I thoroughly enjoyed this book. My rating is not due to knowing the author personally (and having immense respect for him), and it is in spite of my bI thoroughly enjoyed this book. My rating is not due to knowing the author personally (and having immense respect for him), and it is in spite of my being an atheist who does not put a lot of stock in the idea of divine inspiration. I genuinely think this is an engaging, challenging, insightful book, and like other theological works I really enjoy, it presents ideas and analysis which stimulate the mind, enrich our understanding, and provoke us to action, no matter what "worldview" we hold, all without sacrificing the particularity of the theological commitments which inform the work. Wisdom is most apparent to me when an understanding has universal reach AND particular application, and in this way, I think this book is full of wisdom.
I would quibble with a couple of moments, in particular, the attempt to present hope as objectless yet with content. While this is not an incoherent possibility, it's not clear to me that Spencer really does identify an objectless hope, and furthermore, it's not clear that objectless content escapes the conundrums that it is supposed to. So I would want to think more about the indeterminate and provisional nature of the content of hope in different terms. Nonetheless, the motivations for this move are well-presented and in need of consideration....more
A provocative and easy-to-follow book, it suggests a simple formula for emancipation: assume that everyone has equal intelligence. Ranciere examines tA provocative and easy-to-follow book, it suggests a simple formula for emancipation: assume that everyone has equal intelligence. Ranciere examines the life, pedagogy, and thought of Joseph Jacotot, who was forced to try to teach students with whom he shared no common language and as a result developed "universal teaching." Universal teaching emphasizes the idea that every person is capable of learning with enough attention and hard work; since it is the student who is doing the work of learning, the teacher only needs to ensure that the student is actually attending to the source material and making connections to what s/he already knows.
From this inspiring premise and the historical instantiation of universal teaching in the early 19th century, Ranciere then pits the society of explication and masters against this ideal of equal intelligence. While I have always advocated that anyone can learn who wants to, and that every communication conveys something of intelligible worth and thus is worthy of attention, I am not so sure about the overarching political consequences that Ranciere tries to draw. I can accept that there is a conflict when those in power feel their status and influence undermined by a individual self-worth and innovation. But I feel like it is too much to say that the only revolution that is needed is a disruption of all social institutions in favor of individual emancipation into the will to learn. We are still social creatures, and intellectual emancipation is no guarantee of social responsibility; in fact, it seems that those who favor this kind of individual liberty often shun the social while taking advantage of its resources. As a result, I found myself simultaneously intrigued/inspired and frustrated/disappointed.
If anything, this seems like a great book for parents. I think educators and public officials can also take the warnings regarding stultification which probably does have its impact in the classroom and social arenas. But after starting with the belief in intellectual equality, there seems like a lot more to do, in and out of the classroom....more
I have enjoyed most everything I have read by Brueggemann, and much of my thinking and values are informed by his work. That's why this book disappoinI have enjoyed most everything I have read by Brueggemann, and much of my thinking and values are informed by his work. That's why this book disappointed me. It still holds a strong message of hope and imagination employed for justice, but some of the rhetorical choices and logical slips presented a seemingly rushed, popularized version of scholarly exegesis. Still, the book is informative and challenging, worth reading even if not one of his best....more
An excellent guide for non-Muslims on how to approach the Qur'an responsibly without having to adopt theological commitments of a believer. This bookAn excellent guide for non-Muslims on how to approach the Qur'an responsibly without having to adopt theological commitments of a believer. This book is scholarly in methodology, respectful in tone, insightful in its analysis, and thorough in defending its various claims, resources, and techniques. Best how-to-read style book I have ever read!...more