THEOCRACY WATCH: Jeb to sponsor contest to get kids to read christian book - U2 Feedback

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Old 10-05-2005, 03:59 PM   #1
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THEOCRACY WATCH: Jeb to sponsor contest to get kids to read christian book

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Book chosen by Gov. Bush for contest tied to GOP donor's movie
By S.V. Date

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Jeb Bush is encouraging Florida schoolchildren to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a parable of the New Testament gospels, for a contest timed with the release of the movie version by a company owned by a prominent Republican donor.

The $150 million film opens Dec. 9, and three sets of winners will get a private screening in Orlando, two nights at a Disney resort, a dinner at Medieval Times and a copy of the C.S. Lewis children's novel signed by Jeb and Columba Bush.
The movie is being co-produced by Disney and Walden Media, which is owned by Philip Anschutz, a Colorado billionaire. Anschutz, his family, his foundation and his company have donated nearly $100,000 to Republican candidates and causes in the past three elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Bush's "Just Read, Florida" campaign worked with Walden earlier this year, when it sponsored a statewide contest centered on Florida novelist Carl Hiaasen's children's book, Hoot. The winner of that contest got a small appearance in Walden's film version of the book, which will not be released until next year.

This is the first time a contest will coincide with the release of a movie, a feature that Walden officials admit helps them market the film. Debbie Kovacs, the company vice president in charge of promoting the movie among the nation's teachers, said Walden was "honored" when the state approached them about two weeks ago.

"They came to us. We didn't approach them," Kovacs said. "They said they wanted to apply this book to their program."

Mary Laura Openshaw, Bush's director of Just Read, Florida, said other books that were made into movies in recent years — such as the Harry Potter movies and the film of the award-winning children's book, The Polar Express — were not selected for contests because the companies that made them were not partners with Just Read, Florida, as Walden is. She said the company donated $10,000 to help pay for food and beverages for a reading coaches conference earlier this year.

"Our goal is to get kids reading," Openshaw said. "We didn't approach this to help Disney or to help Walden."

As to the religious themes in the book, Openshaw said the story could be read without reference to Christianity. She said she wanted children "to read the book and decide for themselves."

Critics, though, said sponsoring a contest around a book as overtly Christian as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was over the line.

"This whole contest is just totally inappropriate because of the themes of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," said Barry Lynn, director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. "It is simply a retelling of the story of Christ."

In the book, four children escaping the Nazi blitz of London during World War II find a wardrobe that lets them enter a magical land called Narnia, where the evil White Witch has cast a perpetual winter. A lion named Aslan arrives, where he dies to redeem one of the children, but then is resurrected. In the end, Aslan and the children — who in Narnia are known as Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve — defeat the White Witch.

The state's Just Read, Florida Web site links to Walden's, which then links to an "educator's discussion board" — the most popular thread of which is about a "17-week Narnia Bible Study for children."

Disney and Walden have hired the same company that promoted Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ to try to reach religious moviegoers about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, according to published reports.

Lynn, a Unitarian minister, said he loves the book as well as the others in the Narnia series because of their Christian themes, but believes it is wrong for the government to sponsor a contest that essentially promotes one religion.

"This would be like asking children to watch the movie The Passion of the Christ and to write an essay with the winner getting a trip to Rome," he said.

C.S. Lewis was born in Northern Ireland to a Protestant family, became an atheist, but then returned to the faith to become one of its most famous modern defenders. He is the author of several apologetics, including, most famously, Mere Christianity.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/politic...book_1004.html


okay, i admit the title of the thread is a little bit Drudge, but thoughts?
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Old 10-05-2005, 04:04 PM   #2
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I agree the timing with the movie, is questionable, given that it's a Republican donor.

But I have to say the theocracy part may be a stretch. I read this book back in 5th or 6th grade in school. Just like any literature we read in school we drew certain allegories, but it wasn't marketed to us a Christian book.
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Old 10-05-2005, 04:13 PM   #3
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It's a universally acclaimed book written by a respected author.

The allegory if there for those who pick up on it. For others, it's just a good fantasy story. Kids can take it or leave it.
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Old 10-05-2005, 05:24 PM   #4
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Interesting....I am going to think on this one a bit before giving my ten cents worth
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Old 10-05-2005, 05:36 PM   #5
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... and here i was hoping for a fiery thread ...



(i really don't have too much of an opinion ... it seems like its both appropriate *and* a blatant political kickback)
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Old 10-05-2005, 05:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by MaxFisher
It's a universally acclaimed book written by a respected author.

The allegory if there for those who pick up on it. For others, it's just a good fantasy story. Kids can take it or leave it.


I think the "theocracy watch" title is definitely a bit of a stretch in this case. Just because something has a vague connection with Christianity doesn't equate to signs of a coming theocracy. And it's COMPLETELY different than having children watch The Passion of the Christ as part of a government-funded contest.

I wouldn't doubt the political kickbacks are one reason for this, but hey, that's politics.
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Old 10-05-2005, 06:03 PM   #7
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This is difficult because it involves a good book. I haven't read it, admittedly, but if it were a crap book in alot of opinions, I'd be pissed. I'm not sure this is a theocracy thing because the connection with Christianity is so vague and indirect. It's not like they're actually reading the New Testament. I'd put up a stink about it if they were.
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Old 10-05-2005, 06:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by BonoVoxSupastar
But I have to say the theocracy part may be a stretch. I read this book back in 5th or 6th grade in school. Just like any literature we read in school we drew certain allegories, but it wasn't marketed to us a Christian book.
I agree here. The book is fiction and is well respected outside of Christian circles. I can't see any reason that it shouldn't be recommended to encourage reading.

As for the Walden Media connection, that's just a smart business man.
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Old 10-05-2005, 06:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


I agree here. The book is fiction and is well respected outside of Christian circles. I can't see any reason that it shouldn't be recommended to encourage reading.
I agree. As a strong supporter of anti-illiteracy campaigns and a library worker, I like campaigns that encourage kids to read. If this book gets more kids reading and going to the library, more power to it.
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Old 10-06-2005, 01:38 AM   #10
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I'm with the others. Everyone who reads it will get their own ideas out of it, which is great-again, the written word is neat that way .

As long as they aren't trying to force their interpretation on anyone else, hey...*Shrugs*. I do agree, though, that it wouldn't surprise me if some people did use this to try and promote whatever belief system they held-but that can happen with any book.

I never even caught any Christian references when I read the story. I generally never do when I read literature or hear songs (unless, of course, the religious references were BLATANTLY obvious).

Angela
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Old 10-06-2005, 02:14 AM   #11
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I had no idea there was a religious connection to this book when I read it 20 years ago. I'm incredibly slow, huh.
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Old 10-06-2005, 03:50 AM   #12
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I think it is a rather curious slant to call it an 'overtly Christian' book. It is an allegorical story aimed at pre-teens, and like some of the other people who posted I did not realise it had in part a Christian message until many years after I had originally read it.
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Old 10-06-2005, 04:59 AM   #13
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BS article.
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Old 10-06-2005, 08:25 AM   #14
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Theocracy paranoia?

Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is as much a "Christian book" as U2 is a "Christian band."
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Old 10-06-2005, 08:41 PM   #15
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I'm probably more intrigued by the Walden Media/state government angle than the connection to religion angle.

After all, if you wanted to ban anything with religious themes, you'd lose a good portion of the greatest literature ever written.

And we're really not talking about banning books here, are we?
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