Sunday, March 25, 2012

(WR) Religion and College

Candidate Rick Santorum recently went on record as being against college (or at least against government encouraging it), for fear it will brainwash students into becoming thoughtful liberals, as many of their professors are. This is hogwash. College students are adults who do not brainwash easily -- it would take more than a light rinse -- and most professors are not in the brainwashing business in any case. While it is true that a majority of university professors are political liberals in their personal lives, this is mostly an artifact of being the sort of people who choose interesting and challenging professions that are not very remunerative; it has little or nothing to do with discrimination against those with other perspectives, as some have charged.

But thankfully there are at least some cases where what people learn in college -- not dogmas from their profs, but things like thinking critically, questioning assumptions, discovering the richness and complexity of the world -- opens them up to new and liberatory perspectives. Here is one such story by Frank Bruni in today's Times.

(WP) Mad Women

Here's a thoughtful reflection on the current nostalgia in popular culture for the bad old days of gender relations:
An excerpt:

     "Mad Men" made my mother remember life in her 20s -- too clearly. When the show focused on Don Draper's wife, Betty, a repressed housewife in suburbia, my mom visibly cringed. "During Betty's scenes," she told me, "I felt this pain, right in my gut." She took a breath and explained that she loved her life and her marriage now, but when she watched Betty say she just wants to serve Don, it took her back to when she and my father were first married. "That's the way I thought. I lived to serve. I wanted to make him happy."
     It was odd to hear my mom compare her relationship to the Drapers'. My parents split the household duties, held jobs in teaching and systems administration and pursued their interests in meditation and aikido. What I was coming to understand, thought, was that my mother did not come into the world fully formed in 1981, when I was born, that there was a complicated and somehow painful life that predated me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

(WP) Gloria Steinem

Interesting article in Sunday's Times about second-wave feminist leader Gloria Steinem, which is also a meditation on the vagaries of political organizing.