October 30, 2006

Killing the Buddha

Killing the Buddha, the "religion magazine for people made nervous by churches," has published an excerpt from Good War.  Check it out and make sure you stay to read their other high-quality articles and essays. 


Thanks to Peter Manseau, the editor of KtB, and author of Vows and coauthor of Killing the Buddha with Jeff Sharlet, editor of The Revealer, www.therevealer.org

Check out this blog

Very interesting blog run by Jim Johnson titled "(Notes On) Politics, Theory and Photography"--right up my alley. 

He wrote and called my attention to a post he wrote on my book.

Thanks, Jim


He writes:

I find Griffith's stance in many ways persuasive, but also remain deeply skeptical. He repeatedly chastises Americans for mis-understanding or mis-interpreting what it means to inhabit a "Christian Nation." He at several points calls attention to the literal ignorance of American Chirstians, many of whom when questioned cannot, for instance, name the ten commandments. But I find this narrative of authentic Christianity despoiled by those who are inattentive to or ignorant of its teachings too easy. Here is Griffith: "Nations cannot be Christian, only individuals. And while it may be true that all those who believe in Christ are united in one body, they quickly find themselves at odds with one another, divided by those things that belong to Caesar." The problem for me is that the differences in political and social outlook among various sorts of American Christian cannot be attrbuted simply to the distractions of this world - as though there would not be differences in interpretation and doctrine absent such factors. Any cultural system (of which a religion is one variety) will be contested and contestable for all sorts of internal reasons. Such differences, it seems to me, invariably will play themselves out in politics.

I disagree that religion is just "any cultural system," but I take his point and appreciate it very much. 

October 28, 2006

Nice mention on the National Book Critics Circle Blog


October 26, 2006

War is Love....War is Porn

A fascinating review of Clint Eastwood's latest, Flag of Our Fathers at beliefnet.com.


I haven't yet seen the film, but the trailers I've seen on prime-time TV make it seem that this is another shallow glorification of the Greatest Generation's sacrifices.  Robert Nylan, the reviewer, and a veteran, seems to think this film transcends such ultimately damaging pap by "telling it like it is."

But the line from the review that makes me want to see the film is: 

"Maybe there's no such thing as an anti-war movie. On some basic level, it's all war porn." 

October 23, 2006

Reason and Faith at Harvard

Coincidentally, this op-ed appeared in today's Washington Post by Father John Jenkins, president of the U. of Notre Dame and Thomas Burrish, the university's provost.

The op-ed draws attention to a recent decision by the Harvard curriculum committee to begin offering more classes that explore the "role of religion in contemporary, historical or future events--personal, cultural, national or international," in order to point out that the ways that Notre Dame is already doing so and invite secular scholars into dialogue with scholars of faith. 


The Fragmentation of the American University

This just in... A very interesting essay by Alistair MacIntyre, prof of philosophy at Notre Dame, on the ways that American Universities (even Catholic ones) are failing to address the important questions pertinent to human beings due to specialization amongst academics. 

Such specialization, he argues, obscures the connections between disciplines, places that need to be studied and understood in order to adquately address the rifts between positions and cultures. 


October 19, 2006

Review in TimeOut Chicago

Below is the link for the first print review of my book.


From the review:

...Asking key questions about the state of our country’s faith and humanity without the crutch of an agenda, this book is a massively forceful piece of criticism.

5 out of 6 stars.

October 17, 2006

Abu Ghraib More About Porn than Torture


Republican Rep. from Conn, Christopher Shays,  said in a Wednesday debate against his Democratic opponent Diane Farrell, that he believed what happened at Abu Ghraib was not torture, but the actions of a "sex ring"--more about porn that torture.

However, when pressed about his remarks Shays captiulated:  "I was maybe not as expansive as I needed to be," he said. "Of course, the degrading of anyone is torture. We need to deal with it."

General Says Abu Ghraib Officer Lied


Not a big shock, but the lack of attention the story is getting on the major news outlets is astounding.

Good Question: To What Extent Does Art Help to Change Political Realities?


Abu Ghraib in Paint


An Article on a traveling exhibition of Columbian artist Fernando Botero's series of paintings based on the Abu Ghraib prison photos. 

From the article:

Naked figures writhe in an eerie darkness. Vicious beasts bare their teeth and snarl. The faces of lost souls cry out in unimaginable agony, forced into strange and contorted positions reminiscent of crucifixion.
Such a vision evokes a scene of the apocalypse typical of 15th-century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch. But no, these paintings by Colombian artist Fernando Botero are depictions of real events. Despite their hellish subject matter, they are all meticulously based on photographs and press accounts of the torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003.
It seems hard to credit, but Mr. Botero says the pictures, which many will undoubtedly view as a scathing indictment of American foreign policy, are not meant to convey a political message.
Although he admits that President Bush "is not my favorite president," Mr. Botero says art has no effect on political realities, adding that his work is merely a relic to be looked upon by future generations as evidence of events past.
"You just leave a testimony," he said. "It's something that comes from the heart. It's something immortal that moves you to do your work."

October 13, 2006

Soldier Hoped to Do Good But Was Chaged By War

Check out this article in the New York Times.  http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/13/us/13awol.htm

A born-again Christian from Washington  who claims to have gone to Iraq to serve his country and God and began to doubt if he was serving either.

From the article: 

He said he saw American soldiers shoot and kill an unarmed Iraqi teenager, and rode in an Army Humvee that sideswiped Iraqi cars and shot an old man’s sheep for fun — both incidents Sergeant Clousing reported to superiors. He said his work as an interrogator led him to conclude that the occupation was creating a cycle of anti-American resentment and violence. After months of soul-searching on his return to Fort Bragg, Sergeant Clousing, 24, failed to report for duty one day.

October 01, 2006

Flannery O'Connor in the Age of Terrorism

I'll be giving a paper at a conference this weekend in Grand Rapids, MI at Grand Valley State U.  The conference is uncannily titled, "Flannery O'Connor in the Age of Terrorism"  Fits right in with what I've been writing about.

Tonight I sat down to make sure I know what I'm going to say.  As usual, I started reading another book instead: Archbishop of Cantebury, Rowan Williams' book of essays, Grace and Necessity.  His chapter on Flannery O'Connor is perhaps the best thing I've ever read concerning her work that treats her Catholicity as the reason for her consistently soul shaking brilliance, instead of pointing to it as her tragic flaw.

Williams points out that the irony famously associated with her work can hardly be helped.  The irony in her work is the greatest irony: Humans made in the image and likeness of God yet tend toward evil.

I'll be talking about this irony and its relationship to Grace--the notion that God extends invitations to deeper intimacy with Him through unexpected encounters.  Because it is inevitable that Humans tend toward evil, irony, although unhinging, should not be looked to as an end in itself, but as a surface indication of a deeper spiritual disturbance--a starting point rather than impasse.  

This is what it means for art to empower depth of sight.

Today is Good War's Official Release....I Promise More Posts!

October 1st.  

This is the official release date of the book.  Let the reviews begin...I hope.  

It seems that Good War will be reviewed in the New York Times Book Review.  No idea when.  That's just the hunch at Soft Skull Press because the Review asked for a finished copy.  

Time Out Chicago is reviewing it sometime in the next week or so.

I just downloaded this gadget for my Mac that lets me post to the blog without going to the site  and logging on.  This should lead to more posts.  So keep it tuned here.