The Taser's Edge

Tuesday Reading Roundup 12: Anything but School, Please Edition

1. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller–Finished it off.  Kind of like Superman finished off Batman in that brutal fight.  You’ll have to read it to believe it.  And you knew they would have to fight some time, so no whining about spoilers.  Bruce Wayne has gotten vengeful in his old age, and that just goes plumb against the American Way (at least when that vengeance is carried out by a masked vigilante).

2. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle–The series continues as Charles Wallace saves the world from nuclear annihilation by traveling through time (via unicorn, of course, which flies on the wind, which goes where it pleases), aided by Meg, married and pregnant, kything with him the whole way.  Such good imagination at work.  Favorite scene at this moment’s recollection: seeing a baby unicorn hatch and get its first taste of moonbeams.

3. Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle–Now the Murry twins, Sandy and Dennys, are thrown back into the time of Noah by an experiment they happen to walk into while searching for the Dutch cocoa in their mother’s lab.  Ever wondered what nephilim (see Gen. 6:1-4) were?  You are not alone, and Madeleine L’Engle has a better imagination than most of us.  Even as the wonderful imagery is still here, it seems like some of the writing is of lesser quality than the first three books.  (Although I would still be happy to claim authorship.  Well, authorship of at least some parts.)

4. Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue by Edwin H. Friedman–You know I am next-to-incapable of giving my energies to schoolwork if I can’t read this amazing and raveworthy book.  The most insightful teacher since fill-in-the-blank, and I am having to force myself through its pages.  It’s just not right.

5. On the Genealogy of Morals by Frederich Nietzsche–We only read a couple chapters for my Hauerwas class, but I think I might be in love.  Such a lively writer, and he doesn’t take himself so seriously that he can’t have fun.  (Refreshing, especially after Kant.)  My take-away: here is an atheist who really seems to understand the interior of Christianity and then reject it on its own terms.  I can respect that, truly.  While I admit I haven’t read the most recent crop of atheists (Dawkins, Hitchens, et al.), I think they would have a hard time keeping up with Nietzsche.  His strength is that he takes Christianity seriously; from my admittedly little contact with videos of more recent atheists, they fail to do so, and so fail to move the conversation forward.  One more thing: no matter how badly misread or misused by the Nazi agenda, it is hard to read this philosopher on this side of the Third Reich (and the horrors of the 20th century in general) without at least wondering what part his ideas, and ideas like his, played.

Tuesday Reading Wrap-up 1 (a.k.a. Tuesday Reading Roundup 11 (a.k.a. Tuesday Reading Retrospective 1))

Due to the 2-hit combo of shrill popular request and common sense (a dramatization of that conversation can be found here), I decided to change the weekly preview to a weekly retrospective.

1. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller–This book is divided into four books.  It starts out very promising, but now at 3/4 of the way through, I wonder if there is too much going on.  This is why I hate talking about books before finishing them and judging them before I finish them.  But, so you know what the convolutedness is about, Superman has shown up; the Soviets have launched a nuclear war with a bomb which also had an electromagnetic pulse, knocking out all America’s electronics (and thus her own launch capacities); and Superman has almost died because of the fact that the blast blocked out the sun.  Oh yeah, Batman is still around, getting shivved by the Joker and then getting rescued by the new Robin (who’s a girl!).

2. The Giving Gift: The Holy Spirit in Person by Tom Smail–Smail is (was?) a Church of England priest who had some very real charismatic experiences and then felt the need to write about the charismatic world theologically, in order to correct both the excesses of the non-denominational charismatic movement and the shortcomings of the larger Church in speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit.

3. Great Lent: Journey to Pascha by Alexander Schmemann–Ha.  I finished it…at least the bulk of it.  It has a rather lengthy appendix attached, which I am inclined to read.  It took me forever, but I would still suggest you read it.

4. Beyond Companionship: Christians in Marriage by Diana S. Richmond and David E. Garland–The selection for this week is the final chapter of the book, “What God has Joined Together.”  As you might guess, it is a chapter on divorce, a very good chapter, indeed much better than the other resources we read for this week, apparently Divorce Week, in Esther Acolatse’s Christian Marriage and Family Across Culture.

5. Ending Marriage, Keeping Faith: A New Guide Through the Spiritual Journey of Divorce by J. Randall Nichols–I actually read the selections from this book before the last book, and I was really disappointed by it.  Nichols, I think, is purposely trying to push buttons of conservative Christians with chapters titled “Divorce is Not a Sin” and “Forgiveness Has Its Limits” (which, while they may not sound provocative to you, they certainly do in certain circles).  He then claims to set out to see “what the Bible really says” on the topic of divorce, but fails to do any real exegesis.  While I think that most people need to be shown how complicated the difficult parts of life really can be, Nichols mostly talks in generalities while claiming to talk in specifics about various Scriptures coming into contact with modern life.  As I already said, it’s disappointing.  All caregivers need to problematize life to show how complicated it really is; pastoral caregivers need to take no less trouble in respecting the complexities of Scripture.

6. “Divorce and Remarriage in the Catholic Church” by Michael G. Lawler–Lawler digs into canon law, Church history, and Scripture in order to argue for inconsistencies in the Roman Catholic Church’s views on marriage, annulment, and divorce.  It’s interesting, but only so compelling to me as an outsider.