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From the Notebook

Busy month at work. And another busy one to go.

Self Education:

Audiobook: Acts of the Apostles. Most of the New Testament is great in audio format, but Acts requires a lot of concentration. Very difficult to follow, and that sort of defeats the purpose of listening to it.

Thor: The Dark World.  Not really “self education” I’ll admit, but I rather enjoyed the film. The climax was zany and fun, the movie almost had enough humor to balance the over-the-top seriousness of the Asgardians. Definitely better than the first “Thor”.

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From the Notebook

Busy month, I’m helping a friend with a book, so I’ve been busy. Also, this blog is just three months shy of its ten-year anniversary. I’ll be publishing some stuff in the next three months as a celebration, including excerpts from the Nixon book.

Audiobooks:

Gospel of Luke, Gospel of John (KJV). The Gospels work well in audio format. But I’m quickly learning Acts is not so much.

Readings:

Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes (Older NLT)

-Walking Dead Compendium II (Issues 49-96). Surprisingly good. I’ve tried to read other graphic novels, and haven’t enjoyed the experience. But The Walking Dead is really great.

From the Notebook

Cover of "World War Z: An Oral History of...

Cover via Amazon

Hoping to get some more material onto the blog. The Kindle version of the Nixon Novel is now available, for 99 cents. Just click the picture on the sidebar.

Self-education

-Prof. Timothy Luke Johnson’s The Apostle Paul, from The Great Courses. Another audio course, and it’s excellent. Unlike the more skeptical and academic Bart Ehrman, Johnson is a believer with generally Orthodox views. This intro to the Apostle Paul, his writings and the role he played in spreading Christianity is a great balance to Ehrman’s course on Early Christianity that I reviewed earlier.

Books Read

-The Book of Job (older-NLT)

World War Z by Max Brooks. This was a really good book. Very readable.

-Attack of the 50 foot Democrats by RK Delka. I reviewed this on Amazon. The author contacted me and asked for a review. As a struggling author myself, I agreed. And, after the first fifty or so pages, the book really picked up. It’s not art, it’s exactly as advertised.

Audio Books

-The Royal and Ancient Game by Kevin Nelson. This is basic golf lore, the stuff most golfers have heard about, but may not have the details on, like where certain golf grips come from or why Scotland became the home of golf. It’s read by George S. Irving.

– Gospel of Matthew

– Gospel of Mark

(If you’ve never listened to the New Testament, you should. The “synoptic” problem becomes very clear. And since these works were originally written to be delivered orally, you get a better understanding of the true effect these writings are supposed to have.)

Weekend Reading

Duh

Random Link

http://www.ancienttexts.org/library/index.html

From the Notebook

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My family went through another rough patch over the last week, to go along with the rough patch we hit about a month ago. So once again, writing projects got pushed back. I’m hoping to get back on track and to finish the Kindle Version of Nixon’s Guide in the next couple of weeks.

Self education:

– Audio Course: From Jesus to Constantine, A History of Early Christianity by Prof. Bart Erhman, one of The Great Courses from The Teaching Company. In this series of lectures, Prof. Erhman focuses on the early history of the Christian Religion, from a strictly historical perspective. It was extremely fascinating, and I highly recommend it for those interested in religion.

– Audiobook: Sayings of Confucius, a libriVox recording (free to download), edited by Charles Eliot, from the Harvard Classics. This public domain translation of Confucius’ Analects has its positives and negatives. I would definitely read Confucius before trying to grasp his sayings in quick audiobook succession. I used it as a way to refresh my memory, and I intend on listening to other classic books that I’ve already read for the same purpose.

– Read Second Maccabees, NLT (I). This work provides interesting insight into the world of Judea before the Christian era. It is the subject of much debate, but as a standalone ancient text, it holds the interest of the reader and provides a compelling historical narrative.

– The Gospel of Thomas, edited and translated by Dr. A. Nyland. The translation is heavily noted, with preference given to the literal over the literary. Along with the complete sayings of Jesus, New Testament parallels are also given. It’s a fascinating look into what likely constituted a great deal of Q. One can also see obvious exegesis in the New Testament parallels, meaning the Thomas Gospel probably predates much of the canonical Gospels. I hope to write a series examining in greater detail each of the individual sayings of Jesus found in Thomas. There is a lot of good, some confusion, a little malice, and a lot more apocalypticism in Thomas. The text is absolutely necessary in trying to get a better handle on the Historical Jesus.

– Read Tyrannus Nix by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. A tirade/poem against Nixon published in 1969, it includes the standard assortment of claims regarding fascism typically found among leftwing thinkers of the time. Still, it’s a fun book to read aloud, as Ferlinghetti has a fantastic way with words. Would not recommend though.

Random Link:

http://librivox.org/

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

View of Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1855

Image via Wikipedia

Books Finished:

Forgotten English, Jeffrey Kacirk (2005). This wasn’t really a book, it was a page-a-day calendar. A very dense one. I got half-way through it before a series of moves sent the remains into a box I finally got around to unpacking. I started reading though it a few weeks ago. Good stuff. If you can find this calendar, or buy the book by Kacirk of the same name, I highly recommend it. It’s filled with some great history and some awesome words.

– Volume I of Grant’s Memoirs. Volume takes the reader from Grant’s childhood, through his West Point year, into Mexico and finally to the siege and surrender of Vicksburg. A surprisingly good read. Grant was not a tactical guy. But he did know what he wanted, to attack and defeat Confederates. Volume I was about how the people above him stood in his way. I can’t wait for Volume II.

– Crafting Scenes by Raymond Obstfeld. Purchased this writing guide because it was on-sale. There is some interesting stuff in the book, definitely some helpful tips. But, this wouldn’t be the first writing self-help book I would buy.

– Letters and Epistles of the New Testament. These represent the Christian Literature where most of the skeptical criticism of the New Testament originates. But you have to take these documents in context. The most important context being lost to history (those issues the letters specifically address and are in response to).