The Taser's Edge

Life Doesn’t Get Easier Just ‘Cause Piggy’s All Grown Up

For those of you who fear that I will again direct you to a nude picture of Burt Reynolds, fear no more.  This is a book review, and thus we have to take ourselves seriously.  I thought I should dash something off after finishing Deliverance about an hour ago.  I had to search high and low for a non-movie-related picture.

Setting the scene: Deliverance is #42 on the Modern Library 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century and it made Time’s “100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to the Present” (2005).

To the synopsis: Four city boys head out for a weekend hunting and canoeing trip in the north Georgia woods.  They don’t know what they’re doing in the first place, but it is when they meet some locals that things begin to go wrong.  Sodomy-at-shotgunpoint wrong.  And then it becomes, basically, Lord of the Flies with adults.    What do murder and exposure to the elements unlock inside the human brain?  How do you hide bodies in the woods so no one can find them?  What’s the best way to kill a man with your bow when he has a rifle?  What would it take for you to be willing to weight and sink the body of your friend to the bottom of the river in order to keep yourself from having to tell anyone what really happened on that long weekend with your buddies?

And then there’s the question that to me is more interesting, but which Dickey does not speak to: How exactly do your secrets affect your attempt to live out those 40 remaining years of the rest of your life?

It’s a great book, and I might reread it some day.  I can’t decide if reading it makes me want to see what they did with the movie.  Or actually, the fact that I am an obsessive completist makes me think that I probably will seek out the movie, even though I have very low hopes for it being any good.  To be clear, the book is good and worth reading, but 1970s thrillers just don’t age well.  Kind of like Jon Voight.  (And if that seems too random for you, know that he was in the movie.)

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.