Category Archives: Periodicals

No One Walks on My Father’s Moon

Written by Chara Curtis
Illustrated by Rebecca Hyland

A bright, eager Turkish schoolboy excitedly relays to his father the amazing thing he learned in class:  astronauts have landed on the moon!  The boy is shocked and dismayed at his father’s furious, violent reaction.  Americans may be touting this “giant leap for mankind,” but in some cultures to speak of—even to conceive of!—walking on “the face of God’s shining light” is nothing less than blasphemy.  In this profound and moving story, the boy faces the challenge of reconciling knowledge with belief.
Ages 8+
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More to the story:
This book, unfortunately, is out of print, though I was able to obtain a copy through Amazon.  I encountered the story through the latest issue of Tikkun magazine which featured an article by children’s literature professor Graeme Wend-Walker.  The article, entitled “Reaching for the Moon:  A Children’s Book Author Challenges the Separation of Science and Religion,” discusses the plot and provides insightful commentary on the themes of education, religious belief, and reconciliation.

Wend-Walker also comments on the ways in which children’s literature is uniquely capable not only of addressing the prickly subjects of science and religion, but also of guiding young readers in their navigation of this increasingly important landscape.

In the case of No One Walks on My Father’s Moon, an elegant example of the ways in which picture books can make an outstanding contribution to the literary world, I recommend that adults use the story to open dialogue among themselves as well as with young people.  Religious education settings within any faith tradition would be particularly conducive to such conversation. 

(Interestingly, when I was linking the image to the Amazon page, I saw an impassioned review criticizing the very aspects of this book which I find so necessary to discuss.  Click here to see my response.)

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Filed under Periodicals, Picture Books

Easter Week Thoughts

In her article* “God in the Age of Twitter,” Wendy Zierler asks the following provocative questions:

“Where [do] religion and God intersect with our media-saturated existence?  Where is our godly text in our world of texting, tweeting, YouTubing, and downloading?  What structures in our lives allow us to identify the godliness or eternal significance of language, learning, human conversation, and relationship?  And how can we fill our time not with noisy verbiage, but with the language of transcendence?”

During Easter Sunday services, in the row in front of me, an elementary-school-aged child played a car racing game on her dad’s cell phone.  In the row behind, a woman had her cell phone to her ear during the recessional song.  More than 2,000 people were gathered together, so odds are there were at least a few teens texting, and maybe even an adult or two covertly checking email during the sermon. 

Now, I’m not going to rant about cell phone use in church.  But these incidents, combined with my reading of Zierler’s article last week, have me wondering, what is sacred?

I have long been fascinated with cultural religion.  For example, the ways in which Americans make a religious ritual out of watching the Superbowl or American Idol.  In most households, the television features prominently in the family gathering place, reposing on an altar of sorts. 

Lately, in my own home, the computer has usurped the television’s dominance (perhaps owing to the new and amazing 21” monitor).    Many of my daily rituals revolve around the computer:  nearly all of my reading, writing and communicating, both personal and professional, and even some recreation! 

 So, as I’m increasingly paying homage to the Google gods, where is my “godly text,” “where’s the language of transcendence?” 

In answer to Zierler’s first question, about the intersection between religion and God and media, I realize that I try to compartmentalize these things.  On the surface, I think of technology as incompatible with faith, and of unplugging as a religious experience.  I’m not looking for godly text on my computer screen.

And maybe that’s why I’m not finding any? 

I do follow a few religiously themed blogs that inspire me, though I wouldn’t say they employ transcendent language.

But I received a beautiful email from a friend the other day.  In her words, I hear God.  And this is true of any thoughtful human conversation I have, whether in person, by phone, in a personal letter, or via email.  One of my first posts on this blog was about Love Letters and the way a great letter feels like a quality time with a dear friend.

So to Zierler’s questions I add some of my own:  is communications technology enhancing the quality of our conversations?  What “religious” rituals are revolving around our computers and cell phones?  What texts are sacred and, in the Kindle era, how do we read them?  What encounters with God via media and technology are people having?

I would love to hear others’ thoughts on this!
   
*The full text of this article is not presently available online.  It is published in the March/April 2010 issue of Tikkun magazine—table of contents for the issue here.

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Filed under Periodicals, Reflections

Tikkun March/April 2010

Click the image to link to the issue’s Table of Contents.

I’ve spent much of my reading time in the past week absorbed in the most recent issue of this magazine.  I encountered it through this blog post from the Children’s Literature department at San Diego State University.    The post was an announcement about a phone interview with Graeme Wend-Walker, a children’s literature professor who focuses on themes of science and spirituality.

So just in time for Holy Week and Passover, I find myself swimming in a sea of theological, spiritual and political thought. 

For the next week or so I’ll be reflecting on some of the articles, sharing the questions they raise, and asking for your thoughts.

About Tikkun
TIKKUN Magazine is a bimonthly critique of politics, culture and society, published six times annually. For the past twenty years, Tikkun has been the pre-eminent North American publisher of analytical articles on Israel/Palestine, Jewish  culture, and the intersection of religion and politics in the United States.

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