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 Roundup, Week 6

1. Night by Elie Wiesel–As I told Holly last night, I’m not quite sure why I haven’t read this yet.  It’s so short and so good that I read most of it in one sitting last night.  I also have to admit that I thought it was an autobiographical novel and not a memoir.  You’ll notice, as I did, that this is the only non-Christian book I’m reading this week.  That’s part of the reason that I chose to pick it up.  Of course, it still has to do with religion.

2. Great Lent: Journey to Pascha by Alexander Schmemann–Yes, I have started it.  And you will start seeing quotes from it in about a week or so.  I think I’m going to post something Lent-y each week (Wednesdays, maybe?) during Lent.

3. De Trinitate by St. Augustine–Okay, I only have to read chapters 5 and 6.  But, as much as I want to hate Augustine (and I’m not sure why, but perhaps sex and predestination), I love the guy.  I do think, however, (pretentious alert) that he could use some work on his understanding of the Spirit.  Give me more, Augustine, please.

4. Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Friedman–Such a fantastic and wise man.  Tomorrow I’ll give you a lengthy quote to chew on.  Having read less than half of this book, I would recommend it to almost anyone half-interested in psychology, counseling, or their personal interactions with their families.

5. Treatise on the Virtues by St. Thomas Aquinas–Got to love him.  So much brain grinding.  So much grace of God working.

Honorable mention: The Absolute Sandman, Vol. 3 by Neil Gaiman–I put this on here because I doubt I’ll be able to stay away from it this week.  Even though Vol. 1 was much better than Vol. 2, I’m still going to give this an honest try.  The chances of it being read are also helped by the fact that I somehow (!?!?!?!) finished all my school readings for this week today.

Tuesday Reading Roundup, Week 5

Sometimes I find myself planning out blog posts just for the sake of blog posts.  For instance, this afternoon I thought about posting a couple short essays I wrote for Happiness, the Life of Virtue, and Friendship.  Then I realized, “No, that would be boring.”  So I spared you.  Yes, you’re welcome.

1. Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer–You already know some about this book if you read my posts about it last week.  What has been great about reading it is that my imagination has never been fired by the idea of church-planting.  Now it is.  I’m finding that I do find a lot of the ideas exciting and that my imagination has some room to run around in them.  The question in my context now: Why liturgical Anglican churches?  Can such churches truly meet unmet needs in communities in the US?  Again and again, this book points me to the need for a robust ecclesiology (theology of the church) as a prerequisite for church-planting.  I think Stetzer falls short (and I think that’s because he’s Southern Baptist).  I’ll need to hit the books to develop that further.

2. Christians Among the Virtues by Stanley Hauerwas and Charles Pinches–A familiar favorite.  This week–reading about Aquinas.  This has been a really good read and a useful secondary resource.

3. Putting on Virtue by Jennifer A. Herdt–Again, a repeat.  Again, for the same class–Virtue, the Life of Happiness, and Friendship with Hauerwas.  It, too, is a secondary resource for this week’s reading of Aquinas, but I haven’t yet cracked it.

4. Treatise on the Virtues by St. Thomas Aquinas–The man himself arrives.  I’ll be reading this for the next two weeks.  Hopefully all this virtue stuff in my Hauerwas class will start making sense (and coming more directly from the primary sources, something which it has as yet failed to do).  I still remember how confused I was the first time I tried to read Aquinas, with absolutely no instruction as to his organizational method, in undergrad.  Derrida was an easier read.  Now somehow Aquinas doesn’t seem as difficult, at least once I get into the rhythms of his organization.  Of course, the fact that it is Tuesday night and I have yet to start reading probably bodes ill for my finishing the assigned portion for this week.

5. Deliverance by James Dickey–Famous poet writes lauded novel which is made into Burt Reynolds/Jon Voight film.  It’s always annoying to pick up movie tie-in edition paperbacks, but this is a new low–bare-chested Burt is never a good thing.  Four friends set out on a wilderness adventure in north Georgia.  Things go horribly, horribly wrong.

6.  Great Lent by Alexander Schmemann–Okay, so it’s a sham.  I’ll never start it, and I’ll always make it look like I read Orthodoxers.

7. Generation to Generation by Edwin H. Friedman–A modern classic on family systems (is there any other kind of classic on family systems theory?) within church and synagogue.  I’m told it’s good.  I’ll find out tomorrow before class.

And as for tonight?

1. Walk Pru.

2. Finish the rest of Stetzer’s book.

3. Quickly clean up some houseness.

4. Watch a yet-to-be-determined movie with Dave and possible more folks.