I don’t read as much Arthurian legend as I used to, but my love for that mythology is one that I don’t think will ever truly die. A few years ago, I went through a rather long phase where I read nearly every King Arthur story I could get my hands on. I read T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. I read J. Robert King’s Mad Merlin and Lancelot Du Lethe (but not his Le Morte D’Avalon, yet). A.A. Attanasio’s The Dragon and the Unicorn (and its sequels) were challenging but rewarding. I can’t even recall all the less notable and more poorly written books I read, honestly. Regardless, I somehow managed to make it through all of this phase without reading Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon.
The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
A few weeks ago, I was browsing through Amazon, growing my Wishlist to an even more preposterous size than it already was, when Mists popped up as a recommendation. I was familiar with the title, having worked in a bookstore for a couple of years and being a prolific reader, but I didn’t really know what the book was about other than that it was a retelling of the King Arthur story that was centered on the women characters of the legend. Thinking to myself that it had been a while since I’d read a good King Arthur story, I clicked through and started reading through some of the Amazon reviews. Continue reading
Squashed Asks: Are you comfortable with the actions of other atheists whose attempts to portray religion as something that is fundamentally at war with science have led (predictably) to the absurd reactionary things like efforts to keep basic science out of schools? Do you think there was a deliberate attempt to get some religious folk to take an absurd position? Do you feel atheists (or a subset thereof) bear any responsibility for the disastrous consequences of their (frequently successful) attempts to link science and atheism succeeded in the minds of many believers?
Efforts to push science out of schools are, sadly, not a reactionary thing, although they are absurd. Religious people have, throughout pretty much the entirety of history, been the enemies of scientific progress, so the current efforts to restrict the teaching of evolution should come as no surprise to anyone.
In the US, over 40% of the populace still maintain that the earth is young and that the Biblical account of creation is accurate. It’s not as if this is some fringe group of weirdos. Only about a quarter of the country accept evolution as being an accurate theory of the development of life. People like Ken Ham, creator of the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky (I have visited! It was weird!), are the driving forces behind much of the insistence on the incompatibility of science and religion. Ken Ham, Ray Comfort, Kent Hovind, Rick Warren, Tim LaHaye, Joel Osteen and others have often claimed to greater or lesser extents that if the Genesis account of creation is false, then it would invalidate the rest of the Bible. Some, like Ham, have even claimed that if you do not believe the Genesis account and reject the theory of evolution you may not really be saved.
With such an enormous pressure even within mainstream Christianity, it seems disingenuous at best to imply that somehow it’s “the atheists” making people believe absurdities. Continue reading
The Help (2011)
As soon as I saw the first trailer for The Help, I knew it was going to be another white savior movie. At the same time, I was a tiny bit excited at the appearance of another woman-centered movie on the horizon, and I hoped that it would belie my rather low expectations. There are so few movies about women’s lives and stories, and even fewer that manage to be made and distributed nationally. Fewer still are movies about women that aren’t centered on our supposedly eternal and imperative search for a man to put babies in our bellies. So. You know. I was excited, though pessimistically so, when I saw the early previews of this film.
There are few times when I hate to be right, but I definitely was about this movie, and I definitely hated to be. The Help isn’t just a white savior movie—there’s also an insidious thread of misogyny throughout it. It’s not surprising. I expected it, mostly, but it never ceases to be disappointing. Continue reading