Michael Austin




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Michael Austin

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I am an English professor who became an administrator who dreams of being a political pundit. After eleven years teaching English and writing books like this, I accepted a position as the Provost and Academic Vice President at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas. All the while, though, I dreamed of being a talking head. Soon after moving into administration, I started to write the Founderstein Blog, which examines contemporary politics from a historical perspective. My most recent book is That's Not What They Meant Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America's Right Wing, a 75,000 word op-ed piece that treats the misuse of history by conservative politicians and media personalities.

One of the strange, yet non-negotiable principles upon which I base my life is that poetry actually matters. This bizarre quirk of mine got a big boost this week when Dr. Christopher P. Long came to Newman to talk about the liberal arts, and, specifically, Aeschylus’s great tragedy The Eumenidies—a presentation that, quite by coincidence, took place on the very day that the Supreme Court heard... Read more of this blog post »
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Published on March 29, 2013 09:23 • 440 views
Average rating: 4.23 · 1,827 ratings · 366 reviews · 18 distinct works · Similar authors
That's Not What They Meant!...

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Re-reading Job Understandin...

4.68 avg rating — 44 ratings — published 2014 — 3 editions
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Reading the World: Ideas Th...

4.07 avg rating — 46 ratings — published 2006 — 6 editions
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That's Not What They Meant ...

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Useful Fictions: Evolution,...

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New Testaments: Cognition, ...

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The Tao of Rice and Tigers:...

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Voice in the Wilderness: Co...

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Music Video Games: Maestros...

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The Purpose of Ethics

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Dark Matter and t...
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A Strangeness in ...
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Michael's Recent Updates

Michael Austin is now friends with Margaret
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Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs by Lisa Randall
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Missoula by Jon Krakauer
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town
by Jon Krakauer (Goodreads Author)
read in March, 2016
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I purchased this book because, as a university administrator deeply involved in the new Title IX procedures, I wanted to understand the origins of the federal government's shift towards making colleges and universities responsible for investigating s ...more
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Missoula by Jon Krakauer
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A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk
"[Book 2 of 25] Orhan Pamuk is one of my favorite authors...but I can never find the words to explain why that is...or to explain how I feel about his books, individually or as a whole. And this time is no different. *A Strangeness in My Mind* is t..." Read more of this review »
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Imperium by Robert   Harris
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Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
Dear Committee Members
by Julie Schumacher
read in January, 2016
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Hilarious and spot on. Great academic satire in the same vein as Richard Russo's Straight Man. Schumacher's novel, though, is epistillary, consisting almost entirely of letters of recommendation. This was one of very few books that caused me to *lite ...more
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It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
It Can't Happen Here
by Sinclair Lewis
read in May, 2012
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Generally considered the best of Sinclair Lewis’s post-Nobel Prize novels, It Can’t Happen Here still lacks the canonical heft of works such as Main Street, Babbitt, and Elmer Gantry. And even these novels don’t exactly reside in the literary canon’s ...more
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Wandering Realities by Steven L. Peck
Wandering Realities: Mormonish Short Fiction
by Steven L. Peck (Goodreads Author)
read in January, 2015
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More of Michael's books…
“None of us wants to reject our core assumptions about the universe and start all over again. It is hard work, and it deprives us of nearly everything that makes us feel secure.”
Michael Austin, Re-reading Job Understanding the Ancient World s Greatest Poem

“Consider Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven.” Here we have a first-person narrator whose wife or lover, Lenore, has recently died. He is in his library searching through his books to find a way to make her death meaningful—or even understandable. When a raven enters the library, the narrator takes it as a sign and asks a series of increasingly desperate questions. The raven, of course, has long been a symbol for death, and the questions that the narrator asks the raven are all really questions about death. Is there a heaven? Does death come from God or the Devil? Will he ever get over her death? Will he see her again? These are likely the same things he was trying to find out from his books. But while the books may have tried to give answers, the raven—death itself—says only one word: “Nevermore.” So this is a poem that makes claims—or, more specifically, it is a poem that rejects claims. It rejects the notion that anyone can know anything about death, or what happens after death, except that a person who has died no longer exists. All that death “says” to us is “Nevermore.” If we try to go beyond this, we will eventually suffer the narrator’s fate and become insane. Many people would disagree vigorously with this premise. Some people believe that the spirits of the dead become ghosts that we can still communicate with. Others believe in heaven, hell, reincarnation, Nirvana, or some knowable final destination for the soul. I can imagine a number of different ways that one might go about rebutting Poe’s metaphysical truth claims. But it makes no difference whether or not ravens can talk. Nothing about Poe’s poem can be supported, or refuted, by scientific knowledge about the vocalization mechanisms of the Corvus corax. Nor does it matter whether or not Edgar Allen Poe ever knew anybody named Lenore, or owned a “bust of Pallas,” or did or said any of the things described in the poem. “The Raven” makes metaphysical truth claims that we can isolate and evaluate. But these claims do not depend on either the history or the science of the poem turning out to be true.”
Michael Austin, Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World's Greatest Poem

“As in Job God died, so also in Christ will God be made alive.”
Michael Austin, Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World's Greatest Poem

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“The question is not how to get cured, but how to live.”
Joseph Conrad

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
W.B. Yeats

“The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task, it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn't need its brain anymore, so it eats it! It's rather like getting tenure.”
Daniel C. Dennett

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night

“None of us wants to reject our core assumptions about the universe and start all over again. It is hard work, and it deprives us of nearly everything that makes us feel secure.”
Michael Austin, Re-reading Job Understanding the Ancient World s Greatest Poem

10880 The Smoking Poet Fans — 220 members — last activity Jan 22, 2012 06:17PM
"Words that turn the page to flame." It's all about an ambiance. The smoky, dim light when you enter, the jazz quartet playing smooth and easy in the ...more



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