Monday, January 2, 2012

Lynn's Favorites of 2011

News for All the People is a sweeping account of the class and racial conflicts in American news media, from the first colonial newspaper to the internet age. It chronicles key government decisions that created our nation s system of news, major political battles over the role of the press, and the rise of media conglomerates and epoch-defining technologies. The book reveals how racial segregation in the media distorted the news and unearths numerous examples of how publishers and broadcasters actually fomented racial violence through their coverage. And it illuminates how Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American journalists fought to create a vibrant yet little-known alternative and democratic press and then, beginning in the 1970s, forced open the doors of the major media companies. The writing is fast-paced, story-driven and replete with portraits of individual journalists and media executives, both famous and obscure, the heroes and the villains. It weaves back and forth between the corporate battles and government policies that built our segregated media system as when Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover gave a radio license to a notorious KKK organization in the nation s capital and those who rebelled against that system, such as Pittsburgh Courier publisher Robert L. Vann, who led a national campaign to get the black-face comedy Amos n Andy y off the air. News for All the People will become the new standard history of American media.

Lynn says:
"The history of how media in this country has systematically excluded (and occasionally learned from) voices of color is nearly dizzying in its ambition, but its stories give rich context to a history long neglected in the body politic. From the earliest publications during colonial times that spawned both racist mob violence and the abolitionist movement to the current debates over net neutrality's open sourcing vs privatization of the internet, there has been a steady tug of war between the status quo's consolidation and maintenance of power and advantage via media control and the muscular insistence on being heard, not just herded, by the disenfranchised or exploited people whose narratives belie the 'manifest destiny' secured by economic and often violent force.  Whether consciously on our radar screens or not, this contest between centralized news that empowers the few vs. localized news with the potential to empower the many permeates our lives as we take in or filter advertising images, group stereotypes and biases that can leave us better or worse informed/equipped to navigate the shared (or not!) realities of our lives as passive or participatory citizens.  History and media buffs will appreciate the scholarship and scope of this engaging resource as well as the dedication displayed by so many who refused to be silenced when informing the public of news when it most mattered."

Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth—and frailty—of their connection.

At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.

Lynn says:
"When I try to think of the best novel of the year, it has to be this -a hauntingly rendered graphic novel by Thompson.  Gorgeously, fiercely, brilliantly told through both images and words, this story of love, loss, meaning, despair, trauma and healing is one of such depth and breadth for the protagonists, and one that melds so brilliantly the timelessness of myth with the trials of contemporary life on so many levels, that I actually see it as a touchstone or talisman of near alchemical properties.  Rare are the books that so distill the essence of a place in time with such heart and soul, or with such howling anguish or mysteriously soothing antidote as this one." 

One of the best ways to bring meditation off the cushion and into everyday life is to practice lojong (or mind training). For centuries, Tibetans have used fifty-nine powerful mind-training slogans as a way to transform life’s ordinary situations into opportunities for awakening. In this seven-CD program, Pema Chödrön presents her definitive audio teachings on lojong. She offers an overview of the practice and goes on to provide inspiring commentary on the slogans while paying special attention to how to apply them on the spot in our daily lives. The CDs include:

   • Practical commentary to enhance our understanding of the lojong slogans
   • Seven writing and reflection exercises to help us engage deeply with the slogans
   • Meditation instructions to help us relax, let go, and uncover our uncaught-up mind
   • On-the-spot methods to deepen our bodhichitta, our compassion for all beings
   • Question-and-answer sessions that address some of the most common issues that arise in lojong practice
   • Two guided meditations on tonglena compassion practice based on the understanding that the very thing that triggers suffering can become the foundation of happiness

Lynn says:
"When this 7-CD audiobook first arrived I impulsively purchased it just based on positive previous exposure to Pema Chodron's books and audiobooks.  I have definitely not been disappointed.  Intended as a more in-depth look at how one might apply the lojong slogans to everyday life situations, Chodron's steadfast, down-to-earth interpretations of Buddhist texts and stories/observations as she delves into such aphorisms as "be grateful to everyone" are best studied through repetitive contemplation, which is why this works so well as an audiobook.  Every listening can reveal or highlight a nuance or insight that has a relevance particular to the moment. Her 'same boat practice' treatment of Tibetan tonglen meditation guides the listener to cultivate a more compassionate view of one's own as well as others' daily challenges and is highly accessible, whether or not one has firmly identified oneself with a Buddhist or resonates with any other formal spiritual path.  For a road trip, for an accompaniment to morning tea or for closing the day, here is one uplifting way to enliven and clarify heart and mind in these demanding times."

1 comment:

Kelly Robinson said...

I'm hoping to get my hands on Habibi soon.