Sunday, June 18, 2006

Connections that bind us together

For my bookgroup, we're reading Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. It's an absolutely luminous and emotionally resonant book, a communication from the heart between the author, Nafisi, and you, the reader.

As a blogger, the political resonance of her book hit home. It's not hard to see similar undercurrents here in the US in the Dominionist movement. How ironic that religious fundamentalism anywhere attempts to strangle the spirit. What is it about human sexuality, especially that of females, that scares the bejebus out of authority figures? I wish I understood this dynamic better.

Nafisi, I found, has written an essay for NPR's This I Believe. In a nutshell, she explains why literature and fiction are essential to the human spirit. She ends with this.
I believe that it is only through empathy, that the pain experienced by an Algerian woman, a North Korean dissident, a Rwandan child or an Iraqi prisoner, becomes real to me and not just passing news. And it is at times like this when I ask myself, am I prepared -- like Huck Finn -- to give up Sunday school heaven for the kind of hell that Huck chose?