Thursday, January 12, 2006

 

ER book notes

Somebody actually remarked about the WHAT I'M READING part of the sidebar, to the left, yesterday. I DO devour books.

What have you read lately?

Just removed from my list is a great, great book for anyone raised in a fundamentalist Christian tradition who ever struggles with what to do with the Bible, obviously sacred, but just as obviously not history, not science, and not to be taken literally but to be taken seriously. (Fire away).

John Shelby Spong, "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism : A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture" (New York: HarperCollins, 1992).

This review from Amazon.com sums up my thinking, as well:

Make no mistake about it, Bishop Spong is viewed as a radical by many in the Christian community and rightly so. In this book, he begins with the Old Testament's Book of Genesis and carries further into the New Testament, applying an acid test of criticism to all of the prevailing notions fundamentalist Christianity has managed to work into the fabric of mainstream theology. He examines sexual ethics, the role of women, and racism and makes a compelling case that if Christianity is to be "saved" it must deliver itself from the realm of thought that once kept in in the Dark Ages.

This book will pose as a threat to conservative evagelical types, as it strikes to the very core of what they believe. It provides an excellent perspective on what liberal Christian hermenetics is like in the context of debate.

You may disagree with Spong's views and assertions, but you will be forced to examine just why you disagree and provide a reasonable justification if you are ever to consider yourself intellectually honest.



I also just finished Jimmy Carter, "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis" (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005). God bless James Earl Carter. This book reaffirms what I've thought for years about the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Conviction, the fundamentalist takeover of the Republican Party, the devolution of political discourse in this country and the growing intolerance for dissent. War over diplomacy. Meanness over kindness. Individualism over community. This country's leadership, and a fat, gullible electorate, are pissing away the very ways and mores that have traditionally made the United States strong. Jimmy Carter, as usual, without any yelling and carrying on, spells out what's at stake and asks us if we really know what the hell we're doing with our American birthright.


What I'm reading now:

James Risen, "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration" (New York: Free Press, 2006). The New York Times reporter tells us more than we really want to know about the neocon loonies and law breakers in the Bush War Machine. (Just started this one last night)

James C. Cobb, "Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity" (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). Shows, among other things, how white elites in the South managed to stop Reconstruction and take power back from the Yankee victors, then more or less systematically use violence and rhetoric to retake the "master narrative" of the war's meaning, the place of former slaves and the morality of it all. The birth of the post-bellum Southern and ex-Confederate mystique.

Neil R. Johnson, "The Chickasaw Rancher," rev. ed. (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2001; reprint, Stillwater, Okla.: Redlands Press, 1960). The story of mixed-heritage Chickasaw rancher Montford T. Johnson, who raised cattle on the western frontier of the Chickasaw Nation (present southern Oklahoma) and managed to be more or less left alone by Chickasaw leadership, and get along with the "wild" Comanches and Kiowas -- chiefly by not hirin' any dang Texans, in the 1860s-70s-80s.

Norman Davies, "Europe" (New York: HarperCollins, 1998; reprint, Oxford University Press, 1996). I'm on page 700-something of this 1,392-page tome. It is a sweeping, sweeping history of Europe, written more from a central-Eastern perspective. The world doesn't begin and end in London, in this one, in other words. Hard book. If not for Western civ and humanities classes back in the day, and a class on the Reformation in fall 2004, I couldn't have followed much of it so far. Great book, though. Lots of sidebars, breakouts and vignettes on special people, places and things.


UP NEXT:

John Shelby Spong, "The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love" (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005).

John Eldredge, "Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul" (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001).

So, what's on YOUR nightstand-end table-toilet tank? :-)

--ER

Comments:
I am just finishing up a book written by Your friend and mine, Poison Pero, called "Liberal Jackass Quotes", a compilation of his Liberal Jackass Quotes
blog posts for the year 2005.
 
That sounds about right.
 
Currently reading:
Darby's Rangers by William O. Darby
Blood and Oil, The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum by Michael T. Klare

In the queue:
Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy
On Killing, The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman
Hitlers Willing Executioners by Daniel Jonah Goldhagan

There's a stack of probably 20 books waiting by my desk to be read as well. It seems like anymore I buy three books for every two books I read.
 
Rem, good stuff there.

Is that Darby from Fort Smith, Ark.?
 
Yes, Darby was from Fort Smith. I believe he is buried there (I know he was killed in Italy just days before the war ended).
 
I'm slowly working thru:

_"Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus" by Robert Farrar Capon

and

_"Sources of Strength" by Jimmy Carter. (These are his 50 favorite Sunday school lessons.)

I am listening to "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin on CD on the daily drive to work. (I can highly recommend the greatness of the book on CD for those who have long commutes to work, like me. I did Carter's "An Hour Before Daylight" on CD.)
 
Oh and I also listened to Bob Greene's "Once Upon a Town" via the miracle of the book on CD....
 
Rem, I thought he was a Fort Smithian. I grew up just across the state line in Oklahoma. And, I interned at the Fort Smith paper in 1986, which was Arkansas's sesquicentennial year, when everybody's history bits were all blood-engorged and tingly. Wrote quite a few history-related stories back then, including something on Darby. I think they renamed part of a downtown street for him -- Eighth, as I recall. :-)

GP, sounds good. My "commute" is, like 15 minutes, 20 if there's a train, just 9.4 miles. By the time I got into an audio book, it'd be time to turn it off.

Dr. ER and I did listen to a Harry Potter book while drivin' from Oklahoma to D.C. one time. That was cool.

And, um, is that that Lincoln book by DKG? I've been tempted to buy it, but I'm barely scratching the multiple grocery sacks of history books I got from the family of a deceased prof summer before last. And, it IS another Lincoln. :-)

Uh, you realize why Lincoln is risin' again, don't you. Because the current president is very Lincolnesque in his attitude toward his goals. Neither would let the law get in their way. :-)
 
It is a Lincoln book, sir, by the great DKG.

You may recall a fine history teacher from our former town was able to keep a large portrait of ole Stonewall and one of Honest Abe on the walls within her single, undivided house. That is to say, she could see high qualities within both men.

And you realize, I'm sure, that, had your "tyrant" lived, Reconstruction would not have been remembered for its harshness toward the conquered states.
 
I've read a lot of copy from fresh-out-of-college news writers now working in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Lots of interesting things I get to hang my hat on, like, oh, putting sentences back together so they have good grammar and understanding, tense usage, comma usage, generally re-training some younger writers who need a new course in general newswriting.

It is intriguing to say the least.
 
Teditor, as you know I do a fair amount of basic copyediting in my daily work. And I have for years.

The older I get, the more pissed off I get when I have to fix basic mistakes by people who should know better. :-)
 
Oh, and you are right, GP, about Lincoln being sadly and tragically removed as an obstacle to the extremes of Reconstruction.
 
Well, OK, I'll play to type.

I'm in various stages of completion with the following three books:

* Women Who Make the World Worse (and How Their Radical Feminist Assault is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military and Sports, by Kate O'Beirne (an editor with National Review).

* Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think by George Lakoff (a has-to-look-to-the-right-and-squint-to-see-Jesse-Jackson linguistics professor who examines traditional and liberal political ideas based on how we process and understand metaphors).

* Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, by Joseph Ellis.
 
Hoo hoo on the O'Beirne book! WOW! Hee hee. (Wiping tears from eyes).

Dude.

I'm laughing WITH You, not AT you. Seriously.

But I honestly don't think I have one on my just-read, reading or fixing-to-read list that comes close to mirroring it. :-)

The Lakoff book sounds interesting. And I picked up and pondered buying "Founding Brothers" at the B&N just last night, but resisted 'cause I went there specifically just to buy James Risen's "State of War."

By the way, the ONLY Other time I've seen that name, O'Beirne, aside from her, is the author of a book on the movers and shakers in Indian Territory, published in Chicago, I think, that came out in 1899. I wonder if there's a connection. It's an uncommon spelling of an uncommon name.
 
Let's just say I'm reading the O'Beirne book as a professional necessity; might not have been one I picked up if there wasn't a work-related reason -- not that I don't buy the subject matter, just that I read a lot of books like that for my job and would likely have passed on this one.

Lakoff's book is very interesting -- he's kind of the guru of the moment for Dems. His buzzphrase is "framing the message" -- communicating what liberals stand for in metaphors that responate positively with voters. I'm reading all of his politically themed stuff as a sort of opposition research -- he grossly caricatures what conservatives believe, and gives libs the benefit of every doubt, but the theories beneath the partisanship are intriguing.

Glad to see you're going toget into "Wild at Heart" soon. You gotta let me know what you think.
 
Will do. You are the second dude to give me a copy. I couldn't start it the first time because I was under the deluge of reading that comes with workin' on a master's in history. I'll do it this time. :-)

Dr. has read it, actually. She did not disparage it. :-)
 
Let' see The last two things I completed reading was a 3 volume edition of the Ilustrated Novel: Serinity and a book on Mary Magdalene.

I am now reading: In Search of Zarathustra by Paul Kriwaczek.

The pile of unread tomes consists of a book on Merriwether Lewis's character; a bio of Sheheke a Mandan chief; a pictorial history of the Siro Mound;an older two volume work on the American Fur Trade; and book on Confederate RRs, among several otheres.

and this:

ER said: Uh, you realize why Lincoln is risin' again, don't you. Because the current president is very Lincolnesque in his attitude toward his goals. Neither would let the law get in their way. :-)
I respectfully insist that you are out of your everlovin friggin mind to even humerously connect AL and GW. The law breaking president that most resembles GW is James Buchanan not AL. Lincoln had to live with the broken things that Buchanan left for him.
Pay attention to the histrorical "glueons" as well as the "quarks".
 
ER, if you like Bishop Spong's books, you might try Marcus Borg: Reading the Bible Again For the First Time, Meeting Jesus Again For the First Time, and The Heart of Christianity are just a few of his books.

Am currently reading Looking for Information: A Survey of Research on Information Seeking, Needs, and Behaviour and Making the Information Society, both for school, which starts next week.

Other than magazines and blogs, the only fun reading I've done lately is The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman. Very, very strange and very, very funny.

On the "to read" shelf: Six Questions of Socrates by Christopher Phillips, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, 1633 by Eric Flint, and Company by Max Barry.
 
Toper beat me to it: Do let us know what you think of Wild at Heart (which I have not read). It is wildly popular among a certain set of conservative, Republican, fundamentalist (even if because they've been through a nasty divorce and are a comin' back to Jesus because of it) youngish-middle-age-ish men. I'm guessing you'll say, "Whuuuu???"

I did like a weekendlong seminar on "heaven" he put together some decade ago before he started writing books in earnest.
 
Drlobojob, you have GOT to let me spout off neo-Confederate fume once in awhile; it's required for me to keep my R!

Kiki, thanks for the recommendations. I sure like the titles, already.

Anon., Dr. ER said something sort of similar.
 
Drlobo, two-volume work on the fur trade must be Hiran Martin Chittenden's "The American Fur Trade of the Far West."

I read it last year, as a prereq for reading and reviewing Shirley Christian's "Before Lewis and Clark: The Story of the Chouteaus, the French Dynasty That Ruled America's Frontier."

I loved that Chittenden stuff. An oldy but a goody, fer sure.
 
The ones I keep ignoring, as they are very large and I am very busy right now:
"Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, vol. 3"- Robert A. Caro and
"America in Midpassage"- Charles A. Beard
The ones I'm re-reading either to get a better read on, or because I just like 'em so much:
"Inventing a Nation; Washington, Adams, Jefferson"- Gore Vidal and
"Hell's Angels; the Strange and Terrible Saga of the Motorcycle Gangs"-Hunter S. Thompson
I like how 'Midpassage' to Beard was the 1930's, and how the old tactic of just denying anything is wrong by the government, business and media has changed very little.
And HST, well, ya' just gotta give it up to the guy.
 
ER you know I'm never going to condone that confederate/seccesion streak in you. If the Confederates thought seccesion was such a fine principle why wouldn't they condone West Virginia, when they basicaly said frack you Virginia we don't want to play. And why did they have their invasion of North Texas and the murder of the Northern and Western Texas counties's delegates on their way to the state house session on the Texas vote to secceed, the vigilante killings and mass hangings in places like Gainsville when those Northern tier of counties said we want to secceed from you guys. And what did they do to Winston County Alabama when it said the same thing. Next time I chastize you I'll get into the lopsided death rates in Indian Territory, and Bleeding Kansas.
It is for your own good now ER.
 
My interest in the Civil War has to do with the theories and philosophies of government involved, not the military realities or the human inconsistencies.

Kinda like, I read Barry Goldwater's "Conscience of a Conservative" -- I have a vintage copy, of course. :-) -- and thought the reasoning was superb. But unrealistic when written, in the '60s, much more so now, of course.
 
Rich, Caro, Vidal, Beard, HST! Good God, man! Great mix. I've read one or two Caros, a little Vidal, a little Beard (read more reaction to Beard than Beard, actually) and loads of HST. "Hell's Angels still stands as an archtype of investigative, submersion journalism.
 
I also just finished Jimmy Carter, "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis" (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005). God bless James Earl Carter. This book reaffirms what I've thought for years about the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Conviction, the fundamentalist takeover of the Republican Party, the devolution of political discourse in this country and the growing intolerance for dissent. War over diplomacy. Meanness over kindness. Individualism over community. This country's leadership, and a fat, gullible electorate, are pissing away the very ways and mores that have traditionally made the United States strong. Jimmy Carter, as usual, without any yelling and carrying on, spells out what's at stake and asks us if we really know what the hell we're doing with our American birthright.

Yes. I want to read this book, for sure. I saw Jimmy Carter interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and I was sold. I have a feeling I'm going to be nodding along with you, ER.
 
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