’re the first Christian I’ve ever met who isn’t stupid." Traditional religious believers make the same kinds of snap judgments all the time about journalists and thinkers on the left.

The bottom line: Churches and faculty clubs are supposed to be places where people take ideas, doctrines, traditions and debates seriously. You could say the same thing about newsrooms.

In the end, America is failing to hear interesting and important viewpoints on a wide range of issues — from failing schools to abortion. Other issues seem to have vanished altogether from national policy debates. Take the issue of poverty and economic justice, for example. Stuntz believes this is tragic.

I don’t think my liberal Democratic professor friends like this state of affairs. And — here’s a news flash — neither do most evangelicals, who regard helping the poor as both a passion and a spiritual obligation, not just a political preference. (This may be even more true of theologically conservative Catholics.) These men and women vote Republican not because they like the party’s policy toward poverty — cut taxes and hope for the best — but because poverty isn’t on the table anymore.

So what is on the table? Whatever the likes of Sharpton and Falwell want to yell about — on cue. What journalists need is some new names and telephone numbers in their Rolodexes. They can start with the Rev. John Stott.

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Common cup, meet common cold

ChaliceAt Mass this Sunday I had a bit of a cough, though nothing bad compared with the seriously congested woman who sat down behind me. I thought she was going to hack up a lung as she settled into the pew. She made half throat-clearing, half choking noises throughout the service.

When the priest instructed us to make the sign of peace, the guy next to her — probably a relative — explained that she "has a bad cold" and thus wouldn’t be shaking hands, and he didn’t have to work hard to convince any of the surrounding coreligionists. After all, we’d had a good loud demonstration of why we wouldn’t want what she had.

An article in the same day’s issue of the New York Times captured well one of the downsides to the communal aspect of religion: flu season.

According to the Times report, only one diocese in the American arm of the Catholic Church (in Vermont) has flat out ordered priests not to administer the common cup and formally asked parishioners not to shake hands. Other diocese are taking less severe measures like "encouraging hand-washing, requesting that sick people refrain from taking communion and encouraging those uncomfortable with shaking hands not to do so."

For what it is, this story is competently told. But it could have done without the back-and-forth over whether modern germ theory applies to the blood of Christ. It does and the church doesn’t claim otherwise, but it turns out that your odds of infection don’t go up dramatically if you’re shaking people’s hands and drinking out of a common cup vs. if you’re just sitting in the room with the same people, breathing the same sneezeified air.

The account quotes one renegade Vermont priest who continues to offer the common cup, in addition to individual wafers. He says his parishioners are "grown-ups, and they’re also people of great faith" who can make up their own minds about such things.

The father says that, even with flu season as a factor, he hasn’t observed much of a drop in the number of people who make use of the chalice. And so far, he adds, the diocese hasn’t brought the hammer down for keeping the option open.

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Hicks nix sex pix

KinseySomebody on The Independent‘s copy desk loves wordplay, but wit does not always equal news. Consider “Alexander the (not so) Great fails to conquer America’s homophobes,” a breathless report by John Hiscock (in Los Angeles) and James Burleigh that says Oliver Stone’s latest film has “brutally exposed the cultural and moral divide which slices America in two.” Ouch!

The Hiscock/Burleigh report grants that the conspiracy-happy Stone is a controversial director, but concludes that still darker forces are at work in denying the auteur his rightful audience:

According to one online critic, Alexander is a flop because he is “as gay as a maypole.” Christians considering seeing the film have even been urged to “speak to your pastors immediately because Satan is attempting to enter your mind.”

By this report’s standards, ham-fisted satire on Rotten Tomatoes’ comments thread qualifies as holy writ among America’s homophobic masses.

Then there is this note about poor Stone taking flak from both sides of the cultural divide:

At the other end of the spectrum, militant gay groups are condemning Stone for not being more explicit in his depiction of the gay love affair — there is not even a kiss between Farrell and his co-star Jared Leto, while Alexander and his wife Roxane, played by Rosario Dawson, share a graphic sex scene.

Stone, no stranger to controversy after directing films including JFK and Natural Born Killers, has responded stoically: “I don’t think it’s hypocritical. As a dramatist, I wasn’t interested in it because it was suggested from the beginning that they were lovers. I think it’s all there. You don’t have to rub it in the faces of the audience.”

It’s a beautiful day in Irony Land when Oliver Stone is the voice of artistic restraint.

A sidebar cites three other films that illustrate America’s culture wars: Kinsey, Fahrenheit 9/11 and the ever-useful (if only slightly dated) Last Temptation of Christ (1988). All are examples of courageous cultural leftists facing harassment at the hands of know-nothing conservatives (The Passion of the Christ doesn’t make the cut, for some inexplicable reason). In a reverse-order list of abuses worthy of the late Richard J. Daley (“They have vilified me, they have crucified me; yes, they have even criticized me”), The Independent reports that “Temptation was protested against, picketed, subjected to boycotts and bomb threats and excluded by the Blockbuster video chain.”

In The Washington Post, Alan Cooperman writes that Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America are using “more subtle, highbrow tactics” in opposing the Bill Condon’s new hagio-pic, Kinsey.

Cooperman elaborates, providing a few helpful sneer quotes along the way:

Focus on the Family, the Colorado-based broadcasting empire of psychologist James Dobson, has been working for nearly two years — ever since it learned that director Bill Condon was planning to make the film — to enlist scholars outside the evangelical Christian community to help “debunk” Kinsey’s research, Hamrick said.

Prominent among them is Judith Reisman, author of the 1991 book “Kinsey, Sex and Fraud.” Citing her work, Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest women’s group, has encouraged its members to go to theaters and politely hand out leaflets that accuse Kinsey, who died in 1956, of committing child sexual abuse as well as scientific fraud.

Kinsey was a “massive criminal” who cooked his statistical data and based many of his purported findings on interviews with convicted sex offenders, Reisman said in an interview.

On National Review Online, Frederica Mathewes-Green (a good and dear friend of this blog) shows how glibly Condon’s film distorts one factual detail:

And then we see Kinsey showing [his wife] a book titled Ideal Marriage: Its Physiology and Technique. He opens it and reads a few sentences, which convey prissy objections to two common items of foreplay. Kinsey is enraged and says, “It’s morality disguised as fact!”

You want to talk about facts? First published in 1926, Ideal Marriage was written by a Dutch gynecologist, Theodoor Van de Velde, and may be the best-selling sex manual of all time. Over half a million copies were sold in the United States alone, and it enjoyed equal success in Europe. On pages 169-171 of the 1930 Random House edition, Van de Velde takes up one of the items above, and describes technique at length. But rather than condemn it, he pronounces this activity “absolutely unobjectionable and legitimate, ethically, aesthetically, and hygienically” (italics his). The other is treated on pages 164-168, in much more explicit detail than anything the screen Kinsey tells his students. Van de Velde instructs husbands that if ministrations such as these are not sufficiently effective, it would be “both stupid and grossly selfish of the husband” to proceed to intercourse (his italics, again). This is not a prude’s book. Young couples who grab a used copy off the Internet may have even as much fun with it as their great-grandparents did.

Buy your copies now — including some from the dreaded 1950s — before the rubes who refuse to see Alexander or Kinsey outlaw all such literature.

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Desperate academics, red housewives and soaps, etc.

desRather than a series of separate blog items, here are three quick updates on recent items of interest (not including my finale — maybe — in the Incredibles paranoia trilogy).

First of all, Barnard College poli-sci professor Jeffrey Friedman has written a very level-headed essay in The New Republic responding to the “sneering” — that’s his word — New York Times piece about the hypocrisy of red-state voters who still like to watch trashy television shows, such as the neo-”City in the City” babes of Desperate Housewives.

Doug LeBlanc has already written on this Times piece, drawing some fine comments from readers. Still, Friedman updates the debate on several points. For starters, he really shows why it is time to drop all discussions of the red state-blue state divide, outside of specific issues linked to the Electoral College. You really have to talk about red counties and blue counties, or even zip codes. And the total number of “values voters” was actually rather small — even if strategic.

Enough already. Here is a major chunk of Friedman’s essay:

Pointing out instances of conservative hypocrisy has become something of a post-election pastime for liberals, and in this case, it might have some basis in fact, no matter how exaggerated the Times story made it seem — after all, there is surely at least some overlap between Bush values voters and Desperate Housewives fans. . . . Rather than attacking the specific policies promoted by values voters . . . the charge of hypocrisy attacks the voters themselves. But it’s an elementary point of logic that a claim’s validity is independent of the character of those who advocate it. A truth is a truth, no more or less true because of who believes it. The whole issue of hypocrisy, then, for all the importance it routinely assumes in political discourse, is a red herring.

If a professed atheist secretly worships God “just in case,” we’re entitled to say that he lacks the courage of his convictions. But we aren’t entitled to say that those convictions are false. God exists, or doesn’t exist, regardless of what any atheist secretly believes. The same goes for the beliefs of values voters: They are valid, or they aren’t, irrespective of whether a voter who believes in their validity succeeds in bringing them to bear when he turns on the TV set.

I think that is called “linear thought.” Bracing, isn’t it?

George F. Will has — surprise, surprise — weighed in on the issue of political liberalism on mainstream college and university campuses. Calling this revelation shocking is, he argues, a bit like a breaking news report with the headline: “Moon Implicated in Tides, Studies Find.” He also points toward information in a recent piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education that I will try to get my hands on (I do not have an online subscription). Meanwhile, here is a rather typically dry Will comment:

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports that in 2004, of the top five institutions in terms of employee per capita contributions to presidential candidates, the third, fourth and fifth were Time Warner, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft. The top two were the University of California system and Harvard, both of which gave about 19 times more money to John Kerry than to George W. Bush.

But George Lakoff, a linguistics professor at Berkeley, denies that academic institutions are biased against conservatives. The disparity in hiring, he explains, occurs because conservatives are not as interested as liberals in academic careers. Why does he think liberals are like that? “Unlike conservatives, they believe in working for the public good and social justice.”

That clears that up.

I am fascinated by the surge of reporting on the fusion of Christmas and Hanukkah this year. As I mentioned earlier, I think there is more to this than timely public relations for online merchandise and a timely soap-opera news hook with The O.C.

Now, the topic has gone totally mainstream, with its own Associated Press report. How mainstream is this trend?

Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards Inc. says among its most popular categories of Hanukkah cards is the one that combines Jewish and Christian themes. The company tried the idea with just one card in the mid-90s; today they have four. . . .

American Greetings Corp. has also increased its Hanukkah-Christmas line offerings since its introduction eight years ago. There are around 10 this year. . . . Most of American Greetings’ Hanukkah-Christmas cards are humorous. . . . One shows three snowmen — two dressed in traditional winter hats and scarves, the third wearing a yarmulke and prayer shawl. Another features a list of Hanukkah songs that never caught on, including “Shlepping Through a Winter Wonderland,” “Bubbie Got Run Over by a Reindeer” and “Come On, Baby, Light My Menorah.”

“We don’t go over the line,” said Pam Fink, who works on Jewish-themed cards for American Greetings. “We’re careful to make sure it’s lighthearted funny, but not too far.”

Come On, Baby, Light My Menorah? I guess it depends on how one defines “baby.”

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The Beliefnet/GetReligion axis

Our colleague Jeremy Lott will not post as often for the next few days as he fills in for one of our favorite bloggers, Charlotte Hays at Beliefnet. (Bloggers Charlotte Allen, Domenico Bettinelli Jr., Rod Dreher, Barbara Nicolosi, Kathy Shaidle and Mark Shea have filled in for her on other days.)

Jeremy’s first post refers Beliefnet’s readers back to a tmatt item here at GetReligion, so be careful not to become lost in a perpetual loop of Internet logrolling.

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