Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Book Review: The Prophetic Imagination that Trumps Business-as-usual

The Prophetic Imagination, by Dr. Walter Brueggeman, has sold over one million copies in its second printing and deservedly so. Now, more than ever, we need to closely examine the biblically historical power of language to counter culture a status quo, populist mindset that abnegates an alternative reality which offers the Creator's freedom through anguish and energizing, unlimited force.

Students (and admirers) of language need not be theologically inclined in order to appreciate the Chomsky-like tone regarding the hegemony of cautionary and hopeful prophecy as outlined in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible as pointed out by Brueggemann. It's still the articulate, anguished scream of the little man against the powers that be which foresee destruction yet offer visionary change in the face of, what the author labels, 'royal consciousness', as personified in the struggle between the Moses of Exodus and the Pharaoh of an oppressive Egypt against the Hebrews in the ancient Middle East and, to a final extant, Jesus Christ against the Jews and their failure to perceive the spirit behind the Law, the spirit of agape love, as given to Moses and the Israelites. In effect, it's a bold step out of the the Hegelian Dialectic, which modern philosophers such as Marx refer to, and a grand entrance into another dimensional geopolitical world tension that resolves itself solely through the Creator's will and purpose--a firmament long ago established outside of time and space before the foundations of kingdoms and governments where laid.

Some things will never change like absolute governmental power that inevitably trends toward blind and merciless oppression of society's marginalized. But Brueggeman, like Chomsky, examines the tour de force manifested by powerful (and prophetic) forces of imagination that wield language as a new construct versus reality in the everyday life of an established regime that necessarily must be deaf to the pleas of poverty and helplessness, because if rulers acknowledge the chinks in their armor of authority, they will be forced to admit that imperfection inevitably can and must lead to change and, quite often, revolution.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Jerusalem of the East: The American Christians of Pyongang, 1895-1942

North Korea, known to Americans for the totalitarian rule of the family of Kim Il Sung and a decades-long pursuit of nuclear weapons, once was the center of Christianity in Northeast Asia, its capital Pyongyang renowned among American Christians in Asia as the “Jerusalem of the East.” This forgotten era, which lasted for half a century from the late 19th Century to 1942, has renewed relevance in the 21st Century as reports of underground Christianity come from North Korea and while the grip of the regime on society weakens.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Orwell Did Hitler

Christopher Hitchens once wrote that there were three major issues of the twentieth century -- imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism -- and George Orwell proved to be right about all of them.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Inside the world's first all female special forces unit

ELVERUM, Norway — An explosion just a few feet away rocks the unmarked station wagon as it travels along a dirt road in the Norwegian woodland. 
Immediately, two soldiers jump from their front seats and run for cover behind the carcass of an old, rusty tank. Firing their weapons at targets along the snow-covered hillside, they call for support from the rest of their unit. 
This firefight is just a drill, but the soldiers taking part are battling to break down one of the final barriers to women serving in the armed forces. They are training to become part of Norway's Jegertroppen or "Hunter Troops" — the world's first all-female military special forces unit.

Read the full article here:

Saturday, February 4, 2017

John Smolens Author Interview

John Smolens

Enjoy these answers to questions given to fiction writer, John Smolens  (longtime friend of the legendary Jim Harrison), composed by U.P. Poet Laureate, Russ Thorburn, and myself. And do not forget to order his latest historical fiction novel, Wolf's Mouth:

You were a good friend of Harrison's. From his many books of prose, poetry and essays, what would you consider your favorite book? 

I’ve read just about all of his books, I believe.  I think some of his best fiction is found in his collections of novellas, which is a very difficult form.  But the books that I return to often are his poems:  After Ikkyu; The Shape of the Journey; and Braided Creek, which he wrote with Ted Kooser.  I reread essays from The Raw and the Cooked because they’re a stitch.  Nobody moves from a consideration of tomatoes to philosophy to to wine to birds to chicken thighs…with such alacrity.  It’s a little known fact that Jim Harrison invented the alternative fact.

What can you tell us about the author himself?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

REVIEW: Scottsboro: An American Tragedy

Scottsboro: An American Tragedy, is a 2000 PBS historical documentary that is still sadly relevant today. I appeal to the contemporary reader to review the facts of this tragic miscarriage of justice perhaps now more than ever in light of the recently aggravated racial tensions in America. Nine black teenagers were falsely accused of rape by two opportunistic white prostitutes and their lives were ruined forever. However, the case went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court and set the stage for the civil rights movement in the sixties.

Growing up in Detroit Proper, I went to high school with a large minority of black students who lived, literally, "on the other side of the tracks" from me. Herman Gardens was a low cost housing project that had a reputation. None of us white kids dared to visit it--at anytime of the day. However, we had no choice but to share the public school system with the black students resulting in annual spring time race riots in the hallways. The ugly experiences of racism, violence and fear will live forever in my memories. Scottsboro serves as a reminder, along with recent events, that we have not come all that far from Civil War attitudes and that there still is very much to be done as explained by Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, in today's Time magazine post entitled: Barack Obama Should Now Focus on Black Lives.

But let's rewind for a moment.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

MOVIE REVIEW: First Contact-Lost Tribe of the Amazon (2016)

The image of the young man that you see here is that of the Chief of the Txapanawa, a tribe previously isolated on the extremely remote bank of the Envira River in the village of Simpatia in Brazil. The dramatic first contact of his people with civilization is recorded live and expounded upon within context in the documentary First Contact: Lost Tribe of the Amazon, featuring anthropologist  José Carlos Merielles.

Merielles is a Brazilian sertanista, an explorer backwoodsman who works for FUNAI, a governmental body that establishes and carries out policies related to indigenous people, much like our own Bureau of Indian Affairs. It is a dangerous job and Merielles has the scars to prove it. He was shot in the face with an arrow in 2004 and that may explain why he puffs heavily on an unfiltered cigarette when first encountering the Txapanawa in a home video.