JJ Reading Dan Brown’s New Book

27 09 2009

. . .and glad it isn’t BANNED! 😉

At the same time, I quite appreciate Killing the Buddha’s much more, ahem, historical and rational writing about the new book.

Dan Brown shares with the Masons a belief in the mythology that gave rise to modern culture, and hopes that his readers will join him in affirming those myths once again.

So I am just as glad Samuel Biagetti’s scholarship isn’t banned either, as I was glad the people freaked out by The Da Vinci Code couldn’t quash it or the people freaked out by Harry Potter couldn’t quash HIM:

I think Rowling’s genius is to see humans as carrying both hope and fear, both good and evil, to see us as magnificent, and animals, and facing new threats of extinction — to realize our ancient songs and stories need to be understood in progressively evolving ways, for anyone to win anything worth living or dying for.

Mortimer Adler’s definition of education was “the freeing discipline of wonder.” Religious education seems like an oxymoron then, unless we change our definition of religion, to match. Make it freeing rather than oppressive, wondrous rather than warlike, open to questions and new discovery and change. That was the thought when I wrote this:

“Maybe human spirituality is evolving [for the next cultural era] as we discover and accept truths not through patriarchal personification and studying “authoritative” writings spelled out for our dutiful performance on demand, but through an “unschooled” direct [and democratic if you will] personal connection to each other, and to the universe as a system?”

It’s not quite Dan Brown’s power of story, but it’s close enough to satisfy me.

“Ideas Are Incombustible”: Banned Books Week 2009

27 09 2009

This year, the event features work by Ellen Hopkins, a young adult author who was recently banned from speaking at an Oklahoma middle school when a parent complained about her novels. . .her “Manifesto” for Banned Books Week 2009:

To you zealots and bigots and false
patriots who live in fear of discourse.
You screamers and banners and burners
who would force books
off shelves in your brand name
of greater good.

You say you’re afraid for children,
innocents ripe for corruption
by perversion or sorcery on the page.
But sticks and stones do break
bones, and ignorance is no armor.
You do not speak for me,
and will not deny my kids magic
in favor of miracles.

You say you’re afraid for America,
the red, white and blue corroded
by terrorists, socialists, the sexually
confused. But we are a vast quilt
of patchwork cultures and multi-gendered
identities. You cannot speak for those
whose ancestors braved
different seas.

You say you’re afraid for God,
the living word eroded by Muhammed
and Darwin and Magdalene.
But the omnipotent sculptor of heaven
and earth designed intelligence.
Surely you dare not speak
for the father, who opens
his arms to all.

A word to the unwise. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning to Play, Learning From Play

27 09 2009

The whole New York Times Sunday magazine today is about various individual “identity” issues with education, from family background to sexual orientation. (Don’t miss the cover story, Coming Out in Middle School.)

One big piece is the story of our experimenting to figure out how little kids learn to control their own cognitive function, basically how they learn to learn to play, and from play.

It is Not News That Play Works, least of all here at Snook. Which is better news than this was! And Dana is writing about outside play instead of TV for little kids.

For me though, even outside play wasn’t so much physical education as it was the same sort of imaginative role-playing it would have been inside. Fresh air and sunshine was just another staging ground for the same power of story that tv and movies had infused for me with the Rules of the Roles.

And it turns out that’s what this NYT story is all about:

Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self-Control?

. . .a simple but surprising idea: that the key to developing self-regulation is play, and lots of it. But not just any play. The necessary ingredient is what Leong and Bodrova call “mature dramatic play”: complex, extended make-believe scenarios, involving multiple children and lasting for hours, even days.

If you want to succeed in school and in life, they say, you first need to Read the rest of this entry »