850 pages later, not only has Noah finished book one but books two and three of the Belgariad. The 4th book in the series isn't readily available at the library so he's got to wait for the library to ship in another copy from another branch to fulfill his reserve. I think his bedroom light went out around 1am last night so if that isn't a glowing review of the series I don't know what is.
|Welcome to our library of books. Lisa and I read a fair number of books and we try to record what we're reading here. It's just too time consuming to go back in time so we've only recorded what we are reading beginning in early March, 2004.|
2000 pages later, Noah has finished the five book Mallorean series by David Eddings. Including the 4th and 5th books of the Belgariad along with these five, he's burned through roughly 2800 pages in the last 22 days.
This is his first night without a book and he's already on the computer looking for another series.
The book felt lighter in action and depth than some of the previous episodes but it feels like a restart of the franchise in preparation for the next book when Quint and Maris fly off with Quint's father, Wind Jackal, in the next adventure Clash of the Sky Galleons (currently out in the U.K. but not available in the U.S. until 09/2007).
Keep in mind, I'm not exploring the divinity of Jesus, his relationship to God, or the right or wrongness of his belief structure. At this point, I'm interested in "just the facts ma'am"; the historically accurate facts of his life and how his life affected the roots of Christianity.
The article did, however, tickle my interest concerning the historicity of Jesus and so I went digging for a site that I felt presented a coherent, scientific, analysis of the existence of Jesus and his teachings. In doing so, I found this site which published the text from The Historicity of Jesus - A Criticism of the Contention that Jesus Never Lived, a Statement of the Evidence for His Existence, an Estimate of His Relation to Christianity by Shirley Jackson Case of the Department of New Testament Literature and Interpretation in the University of Chicago (Published 1912).
In her book, Ms. Case presents a religiously biased opinion of the existence of Jesus but in a scientific manner I found refreshing. Ms. Case exposes the difficulty of proving the existence of Jesus given the lack of provable historical literature and texts (religious and non-religious) but concludes that Jesus probably existed. The case for his existence is coherently described and very plausible. Again, the mere existence of Jesus has little to do with answering deeper questions concerning his divinity and the existence of God. Jesus may well have been a man like any other man living his life according to the belief structures he formulated while steeped in the environment of 1st century religious life. Or, he may have been divine. Take your pick.
So far, I've read chapters 1, 8 and 9 (The Historical Jesus of "Liberal" Theology, Extra-Biblical Evidence for Jesus' Existence, and Jesus the Historical Founder of Christianity) and have found all of them fascinating.
I recommend that you read this book regardless of your [non]religious background.
Unlike Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, Mr. Harris is very direct in his words (and apparent disgust?) towards Christians. This is a little difficult to get through at times but I however, don't fault the message for the tactless ramblings of the messenger. Peel away the delivery and I did find the book containing several points worth pondering.
Much of the book focuses on the Christian view of looking to scripture for moral direction. Mr. Harris argues that the Bible is fraught with passages that are self contradicting, inconsistent, and generally considered (even by Christians) as inappropriate models of behavior (passages concerning how you should treat your slaves, or selling your female daughters into slavery, or the stoning of non-virgins, etc.) His argument stems from his belief that modern Christians cherry-pick what they feel represents the moral passages and ignore the rest. By doing so, Mr. Harris states that Christians are using an internal moral compass outside the bounds of religion to drive knowing right from wrong and it is that compass that points to true north for all of us Christian, Muslim, or otherwise.
Another section of the book focuses on how Christians view that their belief structure is the only one true way to believe. To behave otherwise will doom you to spend eternity in hell. He goes on to describe how other religions believe just as strongly that their beliefs are the only one true path to salvation. He asks, "who is right" and ponders the question, "what real tangible proof does either side have that shows that either side is right or wrong?"
Buried in rambling passages and caustic verse, Mr. Harris poses some deep and interesting questions concerning moral behavior. He questions why the 10 Commandments are so highly regarded as the best summation of good behavior when the Jain's summed it up in one sentence: "Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill and creature or living being". I found one section particularly thought provoking:
"One of the most pernicious effects of religion is that it tends to divorce morality from the reality of human and animal suffering."
I had to read that two or three times before it really sunk in. In other words, "Religion allows people to imagine that their concerns are moral when they are not - that is, when they have nothing to do with suffering or its alleviation." Should more energy be expended to prevent abortion or genocide? Should we expend more energy teaching abstinence or teaching about the use of condoms to prevent AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa?
I recommend reading the book even if you find his delivery a little too pointed, inflammatory, or accusatory. Underneath are a lot of points worth pondering about non-religious ethics as well as your religious beliefs and why you believe them. I plan on reading more of the texts cited at the end of the book and I would be interested in reading items that take a scientific and critical view from the other side of the fence. I have not, however, found a good reference list to choose from. Are there any books that you would recommend for my reading list?
I finished reading, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I waited many weeks in the library queue before I could get my hands on the book and I have to admit, it was worth it. I particularly enjoyed the chapters concerning the taboos of discussing religion critically and the chapters on the religious basis (or lack thereof) of the founding of our nation. I greatly enjoyed reading his stance on how human moral beliefs predate scripture, Christian or otherwise.
I greatly encourage everyone to read this book whether you are religious or not. I'm not one to purchase books but I feel compelled to read it again without the wait.
The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills. --Thomas Jefferson - 1814
The first two-thirds of the book are well written but by the end I was pretty much hoping everyone would die of the plague...and quickly. As rotten luck would have it, key characters survived prolonging my agony. The ending was a bizarre turn of events and completely out of character. As Dorothy Parker once said, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."
Freedglader is the 7th and final book in the Edge Chronicles series. This book follows Rook Barkwater as he helps the Undertowners flee the flooding Edge while keeping the Ancient Library artifacts safe. Rook and his friends, the librarian knights, the Prowlgrin mounted Freeglade Lancers, and the fierce Banderbears must defend New Undertown and the Freeglades against the rising Goblin horde.
The book follows of the struggle of both men as they come to terms with their lives, their struggles with their wives, the terror of being hounded by Italian mobsters trying to turn a profit in the rowdy saloon and gambling house, and an illegitimate son.
Luckily, that's not this book. Instead, this book is a quick read covering how statistical data can correlate the oddest relationships.
For example, here are the names of several of the chapters:
- What do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers Have in Common?
- How Is the Ku Klux Klan Like a Group of Real-Estate Agents?
- Why do Drug Dealers Still Live with Their Moms?
- Where Have All the Criminals Gone? - a particularly interesting chapter correlating Roe v. Wade to the drastic decrease in crime
- What Makes a Perfect Parent?
- Perfect Parenting, Part II; or: Would a Roshanda by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?
The authors hope you come away wanting to ask questions about our world and they fully understand that most of those questions have no answers. In addition, the authors understand that even when they do...those answers may mean nothing. However, it's the asking of the question and the quest for an answer that is important.
I highly recommend the book if no reason other than it makes you think. For example, when faced with a choice between allowing our children to either swim in the pool at a friend's house or allowing our children to play at a house where there are known to be guns available, parents tend to choose the pool....even when statistically speaking children are 100 times more likely to die in a pool-related accident than by a gun. Hmmmm.