Do Good Novels Make Good People?

Rabbi Joshua Gutoff, one of the most thoughtful and regularly heretical people I know, is now blogging at Frost and Clouds. I recommend his heretical thoughts about the role of literature in moral education, especially because they poke holes in my cherished assumptions:

So I’m reading Martha Nussbaum’s Love’s Knowledge… Her argument, briefly, is that (certain kinds of) novels have a unique role to play in moral education, in that their portrayal of finely-drawn characters in nuanced situations helps the reader develop that kind of vision necessary to a high moral imagination…

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Anti-Semitism in Islam–Not Decreed By Heaven

Haim Watzman

There he goes again—Benny Morris is giving the battle against Islamic anti-Semitism a bad name.

But then he’s not alone in fray. Nearly every passionate participant in the battle—Pipes, Horowitz, you name it—would make the angelically tolerant Roger Williams, the great American founder of religious toleration, go apoplectic.

In one of the perverse juxtapositions for which it is famous, the previous issue of The New Republic (the back section of which I just got around to reading last weekend) offers us a wonderful essay on Roger Williams by Martha Nussbaum, and then follows a few pages later with an embarrassing and ugly screed against Islam by Morris called “The Darker Side.”

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