This is not so much a book review as a book discussion. I am unqualified to interpret the intricacies of “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding. Published in 1954 this book has been compared to the works of Orwell, Salinger, Shakespeare, and others. It has been explained as portraying psychology, religion, politics, and morality. One thing is clear, “Lord of the Flies” is not the novel it might appear on the surface.
I first read this book many years ago and remembered it had a profound effect on me but I did not remember all the details which is what brought me to reread it recently. I am glad I did. At any point in life, we are likely to see things differently due to our more recent personal experiences.
Briefly, the story is about a group of young boys stranded on an idyllic island. They begin to organize by choosing a leader and setting down rules, but all structure falls rapidly apart. What the boys experience and the atrocities they commit are shocking and thought-provoking. Childhood innocence becomes a debatable virtue.
I imagine most of you have read this classic and I am interested in what you made of it. Does it demonstrate the innocence of humankind or our innate evil? Is it about democracy and totalitarianism? What does it tell us about society today, if anything? Is there a moral to this story about children?
If by chance you have not read this cult classic I recommend you do so.
“When I wrote ‘Lord of the Flies’ – I had no idea it would even get published.” William Golding
In 1997 after much thought and anguish I officially left the church I was raised in, the church I had served for my entire adult life. At times I have struggled to explain my reasons to those who didn’t understand. I should have let President Carter explain for me. He does so perfectly. I am a recovering Southern Baptist and here’s why.
Losing My Religion for Equality
by Jimmy Carter, July 15, 2009
Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.
I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.
This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.
At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.
The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.
In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.
The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.
It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.
I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.
The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”
We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.
The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.
I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.
The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.
Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.
“Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.” Kofi Annan
Recently I was joking about how much it costs to keep my five bird feeders supplied. I told my kids that the bird food bill was more than for my groceries. Well, on my birthday the family presented me with about 70# of different kinds of birdfeed! What a great gift. There was even a bag of peanuts for the sneaky rodents who drop by regularly!
“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?” David Attenborough
My daughter, Dianne, and I signed up for a walking club that meets at our local zoo before opening each morning. I have ambiguous feelings about zoos. I know they save some animals even species and I love to see the animals that I would never see “in person” if not for zoos. On the other hand, I sometimes see animals pacing their enclosures and I know that we (humans) have driven them mad for our pleasure. So, I sit on the fence a bit, boycotting circuses but every few years visiting a zoo. My daughter feels even more strongly anti-zoo than do I.
So, how did we end up walking there? Good question. I suppose we felt we could see the animals without supporting the zoo by buying a ticket. Cheap? Perhaps, but I think it is more a rationalization. Regardless, I was disappointed that we didn’t see many animals on our first walk. A lion, a tortoise, a rhino, that was about it. But this past week we hit the jackpot by staying a little later. We saw, tigers, monkeys, wallabies, kangaroos, a grizzly bear, all kinds of birds and these, my favorites!
The slideshow below contains more shots of the gorilla and polar bear. All photos taken by Dianne Bynum.
I welcome your opinions regarding supporting zoos and any special memories you may want to share with us.
“DRIVING MR. ALBERT – A trip across America with Einstein’s Brain”
By Michael Paterniti
If you wonder what this book could possibly be about, read the title again. The author tells his tale of driving coast to coast with Albert Einstein’s brain in the trunk. I first read this book in 2000 and thought surely it was fiction, but upon researching the subject I learned that it is a true story of what happened to Einstein’s brain in the forty or so years following his autopsy. The brain was stolen and kept all that time in a cookie jar by the pathologist on duty at Princeton University Hospital when the world celebrated genius died there in 1955.
Re-reading the book recently was just as much fun as the first time. Both the author and his passenger, Dr. Thomas S. Harvey, are multifaceted characters and their relationship evolves in a complex manner during their time together in the car. As for their cargo, it really is the main character and it brings this pair together with a variety of interesting scientists and others along the way.
This book told me many things that I did not know about Albert Einstein, his life, his struggles, and his accomplishments. I now also know much more about his brain than I ever could, had I not read “Driving Mr. Albert.” It is a quick and easy read in spite of being about a physicist who changed the world of science.
“Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.” Albert Einstein
Specific needs identified at Haven House Homeless Shelterhttps://crookedcreek.live/2019/07/10/haven-house-needs/ have been met by volunteers who learned what needed to be done and stepped up to do them. Some of those who worked on these projects are Allison and Stan Puckett of Stan’s Home Improvement, LLC, Bob Fred of Bob Fred’s Welding and Elizabeth Puckett, IUPUI senior.
In addition employees and residents of Haven House planted flowers and rosebushes at the entrance and prepared a small garden area inviting guests to enjoy the out of doors and nature. Here are photos of that area:
Lighting has been installed in a dark stairway.
The church rehabbed into a homeless shelter has three entrances with steps and none had handrails for safety. Now they do. Below are photos of the two rear entrances:
Installing the handrail for the front entrance steps was more of a challenge but was accomplished after four hours of work in the hot sun.
A big THANK YOU to all who helped with these projects!
Haven House Homeless Shelterhttps://crookedcreek.live/2019/07/07/haven-house/ has many needs but used clothing is not one of them. After having taken clothes numerous times, I recently learned that clothes seem to be the easiest items for folks to donate therefore the supply is endless. According to the Executive Director, Barbara Anderson, staples for the kitchen are very much in need. Other needs are harder to meet.
Some of the obvious needs I identified on my visits are handrails and lighting for safety, replacement of damaged and stained ceiling tiles, paint and drywall patching. A handicapped ramp is in need of repair and these are just the obvious.
Anderson states that many people do volunteer their time to help out Haven House. For instance, one person does maintenance work for free. Another group planted and is helping to tend a garden to provide fresh vegetables for the kitchen. See photos of the garden below:
Haven House is the only homeless shelter in Southern Indiana to serve fourteen counties. It is set up to house around sixty-five people, men, women, and children, per night, but rarely is it not over capacity. Most nights there are eighty-five people sheltered and often as many as one-hundred and ten. Thirty percent of the residents are from across the Ohio River in Louisville, KY. The average stay is 26 days.
Haven House, established in 1985, has been in its current location at 1727 D. L. Motley Jr. Way in Jeffersonville, IN since 1999. The facility is a rehabbed church building which you see in the photo below.
Besides meals and lodging residents of Haven House are provided clinical care by four volunteer Registered Nurses. These volunteers do minor treatments, monitor prescriptions, triage medical needs and maintain necessary records of treatment and health maintenance which is provided by Life Spring Health System that has a grant to care for the homeless. Once per week a van transports residents to the healthcare facility.
Residents are expected to pay for lodging ($5/night) and meals which run from $1.20 for breakfast to $1.60 for dinner. If residents have no money to pay a tab is kept and they are expected to pay when they have obtained a job. Volunteers assist residents with job applications and interviews.
Information in this post was gathered in an interview with Haven House Executive Director, Barbara Anderson on May 3, 2019. Haven House has a Board made up of six members who meet quarterly. There are five full-time employees and all other work is performed by volunteers.
Several weeks ago we explored the subject of “Corrections”https://crookedcreek.live/?s=correctionshere on Crooked Creek. Several readers had important comments to make on the subject. Recently I read a story about a prison in Mississippi which I may not have believed had it not been published by The Marshall Project. The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. It strives to educate regarding the state of criminal justice.
On January 31, 2018, twenty-six-year-old Brad Fitch arrived at the prison. The video shows him being chased, then attacked by two inmates, one of whom had a handmade knife. Fitch was stabbed ten times and died at a hospital. In spite of the video showing his killers, no one has been charged for the murder. It turns out the men were just doing their jobs.
An internal audit revealed that this privately run prison was so short on employees (guards) that the warden, who has since resigned, used inmate gangs to control the prison population. Fitch and his killers were actually members of the same gang, called Simon City Warriors, a white gang affiliated with the Gangster Disciples. The killers caught on security cameras were settling a score with Fitch from two years before.
As we learned before many, if not most, prisons have trouble hiring and retaining people for low paying, dangerous jobs. Wilkinson has a turnover rate of 90% and even though they have raised the hourly wage to $11.25 per hour more than a third of its positions are vacant.
I encourage those of you interested in the subject of criminal justice to read the entire Marshall Project report at the link listed above.
“America is the land of the second chance – and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.” George W. Bush
Bill Bryson, a native Iowan, is a proliferative and award-winning writer of travel books. In “The Road to Little Dribbling” he writes of his travels from the south end of Great Britain to the north end along a route he calls The Bryson Line. There is no real place called Little Dribbling, but it is Bryson’s way of making fun at the various names of British locations.
This book follows another by Bryson twenty years earlier where he visits many of the same places. As he reminisces about these favorite towns and villages it seems many have lost some of their appeal, but it is difficult to tell if this is so or if Mr. Bryson has just become older and crankier.
Bill Bryson became a British citizen and it is clear that he loves his adopted country. He does a good job describing both the beauty and history of Great Britain. He does a fairly balanced job of ranting and raving about those things he approves and disapproves.
I enjoyed the sense of humor in this book. Bryson is acerbically funny and he is an equal opportunity offender. I’m sure that British citizens appreciate that he does not hold back his negative thoughts when it comes to the USA.
I especially enjoyed this gift book having traveled in some of the areas described by Bryson and hoping to return to Great Britain to visit more of England, Wales, and Scotland.
“I think Canadians are great satirists because we sit in the middle of these two giants: Great Britain and the U.S.” Martin Short