Wednesday, July 31, 2013

SUUSI SciFi and Fantasy Recommendations

I had a great time at SUUSI this year leading a workshop on Science Fiction and Fantasy and Religion.  One favorite part of the class was the great reading/viewing list we generated.  I hesitate to some degree to share it with those who weren't part of the class.  On the other hand, it's such a great list of works that others may find engaging.  Please be mindful that this is partly a result of where our particular conversation wandered.  The categories that are short are usually so because they are categories we didn't get to, so they just have my starter items in them.  And yes, there are a couple of things slipped in there that you might not consider SF/Fantasy, but which were a part of our discussion.

Science Fiction and Fantasy and Religion Works
SUUSI 2013
Workshop #152 – Cynthia Landrum

The Nature of God

Avatar (Film)
The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents – Octavia Butler
The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley
Contact – Carl Sagan
Star Trek (TV Series and Films)
Stargate SG-1 and Other Stargate Series and Film (TV Series and Film)
Deathbird Stories – Harlan Ellison
Doctor Who (TV Series)
A Fire Upon the Deep – Vernor Vinge
Various Works - Charles DeLint
The God Engines – John Scalzi

Creation

2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clark
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
The Narnia Series – C.S. Lewis
Calculating God – Russell J. Sawyer
Various Works - Charles DeLint

Messiahs and Prophets Real and False (The Chosen One)


The Narnia Series – C.S. Lewis
The Matrix Series (Film)
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
Dune – Frank Herbert
Star Trek (TV Series and Films)
Stranger in a Strange Land – Robert Heinlein
Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling
Dark Tower Series – Stephen King
The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents – Octavia Butler
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV Series)
The Hero’s Journey – Joseph Campbell
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Grimm (TV Series)
The Black Cauldron and The Chronicles of Prydain Series- Lloyd Alexander
Heroes (TV Series)

Good and Evil (The Force)

Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling
The Wrinkle in Time Series – Madeleine L’Engle
Star Wars Series (Film)
The Golden Compass and the His Dark Materials Series– Philip Pullman
The Matrix Series (Film)
Doctor Who (TV Series)
The Lord of the Rings Series and other works – J.R.R. Tolkein
Various Works – Terry Brooks
Various Works – Terry Goodkind
The Black Cauldron and The Chronicles of Prydain Series- Lloyd Alexander
The Wheel of Time Series – Robert Jordan
Grimm (TV Series)
Stargate SG-1 and Other Stargate Series and Film (TV Series and Film)
Once Upon a Time (TV Series)
Farscape (TV Series)
Goblins (Web Comic)
Dungeons and Dragons (Role Playing Game and Books)
Steel Rose – Kara Dalkey
So You Want to Be a Wizard – Diane Duane
Person of Interest (TV Series)
Dexter (TV Series)

Lilith

True Blood (TV Series) and Sookie Stackhouse series – Charlaine Harris
Lilith’s Brood Series – Octavia Butler
The Narnia Series – C.S. Lewis

Belief & Faith

Star Trek (TV Series and Films)
Contact – Carl Sagan
The Matrix Series (Film)

Afterlife

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV Series)
Battlestar Galactica (TV Series)
The Narnia Series – C.S. Lewis
Riverworld Series РPhilip Jos̩ Farmer

Apocalypse (Dystopia)

The Matrix Series (Film)
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents – Octavia Butler
Always Coming Home – Ursula K. LeGuin

Ethics (The Prime Directive)

I, Robot & Various Works – Isaac Asimov
The Parable of the Sower and The Parable of the Talents – Octavia Butler
Babylon 5 (TV Series)
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Star Trek (TV Series and Films)
Stargate SG-1 and Other Stargate Series and Film (TV Series and Film)
Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clark
Time Machine – H.G. Wells
With Folded Hands – Jack Williamson
Wall-E (Film)
World War Z – Max Brooks
Warm Bodies (Film)
1984 – George Orwell
Shaun of the Dead (Film)
We – Eugene Zamiatin
The Sparrow and Children of God – Maria Doria Russell
Anthony York, Immortal –Andre Norton

Free Will and Fate (Time Travel and Prophecy)

The Matrix Series (Film)
1984 – George Orwell
Gattaca (Film)
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
12 Monkeys (Film)
Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clark
Doctor Who (TV Series)
Hyperion – Dan Simmons
Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
11/22/63 – Stephen King
Groundhog Day (Film)
Lost (TV Series)

Post-911 Themes and Just War

Battlestar Galactica (TV Series)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
Enterprise (TV Series)
Doctor Who (TV Series)
Ender’s Game, Xenocide, and Speaker for the Dead – Orson Scott Card
Little Brother – Cory Doctorow

Social Justice

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Avatar (Film)
Planet of the Apes (Film)
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV Series)
Star Trek (TV Series and Films)
The Maze Runner – James Dashner
Torchwood (TV Series)
The Gate to Women’s Country – Sheri S. Tepper
Various Works - Mercedes Lackey

Agency of Children

A Fistful of Sky – Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Star Trek (TV Series and Films)
Babylon 5 (TV Series)
Doctor Who (TV Series)
Torchwood (TV Series)
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Various Works - Patricia C. Wrede
Various Works - Mercedes Lackey

Mind, Self, and Soul (Do Androids Dream)

The Golden Compass and the His Dark Materials Series– Philip Pullman
Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling
I, Robot & Various Works – Isaac Asimov
The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Bladerunner (Film) and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick
Battlestar Galactica (TV Series)

Humanism

Star Trek (TV Series and Films)
Doctor Who (TV Series)

Inherent Worth and Dignity

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Star Wars Series (Film)
Gattaca (Film)

Interdependence
Avatar (Film)
The Word for World is Forest – Ursula K. LeGuin
Ender’s Game, Xenocide, and Speaker for the Dead – Orson Scott Card
Pern Series and Petaybee Series – Anne McCaffrey
Lost (TV Series)
Day After Tomorrow (Film)
Revolution (TV Series)
Waterworld (Film)
The Postman (Film) and The Postman – David Brin
Book of Eli (Film)
Various Works - Mercedes Lackey

Some Additional Works with Religious Themes Mentioned in Class

American Gods and Sandman Series - Neil Gaiman
A Canticle for Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller, Jr.
A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K. LeGuin
A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
Various Works - Philip Jose Farmer
Various Works - Arthur C. Clark
The Lathe of Heaven and The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. LeGuin
Various Works - Anne McCaffrey
The Darkover Series – Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Vorkosigan Saga and Various Works – Lois McMaster Bujold
The Dazzle of Day – Molly Glass
Twilight Zone and Various Works – Rod Serling
Various Works - Stanislaw Lem
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Tales of Alvin Maker Series – Orson Scott Card

Friday, July 19, 2013

Blogging for Beginners

I'm leading a workshop at SUUSI this year on "Blogging for Beginners."  My mom (herself a former director for on-line learning for a university) pointed out to me that I should have handouts of my PowerPoint slides for the participants.  Handouts for a class about blogging?  That's so low-tech!  But I was trying to decide, indeed, how to share these -- whether to upload the file and share the URL or to e-mail them, or what.  Finally, I thought, "Why not just blog them?  The class is about blogging, after all!"  I remembered that I had found a way to do this once with some web-based application.  Turns out it's even easier now than it was before.

If you're not in the workshop, keep in mind that these are just slides for some basic information and URLs that I thought might be helpful.  It's not everything we'll cover.



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We Don't Stand for Stand Your Ground

In the wake of the verdict about the Trayvon Martin case, there are a lot of protests going on, and petitions calling for a civil rights case against George Zimmerman. 

With all honesty, I think that George Zimmerman is innocent under the law.  And what we need to do now is channel this energy, this passion, and change those bad laws, state by state.

Michigan is a "Stand Your Ground" state.  There have been rallies and protests going on in Detroit.  What we need to do is get this base mobilized to change these laws.  The Stand Your Ground laws perpetuate and exacerbate an already large problem of racial bias in our sentencing.  In states with Stand Your Ground laws, a new study has shown that whites who kill blacks are more likely to be found to be acting in self-defense than any other racial combination.  It's true in all states, but more so in Stand Your Ground states.

The studies aren't as thorough as they could be -- they don't compare home-invasion with non-home-invasion cases, for example. 

Even if Stand Your Ground doesn't perpetuate racism, it's still a bad law, however.  What we've basically been slowly instituting in this country is a system of shoot first and ask questions later; a system of bring a gun to a fist fight; and a system where guilt and innocence is decided by who is the fastest, quickest draw in the West, North, or South (not so much the East, which has fewer states with these laws).  In this system, the innocent person is the one with the gun.  The innocent person is the last person standing.

In this system we have, George Zimmerman was the innocent person -- he was the scared person with the gun, and the gun is the decider. 

We need to create a culture wherein it is not only acceptable, but better, to walk away from a fight.  We need to teach people to run away if they have the option of running away.  Stand Your Ground is a law that says even if you have the option of running away, you have the option to stay and take a life instead.  That's a bad decision.  It's a bad law.  Lethal force by civilians should always be left for where there's no alternative.  It shouldn't be a choice.

But we have the power to repeal these laws.  It'll take effort.  It will take a movement.  But I believe it can be done in Florida, and it can be done here.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest

Yesterday at UU Planet, Peter Bowden wrote about how some churches were guilty of ignoring the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case.  He said, "If it is Summer, that’s no excuse.   CLERGY, if you serve a congregation you are responsible for making sure this happens while you’re on Summer vacation."

I don't have a plan for how such things will be handled when I'm on vacation or study leave.  I was fortunate to be up and hear the news.  And, upon hearing it, decided that I needed to go to church, and after a little delay, realized that I needed to do something to address the verdict in the worship service, even though the worship service wasn't my responsibility directly that way.  Bowden is right, that it's always our responsibility, even when on summer vacation (or study leave).  We are responsible for the worship of the congregation, even when we're on leave.

There's a question about where to draw the line in terms of current events that need to be responded to.  It's there somewhere between 9/11, where obviously one does, and the smallest news event you can think of on the other side, where it's not a necessity.  The Trayvon Martin case is somewhere between 9/11 and nothing big, surely.  Perhaps some could make the case that for their congregation, it wasn't a necessity.  But you never know who may come through your doors looking for answers or comfort or to give voice to their anger.  I know it was the right thing for many in my congregation that I did show up on a study leave week to lead the congregation in prayer.

Here is, roughly, what I said, as I reconstruct it from my notes I made before the service:

Today many of us may have come here with the recent news of the not guilty verdict in the case of George Zimmerman's shooting of Trayvon Martin.  We may be experiencing a wide variety of emotions in relationship to the news.  We may be angry, or sorrowful. Some of us may feel relieved, or even glad.  Some of us may simply feel confused.

We have a justice system in our country where the burden of proof is on the prosecution.  This may well be a case of self-defense. 

But we also have a cultural system in this country where a young Black man is assumed to be a threat.

This may be justice for George Zimmerman.

And yet, at the same time, there is no justice today for Trayvon Martin's death, and a young man has still died who should have had a safe walk home.

It is for him today that I ask a time of silence, reflection, prayer, or thought as we listen to "Ella's Song" by Sweet Honey in the Rock.


Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers’ sons, is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers’ sons, we who believe in freedom cannot rest.

Blessed be, and Amen.