30 April 2008

Debut Poetry Chapbook now available

Announcing the publication of “Admonit’s” debut poetry chapbook!!

Sørina’s book may be pre-ordered online by going to Finishing Line Press, clicking on the “New Releases and forthcoming titles” link, and scrolling down the alphabetical list. Your copy will be shipped to you on 8 August 2008. Please assist with early sales by ordering this book soon. Tell your friends! Order multiple copies as gifts!

photo by Rosie Perera

You have already read many of Sørina’s poems here on the blog as poems of the month. Here is what other readers have said:

I’m moved by the passionate pilgrimage of these poems. Sørina Higgins has a composer’s ear and a painter’s eye. She’s such a crafty poet we shouldn’t be surprised when her lines catch us up and transport us into a state of wonder.
—David Huddle, Author of Grayscale and Summer Lake: New & Selected Poems

Sørina Higgins wanders through the both natural world and the world of mythology, asking questions, some unanswerable, in her pursuit of the ineffable. Like a young Anne Sexton, in her rowing towards God, Higgins wants “something more than mundane, something like the sky inside my soul.” We all do. Join her on this journey.
—Barbara Crooker, author of Radiance and Line Dance, winner of the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award

White birds, black birds, and every shade of gray sky and green yearning—all are lit by Higgins’ flickering, searching, tested faith, to become signposts to the ineffable.
—Louisa Gilder, Author of Age of Entanglement

Local readers of Iambic Admonit are also invited to a reading:

Saturday, 7 June 2008
7:00 p.m.
The Master’s Academy of Fine Arts

258 Main Street, East Greenville, PA
for more information: 484.866.2147 or

Student composers will perform their musical settings of Mrs. Higgins’ verse, and an open mic will follow.

There will be an entrance fee of $3.00,
and refreshments will be available for purchase.

Sørina Higgins and her husband live in Allentown, PA, where she teaches courses in literature, writing, music, philosophy, Shakespeare, and The Inklings. Her writing has appeared in Stillpoint, Relief, Innisfree, Studio, Perspectives, Alive Now, Windhover, Bible & Spade, and idiom. She is the author of an entry on Charles Williams in the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Christian Literature. She holds an M.A. from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. This autumn, she will begin teaching English and Drama at Lehigh Valley Christian High School.

Review of Expelled

Imagine Michael Moore. Now give him slightly more stylish clothes (at least down to the ankles) and a mock-shabby-chic-geek attitude. Then take his worldview, turn it upside-down, and add some faith. Trim off some of the nastier edges, and you might almost have Ben Stein. Ben Stein, the host and writer of Expelled, asks a lot of good questions in this low-budget but intelligent film. It’s one of these increasingly more common feature-documentaries, with more spin than science, more propaganda than journalism, but well worth the price of the ticket. I advise you to go see it, and to see it right away while it’s still in the theatres, because I do believe we should send the box office message that we want more thinker-films that consider a theistic point of view.

That’s really what this movie is: a theist piece of propaganda. I don’t mind that, being a theist (and more) myself. And the previews were totally up front about the pro-God perspective. This isn’t really a documentary about science; it’s more about religion. And that’s fine. But it’s a bit over the top analogically. Let me explain.

So, the premise of this film is that top-level scientists and (especially) science faculty of major universities get in trouble (lose funding, lose jobs) if they even dare to suggest that there might be something to Intelligent Design. Mr. Stein interviews about four such individuals, which you might think isn’t quite enough to make a case. Anyhow, Mr. Stein got curious about Why all the fuss, so he started interviewing several interesting individuals with various connections to science, Darwinian Evolution, and Intelligent Design.

He went to the Discovery Institute, which has been the primary force behind the legal battle to get Intelligent Design into schools. The people there said that ID is largely misunderstood. First, they claimed, it’s not a religious battle. The people on their staff are from various religious backgrounds or no religion at all. They’re not, they say, trying to claim that God made everything. They’re just trying to suggest that there’s some intelligence of some sort back starting this whole process. I think.

He went to Richard Dawkins, the author of The God Delusion, who contradicted himself by saying that Evolution has nothing to do with faith or the lack of it, but that it drove him away from belief in God, that people should be allowed to keep their comfortable little religious beliefs, and that everyone should be told that their faith is horrific nonsense.

He went to a variety of physicists, geneticists, biologists, to try to clear up the confusion surrounding Intelligent Design. Frankly, I got more confused. I’m still really bewildered. Here’s what I think—but please go see the film and then come back here and tell me if I’ve got it right, would you?? So, Ben was trying to find out exactly what Darwinian Evolutionists and Intelligent Design people disagree on. They seemed to have mostly the same explanations for the mechanisms of natural selection and so on. There were some differing opinions on the descent of one species to another, but Ben kept talking them back and back in time. Finally he got to the point, and then he hammered this into every interviewee: How did it all get started? I understand that there was this one cell and everything came from it, but how did we go from no organic life to organic life? Where did that one cell get life? And most everybody said, “We don’t know” on the evolutionary side, and the implication (but not ever stated, as I recall) was that the ID people said, “God started it.” Neither of which seems to me to be a very “scientific” statement. So, here’s my confusion. I guess the debate is no longer between “Creationists” in the old sense (young earth, about 10,000 years old, six literary 24-hour days, Adam and Eve created at once, no natural selection, no descent from apes) and “Evolutionists” (Big Bang, primordial slime, amoeba, monkey, man)—instead, I guess the debate is between “Evolutionists” and what we used to called “Theistic Evolutionists.” I guess. So when you see it, would you come back and tell me: Is that it? Is that all the debate is about? Whether God started it or not? That doesn’t seem like much. And if that’s the case, then I imagine Ben Stein’s exaggerating things.

Because he overplays a metaphor throughout the film: the Berlin Wall. He says there’s a wall built through (hum, now I’m not sure through what) the mind, or the Institution, or science or something. On one side of the wall is Evolution; on the other is Intelligent Design. ID, he claims, is oppressed and suppressed and ignored. It’s not allowed out, into the press or the peer-reviewed journals or the classroom. OK. Fine metaphor. But then Stein did what a lot of the sort of sensationalist Evangelical Fundamentalist speakers used to do in my childhood. [They probably still do; I just don’t go to hear them anymore]. He said that Evolution leads to genocide. He was careful to say (or to record one of his interviewees saying), “Darwin didn’t cause the Holocaust, but the Holocaust could not have happened without Darwin.” Then he took the viewer to a “hospital” in Germany where, long before National Socialism, handicapped people were “eliminated,” “liquidated” in gas chambers. He mentioned the eugenics campaign in the U.S. in (when was it?) the 30s (?), in which 50,000 people were forcibly sterilized because they were thought unfit to breed. He warned us that this is where we could end up again, or even worse, if we don’t face up to the mental wall Evolution has erected. I think.

And the overall message was that our American freedoms—of speech, the press, assembly, and religion—are in jeopardy. I guess that’s because 4 people got fired for teaching or publishing about Intelligent Design. But hey, Ben made a movie about it, and it’s showing in all the movie theatres. So I guess as long as you go buy a ticket and watch this film, your freedoms are guaranteed. We can assemble there. And talk and publish about it here.

But I’m still not sure what the wall is….

~ Sørina

22 April 2008

another review of Planet Narnia

Here is my first published review article of Michael Ward's Planet Narnia, in the quarterly magazine of [one of] my alma mater[s], Gordon College. The illustrations are by one Grant Hanna, also a Gordon alum, and are in my opinion, fantastic! I don't know anything about technique, etc., but he expresses Ward's and Lewis's (and even Charles Williams's) ideas beautifully, with great profundity. The one above, for example, incorporates Aslan in his Lion, Witch, & Wardrobe character as Jove with Jupiter's "bleeding" red spot (which CW took as a wound in the dying and rising king) and snowflakes morphing into blooming roses. Fantastic!

The one below show Mars in both his military and his vegetative functions, as he influences Prince Caspian. Don't forget that the movie comes out on May 16th. When I watch the trailer, I don't know whether to cheer or weep -- probably some of each!

10 April 2008

Transforming Culture Symposium

Rather than posting it again here, I simply refer you to my other blog to read my summary of the Transforming Culture Symposium, a conference on the church and the arts, which I attended in Austin, Texas, last week.

09 April 2008

Spanning the Gap: The Image Video

Art, Faith, & Cultural Transformation
A Video about Image, its Mission and Programs

03 April 2008

April Poem of the Month

Ode on My? Image [Not] in the Mirror

Praise for the mirror’s angular edges
or oval of trim, or frame of gilt;
its multiplicity of shapes and sizes.
Praise to the bathroom mirror, useless in fog;
and the tiny handbag circle, to the rescue
of eye-smudged sorrows and lipstick blues;
and the hand-carved full-length an uncle made,
I in awkward haste shattered, and no one saved
from a fragmented, dangerous fate.

On every wall, these works of art,
these frames of magic nothingness:
for who has ever seen a mirror? You have not,
not once. No one can ever see what sort of thing
it is in itself: it has no color, no topography
or texture. Meaningless, like a macaw’s chatter;
empty, like a poet reading someone else’s words.

Yet a landscape in a mirror, or a face,
becomes a mysterious wonderland
with hues and depths that, outside its glass,
would be fantastic, would have to be imaginary.
In the glass, who knows?
How do I know how I really look—
whether I have hazel eyes, or bleached blond hair,
sorrow or contentment in my expression unreflected—
since I only ever see myself at a distance, in external glass?
I have never seen my face, neither with my own eyes,
nor by a long hard gaze at me with anybody else’s.
How do I know the mirror doubles truth?

How do I know I have seen anything?
In the mirror or without, a solitary sensation?
Try to see, try to know you feel:
concentrate the energy of consciousness
to register the messages your senses send.

I once stood in the midst of snow-covered trees,
forcing myself to listen to the silence flakes of gray made
against the same-gray sky, to see that paper-colored air
while I was there. And could not.
Noises, colors, cold, and dark:
none of these are in me, none of them are mine.

The flavor is not in the wine, nor on my tongue,
nor any bodied place. The act of sensing
slips a gap between body and mind.
I cannot feel at any moment, in any now—
for when is now? It is the same as never.
All I can do is memorize.
The harder I try to see, the less I can.