PERSONAL: Male. Education: York University, doctoral student.
CAREER: Writer and musician. Punk Planet, Chicago, IL, associate editor; Bad Subjects, Berkeley, CA, reviews editor. Member of band Elders of Zion; former member of band Christal Methodists.
Jerusalem Calling: A Homeless Conscience in a Post-Everything World, Akashic Books (New York, NY), 2001.
The Anti-Capitalism Reader: Imagining a Geography of Opposition, Akashic Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Elders of Zion released its first album, Dawn Refuses to Rise, on the Incidental Music label in 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Joel Schalit is an unconventional young political philosopher who already has a good deal of work to his credit. Beyond his books and journalism, Schalit also comments on politics and culture through his music, made with the bands Elders of Zion and, formerly, Christal Methodists.
Schalit's primary theme is the danger of a fundamentalist approach to religion, whether that religion is his own family's Judaism, the Christianity he encountered at the Episcopalian boarding school he attended, or Islam. He expresses this through music by including samplings of Christian talk radio shows in his songs. Schalit, a self-identified Marxist and satirist, explained in an article for the Journal of Mundane Behavior that the music of his first band, the Christal Methodists, "was all about raising people's consciousness about how religion uses technology to further mystify personal experiences of political disenfranchisement."
Schalit's first book, Jerusalem Calling: A Homeless Conscience in a Post-Everything World, was dubbed a "remarkable collection of essays by an astute young writer" by a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. This book, which is just as critical of religion as Schalit's music, is a highly personal look at the religious politics of the United States and Israel, two countries which Schalit knows well. Schalit begins the book with an analysis of fundamentalist Christianity's methods of distributing information, but in the four essays which comprise the book he branches out into, among other things, the influence of radical Christians on the American political process, the failure of the American Left to confront this religious influence, and his personal relationship with the state of Israel, which his powerful Zionist family was heavily involved in creating. "For those interested in post-Zionist Israel and a timely analysis of the condition of the Jewish state," Adam Stewart wrote in the Hyde Park Review of Books, "the last essay alone is worth picking up the book."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 1, 2002, Will Hickman, review of Jerusalem Calling: A Homeless Conscience in a Post-Everything World, pp. 909-910.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2001, review of Jerusalem Calling, p. 1745.
Publishers Weekly, December 3, 2001, review of Jerusalem Calling, p. 47.
3am Politics,http://www.3ammagazine.com/ (December 1, 2002), Charles Shaw, interview with Schalit.
Akashic Books,http://www.akashicbooks.com/ (December 2, 2002).
Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life,http://eserver.org/bs/ (December 8, 2002).
Incidental Music,http://www.incidentalmusic.com/ (December 1, 2002).
Journal of Mundane Behavior,http://www.mundanebehavior.org/ (April 30, 2002), Joel Schalit, "Unpacking My Record Collection: The End of the Christal Methodists."
Stranger,http://www.thestranger.com/ (January 31, 2002), Hagar Shirman, review of Jerusalem Calling.*