What are you reading, watching, thinking about this week? As usual, here’s a few which have been on our mind. Let us know your thoughts on any/all of them. If you have items you’d like us to consider for the top five, add them in the comments or send them to Tom or Mike.
1. Call for writers who can explore whole people immersed in the multifaceted nature of politics: Ready to answer the call or suggest a book/film which meets the challenge given by Ross Douthat in Hollywood’s Political Fictions (NY Times Op-Ed, 3/14/10)?
Explaining Why Americans Can’t Write Political Fiction in a 2005 essay for the Washington Monthly, Chris Lehmann noted the long-running tendency in American letters to depict politics as the preserve of debased cynics and moral monsters. … Lehmann suggested, they usually cast the entire mess as “a great ethical contaminant and task their protagonists with escaping its many perils with both their lives and their moral compasses intact.” As it happens, this is a pretty good description of the arc of “Green Zone.” But it’s a lousy recipe for real art, which is supposed to be interested in the humanity of all its subjects, not just the ones who didn’t work for Rumsfeld’s Department of Defense.
2. Will ‘The Dawn Treader’ Float? (Mark Moring, Christianity Today Magazine, 3/02/2010), Christian leaders get sneak peek of next Narnia movie, like what they see; filmmakers admit “mistakes” on Prince Caspian, vow to get it right this time. We’ll have a discussion about the upcoming film later in the year …
3. Why There Is No Jewish Narnia (Micheal Weingad, Jewish Review of Books, No 1, Spring 2010).
So why don’t Jews write more fantasy literature? And a different, deeper but related question: why are there no works of modern fantasy that are profoundly Jewish in the way that, say, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is Christian? Why no Jewish Lewises, and why no Jewish Narnias?
My interest in these questions is partly personal. Tolkien and Lewis loomed large in my childhood and, as I read them to my own children, I wonder what they ought to mean to us as Jews. But my thoughts are also stimulated by the recent publication of some apparent exceptions to the rule: from the United States, The Magicians, a fantasy novel for adults by novelist and critic Lev Grossman, and from Israel, Hagar Yanai’s Ha-mayim she-bein ha-olamot (The Water Between the Worlds), the acclaimed second installation of a projected fantasy trilogy, which, when it is finished, will be the first such trilogy in Hebrew.
4. Evaporating First Amendment? (Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, March 18) – Jaschik takes a look at the case of Mike Adams, the conservative criminology professor at UNC-Wilmington who argues that he was denied promotion because of his conservative Christian beliefs. His lawsuit against the school was recently rejected by a federal judge. (See the Alliance Defense Fund’s statement on the ruling.)
5. Black Scholars and Professionals Conference: InterVarsity recently launched a new ministry to support, well, Black scholars and professionals. BSAP will be hosting a conference, Transforming Love and Truth: Self, Community, Vocation, in Cambridge, MA, on April 23 & 24. If you are in the Boston area, and you are or know African American students, faculty, or professionals who could benefit, you won’t want to miss it.
Paul Froese, The Plot to Kill God: Findings from the Soviet Experiment in Secularization – From Mike: I doubt that I’ll have time to dig into this, but it looks like a fascinating read: an account of the Soviet government’s attempts to eliminate religious belief and practice from its citizenry. (HT: Julie)
Update: 3/19/2010, 8:30 EST