t r u t h o u t | Rethinking Education as the Practice of Freedom: Paulo Freire and the Promise of Critical Pedagogy

What Paulo made clear in "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," his most influential work, is that pedagogy at its best is about neither training, teaching methods nor political indoctrination. For Freire, pedagogy is not a method or an a priori technique to be imposed on all students, but a political and moral practice that provides the knowledge, skills and social relations that enable students to expand the possibilities of what it means to be critical citizens, while expanding and deepening their participation in the promise of a substantive democracy. Critical thinking for Freire was not an object lesson in test taking, but a tool for self-determination and civic engagement.

via www.truthout.org

Anybody else out there feeling a desperate need for a more informed and engaged citizenry?

After you read the article by Giroux, take a look at The Avatar Decade by Susan Reed:

"The populist message of 'Avatar,' that everyone can ultimately act on their conscience, makes it a movie not just for the 21st century, but for all time. The positive use of technology is helping to level the battlefield as people find new ways to connect on issues of global importance that transcend the self-interest of nation states."

In different ways both articles speak to a new energy afoot. There's something new coming and I'm hearing all kinds of voices beginning to bring it into words.

Frank Schaeffer: Christian Right Is 'Trolling for Assassins' | | AlterNet

What we‘re looking at right now is two things going on. We see the evangelical groups that I talk about in my new book, “Patience with God,” enthralled by an apocalyptic vision that I go into in some detail there. They represent the millions of people who have turned the “Left Behind” series into best sellers.  Most of them are not crazy, they‘re just deluded.

But there is a crazy fringe to whom all these little messages that have been pouring out of FOX News, now on a bumper sticker, talking about doing away with Obama, asking God to kill him.

Really, this is trolling for assassins.  And this is serious business. 

via Alternet

In this interview with Rachel Maddow, Frank Schaeffer again advises Americans to take the "paranoid, evangelical group" of the Christian right seriously. He speaks to this issue in depth in his latest book, Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism).


The Gospel of Contradiction: An Interview with Mary Gordon | RDBook | ReligionDispatches

Why is the character of Jesus so powerful? Why is he such a hit? Bestselling writer Mary Gordon re-reads the Gospels, asking these questions, among others, and trying to figure out why fundamentalist readings of scripture, grounded in fear and rage, have come to dominate the understanding of religion in this country.

via www.religiondispatches.org

Hawk's Notes: I really enjoyed this article and hope to read Gordon's latest book, Reading Jesus. Some of the broader issues Gordon speaks to were the same ones that inspired the questions behind my paper, Reading Harry Potter. But the article also came in serendipitous time for a post I finished yesterday in which I explore some teachings from my spiritual tradition that have driven much contemplation about my work in social and environmental justice, as well as my interest in psychoanalysis.

Read my post, Cain and Abel in the 21st Century here.

Permalink for Reading Harry Potter (it's long!) here.

Link to Reading Jesus at amazon.com.


America, the beautiful (America, the ugly) | Salon Books

As the editors explain in their introduction, a survey of American literature has to be fundamentally different from a similar book on, say, France or Germany, countries that have "organic literatures or organic societies that long preceded the emergence of the modern French and German nations." America, by contrast, is "made-up," summoned out of a fusion of Enlightenment ideals, economic needs and geographic happenstance. It's a nation literally constituted out of documents, particularly the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Both of those literary works get examined in "A New Literary History of America," in fascinating entries (by Frank Kelleter and Mitchell Meltzer, respectively) that probe the contradictions within each. On the Constitution, Meltzer writes that the framers "turned away from the traditional reliance upon religious sanction and engineered a new paradox, what could be called a secular revelation," officially enshrining certain truths as emanations of the human heart and mind, not the word of God.

Pushing back against this humanist, rationalist impulse is a fierce vein of religious fervor. This makes itself felt in John Winthrop's "City Upon a Hill" speech (made to a boatload of Puritan settlers and misrepresented by conservatives ever since) and the jeremiads of the late 17th-century Congregationalist ministers, the lineaments of which can be detected in today's State of the Nation speeches. These latter clergymen would scold the populace for straying from the piety of the original colonists and then promise a restoration of righteous contentment if they cleaned up their act -- the original return-to-values harangues. In George Whitefield, an itinerant British preacher who toured the colonies in the 1740s, astonishing the devout by acting out "fear and rapture ... stomping and cavorting on stage, crawling on his knees and breaking down in tears," contributor Joanne van der Woude sees the trigger of the first Great Awakening (a wave of revivalism that swept the new nation) and the prototype of modern charismatic evangelists.

via www.salon.com

Hawk's Notes: This book is the newest addition to my amazon.com wishlist. Lately I've been exploring ideas about Americans and American culture, and what seems to be a resistance to notions of the unconscious. This resistance manifests, I think, in national conversations that scurry around the surface of issues but never seek the depths, never look inside, never question our assumptions. It strikes me that this book has something to offer that may enrich my contemplation of these ideas. Just this tiny window into the book seemed to stimulate a lot of new thoughts and feelings about all this.

Carl Jung and the Holy Grail of the Unconscious - NYTimes.com

What happened next to Carl Jung has become, among Jungians and other scholars, the topic of enduring legend and controversy. It has been characterized variously as a creative illness, a descent into the underworld, a bout with insanity, a narcissistic self-deification, a transcendence, a midlife breakdown and an inner disturbance mirroring the upheaval of World War I. Whatever the case, in 1913, Jung, who was then 38, got lost in the soup of his own psyche. He was haunted by troubling visions and heard inner voices. Grappling with the horror of some of what he saw, he worried in moments that he was, in his own words, “menaced by a psychosis” or “doing a schizophrenia.”

He later would compare this period of his life — this “confrontation with the unconscious,” as he called it — to a mescaline experiment. He described his visions as coming in an “incessant stream.” He likened them to rocks falling on his head, to thunderstorms, to molten lava. “I often had to cling to the table,” he recalled, “so as not to fall apart.”

via www.nytimes.com

I knew Chairman Mao had a red book, and sometimes my fellow Modern Freudian psychoanalysts refer to Modern Psychoanalysis of the Schizophrenic Patient by Hyman Spotnitz as the red book. But I did not know that Carl Jung had a Red Book -- a secret one, no less.

This fascinating NYT Magazine article by Sara Corbett tells the backstory of Carl Jung's secret Red Book, soon to be out for all of us to see -- well, at least the rich ones of us -- in October. I just checked at amazon.com, and you can pre-order it for $122.95. Guess I'll have to savor Corbett's teaser and wait for the paperback.



Frank Schaeffer: Glenn Beck and The 9/12 Marchers: Subversives From Within

Who are these people?! Where do they come from?! Ordinary Americans might wonder why anyone would stoop so low as to follow Glenn Beck, Fox News and Dick Armey (and their corporate sponsors masquerading as "FreedomWorks") as they organize their "9/12 March On Washington" to cynically exploit the 9/11 attack.

Patriotic Americans might question the organizer's aim to provide a media forum for dimwitted right wingers to scream "Liar!" "Socialist!" "Antichrist!" "Muslim!" "Death Panels!" "He's not an American!" and so on and on and on about the commander in chief charged with defending us from further attacks. And some people might even cry "shame on you!" to the more mainstream Republicans participating that include Dick Armey of FreedomWorks, as well as GOP Reps. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Pence of Indiana, Tom Price of Georgia, and South Carolina GOP Sen. Jim DeMint.

Ordinary folks from Planet Earth may ask why the Republican Party, right-wing activists and members of the Religious Right seem so unreachable with mere facts let alone decency and decorum.

via www.huffingtonpost.com

Frank Schaeffer's articles (the second I've posted on this blog -- see the two posts for September 9th) continue to fascinate and scare me. I'm still working my way through his memoir, Crazy For God, as well as Jeff Sharlet's The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

I guess I could list a bunch of conscious reasons I'm interested enough to read further on the "Religious Right" and right-wing extremists.

First, I'm usually intrigued by beliefs, ideas and behaviors that seem alien to my own. Finding them triggers my seeking circuits.

I'm also curious about the emergence of attention by the media and people willing to watch or read about these particular manifestations of Republican politics, the Religious Right and right-wing -- and, for that matter, left-wing -- extremists in American culture.

The questions Schaeffer poses -- or offers to comment on -- are mine as well: Who are these people? How did they come to be who they are and believe what they do? Why do they do what they do?

I'm especially alert to the extreme negative emotional energy, foreclosure of debate, and rigid incivility that seems to flourish in their engagements with the rest of the world. These are dangerous symptoms in a supposed civil society.

I've had the opportunity to be in the same room with religious extremists and others who operate on a very primitive psychic level. I'm sure there are people like this in Tennessee, maybe some not that far away from where I live. I see them on TV and I monitor the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hate Watch blog and Hate Groups map. 

I have no doubt that digging into this issue is not comfortable. I put a fair amount of thought into what I was doing before I hit the publish button to share the first Schaeffer article. Any kind of helpful discussion we could have as a nation about this issue is just getting underway. I think we would do well to nurture that conversation and keep it as civil as possible, feeling the energy it arouses but not acting on impulses.

As I mentioned, Schaeffer's book scares me. I don't know all the reasons why, because -- yes, Virginia -- there is an unconscious. Because of my training in psychoanalysis, I read that fear as a clue to get curious about it, and dare to explore it further. After many years of practicing psychoanalytically, I trust the process. I'm sure I'll blog on about it.


Cogito ergo sum, baby | Salon

Alison Gopnik's new book, The Philosophical Baby, looks like a "must read" to me:

Why do you think so little has been written about the philosophy of children -- that philosophy, for 2,500 years, has essentially excluded thinking about kids?

There are two reasons. Philosophers used to rely on their armchair intuitions about how minds work. If you look at babies casually, your intuition is likely to be that not much is going on. In the '70s, new video technologies allowed us to develop experimental techniques for investigating babies' minds. Since then, philosophers are increasingly paying attention to these scientific results, rather than simply relying upon untested intuitions.

The other reason was that for those 2,500 years, there were people who had a great deal of deep experience of babies and who knew all along how important and interesting babies were. But those people were women and the philosophers were men. An Oxford philosopher once told me, "Well, one has seen children about, of course, but one would never actually talk to them." Now, partly because women like me have become scientists and philosophers, those two areas of human experience don't seem so separate.

Read Robert Burton's great interview with Gopnik at:

Cogito ergo sum, baby | Salon.