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I love Books and Culture. I watched the movie The Fighter last night (thinking I might preach on the film), and then discovered a very thoughtful review in B&C this morning [Crystal Downing, "Fighting Family," March/April]. Perfect.
While I greatly appreciated Crystal Downing's systematic exegesis of this modern-day parable (discerning the workings of familial hegemony in a classic redemption tale), I walked away with a different take. To me, The Fighter is about a love that loves even the unlovable. That Micky would choose to continue to love a family as toxic as his was truly amazing (as a viewer, I felt a visceral disdain toward Dicky and his mother). And to then, through Micky's love, find my heart evenging toward these despicable characters; that totally upended me. Micky's unconditional love allowed me to see his family's lovableness. It also freed his family to love him back in a more healthy way. Who knew such a love existed?John Van Sloten
New Hope Christian Reformed Church
On the Way
A couple of remarks on the Taoteching [Laurance Wieder, "On the Way," March/April]. The text of the Taoteching is multi-authored and comes from the 3rd century BC. That means many things. Lao-Tzu didn't write the Taoteching in the 6th century bc, and Confucius didn't seek him out; moreover, Lao-tzu, which means "Old Master," very likely didn't even exist. Lao-tzu, assuming he existed, is not the only sage to speak in prose. The Shijing, one of the Five Confucian Classics, is a collection of poetry (and canonical poetry at that) and substantially predates the Taoteching. Finally, while the Taoteching is concerned with self-cultivation, it is not so much concerned with self-defense. Its earliest commentators took it to be primarily concerned with statecraft.Kelly James Clark
Professor of Philosophy
Grand Rapids, Michigan
John Wilson replies:
Kelly Clark's portfolio includes Chinese philosophy—faithful readers of B&C may recall ...