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Weekend Reading

http://home.messiah.edu/~rcollins/Fine-tuning/FT.HTM

Habemus Papum Fransicum

Like all Catholics, I welcome the new Pope and wish him good health and wisdom as he leads our Church in this time of great secularization. Pope Francis is a Jesuit and an Argentinan, and for us Catholics who study economics and business, there might be some concern the Church is continuing its association with progressive economic theories. However, I have confidence in Truth, and as such believe the Church will arrive at the answer it was supposed to arrive at, if not now, then eventually.

From the Notebook

Cover of "Certain Prey"

Cover of Certain Prey

It was a bit of a rough year for me, I can only hope things improve. I can tell you, in the coming year, my goal is to continue to post about once a week. I don’t want the blog to die, but I also want it to take a back seat to everything else I’d like to do with my time. I am working on another novel, I figure I’m about a year away from publishing it. My writing goals no longer revolve around the blog. And I consider that a good thing.

And now on to the notes…

 – The Twins have had a very uninteresting offseason. Every move I’ve seen so far has been sideways. There haven’t been any upgrades, but I can’t point out any major downgrades either. The Twins should be significantly better than last year if only because Mauer and Morneau should be back in the lineup more regularly. And even if they aren’t, everyone else should be healthier. Regression to the mean should provide its own big upgrade for the Twins. But I still don’t see them significantly above the .500 mark this year, or even next year (2013).

– I finished Professor Bart Ehrman‘s New Testament course from The Great Courses (“The History of the Bible; The Making of the New Testament Canon”). This is a short lecture series on the New Testament, from an historical perspective. Ehrman didn’t make any theological claims. Much of the course was spent examining the texts of the New Testament as literature. It was really spectacular, and the conclusions are a challenge to those who see the Bible not as the documents of the early Christian Church, but as the irrefutable Word of God. Even if the original books of the New Testament were the irrefutable Word, those have been lost and major discrepancies exist in the surviving ancient texts.

– Watched through the Khan Academy Banking Playlist. Sal started the lecture series by creating a simple bank and ended the series with a full explanation and commentary on the fractional reserve banking system. Very edifying. With the current banking crisis still causing problems, this is a great primer for those of us who didn’t grow up wishing to be accountants.

– Read Certain Prey by John Sandford. I figured I should read the book after I gave the USA Network movie of the same name a thumbs up. This book was your typical John Sandford, fast-moving, compelling. It’s amazing, no matter how many of his novels I read, I want to read more. The guy is good.

– Read “I, Steve”, a collection of Steve Jobs quotes regarding business, design and management, edited by George Beahm. Interesting stuff. Jobs was very much a genius, and the tidbits of his thinking should help clarify the way other business leaders think. Quick read.

-Read “Getting it Right” by Bill Buckley Jr. It is a novelization about the early conservative revival, in response to FDR’s New Deal, in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The reader follows a young couple, him a John Birch Society adherent, her an Ayn Rand cultist, through the various trouble spots of the time. As it turns out, the right spot is the mean between the two extremes. Who would’ve guessed? A good novel, and a necessary one to understand how the modern American conservative movement matured.

– Saw the “Sherlock Holmes” sequel starring Robert Downey Jr. I liked it. The pacing seemed a little slow, there were some ridiculous, uh, ‘intuitions’ by Holmes that really took you out of the moment. The plot was dumb and preachy. But I still enjoyed it.

From the Notebook

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, (b. 29 May 1874 – d....

Image via Wikipedia

Read:

-“The Everlasting Man” by GK Chesterton. Chesterton presents two ridiculous ideas. One is that man is just another animal. The other, that Christ was just another man. It was a reductio ad absurdum argument for the Christian faith, and one that is surprisingly strong. This is the first actual book I’ve read from Chesterton, though I’ve been reading bits and pieces of his writings for a long time. This book is a great place to start.

– “On Interpretation” by Aristotle. In this short work, (ch 1-10 are part of the Great Books of the Western World ten-year reading plan) Aristotle creates the first philosophical work dealing with language and logic. (The first work we know about anyway). Beyond creating the foundation for what would later become symbolic logic in chapter 9 he makes a famous case against fatalism.

– Proverbs; The Bible.  This book was the book a friend recommended I read way back when I was in high school. He told me this was the easiest book of the Bible to read (it is, 31 short chapters, read one a day and you’re finished by the end of the month). There is a lot of great stuff in this book, words of wisdom that rank with any contemporary text both in the Eastern and Western traditions. It is a great way to start reading the Bible. This particular reading was the NLT.

From the Notebook

Cover of "Chosen Prey"

Cover of Chosen Prey

– Read “Golf in the Year 2000” by J. McCullough. Originally published in the 1890’s, this little book is filled with fascinating prognostications about the future, from a golf aficionado’s perspective.  Superfast trains, PRT (seriously), live broadcasts of golf matches, etc. Some of the ideas are quaint. There’s the electric caddy that follows golfers around. Specialized drivers that can send a golf ball almost 200 yards! Other areas are very humorous. In this book, women are the drivers of politics. They hold most of the seats in Parliament (book is from the UK), they do most of the jobs; men don’t work. They just play golf. This look at feminism from the nineteenth century sits at a very odd place on the philosophical spectrum, in that area where misogyny and militant feminism overlap. A wonderful book

– Finished Introduction to Arithmetic by Nicomachus. This ancient book is on the Great Books reading list. As an introduction to math, it’s poor. There are some interesting mathematical concepts (including definitions for what constitutes a “brick” or “beam”) but this work is noteworthy for promoting the philosophy of mathematical realism (that math is more than a mere convention), numbers represent the mind of God.

– Read John Sandford’s Chosen Prey. It’s his typical book. There’s a killer. And Lucas Davenport. I really liked this book because the serial killer was an interesting sophisticate, and there wasn’t any liberal crap (Sandford has been inserting his politics more and more into his books). So far, I’ve not read a Sandford book that I’ve regretted.

– Read Hobbes’ Leviathan, Part I, as part of the Great Books reading program. In Part I, we get the famous line from Hobbes about life without civil government being “nasty, brutish and short” and “war of all against all.” We also see his materialism. But mostly, we see the inside of our eyelids. Hobbes is one of the least compelling philosophers to ever put their thoughts to paper. I can’t wait to be done with him.

– Worked through Precalculus Mathematics in a Nutshell by George F. Simmons. This handy little reference book, with brief descriptions of basic precalc math (with practice problems) was actually enjoyable to go through. I wish I had had a copy while struggling with this stuff in school. (The mathematical readings from the Great Books series started this year, so I decided to refresh my skills a bit).

From the Notebook

Old blogs never fade away. They just die.
–Mitch Berg
(Maybe my blog needs to be murdered)

-It’s been a while since I wrote an actual post, so…quality not guaranteed.

-When an idea is adopted by one of the major parties, eventually it will get enacted. This is why platform debates are important.

-Read T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, and some other of his classic poems. The Waste Land is on the second edition of the Great books of the Western World reading plan. It is a tremendous work, exactly what poetry is supposed to be.

-Aristotle’s Ethics (selection). Again, another GBWW 10-year Reading Plan thing. In the selection, Aristotle discusses virtue as being the mean between two extremes. It’s a very practical ethical guide, though it leaves plenty of metaphysical holes.

-Read Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. A fun short story, interesting to adults and kids. A real classic.

-The one problem with reading classic books, what are you supposed to say about them? They’re Classics.

-Saw “Kick Ass” at the theatre a few weeks ago. Some conservatives, and Roger Ebert, have raised questions about the morality of a movie that has a young girl working as an assassin. I guess I should agree, but the movie presents a moral dilemma that can’t be ignored: if violence against bad people is a moral act, why isn’t it a moral act for a young girl to do so? If not, then the act itself may be immoral. Most people, myself included, would conclude that many of the acts done against the antagonists in Kick Ass were moral and just (in a Biblical tooth for tooth sort of way). Thus, I can’t avoid the conclusion that having a young girl be the instrument of justice is not a wrong.

Kick Ass is uneven. It’s a little too long and the story convoluted and confused. “The Professional” is a better movie presenting the same questions of youth and violence, and it does so in a more entertaining fashion. But, I wouldn’t avoid seeing Kick Ass if you have yet to.

– Read a couple versions of the theoretical Q document, based mainly on the texts from Luke (linked to by the Wikipedia article on the topic). I don’t have the scholarly knowledge to analyze the two-document hypothesis re: the Synoptic Problem. But if Christian tradition is based only on Q, Mark and the Pauline Epistles, it’s still Christianity and these sources still provide strong evidence for an Historical and Divine Jesus.

-Finally, I finished “Men at Work; the Craft of Baseball” by George F. Will (and it was the old edition, not his recent upgrade). This is a great baseball book. Will does a better job putting to words what I feel about baseball than any other author I have ever read. I thought I kinda liked “Three Nights in August” by Bissinger. But this book puts that work to shame. If I had to put together a top-ten list of the greatest books on baseball I’ve read (and I’ve read a lot of baseball books), this book would be among the top three.

Felix Dies Nativitatis

Merry Christmas

To all my friends, relatives and readers,

Thanks for stopping by and I wish all of you a happy and safe Holiday season.

nativity-web-2

Christian Socialists

Again

“I think a lot of Christians are having trouble getting behind everything the Republicans stand for,” said Dudley, 20, a sophomore at Seattle Pacific University.

Dudley’s disenchantment with the GOP isn’t unique among young, devoutly Christian voters. According to a September 2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 15 percent of white evangelicals between 18 and 29, a group traditionally a shoo-in for the GOP, say they no longer identify with the Republican Party. Older evangelicals are also questioning their traditional allegiance, but not at the same rate.

Claiborne has traveled around the country the past several years, speaking and preaching mostly to college-age Christians who are “both socially conservative and globally aware.” That makes them disenchanted with both major parties, he said.

“It’s not about liberal or conservative, or Democrats or Republicans,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a new evangelical left. … There’s a new evangelical stuck-in-the-middle.”

UW communications professor David Domke said some young evangelicals are breaking with the GOP for the same reasons many people broke from the party in the 2006 legislative elections — the unpopular war in Iraq; the Bush administration’s abysmal approval ratings; or, now, because of the tanking economy.

Polls have shown that young Christians aren’t any less concerned about the “family values” issues that have traditionally driven Christians to the Republican camp. (In fact, a study by the Barna Group, an evangelical polling organization, shows young Christians are actually more conservative on abortion than their elders.) It’s just that they’re also concerned about issues such as social justice and immigration, issues traditionally associated with Democrats.

Judy Naegeli, 25, who works at a Christian philanthropy, says easy access to information about the world via social-networking sites, YouTube and blogs is the reason her generation is more concerned with social justice.

“It’s changed our perspective. … Each generation chooses their cause, and ours is AIDs in Africa, or poverty or social justice,” she said.

Tyler Braun, 23, a Portland seminary student who opposes abortion and gay rights, said he’ll probably vote for Obama because, since he’d would like to see U.S. troops leave Iraq.

Concerns over losing the Evangelical vote are among the chief reasons I support Mike Huckabee for the VP spot. However, tackling a Christian assualt on capitalism is going to take a lot more work. It’s a battle that’s been raging in the Catholic Church for a long time.