My Good News Club

Good stuff:

1. I just received my copy of Michelle Goldberg’s new book, The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, for which I wrote a jacket blurb: “The Means of Reproduction is a bold and vital book, a story about life and those who twist that word to front for agendas of sexual control around the world. We’re lucky that we have Michelle Goldberg, a brilliant and clear-eyed journalist, to bring us news of how the struggle over reproductive rights has gone global, as the American Right teams up with reactionary forces abroad. Goldberg calls it one of the most important fights of our time; after you read The Means of Reproduction, you will, too.”

2. The Jewish Forward gets on board, belatedly, with KtBnik’s recent novel, Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter, the best Yiddish novel ever written in English by a Catholic. It’s that last bit of the equation that made the Jewish literary world a little slow to catch on to the book, but when Peter became the first non-Jew to win the National Jewish Book Award for fiction in nearly 60 years, Philip Roth, Cynthia Ozick, and Jonathan Safran Foer threw Peter a bar mitzvah party. Not really. But the Forward, once der Forverts, the premiere Yiddish paper in the world, interviewed him, which is something.

3. Katherine Stewart in Santa Barbara sent me a link to her fascinating article in that city’s alt weekly, “Reading, Writing, and Original Sin,” about a national network of “Good News Clubs” that trick kids into thinking afterschool evangelicalism is part of the curriculum. The beginning reads like a set-up for South Park:

It was during recess at one of Santa Barbara’s adorable, sun-spangled elementary schools that Ashley*, a sprightly 6-year-old, approached her first-grade classmate Emma* near the swing sets and delivered the bad news.

“You can’t go to heaven.”

Ashley had already determined that Emma, the only Jewish girl in her class, did not believe in Jesus.

Emma protested, but Ashley persisted. “If you don’t believe in Jesus, you are going to hell.”

Their teacher overheard the increasingly heated exchange. When class resumed, she asked everyone to pay attention. People from different religious backgrounds, she explained, have very different perspectives on certain kinds of issues.

Emma, feeling good that she had stood her ground, seemed content with the result. But Ashley was crushed.

“You mean they lied to me right here in school?!” she began to cry. “Because that’s what they taught me here! How can they lie?”

Good question, Ashley. Read more to find out.

Jeff Sharlet is a founding editor of Killing the Buddha, coauthor with Peter Manseau of Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible (2004) and co-editor of Believer, Beware (2009). Sharlet is also the author of Sweet Heaven When I Die, (2011), C Street, (2010), and the New York Times bestseller The Family (2008).