"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Summer Reading

Friday, July 21, 2006

Summer Reading

If nothing else, our last exchange yielded some reading recommendations. Here's a list:

Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann, Neale Donald Walsch, and Joseph Chilton Pearce
Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble by Lester R. Brown
The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg
The History of Christianity by Paul Johnson
Modern Times by Paul Johnson
Homosexuality and Civilization by Louis Crompton
The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark
The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine series by Jaroslav Pelikan
Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius

That thar is some heavy lifting, folks. I'm eager to order a few of those books from our library, although they will probably sit on my nightstand gathering late fees while I wallow in fiction. I'm in an escapist mood. Currently I'm reading Our Only May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm to the kids, as we're going to the theatrical version during FinnFest. (It's about a Finnish-American girl with seven brothers on a farm in Washington state at the turn of the century, and her struggles with tradition and freedom.)

Let's talk about books. What books have been especially important to you?


  1. Which books of the Bible, in particular?

  2. If you're in the mood for fiction that has a great deal of heart in it, read the series by Roxanne Henke. She's been given several awards by Christian book associations of one kind or another. Roxie is actually an old freind of mine and I was given the first book in the series "After Anne" by a mutual friend after my mother passed away. It looked like a "chick" book to me, so I threw it on the shelf for many months, until finally I was wandering my stacks, bored, and not finding anything to my liking. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed it, and ordered the rest of the series -- author signed of course. I did make Roxie vow to never reveal that I was reading chick books in my old age. You can find more information about her and her books at http://www.roxannehenke.com/.

  3. Norah said...

    I don't do much heavy lifting in the summer either, Free.. Have completed a couple of books recently which I enjoyed a lot.. "The Family Tree" by Carole Cadwalladr, and "Not Without My Daughter" by Betty Mahmoody. True story of living in Iran against her will. Free, I received the Laestadius book "Fragments of Lappish Mythology" and hope to begin a study of Laestadius and Lapland from a biographical perspective in the fall.

    Hope you all are having a great summer!

  4. I always seem to attract lightning whenever I mention a book I'm reading, but I'll do it anyway. I'm halfway through "Why the Christian Right is Wrong (A Minister's Manifesto for Taking Back Your Faith, Your Flag, Your Future)" by Robin Meyers, a fire-breathing local preacher of the liberal persuasion (a very rare thing in these parts). I have attended five of his lenten book classes and enjoy the lively discussions. Coming from such a fundamentalist background as I do, it's been fun listening to others who grew up with broader worldviews.

  5. I was once saw a tv documentary called "Without my daughter", the main person being Betty Mahmood's Iranian ex-husband. It was interesting to see also his side of the story... I guess the truth lies somewhere in between...


    I've got several unfinished novels and heavier stuff lying around in my apartment. I've been reading a novel about a Spanish jew in the turmoils of the crusades, I bought it along with a couple of other Spanish historical novels in Spain a few weeks ago. I've been reading a book about the resurrection of the Orthodox church of Albania after the fall of the atheist regime, a book about the church father St. Simeon the New Theologian, a novel about a Russian woman and her son who make pilgrimage to a monastery in Georgia (the country, not the state), which my mom wanted to borrow from me when she saw me reading it. Yesterday I watched a movie called "Soldiers of Salamina", it's about the Spanish civil war. For some reason I've developed a great interest in the Spanish history over the last couple of years, especially the middle ages, but also later history. The Spanish civil war is something that doesn't seem to get much attention in the schools and in the media, I guess it's overshadowed by the World War II?

    There are so many interesting books to read and so many interesting movies to watch, and so little time. I wish I could be a full-time litterature and movie consumer! :)

  6. Theo, I've often thought the same thing! I've always loved books, frankly a bit too much. Reading is usually my first choice for leisure activity, and I'm trying hard to resist for the sake of my physical health and to model a more active life to our kids, who are already biblioholics, bringing books to the table (a no-no) and to bed (okay when school is out).

    The other morning I went to check on our 7-year old, who was sleeping unusually late. He was wide awake with his nose in a thick junior Bible, brushing up on the Exodus.

    "Fascinating stuff," he said.

  7. Books… a great subject. But in the meantime it has been hot here, actually unusually hot for this time of the year. Another couple weeks of this and I am going to be switching sides. A greenie convert you might say… I’ll have to grovel a bit to get MTH’s reading list and bring myself up to speed quickly. Penance… I almost forgot about that. Certainly some of that will be in order. Give the redwood roots a rubdown, whisper to the coleus three times a day for ten days, genuflect to the gardenias… whatever… I am willing and ready… just give me the books.

    Some fun reading:

    The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand. Recommended to me by my uncle. A very well researched look at Oliver Wendell Holmes, William James, Charles Pierce and John Dewey, how their views were revolutionary and their affect on our thinking.

    Augustine by James O’Donnell. A new bio on the great Christian Platonist who arguably had the most influence on how the western world thinks today.

    The IRA, A History by Tim Pat Coogan. This did more to educate me on Ireland both north and south and why this part of the world has riveted our attention for so long.

    Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality by John Boswell. A different look at a controversial topic and well grounded in unbiased history.

    A History on Christian Thought by Paul Tillich. Free has made reference to this author on the blog. This is a compilation of lectures on the forces and influences that resulted in how Christians think today. I enjoyed juxtaposing this material onto my memories of long hours in the pew.

    The Truth about Tolerance by Brad Stetson and Joseph Conti. A different look at how we deal with truth claims.

    Citizens A Chronicle of the French Revolution by Simon Schama. This always fun author makes history into a joy ride without sacrificing rigor. So who is Theroigne de Mericourt? “In her little cell at La Salpetriere, there was at least somewhere where revolutionary memory could persist, quite undisturbed by the quotidian mess of the human condition.” Schama ends his long story with this line… unforgettable. Unlike our revolution and following it by a little more than a decade the French slaughtered themselves in search of political purity and correctness.

    As for fiction my favorites by a long shot are Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

  8. I like the same book you mentioned, free2bme - "The Rise of Christianity" by Rodney Stark. That book was just a required reading for me at first. But the book also opened to my mind to new considerations about church history and present-day Christianity.

  9. I just finished The Dwelling of the Light: Praying with Icons of Christ, by Rowan Williams. A very nice easy introduction to icons.

    Right now I'm reading Orson Scott Card's "Rachel and Leah," the latest installment in his "Women of Genesis" series. He stays faithful enough to the biblical text to make this series enjoyable to a wide range of theological outlooks. Yet he knows how to tell an exciting story! This latest one seems the weakest of the three. I definately recommend the first two in the series, Sarah and Rebekah

  10. This has been far too calm -- time to throw out a little fodder...

    I've seen references to a few "L" books, but have been kinda wondering whether anyone was going to 'fess up to reading Ann Coulter's latest -- "Godless: The Church of Liberalism" -- just to admit they had at least examined the other side of the story before making up their minds. No? Hmmm....

  11. Many Trails Home7/28/2006 12:15:00 PM

    You are really trying to rile things up here, aren't you, cvow? I checked on Amazon re Ann Coulter's book and my first impression is that she is mighty keen on showing off her "fitness instructor body" on the cover. Second, she is by no means a mental giant, if the write-up is any indication: ". . . liberalism rejects the idea of God and reviles people of faith." What B.S. What blanket stmts, platitudes, narrow-mindedness, etc. Got no patience with that. But apparently it sells books, if she is indeed a "best seller;" can't argue with commercial success! But we deserve what we get, if we buy into these categorizations.
    So cvow, did I take the bait? MTH

  12. Cvow, you are SO funny! OK, I'll take the bait too.
    I like reading materials from lots of different perspectives, but I refuse, REFUSE to indulge anyone who is a hatemonger, I don't care who they are. And Ann Coulter is a hatemonger.
    A regular nation columnist, who is not exactly a whining liberal, called her tall, blond and nasty. To quote: "In her latest book, she savages the widows (of 9/11) as 'self-obsessed' and 'witches' ". He also says, "We're talking about the woman who said Timonthy McVeigh's only mistake was in not blowing up The New York Times building."
    And you want me to read a whole book of this clap-trap. Sorry, I'll pass.
    There, did I bite, too?

  13. MTH...

    It might be useful here to distinguish between liberalism and leftism. It used to be that they were separate. Since the 60's the Democratic party has migrated closer and closer to the left and now finds itself being identified as leftist. Most of its members are not leftists but consider themselves liberals. However when a major political party gives an honored seat at their national convention to an avowed leftist like Michael Moore it deserves the title leftist. Furthermore this results in liberals being labelled as such fairly or unfairly... mostly unfairly.

    Now enter Anne Coulter... the left has been very hostile to religion. Some evidence of this is directly in the pages of the NY Times and other quite "leftist" publications. Catholic bashing is standard fare in these pages. People who regard religion seriously are identified as fundamentalists and other terms of antiquity. And this is the point that she makes in her writing. She is actually a very good debater, very strong on facts, quite controversial and charismatic and proof that the right does not fear a strong woman.

  14. Strong Women, Hah! The Right Hates Hillary, and from what I got out of our very, very Right local paper, it was because she was a Strong Woman. So that doesn't cut it for me. Try another reason, Stylux.
    More quote from Ann re the 9/11 widows: "These broads are millionaires...reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."
    Evidently (to continue quoting Pitt in the article), the widows' sins are that they pushed for an independent commission to investigate 9/11 intelligence failures..."
    And you're telling me she sticks to facts...doesn't sound like it.
    Stylux, give me a better reason for why I should read her.

  15. Sisu... easy... I wasn't giving you a reason to read her. I don't read her. Every political point of view has its rhetoric and Anne serves this wonderfully useful purpose of poking holes in the rhetoric of the left masquerading as sacred cows. Regarding 9-11 widows... setting aside Coulter, if I suggest that it was not the fed's responsibility to make whole the lives of families affected by the attack on the towers I am accused by the left as lacking compassion. It's the same argument that is used in lunch programs when the right is accused of wanting kids to starve if they oppose federal involvement in lunch programs. Ultimately there is a grief industry given the amount of money given by charity, private agencies, governmental departments, the Red Cross, etc. with respect to the families. I frequently hear that "not enough" is being done when the per capita resources given to these families is astounding. The liberal press has been using human suffering to its own advantage for years. The Leftist rhetoric breeds the Rightest rhetoric and it deserves it.

    Years ago the "strong woman" argument was used to bash conservatives that wouldn't vote for a liberal woman. It looks like it is still here with Hillary. No, I wouldn't vote for her because I don't like her politics. Her womanhood and relative strength doesn't worry me.

  16. OK, Stylux, I'm calmed down now...Yes, both sides use rhetoric for their own purposes and ends. I'll agree with you there. I want to get a copy of the book you recommended for depression. I'll look for it on my next trip to the book store. Thanks for the info.

  17. Heheheh...I was wondering why it took so long! Good discussion MTH, Sisu, and Stylux! Y'all are so articulate in your arguments that it makes for some darned fine reading!

    Actually, I would not read Ann Coulter myself -- anymore than I would read someone like Meyers. I am only interested in authors who I think have at least a half a chance of presenting an unbiased view -- which usually means someone who has no skin in the game themselves, can dump the subjectivity and emotion, and objectively present facts and data. I don't believe the above mentioned writers or others living on the fringes with them can do that.

    I may have mentioned this elsewhere -- or perhaps I thought about mentioning it (as I grow older I tend to repeat myself, a fact my children revel in reminding me of -- to which I reply that if it's a good story it's worth repeating, but I digress..) but I think of this as sort of a data set with a more or less normal distribution. The vast majority of folks using common sense have a central tendency. Out on the ends, at both the upper and lower spec limits and "leaking" outside them, exist the alarmists, charlatans, hucksters, and the out-and-out liars who will tell you whatever it is that will cause you to buy their book. In the stats framework, I would think of that as waste...and we should all work to eliminate waste.

    You know, I love statistics almost as much as I like stirring pots! BTW, MTH, what's wrong with Ann showing off her "fitness instructor body"? I don't have a problem with that...

  18. Many Trails Home7/28/2006 08:14:00 PM

    This conversation has turned positively exciting. Just to show you how out of it I am, I never even heard of Ann Coulter before - obviously she is well known in some circles. And I enjoy watching you guys duke it out from the sidelines: "Right" "Left" "Left" "Right" - I feel like I'm watching a boxing match! And to me it all seems so completely irrelevant. Who cares? How does it affect us? (I hope I'm not being too offensive). "Liberal" this and "Conservative" that. A multitude of perspectives have always existed and if we get caught up in these categories, do we not risk losing our own way? Just a thought I had. Blessings to all you loved ones. MTH

  19. MTH... It doesn't make a whits difference and that is the fun of it. I can recall discussing why sports teams are so important to so many men. (Women for the most part are not into it the way men seem to be.) It is a way for men to become intimate without consequence.

    Folks, I know that I am generalizing.

    MTH... by the way it has cooled down here a little so I am returning my greenie books. In their place I am getting a copy of Seriosity, by Woody Allen.

  20. Many Trails Home7/31/2006 10:51:00 AM

    Oh, that's funny! I think I'll get "Seriosity" also. You might also consider "Driving Your Own Karma" and other books by Swami Beyondananda = they are hilarious; he has a sharp wit and pokes fun at lots of the New-Agey stuff I love. MTH

  21. MTH...

    I thought you were kidding about the swami and looked it up. It turns out that you are not. I'll buy the book.