Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Case for God

Think about the title for a minute.  Yep, you probably think the book is about why we should believe in God, especially coming from Karen Armstrong, the premier writer in religion today.  Though she is more of a pantheist than anything, as the books pictured on the cover shows, she still has the deepest knowledge and understanding of the three major religions of Christianity/Juadaism/Islam.  This book is not an argumentative case for God, but and understanding of God through time.  This is a chronological history of the beliefs in God.  How different ages approached the deity and how new ages changed the old ways and believed in again redefining ways.  This is not what I expected.  I was expecting maybe a modern understanding of our modern faith.  I didn't want history, though I do not know it all, much was review.  I wanted to see how she understood faith and technology and the new-atheists (Hutchins and Dawkins -which she does spend about 20 pages on.)  So this book, well-researched, was not what I was looking for.  And it is my fault as I misunderstood the title and did not read the Amazon reviews.  Still a great mind here, and a book for those wanting an introduction to the major beliefs through time.

#68 Renaissance Ramblings

The cover of the book looks enticing, I'm not referring to the nude, but the title--  "The Sacred and the Profane in the Renaissance."  If I had looked a little more closely as I purchased this book I would have noticed that this book is comprised of chapters, each of which is an essay from a literary magazine.  These are reviews!  Though these do not seem like reviews, they really do not seem like much of anything.  The style of writing is foreign to what I am used to in literary studies.  They seemed to lack a thesis, and were written in a very flowing way that skitted from one subject to the next.  Though this is nice, it really did not tell me much of anything.  I was looking for substantial scholarship here, and got a book of what seemed like The New Yorker does reviews.  I find them entertaining, but fail to see the importance.  For a book with such a nice sounding name I fail to see the purpose, and maybe it is because when it comes to scholarship I tend to be myopic.  And for 261 pages I seemed to lack the skills to fully appreciate this book.  Or maybe I understood it just fine.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Tar Sands

Now I know what all those Albertans were talking about when they mentioned the tar sands.  I gathered that the tar sands were bad, but I really had no concept of how bad and why.  Thanks to Nikoforuk I had an idea of how poor a idea it is to be destroying our planet for oil.  Like his Empire of the Beetle, which I read last summer, this book covers all negative factors of the problem.  He keeps piling on more and more terrible affects of tar sands on the local population, environment, government, and workers.  This is a frightening book.  And unlike Empire of the Beetle, this book had relatively few typos making it an easier read, though he did have some suspect sentences in here.  I must say that I quite enjoy this journalist, and though I'm not taking the Canadian writer challenge, I think this puts me at 3 Canadian books this year, if we can include Cerebus.

I recommend this writer for the information he gives, though his style of writing, I feel, is poor.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Top 5 All-Time

I believe this may be the 3rd or 4th time I have read this book.  I love the way Thornton Wilder writes, it reads like silk.  The story is beautiful, the characters are real, and the tragedy is sad.  This book just reads well.  I don't know why I haven't read any of his other novels, maybe it is because I am afraid they won't be as good, or as well written.  Is that a strange sentiment?  I love this book so much I am afraid to read anything else by this author lest it somehow detract from this one book.  I also really love his play Our Town, but that is another subject.

But if I had to say, this book is easily in my top five books I have read.  It is right up there with Walden, The Georgics by Virgil, As I Lay Dying, and The Confederacy of Dunces.  This book also marks 2/3 of a 100 books for the year.  I have 5.5 months left to read another 34.  Hopefully school facilitates this and does not hinder it.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Reformation

The Reformation by Diarmaid MacCulloch is just what it is, the Reformation.  This is a massive book whose enormity at 708 pages does not do justice to the amount of information contained in it.  It begins before the Reformation to show the world as it was and help explain how it came to be.  This book discusses Martin Luther, but it does not dwell on him.  Though Luther got the ball rolling, this book does well to mention Buller, Melancthon, Calvin, Cranmer, and Erasmus.  It focuses on everything, it encompasses nearly as much.  It is difficult to retain a fraction of the information in the book, but even that much will suffice.  After nearly a month of reading I feel much better when it comes to understanding what happened, but I feel next time a book like this should be a review and not an introduction.

I'm starting to see that studying a period may be easier if I read about it one person at a time.  Like a biography of Luther and his teachings, and then move on to the next historical figure.  Maybe that will take too long.

Friday, 6 July 2012

#64 Hengist: I never knew thee

Hengist the King of Kent is a historical play by Middleton, one of his few historical plays, and it was an odd mix of tragedy and comedy.  One would be hard-pressed to classify this play.  It starts off somewhat funny and then King Constantius is betrayed and killed offstage for the new king.  Interspersed in the royal tragedy are the comedic scenes of Simon, the mayor of Queenborough, which chronicles the rise of an inept and gullible mayor who uses his power to solve his own petty quarrels.  These scenes are apparently satirizing the collapse of the cloth trade in Middleton's own day.

The titular character Hengist is apparently well known in English history, and I am ashamed I have never heard of him before.  I guess I should read more.