The Taser's Edge

Tuesday Reading Roundup

It’s here again already??  I really do want to write my loving audience something interesting, but as some of you predicted, the weight of the semester is affecting both the quality and the quantity of my updates.  Perhaps I just need lower standards.  Perhaps you’re thinking I already do have lower standards.

1. A Bit on the Side by William Trevor–Still plunking away, although I’m not actually sure that I read a page of it last week.  Tonight as I think on it, I am reminded of another amazing short story writer–John Updike.  Pay him tribute not by reading his novels (they are truly not his best work, despite what people may tell you) but by reading Pigeon Feathers, one of his earliest (if not the earliest) short story collections.

2. The Augustine Catechism: The Enchiridion on Faith, Hope, and Charity by St. Augustine–I hereby predict that this is not going to get the read or write-up it deserves.  Despite many successive weeks of good intentions, Hauerwas’ class keeps receiving less reading and writing time than it demands.  (The jury is still out on the question of how much time it deserves.)  What is cool about this book is that Augustine wrote it because a layperson asked him to.  Apparently, according to this book’s introduction, he was always really good about that.  Busy bishoping away (a job he didn’t want) and then he would give up what little free time he did have set aside for the studies he loved in order to help out normal Christians with their faith.  Name a bishop today who has the time or inclination to do that.  I hope there is one.

3. Church Dogmatics by Karl Barth–Yes, I have to have the whole thing read by Wednesday.  Seriously, I am just now taking a break from writing a paper on his theology of marriage, contained in III/4 but drawing on some of his anthropology in III/2.  Good to know that spiritual monogamy is possible within outward polygamy.  Gracias, Karlos.

I’m sorry, but that might just be it.  I guess I just had to clean up a bunch of my reading for this week yesterday.

Tuesday Reading Roundup

It’s that time again (for the first time)–the Tuesday Reading Roundup!  It seems like regular features could be a good thing, so I’ll invent this one, in which I’ll tell what I’m reading of a Tuesday (and the week to come), providing impressions and reviews along the way.

1. Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle–Much easier to follow then my memories of Aristotle.  (I remember having to read a section of Poetics my junior year at Concordia, and I got basically nothing out of it.)  This time I have to read all but the fifth book for Virtue, Happiness, and the Life of Virtue, a class I’m taking this semester with Stanley Hauerwas.  Such an intensely focused way of thinking through things and of organizing thought.  Reading it through the particular lense of Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, as Hauerwas is wont to do.  30% completed.

2. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver–Although her last book (and perhaps her most well-known to many of that book’s fans) was the non-fiction Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, Kingsolver is really a novelist.  This is her first novel, from 1988.  Solidly southern lit, strong female characters, immigration issues.  The story, the characters, and the warmth of Kingsolver’s writing make this book very enjoyable.  Her writing, at a technical level, is very good, but she doesn’t work at the sentence-by-sentence method of many other writers who perhaps write more finely, but could never come up with characters and a narrative so compelling.  A fast, light read too, if that’s what you find yourself needing.  85% completed.

3. Evangelism After Christendom by Bryan Stone–Bryan Stone is a professor of evangelism at Boston University School of Theology and this book looks at evangelism as a Christian practice, in the MacIntyrean/Hauerwasian sense of the word practice.  Stone draws heavily on Alasdair MacIntyre, John Howard Yoder, and (unsurprisingly, considering the first two) Stanley Hauerwas to create a postliberal revisioning of what evangelism is meant to be, namely a practice of witness by a church of integrity.  Stone argues both against evangelistic techniques that end at conversion and models of evangelism which measure their success in numbers.  He also is not about to say that the church should keep to itself.  Witness to the reign of God, done rightly as a traditioned practice, is a good in itself, and the results-based focus of many modern evangelistic movements fails to speak this clearly enough.  Unfortunately, it seems that, at this point in the book, Stone is mostly tying together the three authors that I have already mentioned.  I’m hoping for more than simple synthesis, and I’m assuming I’ll get it, so don’t read this as a negative review.  I will have it read within the next couple days as it is my reading for this month’s Anglican Missional Pastor meeting, which begins Thursday evening.  45% completed.

4. Perspectives on Marriage: A Reader, edited by Kieran Scott and Michael Warren–This is one of the main texts for Christian Marriage and Family Across Cultures with Dr. Esther Acolatse this semester.  The reading for this week’s class (the first session) is from this book, but I’ll admit I haven’t yet picked up my copy from Cokesbury.  0% completed.