Friday, April 17, 2015

Blogging Around: The Media Edition

A New "Wrinkle" in Time

I was fascinated to see that Madeleine L'Engle's granddaughter has discovered a three-page section that was cut from the original classic, A Wrinkle in Time. I didn't know that people looked at Camazotz as a commentary on communism. That never occurred to me. This sheds light on what L'Engle had in mind.
In it, Meg has just made a narrow escape from Camazotz. As Meg’s father massages her limbs, which are frozen from a jarring trip through space and time, she asks: “But Father, how did the Black Thing—how did it capture Camazotz?” Her father proceeds to lay out the political philosophy behind the book in much starker terms than are apparent in the final version.

He says that yes, totalitarianism can lead to this kind of evil. (The author calls out examples by name, including Hitler, Mussolini and Khrushchev.) But it can also happen in a democracy that places too much value on security, Mr. Murry says. “Security is a most seductive thing,” he tells his daughter. “I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the greatest evil there is.”

Ms. Voiklis said she wanted readers to know the book wasn’t a simple allegory of communism. Instead, it’s about the risk of any country—including a democracy—placing too much value on security. The tension between safety and personal freedom is an idea that resonates in today’s politics.
Read the whole article at the Wall Street Journal. There's a link in the article to a pdf of the omitted pages. I can see how they would have slowed the story down, yet the point L'Engle was making really resonates with me. We're living right now with that same problem of too much prosperity leading to too great a desire for security.

Pope Francis and the CNN Anchor's Renewed Faith

Deacon Greg Kandra is in Jordan right now and you really should take a look at his posts which are fascinating.

I don't know how he has time to also keep track of other news but this one grabbed my attention. Not only does it give a wonderful story of CNN anchor Carol Costello's return to faith, but it shows how Pope Francis is drawing people's attention to Church teachings in a way that lets them see the mercy underlying it.

In an interview with newly appointed Cardinal Lacroix, she pursues her questions about a statement from Pope Francis that surprised her. This is just part so do go read the whole piece for yourself.
But isn't homosexuality a sin in the eyes of the church?

"There is room for everyone. The door is open," Cardinal Lacroix insisted. "Of course you know that the Catholic Church will never promote same sex marriage, but do we respect homosexual persons? Do we welcome them? Do we accompany them? Of course. But to respect the Church and its teaching, which is based on a long tradition and also the word of God, we will not go so far as to bless. But that doesn't mean we reject."

That last sentiment -- "that doesn't mean we reject." -- did it for me.
And that's what I liked. What the cardinal tells her is basic Catholic teaching but in a way that allows her to really hear the whole message. And that's Francis's gift, it seems to me.

Plastic Bags

Like a lot of places Dallas has put a tax on plastic bags from stores. Their heart is in the right place but I never saw any statistics to justify it. Just the same old "everyone knows" argument about helping the environment. So I was really interested when Skeptoid podcast did an episode on that very issue.
Researching this episode was the most difficult time I've had yet doing Skeptoid. Not surprisingly, it's hard to find any information on this topic that isn't advocacy one way or another. There are plausible, reasonable claims that plastic bags aren't that bad - thoughtfully provided by the plastic bag industry. There are horrific tales of disaster - dished up by environmental advocacy groups with their hands out. But actual science? That seems to be pretty rare, and it's hard to dig much up.
But you do get what science there is on the topic which yielded surprising results. You can listen to the Skeptoid episode or read the transcript here which also has links.

Russian Movie Censorship — It's Back!

The Kremlin says upcoming movie "Child 44" distorts historical facts about Soviet Union and presents Russia as a dark land. Consequently the Russian release has been canceled. Well, it is a movie so that's probably true. Hollywood never lets the truth get in the way of a great story. However, the Russians seem pretty paranoid about Stalin's legacy and, let's face it, that legacy isn't one I'd want to hold up to a bright light.
Mr. Medinsky criticized the film not just for its take on the country’s war effort but also for its negative portrayal of life under Stalin in general. He encouraged local viewers to rid themselves of what he termed as “these endless schizophrenic reflections” on Russian history.

“It is time to finally form our own idea about ourselves as the heirs of a great, unique Russian civilization,” he wrote. “Without that, they will crush us.”
For anyone who was around for the Cold War, and I was, this all sounds disturbingly familiar. If the truth hurts, just don't let anyone know it. This one's all around the internet but I read it in the Wall Street Journal.

"Controversial" or "Historic?'

Get Religion asks: Why does Washington Post label one religious freedom law 'controversial' and another 'historic?'
In the media storm over a religious freedom law passed in Indiana, the Washington Post repeatedly used the term "controversial" to describe the measure (examples here, here and here).

However, the Post prefers other words to characterize a gay rights bill passed in Utah, including "landmark" and "historic."
Words matter. Read it all.


NOTE: if you can't read an entire WSJ article, try going to Google or Bing and searching for the article. Often if you come in that "door" the whole article is available.

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