It Can Happen Here

trump_it_cant_happen_here-620x412There is a very interesting and frightening parallel being played out between the Republican candidates for President of the United States and an often overlooked novel by Sinclair Lewis. Rush over to Salon and read the complete article; but to pique your interest, I repost the first part of the article below?

Candidate Donald Trump has turned into a much better joke than most people expected. What first appeared like a Simpsons gag, a media stunt, is now leading the Republican field. Trump’s pseudo-populist businessman’s appeal is so surprisingly forthright that, in addition to being the butt of the nation’s laughter, he’s turning the whole political system into a punchline too.

With his careful mix of plainspoken honesty and reactionary delusion, Trump is following an old rhetorical playbook, one defined and employed successfully in the 1936 presidential campaign of Senator Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip. In his campaign’s promotional book “Zero Hour,” Windrip laid out the classic nativist call to action that Trump would pick up nearly word-for-word: Continue reading

Did Jesus Ever Exist?

JesusWe have discussed the veracity of the stories contained in the Gospels and even the possibility that Jesus was a real person, but according to an article on Alternet, Valerie Tarico writes that a growing number of scholars are openly or actively arguing against Jesus’ historicity. The article, reprinted at Salon is titled

5 good reasons to think Jesus never existed

Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.” In other words, they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity.

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Literary Pissing Match

BooksBook lists perform many functions. Primarily they provide a shortcut to reading some very good books. But if you are thinking critically about the list and have some experience in reading and literature, you know that any list is just an opinion (and in some cases has a hidden agenda favoring a certain publisher). But lists can be fun too. I find that I can take any list and mentally reorder it, removing some titles and adding others and then, what is endlessly fascinating, I can take the same list I created last year and rethink it, making an entirely new list.

Yes, our opinions change, our literary tastes vary, even the books we once considered great have faded from memory only to be replaced by new novels we’ve read recently. I think this is the most telling thing about lists: they represent our opinions for only a relatively short time. How many times have you been told the best book is some popular story that still sits on the front-rounder at Barnes and Noble? Look at most of the lists and you’ll see a definite bias towards newer works. Take the venerable 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die: You would think that the predominance of great literature was published in the last half of the Twentieth Century.

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Conflict, Cruelty, and Suffering

ROBERTSONI have regularly included posts on this weblog which emphasized the downside to a belief in a mythological god and especially in the inherent evils of an organized church. I’lll admit that, although I was committed to the information, it often was presented in seemingly unrelated pieces, a little here and a little there. But today I ran across a post at Salon which codified 12 of the worst things that religion foisted on humanity. I’ll just itemize them here but everyone should go to Salon or Alternet and read the complete article (the 12 evils are much more developed and far more upsetting in the original article).

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