Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Few Books I'm Reading (if anyone cares)

1. Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Society. Economist and social critic Sowell skewers one liberal cliche after another in this insightful work.

2. Clay Shirley, Cognitive Surplus. Explores the constructive uses of social media. More optimistic than I am about the possibilities, but still fascinating. This is a follow-up to Here Comes Everybody.

3. Douglas Copland, Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work. A short, somewhat impressionistic biography of the man who invented media studies and predicted something like the Internet before it existed.


Anonymous said...

I understand your angst. I read quite a bit and talk about books often but nearly no one cares. Your reading list is above me although Sowell looks interesting and I will look for it when I am next in the city.

I will pass on Shirley. I am quite certain there is nearly no constructive use for social media and am now limiting my online time as I am coming to see the Internet as the greatest destructive force man has ever known. (Why would anyone want to read a book by some well informed scholar when they can read poorly formed opinion on the Internet?)

I am working my way through Latourette's A History of Christianity. I am 100 pages in and am still unsure if Latourette is orthodox or not but he writes well and seems to be well balanced.

I have also chosen my reading list for the rest of January, provided I get through Latourette. I will be reading Saul Friedlander's The Year's of Extermination. I didn't like his first book in the Nazi Germany and the Jews series but this won the Pulitzer so I am hopeful.

Also on my list are Michael Korda's new biography of Laurence of Arabia and Canadian author David Bergen's The Matter of Morris. I haven't read fiction in some time and he is my favorite Canadian writer so I am looking forward to this.

Frank said...

Good choices! I have Sowell's book, it is excellent.

I'd like to add two others that have been very helpful to me.

First, Robert Reilly's Closing of the Muslim Mind. Reilly traces the theological developments which have led to the painfully obvious problems in the Muslim world. It is a fascinating story written by a sympathetic observer. If you are like me, you will appreciate Christian faith & theology much more after finishing this book.

Second, David Brog's In Defense of Faith is a must read for Christians who wish to engage our secular culture. Did you know that Christians spoke up for the natives of South America when they were enslaved by the Spanish? Or that the only people to stand up for the rights of the Cherokees against the US government were people of faith?

Brog makes the point that Judeo-Christian notions of the worth & equality of all people are historically unique. Slavery, for example, had always existed until Christians turned against it, even though its abolition involved large economic costs. Even the king of Spain issued commands that the conquistadors stop abusing the natives in the mad rush to get gold and silver, a development entirely dependent upon Christian moral objections. As Brog notes, no other empire in history would have deliberately sought to cease its expansion and enrichment!

Sadly, neither Papal threats of excommunication nor royal decrees had the power to compel obedience in the New World, but the attempts were made.

So the next time you hear someone talking about the evils of Christianity, such as the Inquisition or Crusades, you will know the facts. Abuses there have been, for sure, but the overall historical record is one we can be proud of, especially compared to civilizations built on other foundations.