Monthly Archives: July 2015

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter! (And Neville Longbottom, too.)

By Howard Shirley, Teen Department

9610573944_25fc1360f5_o_dBorn as the seventh month dies, as all Harry Potter fans know, is the haunting prophecy that forever establishes the boy wizard’s birthday as July 31. Though Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone* was first published in 1997 (making the series nearly 20 years old), according to Rowling the character himself was born in 1980, making the wizard a thirty-five year old father of three, with his adventures beginning in 1991 and coming to an end in 1998, when he was 18.

So, what’s Harry been up to for the last 17 years or so? The series ends with an epilogue featuring Harry’s two sons headed for Hogwarts, set presumably in September 2017, when Harry is 37. In it we come to know that Harry is an Auror, more or less the equivalent of a wizardly policeman/ secret agent.** Aside from this, little else is offered, although during the years, she has dropped hints and tidbits about her characters’ lives . It’s pretty much up to the fans to imagine what his life is like, though the scene implies it’s a happy one.

Last year, JK Rowling offered a tidbit about Harry and his friends through her Pottermore web site, featuring an article written by (notorious) wizardly gossip columnist Rita Skeeter (introduced in the fourth novel, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Of course, whatever Rita Skeeter writes is “deliciously nasty,” to quote Albus Dumbledore, and less than accurate. In this case, it’s more or less a “seen and heard” column about audience members at the Quidditch World Cup,*** with Skeeter’s nastiness limited to cracks about gray hairs (Harry), thinning hair (Ron), and more than dubious rumors of unhappiness at home in the Potter marriage. The article itself is only available on Pottermore, but a further summary of the contents can be found here.

tumblr_mt0ozs1irR1qdibyzo1_r1_500But there are other developments going on as well. JK Rowling has already penned a new Harry Potter screenplay, based on her short book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (by Newt Scamander), itself a fictional bestiary of magical creatures which Harry and company use as a textbook at Hogwarts.**** Eddie Redmayne, an Oscar winner for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking, has already been signed to play the titular author, and an open casting call has been made for a young heroine named Modesty, Newt’s daughter. The film is initially reported to be a trilogy. For more info, the magic of the web will guide you to the following articles:

But those are not stories about Harry, as they are set some seventy years before Harry is born, and apparently in New York City (so perhaps we’ll see what life is like for American wizards and witches?).

Rowling has instead crafted another Harry Potter tale, though it’s neither a story nor a novel, but a stage play. Scheduled to open in 2016 in London’s West End theatre district, the title is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and was co-written with award winning playwright Jack Thorne. Rowling has said it’s “not a prequel,” though it tells more of the story of Harry’s parents. And of course we have yet another magical link.

So there you have it—all that is happening in the wizarding world (at least that we Muggles know of).*****

On a side note there is some “old news” that even local fans may not be aware of—there is a Tennessee connection with the Harry Potter novels (and films). It involves a famous legend and ghost story of middle Tennessee, and the connection appears in every novel of the series. It’s not until the fifth novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, that the full legend comes into play (with a little hold over into the sixth novel). What’s the connection? Well, let’s just say it involves a famous witch, a poltergeist (a spirit who throws things), and a family curse. If you want to find the connection, read the books again!

And that’s our birthday present to you—more to learn (and love) about…images

 


*The novel was retitled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for its American release, and the name of the title object was similarly changed, but otherwise it’s the same book.

** So, does he introduce himself to the bad guys as “Potter. Harry Potter,” and order his butterbeer shaken? We remain in mystery.

*** Quidditch is a wizard’s sport, sort of combination of field hockey , soccer, cricket and dodgeball, combined with a one-item “I spy” hunt and played on broomsticks. Really, where have you been for the last twenty years that you don’t know this?

**** Hogwarts is the boarding school where Harry and other young witches and wizards go to learn about magic, and, apparently, fight various nasty creatures and servants of the evil wizard Lord Voldemort, who seems to have a habit of terrorizing the school at least once a year. But only during term.

*****Non-magical people who can’t cast spells or fly around on broomsticks, but have to ride cars and airplanes and use telephones, e-mail and Twitter instead of owls to convey our messages. Really, do try to keep up!

Guest Post: Adventure is out there!

By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCS

Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County8603567984_fdceae3bea_o(1)

Whether you have a few days to leave town or two weeks, packing all the essentials into a carry on seems like an impossible task. Pack like a professional using these tips:

  1. Pack fast-drying or athletic tops. If it gets dirty, you can wash it and be ready to go within the half hour.
  2. Wear your walking shoes to stay comfortable and pack a dressier pair of shoes for a night out.
  3. Pack items by type in plastic bags with dryer sheets to keep the suitcase
    organized and smelling fresh.
  4. Use a multipurpose soap in a refillable bottle to cut down on liquids.
  5. Buy a solar keychain charger for organization and to keep your phone ready for pictures.

npsLooking for a quick family adventure on a dime? There are many opportunities for families to enjoy each other’s company and for parents to teach children many life lessons.

  • Visit a nursery where you can choose plants and flowers that you would like to grow as a You don’t have to have tons of space, many plants can be enjoyed from small containers. Turn this into a science experiment for children.
  • Go on a There are many trails and areas where families can explore on their own. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the great outdoors. National parks have several free entrance days throughout the year. Check out www.nps.gov to find a date that works for your family.
  • Geocaching adds adventure for young and old Enjoy this “treasure hunt” together and see new places and things in old places near or far. Geocaching is an engaging adventure that combines technology, the outdoors, and exploration.
  • Groupon, Living Social and many other travel websites offer hidden gems at over half the Explore every corner of your state with these tools.
  • Search for local festivals across the Tennessee has free events year round that include toy train shows, reenactments, music, and various food, and garden festivals. Enjoy a weekend and potentially find new hobbies for the family.

 

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department

Redqueen

Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.


I actually enjoyed this book despite the numerous YA novel cliches that it invokes.  Yes, there is an oppressive government, the main character is one of the oppressed and discovers she’s “special”, she becomes part of the revolution, and there is a love triangle.  However, this typical story is made more interesting when the oppressive group are armed with superpowers, such as super-strength, super-speed, telepathy and various abilities to manipulate metal, plants, fire, water, animals, ect., which makes it much more difficult for the oppressed to fight back.  Unfortunately, the characters are a little predictable and flat, with the main character acting inconsistent and thoughtless, but the revolution and the rebel’s plans make it much more interesting.  When battling against a superhuman group, sometimes dark and violent decisions have to be made.

Overall, it feels like a typical YA government oppression book, but it saves itself with a ruthless rebellion and superpowers.  These two aspects add an edge that heightens the tension and danger in the book and makes the reader want to discover what happened.  My hope is that the rest of the trilogy focuses on darkness of the rebellion instead of the romance or the drama between characters.

The Love Affair of Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley

By Sharon Reily, Reference Department

Early on an English summer morning more than two centuries years ago, a young girl ran away with an obscure poet and the two fled to France. She was seventeen years old. He was twenty-two and left behind a pregnant wife and a child. Depending on how you look at it, this was either the beginning of a sordid affair or the very stuff of romance. Either way, there’s much more to the story. The young man, Percy Bysshe Shelley, was a literary genius and became a celebrated Romantic poet. His lover, Mary Godwin, wrote Frankenstein, one of the most famous novels of all time. Today’s date, July 28, marks the 201st anniversary of their elopement in 1814 and the beginning of their tumultuous life together.

Upbringings625px-RothwellMaryShelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born into an aristocratic family on September 4, 1792. Percy enjoyed a life of privilege and was sent to Eton College when he was twelve. After six years at Eton, where he became known for his anti-authoritarian views and began writing poetry and prose, he entered Oxford University in 1810. At Oxford he and a friend, Thomas Jefferson Hogg, influenced each other’s growing rejection of societal rules. Their collaboration on a pamphlet titled The Necessity of Atheism resulted in their expulsion from Oxford. Percy’s father, angered by his expulsion and refusal to renounce the pamphlet’s atheist ideas, cut him off financially until he came of age two years later. While living in poverty, Percy eloped with sixteen-year-old Harriet Westbrook.

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s childhood has elements of “Cinderella,” complete with a malevolent stepmother. Mary was the child of two renowned freethinkers – reformer and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women), and William Godwin, noted writer, philosopher, and atheist. Mary Wollstonecraft died days after Mary’s birth on August 30, 1797. William then married Mary Jane Clairmont, a widow with two young children. The new Mrs. Godwin favored her children over Mary and was jealous of William’s attention to her. She made life difficult for Mary and promoted her children’s education at the expense of Mary’s. Despite Mrs. Godwin’s efforts, Mary received an excellent education. She had access to her father’s library, listened to his discussions with other leading intellectuals, and immersed herself in her late mother’s writings. Due to clashes with her stepmother, Mary was sent to live with the Baxter family in Scotland. Here she finally found a loving family, and began to focus on her writing.

740px-Percy_Bysshe_Shelley_by_Alfred_Clint_cropThe Meeting

On a visit home in 1812, fifteen-year-old Mary met Percy Shelley, an admirer of her father. Percy visited the Godwin home often and became friendly with Mary, whom he recognized as an intellectual soulmate. Percy resented that his wife Harriet, preoccupied with one child and pregnant with another, no longer made him the center of attention.

The Elopement

In 1814, Mary and Percy met again, began spending time together, and fell in love. William Godwin forbade the relationship and Mary promised not to see Percy. But after Percy threatened to commit suicide, she agreed to flee to France with him. Mary’s stepsister, Jane Claire Clairmont, accompanied them. Mary’s stepmother followed in hot pursuit to try to stop the elopement. She caught up with the three at the French port of Calais, but couldn’t persuade them to return with her. When the two lovers ran out of money and returned to England, William Godwin wouldn’t see them, and didn’t speak to Mary for almost four years. Percy’s father, angered by his son’s abandonment of Harriet, cut off his allowance, and Percy had to spend months on the run to avoid creditors.

frank5Married Life…and the Birth of a Monster

The couple experienced ups and downs over the next few years. In 1815, Mary was devastated by the death of her premature infant. Their finances improved when Percy received money after his grandfather died. In early 1816, Mary gave birth to their second child, William. A few months later, the couple visited Lord Byron and Mary’s stepsister Jane Claire Clairmont (Byron’s lover at the time) in Switzerland. One rainy afternoon, Byron suggested that his guests each write a ghost story. Only nineteen-year-old Mary finished her story, which eventually became the novel Frankenstein. In Mary’s novel, scientist Victor Frankenstein animates a creature from dismembered corpses. The enormous gentle but hideous creature is rejected and abandoned by Frankenstein. As the creature fails to find the love and companionship it craves, it becomes violent and brutal. Published anonymously in 1818 with a preface by Percy, it became one of the most popular works of the Romantic period.

Good and Bad Times

Percy and Mary returned to England in 1816 to face back-to-back tragedies. Mary’s half-sister committed suicide and a few weeks later, Percy’s wife Harriet killed herself. Harriet’s death allowed Percy and Mary to wed. Percy’s efforts to gain custody of his two children with Harriet were blocked by her family’s claims that his poetry (especially free love and atheism promoted in the political epic Queen Mab) showed him to be an unfit parent. In March of 1818, the Shelleys settled in Italy, where Percy became part of an expatriate artistic community centered on Lord Byron. There Percy wrote some of his best work – Prometheus Unbound, “Ode to the West Wind,” “The Cloud, “To a Skylark,” and “Ode to Liberty.” Sadly, their two children, William and Clara, died a year apart, in 1818 and 1819. Mary gave birth to a son, Percy Florence, in November 1819.

By 1822, the Shelleys had settled on the Bay of San Terenzo in Italy. They were joined by Edward Williams and his wife, Jane. Percy, disappointed in his marriage, began a flirtation with Jane and wrote several poems to her. In June, Mary almost died after the miscarriage of her fifth child. In July, shortly before Percy’s thirtieth birthday, he and Edward Williams drowned when their boat sank in a storm.

Mary devoted herself to caring for Percy Florence, the only one of her five children to reach adulthood. She was also dedicated to maintaining her husband’s literary legacy. She collected and edited Percy’s poetry and wrote his biography. She continued to write the rest of her life, and was able to provide Percy Florence with an excellent education at Harrow and Cambridge University. Mary died of a brain tumor in February of 1851.

Read the rest of this entry

Did you know…that July is National Ice-Cream Month?!

1By Lisa Lombard, Reference Department

You read it correctly; July is National Ice-Cream Month! In addition to celebrating the Fourth of July, we have a month long celebration of ice-cream! Does that not sound awesome? Who does not love an excuse to eat ice-cream (or anything you normally would not have)? On those days when you don’t want to leave the house, want an extra special treat for a birthday party, the Fourth of July, a bar-b-q, or any other type of party homemade ice-cream will be a crowd pleaser! The two following recipes are for vanilla ice-cream, to keep it simple especially if this is your first time making homemade ice-cream. The first recipe you will need an electric ice-cream maker and the second recipe is one sure to get family and friends involved (or a good arm workout for yourself!) and does not require any type of electricity, just good ole fashioned elbow grease! Happy ice-cream making and enjoy the scrumptious summertime treat!

Recipe #1 (This is a Paula Dean Recipe from the FoodNetwork)
Total Time: 3 hr 10 min Prep: 10 min Inactive: 3 hr2
Yield: approximately 1 gallon

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Whole milk

Directions:

  1. With an electric mixer, cream eggs and sugar. Add evaporated milk, condensed milk, and vanilla. Beat well.
  2. Pour into an electric ice cream churn. Add whole milk to fill line. Insert dasher.
  3. Pack cooler 1/3 full with ice. Add a layer of rock salt. Repeat layering with ice and salt until full. Note: be careful not to overfill, spilling salt into the churn.
  4. When machine starts to labor or shut off, remove the dasher and drain water. Fill with more ice and salt.
  5. Cover with a towel and let harden.

Recipe #2 (This recipe was found at the blog, 2 little hooligans)
Ingredients and supplies:

  • 2 TBL sugar
  • 1 cup half & half (or light cream)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coarse salt or table salt
  • ice
  • gallon-sized Ziploc bag3
  • pint-sized Ziploc bag

Directions:

  1. Mix the sugar, half & half and vanilla extract together. Pour into a pint-sized Ziploc baggie. Make sure it seals tightly.
  2. Now take the gallon-sized Ziploc bag and fill it up halfway with ice and pour the salt over the ice. Now place the cream filled bag into the ice filled bag and seal.
  3. Make sure it is sealed tightly and start shaking. Shake for about 5 minutes (or 8 minutes if you use heavy cream).
  4. Open the gallon-sized bag and check to see if the ice cream is hard, if not keep shaking. Once the ice cream is finished, quickly run the closed pint-sized baggie under cold water to quickly clean the salt off the baggie. You are now ready to dig in and enjoy!

There you have it, two ways to make homemade ice-cream in celebration of National Ice-Cream month! Do not forget to keep some fun and tasty toppings on hand for those who want to jazz up their classic vanilla ice-cream, enjoy!

The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department

The_Girl_with_All_the_Gifts

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.” Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.


Filled with well-drawn characters and a future that will make you think, this book was engaging.  The setting may be an apocalyptic future where small bands of people are gathered in fortified bases to keep out the “hungries,” but the book really isn’t about the action, or the fight like most apocalyptic books.  It’s about a group of people trying to survive in a world that’s collapsed.  The character’s are the core of the book and are what draw the reader in, although that does mean that the pace can drag a little.  There’s Melanie, a strangely intelligent feral child that just wants love and acceptance, Ms. Justineau, Melanie’s teacher whose affection and compassion for her students causes her pain, Sergeant Ed Parks, a good man who is suspicious of the feral children, and Dr. Caldwell, who will do whatever it takes to save the world no matter the consequences.

There were several big twists in the book that didn’t really come as a surprise, such as why Melanie is strapped to a chair for class, but that really didn’t bother me.  There was a predictable science based logic, and I really enjoyed that adherence to logic.  The world Carey created made sense and felt like this apocalyptic future could be a possibility.  However, even though it can be a little predictable, the ending took me by surprise, although in hindsight, I should have expected it.

This was a really intriguing book with a realistically built world, rounded empathetic characters, and an ability to make a person think about hard questions and the future.

Harper Lee’s publishing a new book: Go set a Watchman

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Department harper-lee-main-lHarper Lee has published a new book, after over 50 years of saying she would never write another book!

There has been some discussion as to whether Go Set a Watchman was published without Ms. Lee’s consent. Her lawyer, for most of her adult life, was her older sister, who passed away a couple of years ago. She did a valiant job of protecting Harper Lee’s legacy. And now with failing sight and hearing, many were questioning whether or not someone was taking advantage of her ill health. The state of Alabama actually investigated claims of elder abuse and interviewed Ms. Lee, but found the claims unfounded. The last we’ve read and heard is that Ms. Lee has all her faculties and does indeed know what’s what and she did indeed authorize the release of her new book.

According to HarperCollins Publishers, which purchased the North American rights to publish Go Set A Watchman, Ms. Lee’s new book was written in the 1950s. “In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn’t realized it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.” It was found by Ms. Lee’s friend and lawyer Tonja Carter last fall, in what was described as a secure place. Reportedly, she found the new manuscript attached to an older edition of To Kill a Mockingbird. She thought it was Lee’s first novel; then realized the story was set later, and the characters were older as well.

Harper-LeeGo Set a Watchman is set during the mid-1950s, twenty years after To Kill A Mockingbird. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus. She has to face both personal and political issues as she tries to understand her father better and her own feelings about Maycomb. The title comes from the Bible – Jeremiah 21:6 “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, “Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.” “ Most critics have said that this quote alludes to Atticus who Scout sees as the watchman or caretaker of Maycomb.

The Wall Street Journal will publish the first chapter online on July 10, four days before the July 14th publication date. For those who’d rather listen than read, WSJ will also be publishing the first chapter of the audiobook, narrated by Reese Witherspoon, that day as well.

And yes, we will have copies of the book available for check out on July 14. You can put a hold on the book now. Read the rest of this entry

Happy 4th of July!

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So Many Christians, So Few Lions by George Yancey and David Williamson

By Lance Hickerson, Reference Departmentfew lions

What’s the Big Deal about the New Study on Christianophobia in the U.S.?

Two professors of Sociology just published their rigorous research on whether there is what may be called Christianophobia in America. They define Christianophobia as unreasonable hatred or fear of Christians. Their book: So Many Christians, So Few Lions, is printed by a mainstream academic publisher. This is significant in that the study is coming from the professional academic world versus what otherwise might be written off as incidental musings over isolated occurrences.

Isn’t this a biased study since at least one of the professors is a Christian?

No more than the fact that Yancey is black means he cannot say anything scientifically valid about racism. He has done significant studies on racism, and now, on Christianophobia.

So what did the authors, George Yancey and David Williamson, find?

First, they are finding that it is conservative Christians who are singled out. “Anti-Christian hostility is a phenomenon that conservative Christians have to deal with, but Christians in general usually escape this level of animosity” (p. 33).

Second, the authors observe : “Surprisingly, religious groups in general experience more animosity than racial groups” (p. 33; “As we have already seen in the … data, that animosity toward Christians is more prevalent than animosity toward people of color … “ p. 123, bold mine).

Third, a personal observation is that their work is based on a large national survey which helps toward having a valid research sample versus the common unscientific type polls by news groups we hear every day which tend to work with 1) too small a sample of people to draw larger conclusions, while often 2) self-selecting participants that already lean the way they hope the survey turns out (thus sample bias)!.

Yancey and Williams summarize what they have learned thus far.

An unknown percentage of individuals hate, mistrust, and/or fear conservative Christians to an extensive degree. We know from the information provided by the American National Election Survey [2012; involving 3,067 respondents] that their number is not likely miniscule since nearly a third of the country feels substantial relative hostility toward conservative Christians. The extent of relative hostility directed toward this group is at least as high as that directed at Muslims; thus those concerned about Islamophobia in the United States have as much reason to be concerned about this relative hostility toward conservative Christians—especially since those with this antipathy are more likely to be wealthy, educated, and white, thus to have greater per capita social power than the average American.

Our deeper exploration through qualitative data [open ended questionnaires with 3,577 reponspondents] indicates that at least some with relative hostility toward conservative Christians despise what they see as this group’s intolerance and homophobia. They [those exhibiting anti-Christian hostility] rely on stereotypes every bit as potent as those based on race, ethnicity, sex, or sexual preference. They show a personal mistrust of conservative Christians and consider them evil; as the opposite of respect and tolerance, this can be seen as bigotry. They fear Christians will take over our society and think of them as mindless sheep led by manipulative leaders. This dehumanization leaves some of them open to a societal rules that disparately impact conservative Christians. (p. 109).

Who is it that holds this animosity toward conservative Christians?

Basically, the hostility is rooted in an elite subculture involving those who may be generally described as: highly educated, white, wealthy, not highly religious, and identified as progressives (defined as an understanding of morality that minimizes traditional religious justifications and is determined by what the individual decides is best for him- or herself).

According to this elite subgroup, what is wrong with Christians?

Co-author George Yancey answered this question in an interview on the book with the Christian Post. He responds:

“In the minds of many of the respondents Christians are ignorant, intolerant and stupid individuals who are unable to think for themselves. The general image they have of Christians is that they are a backward, non-critical thinking, child-like people who do not like science and want to interfere with the lives of everyone else.

But even worse, they see ordinary Christians as having been manipulated by evil Christian leaders and will vote in whatever way those leaders want. They believe that those leaders are trying to set up a theocracy to force everybody to accept their Christian beliefs. So, for some with Christianophobia, this is a struggle for our society and our ability to move toward a progressive society. Christians are often seen as the great evil force that blocks our society from achieving this progressive paradise.”

What’s the big deal—how can such a small group be a problem for a Christian majority?

George Yancey

George Yancey

The concern arises from this being an elite small group with great formative power in our society due to wealth, along with influential positions in education, government, law courts, entertainment, journalism and media. The group forms an influential, and sometimes censoring, core of the “talking class” in our world. Yancey explains: “If you want to get elected to political office, then atheists are at a disadvantage since more people do not like them. But if you want to get a higher education, then you will run into a lot more people with power who hate Christians than who hate atheists.”

How are the findings on Christianophobia helpful?

Firstly, the study validates the experience of Christians who encounter anti-religious bigotry. There is a tendency, even among Christians, to minimize reports of those who experience anti-Christian hostility. I recall one Christian commenting on the movie God’s Not Dead, which follows the experience of a college freshman who encounters blatant and dogmatic attacks on his faith from his Philosophy professor. Her comment was, “The premise is so lame. That does not happen.” Unfortunately, this Christian is socially desensitized to the plight of her fellow believers. It really does happen, and is not merely accidental to academic life. It even happened to the present writer who was shocked speechless by one Professor of Anthropology’s hostile off the wall rant directed his way. Fortunately, a Jewish Anthropology graduate teaching assistant took up for me and redeemed the day. The study by Yancey and Williamson puts all this in reliable perspective. There is measurable anti-Christian hostility in our society.

Secondly, it is a matter of being truthful about what is going on in our time and place. The study documents “that some level of Christianophobia is present among certain powerful subcultures in our society. This helps us understand some actions in our society.”

Thirdly, in Yancey’s words: “People do not like to admit that they are biased or bigoted but often those disaffinities come out in other ways. Because of the attention rightly paid to bigotry . . . there is social pressure on those who take actions that may harm those groups to engage in introspection to make sure they are not being unfair.

I have seen a dearth of such introspection by those who make decisions that may harm Christians. I hope that this work will encourage such critical thinking among those with Christianophobia and perhaps help some to confront a bigotry they did not realize they possessed.”

Give me a good illustration of what’s going on in America!

The last question for Yancey during his Christian Post interview offers a helpful illustration. (I used editorial license to convert one phrase from crass to non-offensive.)

CP: Sociologist Peter Berger famously remarked that if Sweden is the most secular country and India is the most religious country, America has become a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes. [Berger] added how many of the problems of America have to do with the fact that the Indians have become increasingly angry at the Swedes. In some ways, your book seems to present a correlate to that: the Swedes have become increasingly angry at the Indians. Do you agree?

Yancey: I think that is a great way to think about it. I would put it this way: Because of their numbers the Indians historically had a lot of political and cultural power in our society. They may not be in the elite political positions but the Swedes in those positions could not afford to ignore what they wanted. The Swedes for years documented the excesses and biases of the Indians. Over time, they begin to look down on the Indians. But they also gained educational and cultural power and begin to ignore the concerns of the Indians. But the Swedes never considered that many of the social processes that produce bigotries in the Indians also can produce bigotries in themselves. They became quite adept at seeing social dysfunctions in the Indians but not in themselves. While part of the reason for this book is to provide some insight to protect the Indians, I also see it useful for helping the Swedes engage in the introspection they need to deal with their own failings and to live by their own stated values.


For more information, besides reading their book, there is a three-part interview with George Yancey starting here:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/blackwhiteandgray/2014/11/christianophobia-in-the-united-states-part-1/


** As always, the opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophies or principles of Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their parents, children, friends, or housepets.

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