Nov 092011

By Michael Benton

“Far from being mindless, violence is usually the cutting edge of ideas and ideologies.”

 —John Fraser, in Violence in the Arts (1974: 162)

I believe that violence is a necessary part of many creative narratives because it is a part of reality. Violence is a part of the human experience. How can we ignore it?

At the same time, I reject simplistic, cartoonish uses of violence where the heroes are shot at a hundred times, receiving perhaps a scratch, while methodically dispatching every person they face. I think it is irresponsible to repeatedly portray, or think of, violence as simply mindless entertainment. Continue reading »

Nov 242010

By Betsy Taylor

America’s founding documents speak in the first person plural with such power—“We the People…We hold these truths…We have warned them…We have reminded them…We have conjured them…We, therefore…solemnly publish and declare.” Why has it now become so hard to say “We” as Americans together?

This question has hounded me recently. On August 5, Dan Terry, a dear childhood friend was gunned down in the beautiful mountains of Afghanistan, along with nine others, on a Christian medical mission. Meanwhile, a month later the ninth anniversary of 9/11 brought our festering incapacities into the open, as national opposition to an Islamic Community Center in Manhattan has been justified primarily through a kind of ventriloquy that claims to speak for families who lost loved ones on 9/11. Continue reading »