Fascinating read; full of interesting insights of left and right. I loved reading Michael's history, and that of so many of our current leaders. Well...moreFascinating read; full of interesting insights of left and right. I loved reading Michael's history, and that of so many of our current leaders. Well written, with feeling, depth and understanding.(less)
I try to be very stingy with my 5 star reviews, and I could knock Hitchens a star for not spending as much time as I expected on his conversion to Chr...moreI try to be very stingy with my 5 star reviews, and I could knock Hitchens a star for not spending as much time as I expected on his conversion to Christianity after 2+ decades of Trotsky adulation and hard-edged atheism, however, the depth of his exploration into the development and spread of anti-theism, as well as the denigration and disintegration of Christianity in Western culture made up for the lack of details.
I was drawn in by Hitchens' historical analysis of the USSR and the manner in which the Soviets purged faith from the country..... more later.
Ok, it is later: Here is Lisa's review & it works for me:
This was an eye-opening book. I "really liked it" for a couple of reasons. I have become aware of a recent surge in numbers of self-proclaimed (and angry and demanding) atheists, and concerned about the reasons behind it - this book gives logical and solid reasons for this political/philosophical shift. It is a candid look at religiosity in contemporary England, and therefore a vision of what could/will happen soon in America (political attempts to negate religious rights). It is a wonderfully concise history of attempts at communism/living without God. It exposes the flawed logic of throwing over a God-fearing society. I did not give it 5 stars because Part 3 of the book gets a little bogged down in communism's terminology and examples - and I probably need more background to understand it better.
Here is a line that resonated with me: "In an age of power-worship, the Christian religion has become the principal obstacle to the desire of earthly utopians for absolute power." (p.113)
And, "Without a belief in God and the soul, where is the oath? Without the oath, where is the obligation to fulfill it? Where is the law that even kings must obey? Where is the lifelong fidelity of husband and wife? Where is the safety of the innocent child growing in the womb? Where, in the end, is the safety of any of us from those currently bigger and stronger than we are?" (p. 147) (less)
An amazing story from a man who lived under Stalin's Soviet Union and spent 9 years in its gulag. Sharanski was a bit repetitive throughout the book,...moreAn amazing story from a man who lived under Stalin's Soviet Union and spent 9 years in its gulag. Sharanski was a bit repetitive throughout the book, but I felt like he was hammering home some very important points about a world gone wrong, a world that is so in love with a leftist "peace-at-all-odds" ideology that it is willing to destroy the culture and true diversity of the world's people, especially those of white, Christian or Jewish descent. All this in a misguided attempt to obliterate differences, ostensibly to achieve "peace." Unfortunately, it is our differences, our histories, our strong identities - things worth fighting for that make us stronger, that keeps extremists at bay.
There was so much history within Sharanky's well defended thesis on identity and democracy, for that alone, it was worth the read. Nevertheless, I found so many quotable passages and points that really made me reconsider my own feelings about hyphenated identities.
"Democracy and identity have no problem co-existing when both are strong. We need not choose between them. Only when one or both are weak is there a threat to peace. The ideal offered by the champions of post-identity of a world without difference is a fals...e one. It is false not only because it will never happen, it is false because the vision it champions is in fact a nightmare. A world without differences is a world that denies people their deepest attachments to history and to the future, to memory and to inheritance. It denies them the things that give life its most profound meaning. "
"A world without differences is a world that denies people their deepest attachments to history and to the future, to memory and to inheritance. It denies them the things that give life its most profound meaning. "
"But a society without a strong identity is also a society imperiled. The free world's shield against its enemies is its own identity, vigorously asserted and framed by a commitment to a democratic life. Not all cultures are the same. Not all values are equivalent. The right to live a unique way of life is a right worth fighting for and if necessary worth dying for."
"United, freedom and identity cannot be defeated. By reconciling these two powerful forces and strengthening this indispensable alliance, we can fill our lives with purpose and advance the cause of peace (but without identity, freedom give...s way to totalitarianism and violence)."
"Democracies that are ready to compromise identity (transnationalism) for the sake of peace not only weaken their inner strength but encourage in totalitarian forces around them the belief that they can overcome societies that have cut off their roots have disconnected themselves from their histories, and are prepared to watch their values and the qualities that give their lives meaning wither and die."
"From Geothe in Faust: Only those who every day fight for life and freedom deserve it. Goethe links life directly with freedom- it is as if the two were part of a single entity...Freedom, not peace, liberates life. Every person, group, community, and nation can formulate for themselves the values that give life meaning, the values for which they are ready to fight and if necessary die, the things for which they are even willing to sacrifice peace."(less)
I completed this book with mixed feelings; if I could give it 2.75 stars, I would. Working on my review... Or not. Here's someone elses that sums up...moreI completed this book with mixed feelings; if I could give it 2.75 stars, I would. Working on my review... Or not. Here's someone elses that sums up my feelings pretty well.
Adrienne said: DISCLAIMER: This is my rant on the “classic Marxist rant” by Barbara Ehrenreich in the form of "Nickel and Dimed." REALLY. I am not saying that we should not help poor people. I am mostly just annoyed by the author. If my political ranting will bother you, please don't read this. AND if you do, you are not allowed to think less of me. You may disagree, but know that I actually am a nice, caring, empathetic person. :)
Unfortunately, Ehrenreich did not present much shocking or new information in her book. Even if she had, her Marxist cynicism and naive hypocrisy overshadowed her message. Of course, if anyone had been placed in such a situation, she would have been appalled by the tremendous difficulty of the way the poor are forced to live. But Ehrenreich’s obnoxious inclination to think anyone in a managerial position is malicious and purposefully cruel was overbearing. The managers were not in a much better position than those under them, and they have to do a “meaningless” job as well. She even began realizing that she was becoming uncontrollably irate at any moment’s notice. How can she criticize others for acting the exact way she felt because of the degrading circumstances they share? Not to mention, she pretty much had been acting this prejudiced way before this epiphany, but earlier she directed it at those in higher positions instead of her equals.
Also, let’s go into her Communist ideals (even though she sort of denied being a Marxist, she quoted him a few times and paraphrased Mao’s words). She is advocating (by implication) a system way worse than the Goliath that is Wal-Mart. She finds it utterly appalling that people have some of their basic rights taken away by agreeing to work for certain companies. (By the way, have you ever worked for a corporation? That's what they do.) However, you have absolutely no rights in a Communist society. Remember Animal Farm? After a while, the pigs look exactly like the human men they had replaced in their rebellion. Plus, she’s complaining about the rich 20% at the top and wanting to help the poor 20% on the bottom, completely ignoring the 60% in between. She just wants to replace the top with the bottom, and then where would we be? Bingo! The same place. Ehrenreich means basically an “inherited kingdom.” Ironic that she feels that the poor should just naturally inherit the country. She wants her kingdom to be like the socialist/communist world because she feels that the United States will not take care of the proletariat. But I don’t know if 80% should give up their rights so that the 20% can rule (oh, and kill everyone else in the process--that's what Communists do).
As far as her complaints about “rights” are concerned, let’s look at her previous life. She is UPPER middle class, which is not nearly the same as the average American. Her job is as a journalist, free-lance, I believe. So, she does not have the average structured job, and her job is to speak her mind and say whatever she wants however she wants. Of course she’s going to be upset that she can’t curse in front of customers. Some customers may be offended by such language, but she can’t see that; she only knows that she wants to say the f-word on the job and she can’t. Heaven forbid.
She seemed to be shocked by the fact that her employers didn’t want her standing around talking on the job either. I understand that we should allow people to be human and enjoy working with each other. I like to see employees joke with each other and get along, but I don’t like to need help and can’t get any because some “associates” are standing around talking and ignoring their customers. I don't agree with the Wal-Mart "time theft" idea, but she does need to realize she's at work.
I feel that the story would have been much more compelling and upsetting if she had just followed a few of the women with whom she worked. Her story just wasn’t interesting. I certainly don’t mean to make light of or ignore such a serious subject, but it could have been done so much better.(Have you seen Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days where he and his girlfriend REALLY live below the poverty line? Now, that's worth seeing.)
Also, I would have been interested (and I think it would really have been fair) to give statistics on those living below the poverty line who are on welfare, are illegal immigrants (if they were included), have mental illnesses, etc. Or, I would like to know if that 20% of working poor is all exactly similar to the people has associated with. I just want a complete and honest picture either way so that I’m not wondering what it is. We need to take care of all the people, but we need to know the circumstances. Also, I know that most of the working poor are good, honest, hard-working people, but we know that there are still many who abuse the system, and the way Ehrenreich talks, you’d think that the only ones abusing the system were the managers (“classic Marxist” attitude). Instead of reading her book, maybe some of the people (managers) should read The Female Advantage and learn some managing skills. :)
I also would like to know how raising the minimum wage affects the economy. If it helps fix this problem, great. But it would seem that if we raise the minimum wage, then prices will start going up. I’m no economist, so I wouldn’t know, but I would have liked more information about how to help the problem instead of her ideas about getting thrown in prison for protesting.
I will admit that I probably have some prejudice attitudes that she addresses in her book, but I don’t feel that she really proved her point. Eating in a healthier manner and not smoking or drinking are not going to solve the poors' problems, but when people are counting pennies, every one counts. Ehrenreich said that she never got to the point of eating lentil soup, but if she had, she would have saved money (and it would have been healthier). It seems that, just like everyone else, convenience takes precedence over everything else.
In the end, the condition of the working poor is an important issue that we all need to work on and try to find more solutions for. I just don’t agree with the way she thinks and her attitudes about some of the things that she found. This book does have some redeeming qualities, but as I said, she got in the way. (less)
Only solidifying my anger against the public school behemoth & strengthening my resolve to homeschool my non-separatist child through high school...moreOnly solidifying my anger against the public school behemoth & strengthening my resolve to homeschool my non-separatist child through high school ( and continue to pray & press for my oldest to "come home"). People, we can SO do better.(less)
In what reminded me strongly of the "Screwtape Letters," Dr. Mike Adams takes on the feminists he works with and observes in a riotous reuse of their...moreIn what reminded me strongly of the "Screwtape Letters," Dr. Mike Adams takes on the feminists he works with and observes in a riotous reuse of their own words & rhetoric. Drawing on his personal experiences and run-ins with his colleges and female students at the UNC campus where he is a PhD in Criminology, this book consists of letter after letter of things he has said or would like to say outloud, and each letter is followed up with what happened after the letter was sent (or an explanation as to why it was not. Like, Dr. Adams sued Dr. So-and-So the following day, so this letter was lost in the mail.)
Adams is spot on with his observations about the feminist academia, and why, sympathize as I might, I just can't step into the feminist realm. Every academic, every feminist leader I see interviewed as a "voice of women," and every law passed to "protect women" just reaffirms to me, I have no place among these women, not politically, not ideologically, and not even culturally. It seems more government, more lawsuits, more thought policing, & generally more matriarchy is always the answer. It feels much worse than patriarchy ever wanted to be; it feels like there is less freedom to be had among their ranks, not more. No, thank you.
P.S. I laughed out loud SO much, and was actually shaking at times trying to hold in laughter while reading in bed next to my slumbering spouse. Adams is sharp witted and fast to strike on the humor in situations.
Despite being unecessarily repetitive, at times it felt like the author had compiled his best university lectures, verbatim, including the ten minutes...moreDespite being unecessarily repetitive, at times it felt like the author had compiled his best university lectures, verbatim, including the ten minutes of recap from the last lecture, "just to remind everyone where we left off," I found the author's argument to be very through and even handed. I appreciated his willingness to be critical of each movement within the evolution of our educational system and to examine the consequences of the decision making that has lead to our current system. I can also honestly say his writngs have strengthen my faith in homeschooling. I don't need state mandated warehousing of my children.(less)
What a read. Mamet has come Right with all the fervor of a new convert and the anger of betrayal and disillusionment of someone waking up to the fact...moreWhat a read. Mamet has come Right with all the fervor of a new convert and the anger of betrayal and disillusionment of someone waking up to the fact that the real estate he purchased sight unseen for top dollar 50 years ago is really uninhabitable swamp land.
I appreciated Mamet's clarity in some instances, but in others...(less)
Rosen's last chapter, wherein he actually makes some extremely constructive suggestions for living off the grid or making lands more hospitable to tho...moreRosen's last chapter, wherein he actually makes some extremely constructive suggestions for living off the grid or making lands more hospitable to those who wish to do so, was truly the only thing worth reading in this whole book.
Well, that is, of course, unless you came to "Off the Grid" with a desire to read: how the oppressive market, evil corporate structures, and nefarious marketing strategies among American utilities ruined America; anti-religious & anti-homeschooling commentary (largely against the Amish and Mennonite cultures!); how high the prevalence of pot smoking and growing is among off gridders; how much community dysfunction and how many scheisters there are in the off-grid world.
There were nuggets of interest embedded in a few of Rosen's stories, such as the difficulty people have getting financing for off-grid homes (mortgage companies/ banks aren't too happy to fork over funds for homes not connected to city services), but his writing was SO peppered with judgements and editorializing,in addition to being a rambling, disconnected mess, it was difficult to keep pushing through the pages.
Living off the grid in retirement, post-kids, is a dream of mine. Rosen made me think I'm further from making that a possibility than I thought. If nothing else, because I'm just not sure I want to live near the people he describes in 95 % of this book, and as far as I know, we don't have any Amish this far south. (less)
In what is essentially an extended persuasive essay, the Frenches extend a welcoming hand to those Christians who may be on the fence about supporting...moreIn what is essentially an extended persuasive essay, the Frenches extend a welcoming hand to those Christians who may be on the fence about supporting Mitt for POTUS. Often the argument against Mitt begins with what people perceive as his less than "true Conservative" politics and ends with an indictment of his faith, and my faith.
Piece by piece, the Frenches dismantle the critics' perceptions of his record and put up an able defense of Romneycare. Then, the two, who count themselves as friends of the Romneys, defend Mormonisms adherents as good people who share their values in every way. What more the faith is or isn't they leave to God.
I appreciated their love and sincere appreciation for Romney, his faith, and his principles. They certainly left me hopeful that the more people use logic and reasoning in this primary season, Romney could very well make it to the White House this go around, and people will be happily surprised at how good he will be- faith included.(less)
Great little book for people of all political walks who care about the planet but are sick to death of all the alarmism -- not to mention the addition...moreGreat little book for people of all political walks who care about the planet but are sick to death of all the alarmism -- not to mention the addition of "green" and "eco" to every other word in the dictionary, as if that means anything!
Myers brings some much needed common sense to a subject that left rational in the dust about 50 years ago- and has only gotten worse in the last 20 years.
His work is well researched and footnoted, but most importantly he has lived and worked as an environmental policy maker and has seen some of the unproductive fads in action. Meyers insights give pause for thought, as he strives to consider all sides of environmental policy arguments.
His most important piece of advice for rabid, vapid environmentslists: all decisions require trade-offs, some are too costly, and others are less so, but ineffective action for the sake of doing "something," is poor stewardship at it most absurd and wasteful of precious resources ($$). For the reticent, he assures us there are solid ways to manage the environment and still make a good profit, but caring about the planet is a must. Meyers did an admirable job at making the reader think about policy motivations, programs, and possible outcomes from more than just the media or activist side, though they got a hearing, too.
On the con side, Meyers' arguments in part 1 began to feel a bit repetitive, though some of that may be from my reading his book on my Android over several months. Slow Android reading seems to throw off my perceptions.(less)