Whenever Hollywood has tackled the subject of Joseph McCarthy and the work of the House Un-American Activities Committee, the results have tended to be fatuous if not downright embarrassing. George Clooney breaks through the barrier in Good Night, and Good Luck, a compelling portrayal of the last days of McCarthy’s influence.
Based on Gerald Clarke’s exhaustive biography, Bennett Miller’s Capote covers the six years that Truman Capote spent working on In Cold Blood. The film begins at a noisy New York cocktail party where Capote is the center of attention, regaling his friends with humorous anecdotes and observations.
When he wrote Oliver Twist in 1837, Charles Dickens had a cause: he was protesting the harsh and unjust treatment of children in England. His depiction of the situation was searing—more so than the best-known movie adaptations.
Behold, I am sending forth many fishers, says the Lord, and they shall catch them. (Jeremiah 16:16)
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make youfishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
At noon the Church of the Epiphany, on this the long anticipated Date with Destiny on which we’re told the Fate of Almost All depends, is strangely free of angst. The good-sized crowd is here to see a choir perform Cantata Eighty Eight and hear Johann the angel Bach relate a snatch of puzzling Bible history: God is at first an angry fisherman who hunts in righteous wrath our sinful kind but then Christ stoops and speaks, wrath is undone by love, reality is redefined, Ohio pales, the stained glass glows blood red, the hapless fish are named, called, calmed and fed.
Here’s my question. What if there was a poem That didn’t know what it was about until it got To the end of itself? So that the poet’s job isn’t To play with imagery and cadence and metrical Toys in order to make a point, but rather to just Keep going in order to find out that the poem is About how hard it is to watch your kids get hurt By things they can’t manage and you cannot fix. If I had been the boss of this poem I would have Made it so they can manage things, or I could be The quiet fixer I always wanted to be as a father; But that’s not what the poem wanted to be about, It turns out. This poem is just like your daughter: No one knows what’s going to happen, and there Will be pain, and you can’t fix everything, and it Hurts to watch, and you are terrified even as you Try to stay calm and cool and pretend to manage. Some poems you can leave when they thrash too Much but kids are not those sorts of poems. They Have to keep writing themselves, and it turns out You are not allowed to edit. You’re not in charge At all—a major bummer. I guess there’s a lesson Here about literature, about how you have to sing Without knowing the score . . . something like that. All you can do is sing wildly and hope it’ll finish So joyous and refreshing that you gape with awe.
Philosopher Michael Ruse is an ardent evolutionist and unbeliever, but he often comes to the defense of believers who are under fire from militant atheists like Richard Dawkins. Ruse says his sympathetic stance toward religion is partly due to his Quaker upbringing. “I grew up surrounded by gentle, loving (and very intelligent) Christians. I never forget that,” said Ruse. He also objects to what he regards as bad atheist arguments. Evolution explains the existence of religion as an adaptive mechanism, but that doesn’t necessarily explain it away. “It is as plausible that my love of Mozart’s operas is a byproduct of adaptation, but it doesn’t make them any the less beautiful and meaningful,” Ruse said (New York Times interview, July 8).