Reproduction as resurrection

baby-1414531_1280Peter Leithart gives a splendid reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 3, in which he is trying to persuade his “fair young friend” (contrary to the homosexual readings of the sonnets) to get married and have children.

Leithart shows how Shakespeare and his age thought of what it means to have children, including the connection of sexuality to nature (for example, the link between “husband” and “husbandry”) and the notion that the reproduction is an image of resurrection. [Read more…]

“What good is a road if it doesn’t lead to a church?”

LaurusRod Dreher has interviewed Eugene Vodolazkin, the author of Laurus, which we posted about yesterday.  Read what he has to say.  Sample:

During the perestroika period, we had a great film, Repentance, by the Georgian director Tengiz Abuladze . It’s a movie about the destruction wrought by the Soviet past. The last scene of the film shows a woman baking a cake at the window. An old woman passing on the street stops and asks if this way leads to the church. The woman in the house says no, this road does not lead to the church. And the old woman replies, “What good is a road if it doesn’t lead to a church?”

More after the jump.

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An epic Christian novel

LaurusI’ve just finished Laurus, a novel by the Russian author Eugene Vodolazkin, an Orthodox Christian, and I’m still savoring the experience, which is one of being immersed in the medieval mind.

The novel is the story of Arseny, who as a lad is apprenticed to his grandfather, a physician.  Arseny has a gift of healing that goes beyond his expertise in herbal remedies.  A love story ensues, which sets him on a quest for atonement, both for himself and for the woman he caused to sin.  Arseny becomes a “holy fool.”  Then, accompanied by a western Catholic who has visions of the future, he sets off on a long and perilous pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Then he becomes a monk.  Then an anchorite.  And, overall, a kind of saint.

The book is “immersive”–that is, wholly involving, so that reading it creates the illusion of entering the mind of someone who inhabits 15th century Russia, an amalgam of earthiness, superstitions, visionary experiences, medieval lore, intimations of eternity, and open-hearted piety. [Read more…]

Tom Wolfe takes on Darwinism and its failure to explain language

Tom Wolfe is among our best contemporary writers.  The founder of the New Journalism, which uses novelistic techniques for the purpose of non-fiction, and a novelist who employs real-world research like a journalist, Wolfe is also an iconoclast of contemporary culture.  (See, for example, his send-up of wealthy leftists in Radical Chic, and his mockery of the trendy art world in The Painted Word.)

Now Wolfe takes on the biggest icon of modern thought, the one thinker who must not be questioned and the one  sacrosanct idea:  Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Wolfe’s book, The Kingdom of Speech, is a lively history of Darwin’s theory and its continually demonstrated inability to account for human language.  It also gives us a portrait of Charles Darwin and his nemesis Alfred Russel Wallace, who beat him to the theory of natural selection.  Wolfe also takes on Noam Chomsky, the leading linguist of our day and a leftwing activist, and his nemesis, Dan Everett, a former missionary who disproves his theory on the innateness of language.

Though Wolfe is neither, from what I can tell, a creationist nor an Intelligent Design advocate, he shows how science is made–by human beings, with ambition, politics, and social pressures all playing their part.  The book is informative, funny, and stimulating.  And it is ultimately a tribute to the transcendent Word that underlies all things. [Read more…]

The Berenstain Bears go Christian

The Berenstain Bears have been children’s favorites since the first title was published in 1962.  The son of the original cartoonist took over the franchise in the 1980s.  Mike Berenstain is a Christian, and he brings out explicit Christian themes in one line of the books published by Zondervan.  Go here for those titles.

A Jewish dad writes about why his four-year-old loves the Bears in the New York Times Magazine.  He was taken aback by the Christian titles, though he doesn’t mind them too much.  Read what he says after the jump.

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Religion replaces sex on the Banned Book list

Last week was Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s tribute to books they get complaints about.  Now this observance is essentially bogus.  None of the current books they list every year have actually been banned.  Complaints are not the same as censorship.  Libraries have a certain budget and select what books they want to purchase.  The closest thing to censorship would be if librarians refuse to buy, say, conservative books or Christian books because they don’t agree with them and so prevent their patrons from reading them.

Nevertheless, it’s telling to see what books make the “Banned Book” lists, which are sort of a bellwether of the hot button issues from year to year.

Previously, most of the “banned books” raised objections because they contained sex scenes that parents considered unsuitable for children.  But this year, five of the ten most “banned” books drew objections because of their religious perspective.

Number 6 on the list is the Bible.  Secularists are wanting it to be banned because of its violence, intolerance, and because they think having it in a school or public library violates the separation of church and state.

Of the other titles that draw objections for religious reasons, they aren’t so Christian friendly:  one is pro-Islam, one promotes atheism, and the other two deal with LGBT issues and are probably critical of conservative religion. Most of the other titles that raised objections had gay and transgender themes.

But those are the flash points today:  LGBT and religion. [Read more…]