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The Bleeding of the Stone by Ibrahim al-Koni My rating: 4 of 5 stars A goatherder living alone in the desert mountains of Southern Libya cares for the ancient cliff paintings and the mystical mountain sheep. Yet the modern world is intent on invading even this remote sanctuary. This mesmerizing novel is unlike any I've ever read. View all my reviews Continue reading
"To deny one's shadow is to lose solidity, to become something of a phantom. Self-deception about it may increase our confidence, but it surely threatens our wholeness." A great quote from Mary Midgley,'s Wickedness. I've never read Midgley before, but I am enjoying this book. She has a very acute way of analyzing a topic and a sly but affectionate sense of humor in how she criticizes ideas. Here is another passage I appreciated: The keener we are to prevent evil, the more we need to be realistic about the difficulties. Many cultures have expressed their sense of these difficulties... Continue reading
Today, November 9, is Iqbal Day in Pakistan. On a Facebook philosophy group I encountered this post about Iqbal and his philosophy, which delighted and interested me. A few choice excerpts: Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) would be the first to remind us that in the 21st century we have a very high calling: to exercise our inescapable freedom, in constructive ways, for the well-being of all, in a spirit of world loyalty. By freedom Iqbal means decision-making: choosing among diverse possibilities in the immediacy of the moment, in the context of the wider web of life. As creatures among creatures on... Continue reading
The Story Catcher by Mari Sandoz My rating: 4 of 5 stars An enjoyable tale of Lance, a young Oglala, as he comes of age and finds himself, told in Sandoz's vivid style of psychological and scenic description. View all my reviews Continue reading
The Novum Organon, Or A True Guide To The Interpretation Of Nature by Francis Bacon My rating: 3 of 5 stars Book I on Bacon's Novum Organon is an enjoyable and insightful discussion of induction and the new science that he proposed to replace Aristotle and Medieval approaches to knowledge. I particularly liked his discussion of the "idols of the mind." Book II was an application of the new method to the scientific ideas of his time, thus not very engaging and something to skim through. View all my reviews Continue reading
Give Thanks for Those We Remember Psalm 107 by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones First Central Congregational Church 4 November 2018 Walter Brueggemann writes that “Psalm 107 is the fullest, clearest example of a song of thanksgiving.” The psalm opens with a “summons to thanks that imagines” God’s people gathering home. Next are four case studies: people find themselves in trouble, they cry out to God, who delivers them, and they respond with thanksgiving. And finally the psalm ends with a statement of God’s sovereignty. The overarching theme of this psalm is that the people are grateful for God’s... Continue reading
Transformation Romans 12:1-2 by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones First Central Congregational Church 28 October 2018 Note: Part of our Inspire series in collaboration with the Joslyn Art Museum. This sermon inspired by Transformation by Roxanne Swentzell. Roxanne Swentzell describes her art as being for people, particularly women, who have been hurt. She said, “People need to be reassured that things are OK.” And in particular that we “can feel a sense that there’s a mother taking care of us.” Roxanne Swentzell, is a ceramicist from the Taos pueblo. She calls herself a “sculptor of human emotions.” She says,... Continue reading
Ramadan by Hannah Eliot My rating: 4 of 5 stars A couple of weeks ago, I was driving in the car with our son when the folks on NPR were discussing Ramadan. Our son said from the backseat, "Ramadan! I have that book." I counted that as parenting success--our son loves his book, is listening to the radio, and is learning interfaith and multicultural appreciation. We ordered this book after one it its series on Dia de los Muertos was given to our son as a gift. This series is about holidays from around the world. The pictures are pretty... Continue reading
Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz My rating: 2 of 5 stars A strange set of stories about life in an Israeli village. Compelling characters and good writing, but I kept waiting for some sort of payoff that never arrived. Just the strangeness. View all my reviews Continue reading
Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley My rating: 1 of 5 stars I've had this copy of Frankenstein since I was an adolescent. I tried reading it then, and couldn't get very far (this at a time when Bram Stoker's Dracula was my favourite novel). But with this being the 200th anniversary of the novel, I thought I'd try again. I did read it this time, but no matter what ingenuity the basic idea of scientist making creature might have, which has given it a long life outside of this novel, I can't help but think, "Is this the most popular... Continue reading
Transformation Romans 12:1-2 by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones First Central Congregational Church 28 October 2018 Note: Part of our Inspire series in collaboration with the Joslyn Art Museum. This sermon inspired by Transformation by Roxanne Swentzell. Roxanne Swentzell describes her art as being for people, particularly women, who have been hurt. She said, “People need to be reassured that things are OK.” And in particular that we “can feel a sense that there’s a mother taking care of us.” Roxanne Swentzell, is a ceramicist from the Taos pueblo. She calls herself a “sculptor of human emotions.” She says,... Continue reading
The last two weeks I've been enjoying Lit Hub's series devoted to the 10 Books that defined each decade of the 20th century. Thinking ahead to Friday's list for the 1990's I decided that was the only decade I would make a serious guess at, as it was the only 20th century decade in which it was likely that I had read (or at least could have read) the books listed. So, here's my prediction for their 10. The Things They Carried, 1990 The Firm, 1991 Angels in America, 1992 Parable of the Sower, 1993 Left Behind, 1995 Infinite Jest,... Continue reading
The Sublime Genesis 2:4b-9, 15-17 by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones First Central Congregational Church 14 October 2018 Note: Part of our Inspire series in collaboration with the Joslyn Art Museum. This sermon inspired by Mountain Scene by Thomas Hill. Today our worship is inspired by the painting Mountain Scene by Thomas Hill. The materials from the Joslyn Art Museum inform us that this painting is of Hill's favorite subject—Yosemite Valley. Thomas Hill is described as "one of the earliest and most accomplished painters of California scenery and became the leading practitioner of its grand-scale panorama." What drew his... Continue reading
I learned for the first time about the German physicist and philosopher Grete Hermann watching this video at Aeon. Continue reading
My Struggle: Book 2: A Man in Love by Karl Ove Knausgård My rating: 2 of 5 stars What I different opinion I have of volume two. I gave volume one four stars and called it "marvelous." Not so this time. I felt like it needed serious editing, and it was less clear what overall purpose this book was supposed to achieve. Yes, it is about how marriage can be difficult, but we didn't need more than 500 pages to get that. It seemed very self-indulgent to me and even cruel in places. Not sure I'll stick with the remaining... Continue reading
Eastern Philosophy: The Basics by Victoria S. Harrison My rating: 4 of 5 stars Harrison is a good writer. Despite this being an introduction to the basics, I feel as if my knowledge base and understanding have greatly expanded. At the close she declares "A so-called 'global philosophy' that attempted to merge the various philosophies of the world into a common tradition seems unlikely to succeed." Instead she advocates focusing on the idea of a "global philosopher" which she then defines as "one who is conversant with a number of the world's philosophical traditions and is equipped to participate in... Continue reading
Tell It on the Mountain: The Daughter of Jephthah in Judges 11 by Barbara Miller My rating: 3 of 5 stars Browsing the local progressive Christian bookstore I saw this volume and was intrigued what an entire book on Jephthah's daughter would be like. Plus, I was about to teach that story in an adult Bible study this fall, so I grabbed the book. This is really a textbook (though you could do an adult bible study with it) exploring various ways of reading and interpreting the Bible, using this story as the entry point. In particular Miller brings into... Continue reading
Desire Song of Solomon 7:10-13 by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones First Central Congregational Church 7 October 2018 Note: Part of our Inspire series in collaboration with the Joslyn Art Museum. This sermon inspired by Salome Dancing Before King Herod by Georges Rochegrosse. As I prepared the sermon for this week, I kept listening to the song "Wild" by the South African singer Troye Sivan. The refrain of the pop song is Never knew loving could hurt this good, oh And it drives me wild 'Cause when you look like that I've never ever wanted to be so bad,... Continue reading
The Image Colossians 1:15-20 by the Rev. Dr. E. Scott Jones First Central Congregational Church 30 September 2018 Note: Part of our Inspire series in collaboration with the Joslyn Art Museum. This sermon inspired by Illustration for Fisk Cord Tires by N. C. Wyeth. One of the more interesting paintings at the Joslyn Art Museum is this illustration by N. C. Wyeth which hangs in the galleries of American and Western Art. A group of Native Americans on horses in shadow as an early automobile, in sunlight and vibrant color speeds past kicking up dust. The title of the piece... Continue reading