an eddy in the bitstream

Day: January 20, 2005 (Page 1 of 2)

The Cross and the Crescent

Richard Fletcher gives us a nice little summary of the formative years of Christian/Muslim interaction. And they weren’t pretty. Or simple. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the current conflict between Christians and Muslims.

It’s a sibling rivalry, similar in dynamic to the Jewish/Christian relationship. I particularly like Jon Levenson’s book on the Jewish themes of this complicated rivalry. The most fascinating similarity is that Christians in the early years of Islam saw it as just another Christian sect — in much the same way that Judaism saw early Christianity as a Jewish sect.

lisnews makes my little career decisions controversial…

the internet is such a strange and glorious place. where else could a little term paper and my decision to drop out of grad school stir up passions amongst a bunch of strangers.

seems my library search got picked up on lisnews.com and several folks decided to weigh in.

it’s not about the money, silly. it’s about my time, and with whom I spend it.

as Gillian Welch once sung it:

never minded working hard -- it's who I'm workin' for

What’s the Matter with Kansas

The hot buzz book in lefty circles right now, Thomas Frank offers a provocative theory on why many American conservatives vote against their own economic interests. He re-frames the current political clash as a struggle between classes, over the rightful claim to who is the authentic American.

He doesn’t spend enough time looking at the psyche of the American evangelical, who he caricatures accurately enough but doesn’t understand internally. The rest of his book is spot on: entertaining, insightful, and I want to re-read it with a notebook in hand.

The Final Martyrs

I am a long-time fan of Shusaku Endo, the Japanese writer. I have read (I think) nearly all of his books available in English translation. I discovered this book of short stories during my recent adventure at the St Paul Public Library.

If you have read Silence or any of the other Endo novels, you might find this collection interesting. He used many of the short stories (and, to be accurate, personal essays) as exercises for working out many of the characters that appear in other novels.

If you read one Endo novel, I’d recommend Silence or Deep River.

If your tastes run more to nonfiction, I highly recommend his A Life of Jesus, one of the most thoughtful and moving retellings of the Christian story that I have read. Note: in The Final Martyrs is an essay talking about the experience of writing Life and he mentions that he re-wrote it, feeling very dis-satisfied with the original edition. I’d like to read both editions now, to see if I can understand his feelings.

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