Tag Archives: violence

“Everybody Wants a Black Man’s Life”

Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” offers a vision of hope for targeted black teens.

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America’s Heart of Darkness Beginnings

America’s bloody beginnings are part of who we still are.

Posted in Conrad (Joseph), Karlin (Wayne) | Also tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Syrian Violence vs. Our Humanity

Galloway’s “Cellist of Sarajevo” gives a face to the victims of violence.

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Lit’s Role in the Decline of Violence

The empathy fostered by novel reading may have played a role in the decline of violence.

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Vigilante Films Responsible for Trayvon?

Trayvon Martin’s death has Americans rethinking the vigilante film.

Posted in Death Wish (film), Gran Torino (film), Taxi Driver (film) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Syria’s Massacre of the Innocents

Updating Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, Scott Bates imagines a soldier who takes a principled stand and refuses to participate.

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The Perfection and Poetry of Tyrants

W. H. Auden’s chilling “Epitaph on a Tyrant” matter-of-factly shows the deadly but seductive simplicity that characterizes dictators like Qaddafi and Assad.

Posted in Auden (W. H.) | Also tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Can Humanitarians Stop Violence?

The Oscar-winning film “In a Better World” explores how to respond to the world’s violence in an authentic and uncompromising way.

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Twain and Libya’s Bloody Endgame

The slaughter continues on in Libya, with the number of dead now in the thousands as Qaddafi turns his mercenaries, machine guns and tanks on his own people. While other parts of the country are in the arms of the resistance, he is holed up in Tripoli. It appears that he will indeed fight to […]

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The Moment Kindheartedness Walks In

Sometimes when I get depressed about the state of the world, I do two things. First, I remind myself that too often I allow myself to be stampeded into fear by media headlines, which use adrenaline to hook us. Second, I recollect the many generous and kind people in my life and in the world. […]

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A Champ on the Field, a Thug Elsewhere

Sports Saturday Although it is a downer on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday, I can’t help but think of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger through the lens of Joyce Carol Oates’ terrifying short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” This is one reason I will be not be rooting for the […]

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Happiness Is a Warm Gun (Shoot, Shoot)

Following the Columbine High School shootings, outrage against permissive gun laws led, not to tougher gun laws, but to pushback by the National Rifle Association.  The NRA went on to help George W. Bush squeak by Albert Gore in the 2000 elections and has since become so bold that the 2006 Congress was afraid to extend […]

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Lost Paradise Syndrome in Tucson

Spiritual Sunday As I teach Beowulf for the umpteenth time, I am struck once again by its beautiful rendition of the Genesis creation story. I’m also struck by how the invocation of that beauty calls forth human horror. Exploring the linkage provides some insight into the mass killings we have almost come to expect. The […]

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A Gritty Child in a Tough World

Film Friday (Warning: The following essay contains spoilers) I watched Ethan and Joel Coen’s remake of True Grit last Friday and now can’t help but think about it in terms of the Arizona shootings. Will our young people, faced with all this violence, grow up as tough as 14-year-old Mattie Ross? Yesterday’s Washington Post had […]

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What Would Alyosha Karamazov Do?

I continue to turn to The Brothers Karamazov almost as a meditational practice to guide me through the turmoil I am experiencing over the Arizona shootings. Yesterday I quoted Zosima, the elder in the book, about how we must look to ourselves if we want others to change. I spoke approvingly of those who, rather than […]

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Dostoevsky and the Arizona Shootings

When I posted, on Saturday morning, my blog entry for Sunday, I little realized that I would be turning for help later in the day to the work I was discussing. Doestoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov is guiding my response to the horrific shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Judge John Ball, and 16 others, including a child. […]

Posted in Dostoevsky (Fyodor), Silko (Leslie Marmon) | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Analyzing Loughner’s Booklist

Like much of America, I am still in a state of shock over Saturday’s shooting of a Congresswoman, a judge, and 16 others. Like many I wonder if this was an example of a disturbed mind encountering the inflamed political rhetoric that has come to characterize American political discourse. (Add Arizona’s permissive gun laws into […]

Posted in Aesop, Barrie (J. M.), Baum (L. Frank), Bradbury (Ray), Bukowski (Charles), Carroll (Lewis), Hemingway (Ernest), Hesse (Hermann), Hitler (Adolph), Homer, Huxley (Aldous), Juster (Norton(, Kesey (Ken), Lee (Harper), Marx (Karl), Orwell (George), Plato, Rand (Ayn) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Football’s Culture of Violence – A Response

Sports Saturday Discussion of violent football hits has dominated the sports airwaves ever since the nation witnessed a series of frightening high-impact collisions last weekend.  In apparent panic, the National Football League has been handing out large fines and threats of suspension to players, including a $75,000 fine to James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers […]

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The NFL as Chicago Slaughterhouse

  Sports Saturday Football season has begun, with a full slate of games scheduled for tomorrow. The good news is that the seven-month drought known as offseason ends for fans of America’s most popular game. The bad news is that, once again, young men will go back to permanently damaging themselves as they fling their […]

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The (Out of Control) Passion of Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson in Braveheart  Film Friday Mel Gibson is in the news again with recorded rants against his girlfriend that are so vicious that even his ardent supporters are backing away. (You can learn about, and even listen to, the rants here but I advise caution.) I’ve never been a Gibson fan and this website […]

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Rethinking Dirty Harry Vigilantism

Film Friday I’m fascinated by how films function as social barometers and am wondering what kinds of films will characterize the Age of Obama.  Maybe Clint Eastwood’s Grand Torino (2008) is some kind of harbinger. (Spoiler alert: I will be revealing the end of the film.) One career trajectory I never could have imagined (not […]

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Grendel’s Invasion of Fort Hood

I interrupt my Jane Austen series in honor of the soldiers killed by the army psychologist at Ford Hood.  Facts are sketchy as I write this, but Beowulf, particularly the monster Grendel, may give us some insights into the tragedy. Think of Grendel as a warrior that goes bad. In the epic, Grendel lives on […]

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Cormac McCarthy’s Apocalyptic Vision

When we say that our safety trumps all other considerations, we lose touch with something that is far more meaningful. Sometimes we need a novel as grim and stark as Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men” to be clear what is at stake.

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Poetry Battling Despair

Odin’s Valhalla, Dwelling Place of the Einherrar, artist unknown  While the major focus of this blog and website is looking to literature to see if it can provide solutions to life’s problems, at times I wonder if I am just engaging in wishful thinking. What if there are no solutions and literature is just whistling […]

Posted in Beowulf Poet | Also tagged , | Comments closed

Taking on Grendel Rage

If Grendel rage is on the rampage in America, do we have a Beowulf who can defeat it?  And what would defeating it look like? In a recent New York Times piece, liberal columnist Frank Rich talks about how irresponsible talk from political commentators and politicians essentially enable those committing hate crimes, even though these […]

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A Modern Grendel on the Rampage

We have a Grendel problem in today’s United States. The troll that invades our special halls has many different names—Scott Roeder, who killed Dr. George Tiller; James W. von Brunn, the Holocaust Museum attacker; Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad, who killed an army recruitment officer; gun lover Richard Poplawski, who shot three Philadelphia police officers; Jim David Adkisson, […]

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