Friday, May 12, 2006

Summer Topics

Summer Project: Biography and Luther
I finally saw the film Luther, and aside from the fact that it is essentially a Lutheran propaganda film, and the musical score's attempt to drown out many of the film's more powerful scenes, it is a very good film. Until seeing it, I hadn't really considered what great material Luther's biography could make for a film. Luther's biography, done right, isn't just a story of one tortured monk, but a story of princes, popes, cardinals, emperors, peasants--a whole host of social and political figures of 16th century Europe.

And I've decided on a reading project when I get settled into the new house. I haven't read Roland Bainton's Luther biography Here I Stand since I was a freshman in college; I haven't read Erik Erikson's insightful biography Young Man Luther since I was a senior in college. I'll be re-reading these books soon. I also have a more recent biography around somewhere that I never finished, and I have a collection of Luther's major theological writings, too.

Summer reading for me is usually a survey course; I pick up books from a wide array of authors, subjects, periods, genres. For at least part of my summer, I will make my reading a seminar course on a narrow subject. I'll take a look at Luther's writings, but the main focus will be on how his biography gets constructed. His life is what it is, but how do we interpret it? How do we make meaning of it? I'm quite aware of the man's serious faults, yet I still consider him a personal hero. What does this mean?

For all his faults, he willingly risked his life for a matter of conscience; he stood up to all power, authority, and tradition in an attempt to stand for truth. Can you claim to believe and stand for ANYTHING as strongly as he did?

Seinfeld and Me
When I was in high school, being a fan of Seinfeld said something about me. I was the guy who loved Seinfeld. Now, who doesn't love Seinfeld? If I say I love Seinfeld, if I know all sorts of things about it, if I make all sorts of references to it...I'm like a bunch of other white men in their 20s or 30s.

Bill Simmons
I suppose this could go on my sports blog, but I don't want to be just another anti-Simmons sports blogger. So I'm writing about it here (where nobody will ever know... ha ha...that's a joke...isn't it?).

I can't read him anymore. Partly it's because I can't continue to read one man's subjective tastes in sports, pop culture, and ethics written about as if it is objective truth. But part of it is the sexism. I know he's writing for comedic effect, and every standup comedian needs a "Men do X, Women do Y" fallback. But I can't read another article or even comment from him about how men and women are so essentially different. That's not a part of my worldview anymore. But that's the tone you get from him: men are essentially one way, women are essentially another way, and women can't possibly understand the essence of men, especially when it comes to sports. I only skimmed this recent article because I really just don't have the stomach for this sort of thing any more.

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