Reviews

Justice & Prisons

The Criminal Caste

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander, Review by Ben Bloch
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Culture

A Visual Critique of Racism: African American Art from Southern California

One of the most valuable functions of socially conscious art is its power to personalize and humanize what can easily become an abstraction. This power was evident again and again at BAILA con Duende, a recent Los Angeles exhibition featuring the works of seventy-four black artists.
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Film

The Good, the Bad, and the Oscars

The outcome of the recent Academy Awards sweepstakes was a very mixed bag. Argo, the winner of the best-picture prize, is a nice little movie with a timely theme, a feel-good ending, and reminiscences of the 1997 comedy-drama Wag the Dog. Yet while it’s ably directed by Ben Affleck and engagingly acted by a talented cast, it doesn’t have the artistic or emotional heft that distinguishes the best best-picture winners.
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An Alphabet

Air, element we take inside and send back altered, Be lucid: show us the swift’s passage in twilight, the earliest stars; Calm the undervoice that yammers what is the point? Dishevel our hair, carry away our hats and umbrellas. Even …
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Three Views on Israel/Palestine: A Convenient Hatred, Our Harsh Logic, and Wrestling in the Daylight

By Phyllis Goldstein, Breaking the Silence, and Brant Rosen
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Red Letter Revolution

by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo
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Moses: A Stranger Among Us and From Plagues to Miracles

by Maurice Harris and Robert Rosenthal
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Nicaragua: Surviving the Legacy of U.S. Policy

Photography by Paul Dix, Edited by Pamela Fitzpatrick
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Books

The Magic of Organizing?

In Harry Potter, the wizarding world and the world of Muggles—the ordinary, boring, unmagical people—are at first kept separate, barely impacting one another. In Moriarty’s book, there aren’t two worlds, only one. Magic isn’t a counterculture. It is everyone’s folk culture.
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Poetry

New Poems in an Ancient Language

The Israeli poet Admiel Kosman shifts his voice adroitly between ancient and modern, while never seeming quite settled in either. There is a persistent restlessness; nothing is ever straightforward or taken for granted. The poems wrestle with God, spiritual practice, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the place of a poet’s work in society, the relationship between masculinity and femininity, and the baggage of tradition borne by the Hebrew language itself.
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Poetry

A Poet’s Meditation on Force

Army Cats by Tom Sleigh Graywolf Press, 2011 In Army Cats, American poet Tom Sleigh takes on the topic of the 2007 Lebanese Civil War not as an excuse for wanton journalistic rubbernecking, but as a catalyst for a series …
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Art

Art and Science: A Marriage Made in Heaven?

At the turn of the past century, Vienna—even more than Berlin, Paris, or London—stood out as the European city most friendly to radical innovation of every kind. Helping us to understand this era, which introduced the modern world that we inhabit today, is Eric Kandel’s book, The Age of Insight. Neuroscience, Kandel argues, can help to close the traditional gap between scientific and nonscientific forms of inquiry.
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Film

Lincoln: A Review

Lincoln comes from the cameras of Steven Spielberg, probably the most influential storyteller in modern cinema, and certainly one of the most vexing. But when the subjects aren’t pure make-believe, his movies tend to run aground on real-world complexities that flighty imagination can’t handle on its own.
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Books

Torah Stories for Young Children

Alison Greengard and Carol Racklin-Siegel’s series of Bible stories is a thoughtfully laid-out reading experience, but one that also comes with limitations. In contrast, The Bedtime Sh’ma: A Good Night Book and Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book, both adapted by Sarah Gershman with illustrations by Kristina Swarner and also published by EKS, are lyrical and engaging books for both the youngest listeners and early readers.
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Christianity

Legacies of the Cross and the Lynching Tree

The lynching tree is a metaphor for white America’s crucifixion of black people. It is the window that best reveals the religious meaning of the cross in our land. In this sense, black people are Christ-figures, not because they wanted to suffer but because they had no choice. Just as Jesus had no choice in his journey to Calvary, so black people had no choice about being lynched. The evil forces of the Roman State and white supremacy in America willed it. Yet, God took the evil of the cross and the lynching tree and transformed them both into the triumphant beauty of the divine. If America has the courage to confront the great sin and ongoing legacy of white supremacy with repentance and reparation there is hope “beyond tragedy.”
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