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Nutshell – Review

nutshell_mcewanInnovative storyteller Ian McEwan has been exploring the depth up humanity for years. His latest novel Nutshell, just may be his most important and penetrating examination of the 21st century to date. Nutshell is a crime story unlike any other, told from the point of view of an unborn child who bears witness to his mother and uncle’s plot to muder his father. It’s a heart wrenching story of just how far our society has devolved and the mess we’ve created for the next generation.

Lies Will be the Truth

McEwan brilliantly portrays the world of the 21st century though it’s poetry described as, “…Too much about self, too glassily cold with regard to others, too many grips in too short a line.” We’ve become a world of pessimists since, “Pessimism is too easy, even delicious, the badge and plume of intellectuals everywhere. It absolves the thinking class of solutions. We excite ourselves with dark thoughts in plays, poems, novels, movies… We’re bloated with privileges and delights, as well as complaints…”.

The picture throughout Nutshell is one of a world reeling with it’s preoccupation with self in light of it’s rejection of any truth outside our own perceptions. The amoral malaise of a godless society is on full display as the unborn child says to himself, “Who knows what is true? I can hardly collect the evidence for myself. Like everyone else, I’ll take what I want, whatever suits me.”Later on adding, “My selfhood would be sculpted by pleasure, conflict, experience ideas and my own judgement as rocks and trees are shaped by rain, wind and time.” There are no more absolutes or truth, just feelings.

I declare my undeniable feeling for who I am. If I turn out to be white, I may identify as black. And vise versa. I may announce myself as disabled, or disabled in context. If my identity is that of a believer, I’m easily wounded, my flesh torn to bleeding by my questioning of my faith.Offended, I enter a state of grace. Should inconvenient opinions hover near me like fallen angels or evil dijnn (a mile being too near), I’ll be in need of the special campus safe room equipped with Play-Doh and looped footage of gambolling puppies. Ah, the intellectual life! I may need advance warning if upsetting books or ideas threaten my very being by coming too close, breathing on my face, my brain, like unwholesome dogs. I’ll feel, therefore I’ll be.

McEwan has nailed us as a culture, “I’ll feel, therefore I’ll be.” We reject the facts that,”Biology is destiny, and destiny is digital, and in this case binary.” With no perceived shackles of “normalcy” or “truth” we seek to control life by the only standard we deem appropriate, our feelings and since they are transitory, who we are is as fleeting as chaff in the wind.

The culmination of this is mirrored in the mother of the story who has helped her brother-in-law kill her husband, so that they can reap the benefits of millions in the sale of the marital house. Her unborn son realizes that, “…my mother is in step with the new times. She may no know it, but she marches with the movement. Her status as a murderer is in fact, and item in the world outside herself. But that’s old thinking. She affirms, she identifies as innocent…Lies will be her truth.”(Italics in the quote from the book).

This is the world we’ve created, this is the legacy we leave to our unborn. Lies for the truth. Nutshell reads like Romans 1 where the Apostle Paul says,

God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32 ESV)

unborn-baby-image

The Unborn

Nutshell is tragically pro-life, showing the utter disregard that our society has for the unborn. Since we as a society see reality in only what we feel, biology no longer applies, therefore the unborn are only children if we feel they are. Otherwise they are victims of our perceptions. We exchange the truth for a lie to enable apathy and at worst contempt which facilitates wholesale murder. Nutshell is a reminder to those of us that are pro-life, it is not just saving the precious babies, but caring for it and the mother afterwards. For children who are born and are unwanted, we have a responsibility to step up and provide the homes and families, welcoming them into love. If we don’t, the life we save will be lost to a world that clearly has no regard for it whatsoever.

Conclusion

Nutshell is a tragic masterpiece that illuminates the dark recesses of our world, reminding us that life is ugly and cruel without hope. It’s an important, worthwhile read and one of the best books of the year.

abortion · Book Reviews · Books · Carly Fiorina · Creation · Culture · Faith · Film · Media · Movies

Owl Post 8-11-15

Owl Post: 2-3-2012

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The Coddling of the American Mind:

image6087947xSomething strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Educationdescribing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.

From Gamergate to Cecil the lion: internet mob justice is out of control:

In this animated image created by Matt Groening and released by Twentieth Century Fox, the entire town of Springfield is transformed into an angry mob, in a scene from When an American dentist named Walter Palmer killed a beloved lion named Cecil, the social media platforms that allowed outraged web users to spread the story also enabled them to do more than just fume. It gave them the power to act on their anger, to reach into Palmer’s life and punish him for what he’d done, without having to wait for the wheels of more formal justice to turn. Web users uncovered Palmer’s personal information, including about his family, and published it online. They went after his business, a private dental practice, posting thousands of negative reviews on Yelp and other sites. The practice has since shut down. Users also went after professional websites that host his profile, leading the sites to remove his information. On Twitter and on his practice’s public Facebook page, people made threats of physical violence.

Go Set a Watchman: Why Harper Lee’s new book is so controversial:

20150326140533US_cover_of_Go_Set_a_WatchmanTo Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best-known books in America. It’s an inspiring story about standing up to injustice even if doing so is difficult and unpopular; an accessible coming-of-age tale; and a convenient way to teach high school English students about the Jim Crow South. It’s also the only novel that its author, Harper Lee, had ever published — until a sudden announcement in February 2015 heralded the publication of Go Set a Watchman, a new Lee work featuring the same characters as To Kill a Mockingbird.

A lot of people are suspicious about the discovery of the new manuscript. There are questions about whether Lee actually wanted it to be published, or whether she even wrote it at all — and if so, when. These questions have only become more urgent since the book’s release on July 14, due to its “reveal” that Atticus Finch, the anti-racist hero of To Kill a Mockingbird, is a virulent racist in Watchman.

How Kerry Conran saw Hollywood’s future – then got left behind:

skyangelina-xlargeShortly after completing their first movie, in 2004, Kerry and Kevin Conran received an invitation from George Lucas. The Star Wars mastermind would be hosting a summit at Skywalker Ranch, his production facility-cum-small town in San Francisco, gathering some of the most forward-thinking people in the movie business to discuss the future of film.

James Cameron was there, as were Robert Zemeckis and Brad Bird. The brothers were newcomers, but that day they were treated as peers; each of their fellow directors told the Conrans how impressed they were with what they’d accomplished. Their work, they were told, was way ahead of its time.

Planned Parenthood: 4 Ways to Respond:

PlannedParenthoodsignWe have come to a singularly important moment in the battle against abortion (which is to say, the battle for life). The stunning undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress have taken us right to the heart of the abortion industry. They have shown that Planned Parenthood is enriching themselves with the bodies of murdered babies. Not only that, but Planned Parenthood is willingly increasing the risk to the women they serve in order to enrich themselves—altering the abortion procedures to deliver intact bodies. Planned Parenthood is a business, a government-supported business, that buys and sells death.

Carly Fiorina at the Reagan Library:

How Culture Disciples Us:

i-mass-media-inducono-alla-violenza-L-kysDzCWe hold a misconception about discipleship: that it’s a merely Christian idea, only taking place at weekend worship services, on weeknights in groups and in the mornings or evenings when we “spend time with the Lord.” On the contrary, discipleship is taking place all around us and in us every day. Whether we realize it or not, we are being shaped and formed by the movies and TV shows we watch, the music, podcasts and radio stations we listen to, the books and magazines that we read, the social media feeds that we skim, and the trips we take to the mall. Our cultural practices and habits are discipling us either for good or for ill.

Book Reviews · Books · Christianity · Faith · Man of Steel · Superheroes · Superman

Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero – A Review

They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son. Jor-El

The longevity of the oldest superhero is the focus of Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero. In this book Larry Tye tells the history of Superman and his creators to explain how a hero in blue tights and red underpants has lasted for 75 years. So what is it? Why is Superman still impacting the world today?

Superpowers are just half of the equation. More essential is know what to do with them, and nobody has more instinctual sense than Superman of right and wrong. He is an archetype of mankind at its pinnacle. Like John Wayne, he sweeps in to solve our problems. No thank-you needed. Like Jesus Christ, he descended from the heavens to help us discover our humanity. He is neither cynical like Batman, nor fraught, like Spider-Man. For the religious, he can reinforce whatever faith they profess: for nonbelievers, he is a secular messiah.

Superman, for 75 years has been showing us, not telling us the way. His actions speak for themselves. Tye walks through every incarnation of Superman showing the why of the character and how each generation got the Superman that it needed. Tye looks at what makes Superman stand apart from the rest and what makes him different from every other hero in both major comic universes.

“That was what every DC partisan had dreamed of since the 1960s, when the world split into DC versus Marvel people, Superman versus Spider-Man. Here, thanks to the writers like Waid, Maggin and Loeb, was Superman who was not just in touch with his motivations, as Spider-Man was, but with his and our aspirations. Spider-Man had been telling us what he thought and felt in a way that seemed self-indulgent and even narcissistic. Now Superman was showing us in a way that made us want to listen and follow. ‘I don’t want to relate to a superhero,’ twenty-three-year-old Chris Clow, a political science major at Western Washington University, says in explaining why he prefers Superman to Spider-Man. ‘Superman continues to inspire men not because I can relate to him, but because I aspire to act as he does. He, and by extension the storytellers that have given him life, have taught me how to live well. Not financially, but socially. Spiritually. Morally. And I am better for it.

” ‘It’s the belief that with all the things that are wrong in the world there is still one thing that can’t be corrupted,’ explains Cholette.”

What was really interesting to me was the religious implications that Tye explores with Superman. Created by two Jewish men, the connection is undeniable. Tye does a marvelous job of delving into each iteration of Superman and in each one there is a savior that, that generation seems to be looking for. Most people think of comics as the realm of kids, fantasy and nerds, yet when we look deeper, superheros are telling us something about ourselves, our deepest longings and desires as humans play out from panel to panel.

This is a enjoyable, informative and thoroughly in-depth look at all that has made Superman the most popular superhero for such a long time. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys comics or just wants to understand ourselves a little better.

Our longest-lasting hero will endure as long as we need a champion, which should be until the end of time.

Books · Christianity · Culture · ebooks · Gender · Government · Politics · social media · Tullian Tchividjian

Owl Post 6-22-12

The Religious Right Turns 33: What Have We Learned?

Many historians say the modern religious right was birthed in June of 1979. That was the month when the Rev. Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority, an organization tasked with saving the American public from the threat of moral decline. Not coincidentally, Concerned Women for America was formed the same month.

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All:

EIGHTEEN MONTHS INTO my job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, a foreign-policy dream job that traces its origins back to George Kennan, I found myself in New York, at the United Nations’ annual assemblage of every foreign minister and head of state in the world. On a Wednesday evening, President and Mrs. Obama hosted a glamorous reception at the American Museum of Natural History. I sipped champagne, greeted foreign dignitaries, and mingled. But I could not stop thinking about my 14-year-old son, who had started eighth grade three weeks earlier and was already resuming what had become his pattern of skipping homework, disrupting classes, failing math, and tuning out any adult who tried to reach him. Over the summer, we had barely spoken to each other—or, more accurately, he had barely spoken to me. And the previous spring I had received several urgent phone calls—invariably on the day of an important meeting—that required me to take the first train from Washington, D.C., where I worked, back to Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived. My husband, who has always done everything possible to support my career, took care of him and his 12-year-old brother during the week; outside of those midweek emergencies, I came home only on weekends.

What Sanctification Is and Is Not:

J.C. Ryle’s Holiness is a classic work that bears repeated readings. Recently I returned to his chapter on sanctification, a term that he defines as “an inward spiritual work which the Lord Jesus Christ works in a man by the Holy Ghost, when He calls him to be a true believer.” After defining the term, he lays out the differences between true and false sanctification, first saying what it is not and then saying what it is.

Off The eBook Shelf:

Readers are voting with their wallets: The eBook is winning. In the US, eBooks sales are now topping hardcovers for the first time (story in TechCrunch). Not everywhere of course. According to the Bowker Global eBook Research, the global market for eBooks is driven — in that order — by India, Australia, the UK and the United States. The laggards are Japan and (no surprise) France. The chart below shows the percentage of internet population reporting the purchase of a digital book over the last six months prior to the survey.

Reality Check: Most Internet trolls are probably trolls in real life, too:

One of the biggest myths about the Internet goes like this: people who are perfectly pleasant and reasonable in real life become total jerkfaces when they get online. It conjures up the image of a mild-mannered office clerk, who talks courteously and sweetly to everyone, and then goes home and spews venom on comment sections and web forums for hours. Like the Secret Trolling Life of Walter Mitty. And I’m sure this does happen. But, I’m guessing, most people who troll on the internet actually are trolls in real life, too.

Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Mission Trips:

I have seen with my own eyes or know of houses in Latin America that have been painted 20 times by 20 different short-term teams; fake orphanages in Uganda erected to get Westerners to give money; internet centers in India whose primary purpose is to ask Westerners for money; children in African countries purposefully mutilated by their parents so they would solicit sympathy while they beg; a New England-style church built by a Western team in Cameroon that is never used except when the team comes to visit; and slums filled with big-screen TVs and cell phone towers.