In her award-winning book Undertow, Charlene Edge dissects her past as a long-time member of one of the largest fundamentalist cults in the United States, “The Way International.” Undertow is a demonstration of the dangers of fundamentalism and the destructive nature of cults. Through her personal story, Charlene Edge shows how a vulnerable person can be seduced into following an authoritarian leader and how difficult it can be to find a way out.
Charlene’s experiences with “The Way” depicts the downward spiraling of a college student who – for reasons all her own – fell for a certain kind of propaganda. Now, if it happened to her, why not to you? To us?
We first see Beatriz (Salma Hayek) going through morning chores, feeding her dogs, and lighting a candle for deceased loved ones, including her dead goat. She’s in a rush to her work in a holistic healing firm. Her last patient of the day is a house call for a massage for Kathy, a wealthy woman in a gated community.
After the house call, Beatriz’s car won’t start, so Kathy invites her to stay for the small dinner party she’s hosting for her husband’s business associates.
It’s the stuff of comedy, a movie you’ve all seen before: The wealthy matron invites an employee to an important dinner party she’s hosting for even wealthier associates. We have rollicking fun watching the crude manners of the outsider exposing the pomposity of the wealthy. At the end, everybody realizes that the simple ways of the poor employee are superior to the smug frivolity of the privileged. Everybody is happy. Everybody learns something.
All teachers remember moments when they were caught off guard in front of a group of students. I remember a few years ago, in a class about male authors’ take on womanhood in nineteenth-century American literature, I commented on Henry James’s novella Daisy Miller, saying something along the lines of: “As a feminist, I object to some of the images James creates of women, why is he using those images? What do you think?” There were murmurs in the group, and I looked into skeptical faces: “Ms. Kindinger, are you a feminist?” I realized I had said something that changed my students’ image of me. I was confused. Had they never noticed my feminism from the way I teach and the texts I choose? Apparently not.
The attacks on the World Trade Center as well as the Pentagon in September 2001, dubbed 9/11, were a major news event. As is the case with traumatic events, people often remember exactly what they were doing when they heard the news. With 9/11, however, visual images have been engraved in people’s minds as well: a plane flying into the towers and people subsequently – out of sheer desperation – jumping out of windows. Michael Moore’s documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, offers an alternative media perspective signifying 9/11: that of a president overwhelmed by the news and incapable of an immediate reaction.
What is it like to grow up in an Old Order Amish community? Can the allure of tradition and a sense of belonging to such a community override the longing for freedom and the opportunity to experience the great wide world? This unrelenting push and pull between secure Amish community life and the tempting siren song of the outside world have shaped ex-Amish author and blogger, Ira Wagler. In his best-selling memoir, Growing Up Amish, the author offers his readers an honest, bittersweet, and moving account of how he left the Amish, only to return and eventually leave for good.
As one of the guest speakers at the Plain People Conference, Ira Wagler gave a heartfelt talk as well as read excerpts from his memoir about coming of age and his first love, Sarah Miller. But why don’t you listen for yourself?
Many of you might remember Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio together on the big screen, surrounded by water and ice. While “Rose” whispers last words of love in the freezing air, “Jack” sinks to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. And despite their coldish, blueish skin we feel nothing but warmth witnessing those eternal words of love. And – without a shadow of a doubt – we know that his life ends, but their love doesn’t.
Eleven years after Titanic (1997), Kate and Leo are back, this time as a married couple in Revolutionary Road (2008), the film adaption of Richard Yates’ novel (1961) of the same name.