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Posts Tagged ‘Rod Serling

“God has no religion”*…

 

Ghostly figure leaving the interior of Sanahin Monastery, Debed Canyon, Armenia

 

The idea of American exceptionalism has become so dubious that much of its modern usage is merely sarcastic. But when it comes to religion, Americans really are exceptional. No rich country prays nearly as much as the U.S, and no country that prays as much as the U.S. is nearly as rich.

America’s unique synthesis of wealth and worship has puzzled international observers and foiled their grandest theories of a global secular takeover. In the late 19th century, an array of celebrity philosophers—the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud—proclaimed the death of God, and predicted that atheism would follow scientific discovery and modernity in the West, sure as smoke follows fire.

Stubbornly pious Americans threw a wrench in the secularization thesis. Deep into the 20th century, more than nine in 10 Americans said they believed in God and belonged to an organized religion, with the great majority of them calling themselves Christian. That number held steady—through the sexual-revolution ’60s, through the rootless and anxious ’70s, and through the “greed is good” ’80s.

But in the early 1990s, the historical tether between American identity and faith snapped. Religious non-affiliation in the U.S. started to rise—and rise, and rise. By the early 2000s, the share of Americans who said they didn’t associate with any established religion (also known as “nones”) had doubled. By the 2010s, this grab bag of atheists, agnostics, and spiritual dabblers had tripled in size.

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History does not often give the satisfaction of a sudden and lasting turning point. History tends to unfold in messy cycles—actions and reactions, revolutions and counterrevolutions—and even semipermanent changes are subtle and glacial. But the rise of religious non-affiliation in America looks like one of those rare historical moments that is neither slow, nor subtle, nor cyclical. You might call it exceptional.

The obvious question for anybody who spends at least two seconds looking at the graph above is: What the hell happened around 1990?

One theory, compellingly explained, at “Three Decades Ago, America Lost Its Religion. Why?

* Mahatma Gandhi

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As we contemplate creeds, we might recall that it was on this date in 1959 (one year to the day after the debut of The Huckleberry Hound Show) that The Twilight Zone premiered on CBS.  An anthology series created (and hosted and frequently written) by the remarkable Rod Serling, it features near the top of the “best series” lists of TV Guide, Rolling Stone, and others, and was ranked (in 2013) by the Writers’ Guild as the third best-written show ever.

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Written by LW

October 2, 2019 at 1:01 am

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity”*…

 

Somewhere in your life, a door opens, you enter, and you suddenly find yourself in another dimension—a place beyond that which is known to man. A dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. Or, as we prefer to call it, the Internet—where everything is available and time disappears as you spend hours upon hours drifting in the hell of an Internet K-hole.

Sometimes you’re lucky. Sometimes you avoid the endless loops of cat and baby videos and dodge the fake news and outraged memes about nothing very much in particular only to land safely in a strange repository of mystery and imagination.

One such idyllic location can be found at the Internet Archive where the Pulp Magazine Archive has nearly every back issue of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine. This is the place to spend hours, days even, happily reading, learning, and being thrilled by the very best genre writers of our age like Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Isaac Bashevis Singer [!], Robert Silverberg, and Harlan Ellison.

Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine started in April 1981 under the editorship of writer T. E. D. Klein and lasted until 1989. It was filled with first-class stories (see above), interviews with writers and directors, film reviews (including Stephen King’s take on Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead), long illustrated features on films like Blade RunnerGremlins, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and David Lynch’s Dune, plus book reviews by Thomas M. Disch and Theodore Sturgeon. There were also incredible treats like John Carpenters “lost” short fiction and the story behind H. P. Lovecraft’s “banned book.”…

Get a taste at “A Treasure Trove of the Twilight Zone Magazine“– then dive in.

* “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.”  – Rod Serling’s opening narration for The Twilight Zone.

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As we feel the frisson, we might send speculative birthday greetings to novelist, short story writer, and essayist James Graham (J. G.) Ballard; he was born on this date in 1930.  While he is probably most widely known for his conventional (and semi-autobiographical) novel Empire of the Sun, he is probably more meaningfully remembered for his New Wave science fiction novels (e.g., The Wind from Nowhere and The Drowned World) and for later dystopian works like Crash and High Rise.

Indeed, The literary distinctiveness of Ballard’s fiction has given rise to the adjective “Ballardian“, defined by the Collins English Dictionary as “resembling or suggestive of the conditions described in J. G. Ballard’s novels and stories, especially dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments.”  In the introduction to the seminal Mirrorshades anthology, Bruce Sterling cited Ballard cited as an important forebear of the cyberpunk movement; and in Simulacra and SimulationJean Baudrillard hailed Crash as the “first great novel of the universe of simulation.”

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Written by LW

November 15, 2017 at 1:01 am

World Records for the rest of us!…

Recordsetter is, its cofounder suggests, “kind of the Wikipedia to Guinness’ Encyclopedia Britannica.”

We believe everyone can be the world’s best at something. Our mission is to raise the bar of human achievement through world records.

  • So wait, can anyone set a world record? Heck yes. All you need is a unique skill, a video camera and a bit of imagination. Beyond that, the rules are simple: records you submit must be quantifiable, breakable and include sufficient media evidence. Creativity is highly encouraged.
  • What categories are acceptable? We make it our policy to never subjectively judge submissions, as long as our basic guidelines are followed. We strongly encourage feats that push human achievement in a positive direction. See our RecordSetter Principles below.
  • How are submissions moderated? We rely on record setters to provide honest, accurate information about the records they’re submitting. Our approval process includes both community moderation and a round of input from our internal RecordSetter Council. We’re currently developing tools that will allow users greater control in editing submissions.

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As we reach for the stars… or the Starburst, we might spare a fanciful thought for Rodman Edward “Rod” Serling; he died on this date in 1975.  An award-winning screenwriter (e.g. the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning Requiem for a Heavyweight) and radio-television producer, he is surely best-remembered for his ground-breaking series The Twilight Zone.

Serling had run afoul of network pressure, even censorship, in his experience with Kraft Television Theater and Playhouse 90; he turned to the speculative fiction format believing that he could more easy fly under the network’s repressive radar– a strategy that allowed him to explore anti-war and anti-racist themes in episodes that won Emmy, Christopher, WGA, Hugo, and Golden Globe awards.

Ironically, it was the extraordinary quality of Serling’s writing that led to the phenomenon of re-runs on television:  His Patterns (for Kraft Television Theater) aired at a time when sponsors believed that creating new shows every week would yield the largest possible audience.  But response– from both viewers and critics– to Serling’s piece was so strong (it inspired New York Times critic Jack Gould to write an essay urging the use of re-plays within the tele-play format) that it was re-produced– the first time a show was recreated exactly, with the same cast and crew, as it had been originally aired.  The re-broadcast was a hit…  and the re-run was born.

“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination—next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

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Written by LW

June 28, 2012 at 1:01 am

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