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15 posts from September 2008

Christopher M. Finan: Books Still Burn Here

Some people will yawn at hearing that Saturday was the beginning of the 27th Annual Banned Books Week. The story is the same every year, isn't it? Hundreds of titles are challenged in schools and libraries around the country. In 2007, the number was 420. This is fewer than the year before, but the number has fluctuated widely since the launch of Banned Books Week in 1982. The average is around 500. Read more →

The Unetane Tokef: A Jewish Model for Collective Responsibility

The theology of the Unetane Tokef–which appears in both the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur liturgy–has always troubled me–how can we accept that tefillah (prayer) and teshuvah (repentance) and tzedekah (acts of righteousness, usually translated as "charity") are going to save us from earthquakes, car accidents, persecution? We know that lots of very good people suffer every day, and that many people who do horrible things prosper. One could write off the prayer as reflective of an era in which people found solace in trying to control their fate, but I think that's unfair and dismissive of the liturgy. Read more →

Link Roundup: Teaching and Writing, SCOTUS Can't Get No Respect, and Beacon Broadside at One Year

In the New York Times Magazine last weekend, David Gessner, author of Soaring With Fidel, weighed the pros and cons of teaching and writing, and teaching writing. Salon talks with Carmine Sarracino about our porn-saturated culture. Sarracino is co-author of... Read more →

From the Director: Remembering Robert Giroux

I'm proud to note that Beacon Broadside is celebrating its first birthday this week—what a milestone. All our metrics are strong—measures I didn't even know existed a year ago but which I now follow avidly. Thanks to a dedicated and very talented blog editor, Jessie Bennett, and especially to a tremendously creative and generous list of house authors and friends, we have a very deep archive of posts on almost any subject of interest to Americans who are drawing breath in the 21st century. This fall also happens to mark my 32nd year in book publishing, and my 13th as director of Beacon. I think I value the blog so much because it is so radically different from anything I could imagine back when I was banging out letters to authors on a Selectric, with white-out smudges betraying my all-too-frequent typos. Read more →

Urban Wilderness: Exploring Nature in the City

What is "urban wilderness?" It is a paradox: the experience of the wild in the city. I recently completed a six-year voyage of discovery, not of untraveled locations—for at the turn of the millennium there are none left—but of my own vicinity. What I discovered was a rich and worthwhile experience of nature in the midst of urban and suburban development. Read more →

Link Roundup: Rabbinic Counsel, Cheating Athletes and Memorials

The literary world lost two vital voices last week: author David Foster Wallace and poet/poetry blogger Reginald Shepherd. Kottke has assembled a comprehensive links list for DFW memorials, although you could spend the day trolling through the thousands of blog... Read more →

Contraception Foes With Friends in High Places

Next Thursday, September 25th, is the cut-off date for public comments on the Department of Health and Human Services' proposed regulations concerning the expansion of the so-called "conscience clause" of the 2004 Weldon Amendment, which would ban federal funds from medical establishments that "discriminate" against health care providers or institutions by requiring them to participate in or provide referrals for abortion services – very broadly defined. In an early draft of the regulations leaked in July, the HHS proposed that abortion, under its definition, included any procedure, action or drug "that results in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation." Read more →

Sister Pact: A Bostonian Living in Europe Goes to Padua

We had been living in Krakow for three months when I started feeling homesick for Boston. It's not that I don't like Krakow. As everyone knows, Krakow is the new Prague. It is blessed with magnificent architecture, a vibrant student population, and more beets than you can shake a stick at. But it just isn't Boston. Nobody honks a horn just to hear how loud it is. You can't find a bowl of clam chowder anywhere. And while plenty of drunk guys roam the streets, they generally aren't chanting "Yankees Suck." Read more →

Link Roundup: Student Loans, Funding Locally-Owned Markets, Cow Gas

Kathryn Joyce (whose book Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement will be released by Beacon this winter) compares the candidacy of Sarah Palin to the biblical story of Esther. The student loan credit crunch may just be a "convenient" distraction... Read more →

A Dad's View of the Mommy Wars and Sarah Palin

When the Republican Party nominated Sarah Palin for Vice-President of the United States, they (inadvertently?) reignited the mommy wars, that alleged antagonism between working mothers and stay-at-home moms. But this round of the war is Vietnam, not World War II, for there is no front line and no one can tell friend from foe. Read more →

Professor’s Perspective: the Red Sox and the History of Racial Inequality

So here's my problem teaching cultural history: I am a devout and devoted, dedicated and dutiful, fan of the Boston Red Sox. There are many, many, many well known burdens in being a fan of Boston. Until recently, there was the whole "curse" thing. The year 1918, which could be mentioned for many historically important reasons (the flu epidemic, Exterminator's unlikely win at the Kentucky Derby, the creation of Wilson's Fourteen Points, etc.), haunted Boston fans until 2004. I was one of them. I endured. Read more →

Sarah Palin: No Friend to Children and Adults with Disabilities

As the mother of young adult with mental retardation, nothing should make me happier than a candidate for vice president vowing that my daughter would at last have a "friend and advocate in the White House." Instead, I find myself more concerned than ever about the fate of children and adults with disabilities. Read more →

How Obama is From Paradise

For many, Barack Obama's birthplace, Hawaii, is the closest thing to paradise on earth. In fact, however, a perverted search for paradise led Western Europeans to conquer and colonize both North America and Hawaii. Unlike the colonizers of the last five hundred years, early Christians believed that the whole earth, including where they already lived, was the earthly paradise. They understood that empires and other powers sought to destroy it and that paradise was a place of struggle against those powers. They saw their responsibility as working to create just and loving communities wherever they lived. Read more →

Link Roundup: RNC Protests, Women and Labor Day, Literary Peace Prize

Amy Goodman and two producers of Democracy Now! (Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar) were arrested yesterday in St. Paul while covering the Republican National Convention for the show. All three have been released, but the video of Goodman's arrest... Read more →