Justin Trudeau’s ghost-written memoir—Common Ground—is many things. It’s as excruciatingly slow as Hillary Clinton’s Living History, and contains passages as painfully adolescent as Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue. But since the self-styled everyman Justin could very conceivably be the next Prime Minister of Canada, I forced myself to slog through fake apology passages in which Justin cloyingly implored his readers to forgive his over-the-top patriotism and trumpeted his wealth of inexperience. “If I sound a bit rhapsodic, you’ll have to forgive me. I tend to get that way about things I love and treasure. I wrote this book to explain why I feel this way about our country and how I learned to lead.”
Sometimes I read a book and I want to write about it on the blog, but for one reason or another (often because I don't want to spoil the plot), I don't. So if you're looking for books to read in the coming year, here are some recommendations.
4. Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
This is my favourite of all the books I read in 2013. It's also C.S. Lewis's favourite of his own novels. Til We Have Faces is a re-telling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. It's a book about perspective: the narrator is one of Psyche's sisters, rather than a more traditional telling of the story, and her understanding of events is different than the way they are usually presented. If you like C.S. Lewis and haven't read this yet, you probably should.
As I re-read To Kill a Mockingbird I was thinking about the way the children struggle to understand what is happening in their town and in their world. Why are people so upset that, when their father has been appointed as defense lawyer for someone, he intends to defend him? Why when that man is so clearly innocent, is he convicted? This brings the children to tears, and yet most people in town see it as a matter of course.
And why would a man consider it easier to pretend to be a drunk than to explain to his neighbours that he just loves his wife and doesn’t care what they think of inter-racial marriage? How can their teacher be so outraged about Hitler forcing Jewish people to live in ghettos, but so in favor of segregation right there in their town?
Many cultural commentators and media talking heads have labelled the 21st century the “surveillance age,” citing the increasingly omnipresent eye of the state and the slowly shrinking segment of our daily lives that remains unrecorded by the faceless automatons of government bureaucracy. The unsurprising revelations of former NSA employee Edward Snowden that the American government is actually recording more information than we knew previously has prompted countless comparisons to the dystopia of George Orwell’s 1984. A growing discussion that most of our culture is attempting to ignore, however, highlights clearly that the cable news prophets are comparing our society to the wrong dystopia: As a new documentary entitled Anonymous Father’s Day revealingly illustrates, we have now crossed the Rubicon into Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Most people working in public pro-life outreach have heard this question at one point or another (maybe numerous times). It’s often followed by something to the effect of, “Don’t you know that abortion reduces crime rates?” or, “We need abortion because it helps keep the crime rate down – it’s good for society.”
I’ve read Freakonomics. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The authors demonstrate how much can be learned about the world simply by asking questions and analyzing the available data. Definitely a book worth reading.
Being on the Canadian side of the border, my first notice of “Occupy Wall Street” was, of course, through the media—and not even they knew what they were describing as they attempted to define for their audiences a collection of age-diverse, tent-dwelling anarchists vaguely furious about capitalism et al and positive that someone should do something, and that that something was sleeping outdoors on someone else’s property. Left-wing media outlets (which is to say, most of them) were giddy in their praise, hoping to have finally found a Tea Party foil. Most conservative outlets registered (naturally) suspicion—it was “astro-turf,” they opined, and rather unwashed at that. I was in Calgary when the Occupy movement came to Canada, and the lack-lustre collection of Arts major outdoorspeople got very little attention. This was Canada, after all—who needs the NYPD when you have winter?
“They shed their sense of responsibility long ago, when they lost their votes, and the bribes; the mob that used to grant power, high office, the legions everything, curtails its desires, and reveals its anxiety for two things only, bread and circuses.” (Juvenal, “Satire X”)
The other week I jumped on the bandwagon and read The Hunger Games trilogy, and since then I’ve been thinking. I love dystopian fiction for its caricatures of cultures. Sometimes looking at society in a funhouse mirror brings to light features we’d rather forget.
When Andrew Breitbart collapsed and died near his Los Angeles home on March 1, 2012, his abrupt passing rocked the conservative world like little else could. Fox News host Greg Gutfeld said Breitbart’s death was “like a fiery planet going dark.” Film producer Jason Jones called him “a white plume over the battle.” Commentators of every stripe offered memories of Breitbart’s passion and personality. And then came the hatred—vitriol boiled thoroughly in white-hot rage stirred up by Andrew Breitbart’s devastating success in attacking the Left, from the journalistic sting operations on the left-wing organization ACORN to the infamous “Weinergate.” They were glad he was dead. They wished it had happened sooner. They were, in death as well as life, hating Breitbart.