Last night, after work, I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens with my coworkers thanks for an end-of-year work function. Here are my non-spoilery thoughts, posted on social media last night and this morning.
My non-spoilery reaction to the new Star Wars movie — I was entertained, but it’s best to have tempered expectations. The Force Awakens feels like more of a pastiche of a Star Wars movie (albeit a very well-made one) than something new. I guess that makes it the perfect Star Wars movie for these nostalgia-drenched times, but I want something that feels more original than a Kevin J. Anderson-esque story.
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Let me say that it’s an enjoyable popcorn film, and Harrison Ford is delightful at reprising Han Solo. There are even some unexpected Easter Eggs, like a sequence that reminded me of a similar sequence in an early episode of Star Wars Rebels.
It’s also very much a J.J. Abrams film in that it doesn’t pause for breath and the science, such as it is, is stupid.
Now, onto today’s links.
The Star Wars Holiday Special: Some folks are in space for the benefit of nobody – Jon Bois, the mad genius behind Breaking Madden, watches the infamous — and legendarily terrible — Star Wars Holiday Special. Confession time: I’ve never seen it, that I’m aware of. If my family watched it when it was broadcast in 1978, I have absolutely no memory of it. SBNation
The Ugly Fight Over Arabic in Augusta County – A World Geography lesson in Augusta County, Virginia led to the school system closing its schools on Fridays when parents protested and made threats over a lesson in which students had to copy out a piece of Arabic calligraphy, specifically the shahada: “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the prophet of God.” In this county, where students are released from classes for Weekday Religious Education, having students do this as part of a lesson about the history and culture of the Arab lands was taken as a kind of “indoctrination” into Islam. I remember lessons like this when I was in school, and I wasn’t indoctrinated into anything. If anything, lessons like this helped to push me away from religion. Here’s my questions for the parents who freaked out over this. First, is your religion so weak that learning about other religions is dangerous for your children? And second, what are you so afraid of? The Atlantic
Ignorant parent shuts down entire school district after complaining about “Muslim indoctrination” in calligraphy assignment – Another article about the closure of schools in Augusta County, Virginia, thanks to a World Geography lesson on Arabic calligraphy. There are quotes from the instigator of the protest, Kimberly Herndon, and I keep coming back to something I wrote just yesterday for different reasons — “Christians and Muslims worship the same god. This isn’t and shouldn’t be a controversial statement. As a matter of history, it’s as much of a fact as the date of the Battle of Hastings.” And again, what are they so afraid of? Salon
The fanatic, fraudulent Mother Teresa – Pope Francis has announced plans to make Mother Teresa a saint. In this article from 2003, Christopher Hitchens argues forcefully, as only Hitchens could, that Mother Teresa was a fraud, a charlatan, a fanatic, and cruel. Slate