Jun 12, 2007
"Did you ever meet Jerry Falwell?” someone asked me the day Falwell died. “Meet him? Jerry nearly got me fired,” I responded.
This was true. During Falwell’s days at the Moral Majority a student dared me to ask Falwell to speak at Duke. Never thinking that the famous, busy man would come, I invited him. A couple days later I received a gracious acceptance. I had underestimated Jerry’s love of publicity and a good fight.
Because I am a biologist, evolution is at the core of virtually everything I think about. Like most of my colleagues, I’ve kept an eye on the emerging “intelligent design” movement. Unlike most of my colleagues, however, I don’t see ID as a threat to biology, public education or the ideals of the republic. To the contrary, what worries me more is the way that many of my colleagues have responded to the challenge.
Rickie Lee Jones broke into the music business in 1979 with the jazz-pop novelty hit “Chuck E’s in Love,” and she has been a maddening enigma ever since. At best she’s inconsistent, at worst she’s the embodiment of the tortured artist: all tantrum and attitude with little worthy fruit to show. So when Jones embarked on an album framed by gospel cinemascapes, you could feel music critics circling like Pharisee vultures. What business does Jones have tackling scripture?
Alfred Hitchcock said that the literary form that most resembles a movie is not the novel but the short story, since it is designed to be digested in one sitting. But the dilemma for moviemakers who adapt short stories is that they almost always need to beef up or expand the story so it can fill 90 minutes or more. (Novels, on the other hand, usually need to be trimmed or compressed for film.)
Should there be a statute of limitations on youthful indiscretions? The question had me hooked, even though it was going to be discussed in one of my least favorite formats: a call-in talk radio show. I knew the conversation would give me a glimpse of popular culture’s sensibilities about forgiveness, accountability and the past.
Silent retreat: Brian Doyle, sometime contributor to the Christian Century, reports that his sister, who lives in a monastery, once went on a summer-long silent retreat. He asked her what her first words were when she broke her silence. She grinned and said “Pass the butter,” and when he complied, she laughed: those actually were her first words after the retreat. He also asked her if it had been hard to remain silent. At first it was, she said, but then it had become a prayer (U.S. Catholic, June).