Saturday, December 29, 2012

What Does Jack Reacher Have to Do with Connecticut? Absolutely Nothing.

I went to see Jack Reacher at a matinee today. I spent my $4 with a heavy heart, assuming it would be a total waste of my money, that the movie would be execrable, and that a series of blood baths would leave me disgusted and bored. I felt justified in my trepidation. All the reviews of the movie linked it to Connecticut and talked about how horrible and immoral it was.  After watching Jack Reacher, I’m pretty sure the mainstream media reviewers did NOT watch the film, and were using it to score easy political points. Jack Reacher has nothing to do with Connecticut, but it does have a takedown of the liberal soccer mom reaction to Connecticut.

The plot moved at a decent clip. The movie wasn’t a modern gory thriller. It was gunfights, fist fights, and car chases. It reminded me of the Die Hard franchise. It would have been a perfect movie for a matinee on a hot July day when you’re looking for a good action movie, excellent air conditioning, and free refills on your Dr. Pepper.  I would have happily paid to see this movie when I was 16. I might even have happily paid to see it now, if I was someone who liked going to the movies at the theater. As it is, I typically only pay to see movies if they start out with a hopping desk lamp. I’m that sort of exciting, minivan driving, homeschooling nerd-mom.

Anyway, it was a pretty decent movie, the fight scenes were entertaining, and the characters were fun. So why did critics attack Jack Reacher as an evil and insensitive paean to gun violence? Because it had Robert Duvall. 

To be fair, I love Robert Duvall. He’s one of those actors who make me lean forward in my seat and pay attention. He can make any movie more interesting. In Jack Reacher, he served to undermine the ‘ban all guns because they’re scary!’ argument that the left has been pushing since Connecticut. Ultimately, I think this is why the main stream media has been so hard on Jack Reacher.
Duvall’s character is an ex-marine who runs a gun range. People go there to shoot. His store sells ammo and displays taxidermy. On a poster in the background, you see a nefarious reference to an upcoming Turkey Shoot!* Those poor, defenseless birds! We’ve entered Sarah Palin’s America, folks, and it’s really scary!

Except, it’s not. Duvall’s character is a stand-up guy, most of his customers are pretty boring, and Jack Reacher uses the occasion as an excuse to rip the sort of suburban moms who freak out because someone nearby may have once shot a gun, but who don’t pay attention to their swimming pools and their cleaning chemicals, which are both more dangerous to children than a neighbor who occasionally goes target shooting.

And that’s why this film is inappropriate after Connecticut. Because in Jack Reacher, guns aren’t evil. They’re just tools, and bad guys can use baseball bats, knives, and fists just as easily as guns. At a time when our elites are pushing the ‘guns are evil and turn men into insane killers of children’ meme, Jack Reacher is dangerously subversive. And that’s why no one should see this film, or say anything positive about it, or admit that it was a good, fun popcorn movie in dark times. Because if people saw it and started wondering if guns were really more pressing issue than budgets and Benghazi…? Well, THAT would be an atrocity.

*Note – I live in rural Indiana, so I am aware that a Turkey shoot is a contest of marksmanship where the PRIZE is a turkey, for dinner. Which still saddens me, since I was really amused by the idea of a ham shoot, which they also have around here. I pictured it as sort of like skeet shooting, but tastier…

Friday, October 12, 2012

Already a Day Behind

And yes, I'm already a day behind. The combination of work, a 7th Birthday Party, and Joe Biden left me too exhausted to post last night!

YouCat - The Introduction

I usually skip introductions. I don't want to waste time reading about a book when I could spend my time reading the actual book. It's a habit I picked up in college, when my professors demanded that we engage with the text itself without any distractions. We read introductions last, after we'd formed our own opinions and arguments, and we argued with them. So, these days, when I'm not writing papers on everything I read, I seldom read introductions at all.

I made an exception for the YouCat introduction because Pope Benedict wrote it, and I'm sort of a groupie. Also, when YouCat came out, I was skeptical. We had the big catechism, so why did we need a flashy little yellow version with cartoons and pictures? Benedict explains that he wanted a catechism in the 'language of youth.' What does it mean to have a catechism in the 'language of youth?' Does it mean YouCat is dumbed down for the Twitter generation?

Benedict says no. It's more a difference in audience and emphasis. The CCC takes a tone of careful instruction. It's the book you run to, for instance, when your neighbor tries to say that 'personally opposed but publicly enthusiastic' is a totally acceptable position on the wholesale slaughter of unborn children. YouCat is less about arguments and apologetics, and more about answering the eternal questions of youth. “Who am I? Why am I here? What should I do?” For me, at the grand old age of 35, these questions are no longer so pressing. It's pretty clear what God's calling me to do in most situations, and if I forget, there's a short person attached to my leg or hip who will loudly remind me.

But I remember what it was like to be 20, full of burning questions, zeal, and dreams, but with no clear direction. YouCat gives direction. Benedict promises that, unlike most items marketed to the coveted 16-25 demographic, YouCat does not aim to please its audience. He promises that the book will reveal our destiny as humans, but that it will also make demands and require its readers to change their lives. YouCat is the voice of God, speaking through the Church, calling the young to repentance and holiness.

YouCat's introduction is worth the read. It explains what Benedict was thinking when he issues this cute little convertible sports car of a catechism, and it gives a glimpse of the power that lurks under the hood. In the introduction, Benedict explodes the modern world's, and especially the post-Vatican II American church's, false dichotomy between passion and knowledge. Over the years, many catechists seem to have lost sight of the fact that in order to love someone and serve them, you first have to know them. YouCat seeks to restore the lost and forgotten knowledge.

It seems a fitting tool to explore the Year of Faith.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A New Beginning

I've let this blog languish for a while. I had a baby, spent time in the ICU with her, rejoiced when she was miraculously healed, started working part time, abandoned fiction writing so that I could help support our growing family, and moved across the state when my husband switched jobs.

But the Year of Faith starts Thursday, so I think it's time for a new beginning.  Since we're in a new parish, I don't feel comfortable asking to run a study group, but I want to do something.

So, starting Thursday, I'm going to liveblog YouCat. (I'm just too busy to take on the big one). I'll go through a few questions a day, and if anyone is interested in following along, we can discuss. It's not much, but it's something, and it should fit around work and homeschooling and whatnot.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Income Gap? Or Something Else?

The Education blogs have been abuzz with a story from the New York Times about the growing income gap in educational outcomes. While the racial gap is steadily shrinking, the gap between rich and poor has been growing.  Is it IQ? Selective mating? Extra curricular activities? Better school districts? Or is it something else.  According to the Times (emphasis mine),

One reason for the growing gap in achievement, researchers say, could be that wealthy parents invest more time and money than ever before in their children (in weekend sports, ballet, music lessons, math tutors, and in overall involvement in their children’s schools), while lower-income families, which are now more likely than ever to be headed by a single parent, are increasingly stretched for time and resources. This has been particularly true as more parents try to position their children for college, which has become ever more essential for success in today’s economy.

Is it really an income gap? Or is it just the marriage gap in a different form? More educated parents are more likely to earn high incomes. They’re also less likely to bear children out of wedlock or to divorce. Single parents are more likely to live in poverty, and the children of single parents are more likely to remain poor.  The problem may not be a lack of cultural opportunities or summer enrichment programs. It may just be the lack of fathers.