Sunday, January 19, 2014

What Do Marcus Aurelius, the Prophet Muhammed, and Karen Armstrong Have in Common?

Their books, and many others, are on my 2014 reading list...

If you have not read while eating croissant and sipping ca phe den in a little cafe in Hanoi, you should.

My 2014 reading list is coming along nicely...

The Ghost Brigades, by John Scalzi

The Divine Comedy, by Dante Aligheri

The Book of Enoch, translated by R.H. Charles.  This is where almost all your angelology and more than a few screenplays come from.

The Other End of Time, by Frederick Pohl.  Unreadable...

Saturn, by Ben Bova

Old Man's War, by John Scalzi

The Ware Tetrology, by Rudy Rucker

How Jesus Became God, by Bart Ehrman.  His best to date. 

Zero History, by William Gibson

The Philosophy of Spinoza, edited by Joseph Ratner

Paradise Lost, by John Milton.  Whew!

Did Jesus Rise From The Dead, by William Lane Craig. This eBook is more of a monograph, but he calls it a book so I'm claiming it.  Still, it's fideist fluff.

The Tank Killers, by Harry Yeide

Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, by Bart Ehrman

Escape From Hell, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe, by Erik J. Wielenberg

The Gun, by C.J. Chivers

Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives!: A World without World War I, by Richard Ned Lebow. This was a goodreads giveaway. Lebow's assessment of first order effects were pretty good but as with all such alternative histories the second order impacts of small changes are anyone's guess. It would benefit from a different style of presentation that made more clear when the author was moving from historical to alternative futures.

From Babylon to Bethlehem: The Jewish People from the Exile to the Messiah, by H.L. Ellison

3001: The Final Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Tough slogging...

The Engines of God, by Jack McDevitt

The Radicalism of the American Revolution, by Gordon S. Wood

Perdido Street Station, by China MiƩville is mesmerizing, nauseating, and transgressive; a disjoint admixture of Terry Gilliam, William Burroughs, and H.P. Lovecraft. Steam-punk, science-fiction, mytho-poetic, horror-fantasy novels aren't my usual thing but China Mieville is so viciously skilled a writer he makes it work even for me.

Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius

Paul Was Not a Christian: The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle, by Pamela Eisenbaum. Fun stuff. "Paul Was Not a Christian" should be on every Christian theology nerd's reading list.

The Quran. Must be much, much better in the original Arabic.

Encountering Evil: Live Options in Theodicy, by Stephen T. Davis. I'm not even a Christian, or even a theist, and still it gives me hope to see these philosophers of religion going at it all "hammer and tongs" about a concept so central to their respective theologies. Wondrous stuff!

The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions, by Karen Armstrong is a well-written analysis of the origins of many of the world's current religions (and a few, like Zoroastrianism, which we have not heard from in a while). The organizing idea, that there was an Axial Age when these traditions solidified at the same time in Greece, the Levant, India, and China, comes across as a little strained, mostly coincidentally, and largely unrelated.

Jesus, Humanity, and the Trinity, by Kathryn Tanner Have you ever noticed how much theology is mostly about harmonizing irreconcilable ideas you already believe? Neither especially systematic nor particularly brief.

Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge, by Terence McKenna

Derrida and the End of History, by Stuart Sim

Warrior Politics: Why Leadership Demands a Pagan Ethos, by Robert D. Kaplan is thought-provoking and crisply readable.

Moses and Monotheism, by Sigmund Freud Has the theory, that Moses was an Egyptian priest under Ikhnaton who led an Hebrew Exodus (along with his retainers who became the Levites) when monotheism was repudiated in his homeland, been treated seriously by anyone else since? What an intriguing , if pseudo-scientific, notion, but I should think it would have gotten more play if the idea was supported by more recent scholarship.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is at once chewy, astringent, refreshing, and off-putting. I'd probably like it even more if I understood it better.

A Layman's Guide to Protestant Theology, by William E. Hordern is concise and informative review of the topic into the late 1960s (and has anything else changed much since then?). Very accessible.