You know, Jeb really is the smart one. All sorts of right-wing politicians, including Jeb's brother, practice cronyism and push theocracy -- but Jeb's managed to do both simultaneously....
Book chosen by Gov. Bush for contest tied to GOP donor's movie
Gov. Jeb Bush is encouraging Florida schoolchildren to read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a parable of the New Testament gospels, for a contest timed with the release of the movie version by a company owned by a prominent Republican donor.
The $150 million film opens Dec. 9, and three sets of winners will get a private screening in Orlando, two nights at a Disney resort, a dinner at Medieval Times and a copy of the C.S. Lewis children's novel signed by Jeb and Columba Bush.
The movie is being co-produced by Disney and Walden Media, which is owned by Philip Anschutz, a Colorado billionaire. Anschutz, his family, his foundation and his company have donated nearly $100,000 to Republican candidates and causes in the past three elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics....
Mary Laura Openshaw, Bush's director of Just Read, Florida, said other books that were made into movies in recent years -- such as the Harry Potter movies and the film of the award-winning children's book, The Polar Express -- were not selected for contests because the companies that made them were not partners with Just Read, Florida, as Walden is....
As to the religious themes in the book, Openshaw said the story could be read without reference to Christianity. She said she wanted children "to read the book and decide for themselves."...
In the book, four children escaping the Nazi blitz of London during World War II find a wardrobe that lets them enter a magical land called Narnia, where the evil White Witch has cast a perpetual winter. A lion named Aslan arrives, where he dies to redeem one of the children, but then is resurrected. In the end, Aslan and the children -- who in Narnia are known as Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve -- defeat the White Witch.
The state's Just Read, Florida Web site links to Walden's, which then links to an "educator's discussion board" -- the most popular thread of which is about a "17-week Narnia Bible Study for children." ...
--Palm Beach Post
Jeb's previous choice for Just Read served Mammon, if not God -- it was Carl Hiaasen's kids' book Hoot, which is also being made into a Walden Media movie.
UPDATE: Another person who's likely to be pleased with Jeb's current reading choice is Rupert Murdoch. The Boston Globe reports on the Murdoch marketing blitz that's accompanying the film:
...HarperCollins, the publishing arm of the Rupert Murdoch media empire, is pumping out 170 C.S. Lewis-related book titles in more than 60 countries -- 140 related to ''The Chronicles of Narnia." The number represents a vast variety of editions and companion volumes. Lewis's own books are only the beginning. Besides various editions of ''The Chronicles of Narnia," there's a six-volume box set of Lewis's mostly Christian books for adults, including ''Mere Christianity," ''The Screwtape Letters," ''Miracles," and ''The Problem of Pain." There's also a new adult biography titled ''The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis," by Lewis scholar Alan Jacobs.
Then there are the extras. To mention a few: ''A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings From His Classic Works"; ''Mere Christianity Journal," a faux-leather-bound study guide with excerpts and blank pages for reader reflections; ''Beyond the Wardrobe: The Official Guide to Narnia"; and ''Companion to Narnia," an alphabetized reference book to the world of the ''Narnia" books. And there are not one but two glossy photo books about the making of the movie.
... ''The more they are able to get people to read the books," said Cary Granat, chief executive officer of Walden Media, ''the bigger the base to grow the film. As more people want to see the film and read the books, it will extend the franchise. It's a cultural phenomenon that needs to be managed at all levels."...
Sounds very educational and very spiritual.
HarperCollins finalized an agreement in early 2001 that made it the principal English-language publisher of C. S. Lewis worldwide. That announcement was also accompanied by words of nurturance and spirituality:
"C.S. Lewis is one of the most beloved and respected literary figures of our time,'' said Jane Friedman, President and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers. "The new agreement allows HarperCollins to capitalize on our strengths as a global publisher to bring C.S. Lewis to audiences of all ages around the world through a vibrant, coordinated publishing program. We move forward with a focused worldwide branding effort, the goal of which is to encourage readers to appreciate the remarkable freshness of C.S. Lewis' works in the new century, while also celebrating the classic best-selling status of the Narnia books.''
And Jeb is happy to pitch in. Maybe he should change the name of that program to "Just Cross-Market, Florida."