Eco beckons…

…or: why I should improve my Italian, and soon. Il cimitero di Praga, Umberto Eco’s new book is about to be published. Apparently, it’s about 386 pages long. Waiting. And while we wait, there’s already a wiki as well as various interesting short blog entries on line.

Umberto Eco’s new novel will published this autumn in Italy. Titled Il Cimitero di Praga (The Cemetery of Prague), it is the story of a secret agent who “weaves plots, conspiracies, intrigues and attacks, and helps determine the historical and political fate of the Continent,” according to his publisher.

People of the book?

A depressing survey done by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life:

Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.

want some examples? Lookee here:

¶ Fifty-three percent of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the man who started the Protestant Reformation.

¶ Forty-five percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Christ.

¶ Forty-three percent of Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the foremost rabbinical authorities and philosophers, was Jewish.

How is it that adherents of religions based on reading and thinking in a time of low illiteracy rates, know so little about their own faith?

How surprised should we be?

A very readable, short essay called One Mean Jewish Settler, by Judah Ben-Yosef who gives tours for German tourists and journalists in a large Jewish settlement in the West Bank. I like this section especially:

A not unattractive lady journalist asked me how I feel when I read the kind of things that are written about Israel. The question was not especially provocative, but maybe I was just in a bad mood. Maybe my advancing years had made me lose my patience. For whatever reason, on that day, I didn’t feel like playing games. For once I’d say what I really felt.

“It reminds me of the story of the man who comes home unexpectedly one day to find his wife in bed with the neighbor. He was shocked! He was shocked….. but he wasn’t surprised. (laughter – timing the punch line is everything.)

Am I shocked? Am I shocked when I read the reports? Of course I am. Who could read such lies and not be shocked?

Am I surprised? Am I surprised that the grandchildren of the monsters who dragged by great-grandfather into a gas chamber or buried him alive write articles that are critical of Israel? How surprised should I be?”

(a conversation I had last Saturday when I exercised a great deal of restraint, reminded me of this bit, and so I took the opportunity to put it up.)