Research from Loris Vezzali, social psychologist, points to the power of storytelling, to fiction, in shaping attitudes. This NPR program features a recent study that Vezzali, et al, conducted to determine whether children who read Harry Potter novels change how they relate to stygmitized groups of people (disabled, immigrants, or “other”).
Recentresearchshowsthatextendedcontactviastoryreadingisapowerfulstrategytoimproveout-groupattitudes.Weconductedthreestudiestotestwhether extendedcontactthroughreadingthepopularbest-sellingbooksofHarryPotter improvesattitudestowardstigmatizedgroups(immigrants,homosexuals,refu-gees).Results from one experimental intervention with elementary school children andfromtwocross-sectionalstudieswithhighschoolanduniversitystudents(in ItalyandUnitedKingdom)supportedourmainhypothesis.Identiﬁcationwith themaincharacter(i.e.,HarryPotter)anddisidentiﬁcationfromthenegative character (i.e.,Voldemort) moderatedthe effect.Perspective taking emerged as the processallowingattitudeimprovement.Theoreticalandpracticalimplicationsof theﬁndingsarediscussedinthe contextofextendedintergroup contact andsocial cognitivetheory
Our Lady of Guadalupe inspires millions of believers, offering a mothering balm of love, peace, and forgiveness through her Blessed Son. Read the legend of the appearance of the Holy Mother on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City. Her apparition was witnessed by Juan Diego who had gone to the hill at the request of his Bishop to gather roses for the church. The Bishop’s actions were inspired by a request for a sign from the Holy Mother after she asked the Bishop to build a church on the hill. When Juan Diego returned with the roses, an image of the Holy Mother was embedded in his tilga–a garment that has remained without any sign of wear or age for the last 485 years.
Miracles do happen but we never know how or sometimes why. The universe and the Earth herself are imbued with numinous qualities that we intuit but can never “prove”.
In my novel Threshold, Dolores Olivarez is a devout Catholic who recites the Rosary as she hikes the mountain to the top.
At the summit, she looks out over the vast metropolis, and then down at the Birthplace of Tucson at the base of the mountain.
From a place of reverence, Dolores seeks to understand the meaning of her time and place, much as Juan Diego climbed to gather his roses.
Florida Humanities Council posted a wonderful story about Marjorie Rawlings learning to love Florida at Christmastime. It took some time for the writer to adjust to warm air and green plants at Christmas but once she did, she was in it lock, stock, and barrel. Great article.
Paralleling Rawlings, but humbly drawing no comparison in talent, I am spending Christmas in Tucson to promote my new novel, Threshold, in very warm BUT DRY weather. Here we might be sipping margarita’s with lots of lime.
Below are photos I took at Rawlings’ Cross Creek home, now a Florida State Park, and great place to visit on your way down to Key West.
In Threshold, Luna Lopez, a Tohono O’odham youth, is learning basket-making from an elder. She discovers the recurring pattern of a maze on her teacher’s baskets and queries what it means. Rather than tell her outright, Mrs. Romero tells an old Pima story. Luna is left to interpret it in her own life.
As the narrative unfolds, Luna recognizes circularity in things around her: seasons, natural history of trees and plants, and her own circulation system. She begins to intuit that the “man in the maze” is about her inner life.
Does time bend each September allowing us to return to it, to perhaps increase our understanding? If so, let us approach it with reverence.