What I Read the Week of November 4

“Politics, Pollsters, and Fox News: Don’t Create a ‘Conservative’ Set of Facts” by Ed Stetzer — If you happen to be on the left and would like to see the point driven home more fiercely, read the articles on Slate, the Atlantic or New York magazine. But if you’re on the right, Stetzer makes the same point much more gently, and it’s an important point to concede. All those loud proclamations that the polls were wrong, except the ones that looked good for Mitt Romney, and the predictions all the way to the end that Romney would win big — well, we all know the end of the story now. It was about as bad a night for Republican candidates as they could have had. Now it feels like conservatives have to start from scratch in some ways. I hope positive lessons are learned, and I especially hope our divided government can get something done in the next few years.

“In Defense of Cinderella: The Dress” by Diane Vincent, The Scriptorium (Patheos blog) — When I saw Disney’s animated version of the Cinderella story again recently, I discovered new things to appreciate about it. It’s a movie that’s easy to underestimate, depending on the expectations we bring to it. What I love about this article is that the author expresses some very important details in the movie that I hadn’t fully considered before. Some of the morals in the story are plain to see, but others take some concentration to spot. That’s what makes the movie worth revisiting.

“The Nature of Fun: David Foster Wallace on Why Writers Write” by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings — “The Nature of Fun” is the name of a Wallace essay that can be found in the just-published collection Both Flesh and Not. Popova summarizes the essay and provides some long quotations from it. Those quotes are fantastic, providing a great picture of the process a writer goes through to improve. First, we write for ourselves; second, to be liked by others; and finally, to communicate something deep and true from within ourselves that others will be able to appreciate. Anyway, he puts it better than I just did.

“Faith in the Face of Destruction” by E.A. Carmean Jr., The Wall Street Journal — Superstorm Sandy devastated Breezy Point, a neighborhood in Queens, New York. But amid the wreckage, a statue of the Virgin Mary went untouched. In this article, Carmean takes a look at the history of other religious artifacts that have been considered indestructible or otherwise miraculous. Whatever else there is to say about them, some of them can very well be seen as symbols of hope in times of suffering.

“Losing It At the Movies with Film Crit Hulk” by Thomas Houston, The Verge — Film Crit Hulk is rapidly becoming one of my absolute favorite film writers, a critic of formidable intelligence and knowledge tempered by a transparent love for cinema. And, yes indeed, I’m talking about the same Film Crit Hulk who writes about movies as — the Hulk, all-caps and everything. This is a very illuminating interview if you want to learn more about Film Crit Hulk’s personal history, and the purpose behind the persona.

“Death by Amnesia, or How French Cinema Culture Can Save Us All” by Ian Grey, Press Play (Indiewire blog) — Partly as a response to recent discussions about the “death of cinema” or the “death of movie culture,” Grey discusses the reverence for film history that he found in Paris. He convinces me I need to see Paris, and sooner rather than later. He also discusses how the French essentially invented the movies and bemoans American culture’s general disdain for history. As an American it’s easy for me to take a myopic view on many subjects, worrying that if something doesn’t happen here, it can’t happen anywhere again. But there’s a whole world out there, and it continues to spin no matter what changes in my little corner of it.

“The Boy They Couldn’t Kill” by Thomas Lake, Sports Illustrated — This is a story worth sharing and talking about, a story that needs to be remembered. I would recommend keeping tissues nearby. The best writing in Sports Illustrated has always been top-notch, and Lake tells the story of Saundra and Chancellor Lee Adams with grace, compassion, and wonder in the face of true forgiveness. This is beautiful.

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