Tag Archives: books

Political Heroes


Written in 1992, resonant today:

“[B]y the end of the eighteenth century a whole new type of public figure had to be invented: individuals who could—as Mussolini would have it—make the trains run on time. Napoleon was the first and is still the definitive model. These Heroes promised to deliver the rational state, but to do so in a populist manner. The road from Napoleon to Hitler is direct. Indeed, most contemporary politicians still base their personas on this Heroic model.”

— John Ralston Saul, in his book Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West, in a chapter entitled “The Theology of Power”

Advertisements

We’re Still Reading Print Books! Thank Pew For The Good News


Having recently moved hundreds of my books into storage during some serious work on my house, I have questioned my judgment and my affinity for book-hoarding.

But somehow, even with the back strain of carrying cartons and boxes and bins of dead trees and ink — back strain that wouldn’t have existed if I had just had a bunch of e-books on a Kindle or Nook — the below graphics warm my heart.

(And I can’t wait to get all my shelves and books back into my office. As long as the floor holds up.)

Be sure to read the entire Book Reading 2016 report from Pew Research Center.
 
Print books continue to be more popular than e-books or audio books
Just 6% of Americans are digital-only book consumers
College graduates are especially likely to read books in both print and digital formats
 

Confession Time

I recently wanted to read a book that I couldn’t afford to purchase at the time. I found it in e-book format through the university’s library and obtained a 14-day loan (yes, some e-books actually have a sort of timer on them). I read most of it on my phone, some of it on my tablet. Along those lines:
 
More Americans are reading books on tablets and cellphones, even as dedicated e-reader use has remained stable
 

James K.A. Smith: ‘We were created for stories’


Two of the most-clicked posts on this blog have been Paul Holmer: How literature functions and Umberto Eco on theory and narrative. The common theme between the two might be that storytelling is not only necessary, but also of greater value than systematized and abstracted knowledge. Granted, the structure of Eco’s quotation seems to give priority to theorizing, but Holmer argues that humans learn more broadly and deeply from stories than from abstract or systematic knowledge.

So a quotation from James K.A. Smith’s book Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church,  found in this recent review, was a welcome addition to the theme:

“We were created for stories, not propositions; for drama, not bullet points.”

In this context, it’s probably worth remembering that beloved storyteller C.S. Lewis warned against systematizing the Bible.

When You Don’t Know Any Prayers


“He began crawling toward the dark hallway arch. Ozzie had never taught him or Diana any prayers, so he whispered the words of religious Christmas carols…”

From the novel Last Call (1992) by Tim Powers

Four Brief Quotations About the Urgency of Living


I can’t remember the name of the book where I found these, but I thought they were worth snapping —

14446030717_5d154d5990_o

Philosopher David McNaughton on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien


One of my buds at the university has this excellent website called What Is It Like To Be A Philosopher? It’s devoted to interviews with contemporary philosophers, and the conversational blend of biography and perspective is always fascinating, at least to people like me. I’ve previously posted an excerpt from the interview with Michael Ruse.

In the latest interview, David McNaughton, who like Ruse is a philosopher at Florida State, talks about his love of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Both of these Inklings, especially Lewis, make appearances throughout the interview. (McNaughton doesn’t name Tolkien, but he names The Lord of the Rings as a favorite three times.)

Happy Summertime!

Charles Williams on Dogma


Charles Williams, one of the Inklings, wrote in an essay passage about religious dramatists:

“They might, in fact, take up the business of defining, with intense excitement, the nature, habits and mode of operation of Almighty Love, infusing into their excitement a proper skepticism as to its existence at all. It is not dogma that creates narrowness; it is the inability to ask an infinite number of questions about dogma.” (emphasis added)

That excerpt was quoted by W.H. Auden in his review of Williams’s posthumous collection The Image of the City and Other Essays, selected by Anne Ridler. Auden’s review of The Image of the City appeared in the January 31, 1959, issue of National Review.