For Letters to My Sons:
We’ve all heard of those crazy people who deny the Holocaust ever happened; we’ve been told countless times that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is one of them. He is purported to have referred to the Holocaust as a “myth,” although the full context of the statement and independent verification of the translation are not always available.
I’ve never really been sure as to why folks are inclined to deny the event we call the Holocaust. It seems, though, that they are deniers because of their own anti-semitism. Somehow, hating Jews makes one want to deny they were hated on such a mass and brutal scale during WWII. Maybe, though, it has more to do with wanting to deny it so that Jews won’t be shown any perceived favoritism as a kind of reparation. Again, I’m not sure what they are thinking.
I still have trouble with wrapping my head around the idea that people were treated this way. I mean, I know it, in gory detail, but…some small sliver of me holds out in denial, because WTF.
I suppose one might think of “Blathering” as being unrealistic, romantic, and possibly even having her head in the sand. But isn’t there something to loving people and holding out hope for the best in them? Isn’t there something to hoping that it isn’t true that people can be so cruel, so evil, so hateful?
If I was going to be a denier–a holocaust denier or a slavery denier–I’d want to be one for that reason: that I want to believe people are better than that, or that they can be.
Last week, I had a conversation with a friend in which she made an important observation, one I will paraphrase here:
I do not get to pick which sins in my life God will deal with first. I do not get to say, “Okay, God, first let’s fix my arrogance, then my greed, and then my pride.” If I do not get to tell God which of my sins He will deal with first, why do I presume that I know which of my neighbor’s sins He will deal with first, for them?
This observation was made in a conversation about homosexuality. It was said with regard to the question as to whether a person can be an active homosexual and a Christian at the same time. For some reason, Christians find it acceptable to be arrogant and Christian at the same time, but not homosexual and Christian at the same time. We assume that the arrogance is something God will deal with later, that right now He is working through some other sin in their life. Yet, we make no such concession for a person’s homosexuality. That sin must be dealt with first, before they can become Christians.
What if the right response, as Rosaria Butterfield seems to be saying, is that we should receive our neighbors, love them, and pray for them as God works with them and their sin, just as He does with us and our sin? What if the wrong response is to point out the mote in their eyes, demanding it be dealt with first, while ignoring the beam in our own?
Is there something about homosexuality that makes it an upper tier sin that must be repented of first, unlike other sins such as pride, greed, arrogance, backbiting, divisiveness, or malice? Is my friend right, or is there more to it than that?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I think I picked this book up after seeing it in a friend’s Instagram feed; he was reading the book. I got caught up in the book very quickly. The book is about a teenage boy chasing after a treasure hidden within in a virtual world that nearly every human being on earth escapes from reality with. It’s a fun read, and the clues everyone must follow in order to find the treasure are all flashes back to the 80′s, predominantly, as well as some 70′s and 90′s.
Thus, the book becomes an interesting way to revisit the pop culture of your youth (or your parents’).
The book is written from the perspective of the loner teenage boy, and he uses a lot of foul language and vulgar ways to talk about sex. Depending on your sensitivity levels, it may be too much.
Like Ender’s Game, I think the book gives rise to many discussion points. In this case, reality versus surreality, theism or atheism, and others. I suspect the book will be made into a movie, and it is one I would definitely go see. This may even be a book I’d read again.
One of the things I found to be true of me as a reader is that I found myself wanting to watch the old 80′s movies again, or read some of the books, or even listen to Rush, just because of the roles they all played in this book. I think that makes for a good book.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Good book with some interesting insight to Shakespeare’s use of language in his writings. One might go so far as to say it is fascinating. The first part of the book is an essay about Shakespeare’s use of language in a few categories: non-sexual bawdy, homosexual, sexual, general, and valedictory. The second part of the book is a thorough glossary of the sexual or bawdy meanings behind a variety of terms and phrases from Abhorson (son of a whore) to youth (youth with its sexual curiosity and amorous ardour). Each glossary entry explains the sexual or bawdy meaning behind the term or phrase as well as provides at least one example of it being used that way in one of Shakespeare’s plays.
A couple of thoughts from the book, though. The author definitely emphasizes Shakespeare’s sexual language over and above everything else. But, he does not give the impression that Shakespeare was a pervert. The author writes:
In him [Shakespeare], erotic wit often becomes so penetrating, so profound, so brilliant that it would make us forget the eroticism, were it not that the eroticism itself is penetrating and profound; and certainly the degree of wit renders the eroticism aseptic and–except to prudes and prurients–innocuous.
Shakespeare knew what he intended to do–and did it. The word or phrase always suits either the speaker or the scene or the event: usually, it is consonant with all three factors. If it suits none of them, then the reader will find that it suits the psychological or moral or spiritual atmosphere, as in the speeches of Timon when fate has turned him into a misanthropist.
These quotations, to me, point to the main difference between Shakespeare’s bawdiness and the crudeness of many modern stories, either in writing or on television or film. Shakespeare’s wit does something to the erotic that changes it, making it what the author calls aseptic and innocuous. This is not because modern readers simply don’t catch the wit, it holds true even for audiences of Shakespeare’s day. Further, though, his bawdy suits the speaker, scene, event, or psychological, moral, or spiritual atmosphere. Now, one could say that the same is true for a modern sitcom: the crudeness of their humor fits the story. The difference, however, is that many of these modern sitcoms create the story in such a way so that the crudeness always fits. Shakespeare, as any cursory reading will indicate to the average reader, deals with issues that are deep and complex, yet artfully brings the bawdy into those stories in a way that suits.
He is a master storyteller, and Shakespeare’s Bawdy only makes that all the more clear.
One other note, Partridge has written a work that focuses on the bawdy. It is possible to read this book and think that he is somehow implying that Shakespeaere’s plays are nothing but bawdy. That, of course, is not true. Were he to take the time to bring balance to the discussion, one would find that Shakespeare is just as serious when he need be as he is bawdy when it is fitting.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Clever book, fun to use as a reference book. I was a bit mistaken in thinking it was a book about how to craft insults like Shakespeare’s. It is actually just a listing of insults from Shakespeare’s plays. That being said, though, it is pretty clever. It is well-organized as well.
The first section just lists the best names to call people: measureless liar, quintessence of dust, pigeon-liver, wretched slave with a body filled and vacant mind, dunghill groom, and king of codpieces.
It would be better, though, if it explained these names.
The middle section, and by far the largest, is a collection of insults organized by the play in which they are found. This can be an interesting resource as you were reading or teaching or watching that particular play.
The final section is a collection of insults organized by theme: disloyalty, “Thou disease of a friend!” or the insignificant, “So, my good window of lattice, fare thee well; thy casement I need not open, for I look through thee.”
A fun book, although not exactly what I was expecting.