Andrew Klavan in World Magazine

Your Writers Group points out an interview with one of Lars’ favorite authors, Andrew Klavan, in World Magazine (subscription req.).

He quotes Klavan saying, “I’m a novelist, remember, not a preacher. I trust reality to express Christ’s presence, because I think that’s what it actually does.”

In introducing the interview, Marvin Olasky writes, “It shouldn’t be an unusual combination, because an understanding of man’s sinfulness, along with a glimpse of God’s holiness, often makes us realize our desperate need for Christ. And yet Christian fiction has a reputation for being too nice to take on vice.”

Clive Cussler Sues Over Sahara Movie

Adventure Author Clive Cussler is arguing in court that the script to “Sahara,” based on his novel, was so bad it has hurt his career. His lawyers claim that Crusader Entertainment altered the screenplay without his consent, essentially ruining his main character and the story. Crusader Entertainment is countersuing, claiming Cussler exaggerated his sales to win the film contract.

I can understand suing over alterations without consent, if that’s a contractual agreement, but making a lousy movie based on my book? That’s Hollywood–get over it. And Crusader’s claim may have merit, but on the surface, it looks like whining to me.

Can’t Imagine It’s Enforced

Blasphemy in Massachusetts: Chapter 272, Section 36. “Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing,” etc.

And if you raise a ruckus in church, section 38 will send you jail too, so watch it.

After posting this yesterday, I asked myself if anyone would want this kind of thing to be enforced. We won’t improve our neighbor’s character by forcing them to keep select vices, like blasphemy, to themselves. Disrupting a worship service is another matter, which I don’t think automatically falls under free speech protections. It is proper for a society to protect places from unruly citizens, so if it were a crime to heckle a minister in my state, I wouldn’t mind. Not that I would press charges on it either.

But common vulgarity or blasphemy as is restricted in Section 36 above shouldn’t be unlawful. Neither should stating that homosexuality is perversion.

Mr. Dawntreader with G.K. Chesterton

Dawntreader is taking notes on Chesterton’s thoughtful essays in Orthodoxy:

Evolution is a good example of that modern intelligence which, if it destroys anything, destroys itself. Evolution is either an innocent scientific description of how certain earthly things came about; or, if it is anything more than this, it is an attack upon thought itself. If evolution destroys anything, it does not destroy religion but rationalism.”

In short, thinking is meaningless if it’s all just chemical processes given to us by random survival instincts.

Tourism by the book

Today’s post isn’t about Norway exactly. It’s about Norway and other places too.

I’ve traveled overseas several times, and I’ve always gone to Norway. Other countries I’ve visited have either been on the way or on the way back from Norway.

It’s not that there’s no other country I’d like to see. It’s just that my traveling money is limited (often nonexistent), and I have to prioritize.

But I must admit the list of countries I really want to see is fairly short.

Denmark, because it’s another ancestral country, and I haven’t been there yet.

The British Isles, because of all the books and movies and literature.

Israel, because of the Bible.

And… hmm. I wouldn’t turn down a free trip to a few other countries, but I won’t feel cheated at the end of my life if the list above covers my life’s tourism.

I’ve often wondered about my complete lack of interest in the exotic. I hear people saying, “Oh, I want to visit China and Indonesia and Brazil and all those far-off, unfamiliar places.”

And I don’t see it. Why, I wonder, am I only interested in my own culture and heritage, and nobody else’s?

The obvious answer, in our time, is that I must be a racist, but I think there’s more to it.

My interest in travel, I’ve realized, is almost entirely connected to my reading. I want to see the places where the stories happened. That’s why I couldn’t appreciate my one canoe trip to the North Woods with my brothers. There wasn’t any beloved story associated with it. (Also paddling and portaging is a lot of work,)

Visiting the American West, on the other hand, is something I want to do. Lots of stories there, historic and fictional.

My interest in seeing a place is directly proportional to the stories I’ve read that come from there. That’s why I’d like to see England, but France and Germany leave me cold (I know The Three Musketeers is French, but, as C. S. Lewis pointed out, it’s not a story in which the landscape plays much of a role).

I’m not saying this is the right way to look at travel, or that my approach is better in any way than yours.

I’m just saying that’s how it is with me.

And what am I blogging for, except to explain myself in exasperating detail?

Will the Real Jesus of Nazareth Step Forward?

Jared is blogging about Jesus again.

Lest we think “Jesus in our own image” is a sin solely owned by so-called “liberal” academics and historians, we should at least acknowledge the Western Church of the modern world is frequently just as guilty. Just because our Jesus looks different doesn’t mean He’s the historical Jesus.

It was G.K. Chesterton who, in his defense of Christian orthodoxy, said, “I did not make it. It is making me.” Can we say that of Jesus? Can we say the Jesus we believe in, rest in, trust in is the Jesus who is making us? Or is He the one we’d prefer, the one who’s most like us, who’s safer and nicer, who reflects all of our personal or political values and idiosyncrasies? Is Jesus making us, or is he the Jesus of our own making?

My Norway box is full today

Lots of Norwegian stuff going on (for the six of us who look for that sort of thing).

Most prominently, the Norwegian Nobel Committee just announced they’ve nominated Al Gore for the Peace Prize.

Because of all the wars he’s stopped, I guess. Maybe world leaders watching An Inconvenient Truth fell asleep, and the shooting stopped while they snored.

Or something.

Yesterday a Norwegian cruise ship managed to run aground in Antarctica. This is extremely embarrassing for sailors from a maritime country. I note that the name of the captain is not listed. Because of that I choose to believe that the captain is probably a Portuguese. Or a Greek.

As far as I know, Norwegians don’t actually sail ships anymore. They just own them.

Alternatively, I blame Socialism.

It’s kind of handy, being a Norway-phile. When they do something good, I’ll tell you it’s because Norwegians are great.

When they do something embarrassing, I blame Socialism.

[By the way, Brother Baal got in a good one at our Christmas feast. We were eating lefse, a wonderful Norwegian bread-thing made of potatoes (at least most of the time in this country), kind of like a soft tortilla. Most people eat it with sugar, either brown or white. Brown is the tradition with us.

I noted (for the umpteenth time) that I like mine with strawberry jam. “And,” I pointed out, “I once got lefse with strawberry jam in Norway!”

“That’s because of Socialism,” said Baal.

*Zing*.]

On a somber note, Cousin Andreas is dead.

Cousin Andreas was a descendent of my great-grandfather’s sister, who took over the family farm with her husband. He lived in the house where my great-grandfather was born. He worked, if I remember correctly, as a heavy equipment operator (it’s even harder to make a living as a small farmer over there than it is here).

He had been, at one time, a world class competitive marksman.

He was also totally deaf, as is his widow. They met at a deaf school in Trondheim.

My most vivid memory of him comes from the visit he and his wife paid to America several years ago. It was the first time any Norwegian relative from that side of the family ever came over to the land of Indians and gangsters.

It fell to me, as the only Norwegian speaker in the family under 70, to be their tour guide. You won’t be surprised to know that I was pretty stressed over how I would shepherd a pair of deaf people around, relying on their lip-reading skills in Norwegian.

It proved in the event to be a delightful experience. Andreas and his wife were old travelers. They traveled all over the world, and refused to let the fact that they couldn’t hear in countries where they didn’t know the language slow them down. They charged enthusiastically into every situation, relying on the kindness of strangers, and if something went badly they didn’t beat themselves up over it.

In other words, they were the opposite of me. And that’s always bracing.

A special memory is from when we visited Brother Moloch and his family in Iowa. The first evening, Moloch’s wife (who is a splendid person) came into the living room with The Youngest Niece. They pulled chairs up directly in front of the sofa, facing Andreas and his wife. They raised their hands and began to communicate.

It was like a comedy episode. It was like a game of charades. It was a hoot. We were all laughing ourselves silly before we were done. The communication was bumpy, but extremely effective.

I hope to go back to Norway this summer, but I won’t get to see Cousin Andreas again.

I’m sad about that.

Well, that’s settled now

Thanks to Jared at the Thinklings for linking to yesterday’s post, and for flattering me. I can always use to be flattered.

Today was a little milder than yesterday, but it’ll clamp down on Friday. The predicted high temperature for Saturday is about 1° F. The good news is that I’ve found an excuse to wiggle out of the open-air ski event with the Viking Age Society. It’s my weekend on the church set-up team (we meet in a gymnasium, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before). And the scheduled time conflicts with the race.

The Lord’s Church always takes first place with me.

Especially when the alternative is freezing my Asgard off.

I had a blinding flash of insight today.

And we all know what that means.

It means I’ve probably overlooked something.

Nevertheless I shall present it for your comments, criticisms and incredulity.

My thesis: There is a substantial element of racism and chauvinism in the doctrine of Multiculturalism.

This is confusing, because I believe that one cause of Multiculturalism is a loss of faith in our own culture and traditions.

But looked at from another angle, I see an element of cultural arrogance too (not surprising in a philosophy so avidly embraced in France).

Here’s my question: Why would a nation assume that bringing in a massive population of foreigners would not radically alter its own treasured traditions and liberties?

It seems to me the only explanations are either cultural arrogance or plain racism.

To attempt the Multicultural experiment, a country has to figure that the new immigrants are either…

a) so culturally impoverished that they will gladly cast aside their own traditions in order to embrace those of their new home (“There are only two kinds of people in the world; us and those who wish to be us”), or…

b) so stupid that they will soak up their new environment like sponges, without any will to resist (“They’re just little brown people, after all. They’re really like children”).

A culture of thought at once filled with self-hatred and contemptuous of others sounds like a contradiction, but we see it constantly in individuals. The greatest bigots are often the most insecure and self-loathing people.

That’s my theory, what it is. And it’s mine.

Longfellow: Wholehearted Support

The members of Brandywine Books wholeheartedly support Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. As Frank Wilson notes, he’s famous again and rightly so. From the Smithsonian:

Yet in the light of his 200th birthday this month, Longfellow is looking fresh once again. A Library of America edition of his selected writings, published in 2000, has gone through four printings, with close to 37,000 copies in print. To celebrate his bicentennial, the U.S. Postal Service has issued a commemorative stamp—the second to bear his likeness; Herman Melville is the only writer similarly honored. Longfellow was not a “stuffy Victorian,” says Christoph Irmscher, curator of a bicentennial exhibit of rare books and other artifacts at Harvard University’s Houghton Library. Rather, he was a highly motivated writer who “worked hard to professionalize the business of literature and to earn his status as America’s first—and most successful to date—celebrity poet.” In his ambition, in his approach to fame and in his connection with his audience, Longfellow can seem, even now, quite contemporary.

I think I’ve related this story before, but I’ll do it again. In an interview with Mars Hill Audio Journal, poet Dana Gioia said he had concealed his poetry writing from his co-workers until a certain bit of publicity made it impossible. Once the people he worked with knew he was a poet, some of them started quoting poetry to him as they walked into his office. Gioia said they frequently quoted lines from Longfellow poems, probably learned in school. Despite academic contempt, Longfellow has been, perhaps always, an American favorite.

Book Reviews, Creative Culture