Currently Reading

  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  • Patience & Fortitude by Nicholas A Basbanes
  • Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman
  • a People's History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spiritual Manifestos by Niles Elliot Goldstein

Like God at 2000, this is one of those books you should really take a look at if you've become disenchanted with organized religion. Goldstein, a New York Jew, has collected ten short articles (None are over ~20 pages) written by clergy from different religions about how they are working to revitalize their religion to keep it relevant in the 21st century. These include three protestants (including a couple who co-minister a congregation), two Catholics, three Jews, a Zen Roshi, and a Unitarian Universalist minister. Of these there are four women represented. While there was some theological diversity, I was a bit surprised that there was no repsesentative of Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, or Islam included in this collection, especcially as they all have very active communities in the US.

I confess, I didn't read every word of all ten manifestos. I skipped the pieces written by Rabbis, primarily because I didn't find them engaging, although others very well might. I also found the piece written by UU minister Reverend Stephanie R Nichols twice, although being a UU myself, one can understand why I might take particular interest in that piece.

Friday, October 3, 2008

the Army of the Republic by Stuart Cohen

the Army of the Republic is a finely crafted work in the tradition of 1984, Fahrenheit 451, going back to the beginning of the 20th century. Lando, James, Anne, and Emily are finely crafted extremely believable characters. James, the closest thing we see to a bad guy first hand is not your typical purely evil villain. He's human, manipulated by the "corporates" he believes himself to be one of, unable to see past his own filters to the reality of what his son is doing until its too late. Lando is the man many of us wish we were, the guy that didn't give up his ideals after college, and went on to put his own neck on the line to protect them.

The best way I have of describing this book is to imagine 1984 crossed with V for Vendetta, with just a dash of the Siege, and you'll have some idea of the amazingness of this book. My only real gripe is that it seems to simply cut off at the end. There's no clear conclusion as to whether the AoR and the resistance it led were successful or failed. Still, the reality of this book is so close to what we are living now, and so believable, its disturbing. The AoR should be on everyone's reading list this year.