It’s the end of the Summer and as I have too many projects approaching with the start of the school year - - the next comments will be too brief, and yet will capture the reading completed.
The Stranger: Barack Obama in the Whitehouse by Chuck Todd. As Todd notes, it’s too early to write about the lasting effects of the Obama Presidency. Still, this book pointed me to consider new aspects of the “person” of Obama and how who he is who he is, shaped his decisions, speeches, advocacy and - ultimately in time we’ll fully discern, the legacy of his Presidency.
Thirteen Moons: A Novel by Charles Frazier. I enjoyed this fiction. It made me think about indigenous persons from America in new ways. I’m not sure how to think on fiction, really. It seems to me that I rarely read deeply compelling fiction (like that of Wendell Berry, for example.) This was good, not great.
Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness by Mark Epstein. I almost think I’ve read this before. (I had to look, to be honest.) The book follows the scope of what the publisher states. Epstein "shows us that happiness doesn't come from any kind of acquisitiveness, be it material or psychological. Happiness comes from letting go. Weaving together the accumulated wisdom of his two worlds--Buddhism and Western psychotherapy--Epstein shows how 'the happiness that we seek depends on our ability to balance the ego's need to do with our inherent capacity to be.' He encourages us to relax the ever-vigilant mind in order to experience the freedom that comes only from relinquishing control. Drawing on events in his own life and stories from his patients, Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart teaches us that only by letting go can we start on the path to a more peaceful and spiritually satisfying life." (From Amazon listing.) It was a good read. I’m 50/50 on whether or not I should read it again, though I think I will recommend it to others.
The AUDIO lecture - Grasping God’s Word: A Hands On Approach to Reading, Intepreting and Applying God's Word by J. Scott Duvall. It was the early 2000's that ‘Grasping God’s Word” was emerging as “the book” “all Baptists” (in my experience) were using in every church. Squarely within my metier, and that is likely the reason I found the content dull and boring - it was ‘too basic’ for me and simply was not “lively” nor entertaining” nor “compelling” in what it presented.
Short Stories: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Jesus by Amy Jill-Levine. I very much enjoyed the depth of engagement the Jewish-Christian Scholar gave to the parables (and other proclamation) of Jesus. One of the most significant classes I took in all my Masters or Ph.D. work was a class entitled The Parables of Jesus. It is a specific class where I remember nearly every class session, including my class colleagues. This book reminded me of that class, contained some of the same data, and yet provoked me to consider yet other interpretive perspectives from and in the Parables. I started it - and had to return it to the library before I had time to finish it. I considered purchasing it - and then checked it out again from the library to finish it, instead. I may yet purchase it and re-read it. I rarely do that with library books though, of course, routinely read within OT/Hebrew Bible and some Peace or Psychology texts. This one, I’ll likely own soon - and use/read again - for preaching.
The Only Girl in the World: A Memoir by Maude Julien. When I started reading this book, I had not remembered where/how it had come to my awareness. I was several chapters in when I found things too unbelievable to be worth finishing the fiction. And yet, I decided I needed to remember why I had picked up this book - and I was astounded to be reminded (told?) that it was not fiction - and this was an auto-biographical account. I re-read book reviews on the book - much to the praise of the book. I opted not to finish it. Perhaps - and so it seems - it seemed fictional to me as the over-bearing-tyrannical and abusive rule (role) of her father seemed unbelievable. I do acknowledge that I can not understand that and it seems, it “felt” too unreal to me - and yet, I’ll note that I still think there were unbelievable (inconsistent) aspects to the abusive father - and - a few phrases used by Julien to narrate her story were, in fact, anachronistic I double checked some phrases she used and this led me to think the story must certainly be fictional. The book is popular - I did not find it worth reading through to it’s end.
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Having read a powerful and compelling work by Coates in recent months - I was intrigued to read this. I found some of the chapters compelling, but overall, not enough of them were compelling to keep my interest.
I don’t remember how many years ago (was I a teen?) when I read about Shackleton and his epic antarctic journey. This book picked up with stories of Shackleton and others - as they tried to discern their way across the arctic. An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton and the Heroine Age of Antarctic Science by Edward J. Larson. The story weaved science and history, narratives of exploration and the persons who were behind the exploits. The book gave attention to persons though it also framed their exploits and discoveries and progress rooted in the scientific discoveries and social and geographical contexts of their lives.