Let me start with a couple of caveats. The focus of this book is not for everyone. It will likely be of some interest to those generally interested inLet me start with a couple of caveats. The focus of this book is not for everyone. It will likely be of some interest to those generally interested in popular culture and 20th century history. It's primary audience, however, consists of the geeks alluded to in the subtitle. (I count myself as a geek wannabe.)
Organized primarily around the evolution of Superman, Men of Tomorrow branches out to consider the cultural influences and the interpersonal relationships that shaped the growth of the comic book industry. Fans and readers of comic books will learn some interesting tidbits related to the creation and development of some of the industry's most iconic characters. However, I find Jones's book most interesting as lens illuminating the larger cultural shifts taking place during the 20th century. While the book sometimes falls into passages of industry-specific details that seem a bit tiresome, Jones generally does a very nice job of providing those details within a structure that generates interest and engagement on the part of the reader. The central thread of Superman's evolution--and the ups and downs confronted by his creators--ultimately provide an emotional weight and significance that makes this book more than simply a chronicle of historical minutia relevant only to the geeks. ...more
Benson takes The Rule of Saint Benedict as a starting point for reflection on--as the title states--"a good life." Benson explores Saint Benedict's foBenson takes The Rule of Saint Benedict as a starting point for reflection on--as the title states--"a good life." Benson explores Saint Benedict's four "pieces" of life: prayer, rest, community, and work. Then, in the end, Benson issues an invitation for us all to write our own "Rule of Whatever-Your-Name-Is," to "take hold of Benedict's words and wrestle with them until there are moments that begin to reveal to you a way to order your life in ways that make it more possible for you to balance your prayer and your rest and your community and your work" (73).
I enjoyed the book greatly, and I found it often inspiring and convicting, with some simply wonderful moments, obeservations, and quotations along the way. For me, the book's limitation is largely that it stops at invitation. There are moments where Benson refers to the retreats that he often leads and begins to suggest questions and concerns that he invites retreat participants to reflect upon and answer as he guides them toward authoring their own "rule." While I recognize no prescribed method is going to generate a meaningful "rule of one's own," I really found myself wanting at least a little bit of apparatus to work with--some more tangible suggestion of the next steps that one might take. ...more
In the conclusion of his book <u>American Jesus</u>, Stephen Prothero asserts: "In the book of Genesis, God creates humans in His own imagIn the conclusion of his book <u>American Jesus</u>, Stephen Prothero asserts: "In the book of Genesis, God creates humans in His own image; in the United States, Americans have created Jesus, over and over again, in theirs" (298). It is the kind of assertion best placed in the conclusion of a book, as many contemporary Christian readers would tend to discount the claim as so much high-falutin' academic baloney. However, after 297 pages of Prothero's detailed and fascinating history of Jesus in America, one is hard pressed to disagree.
Prothero begins by making clear that <u>American Jesus</u> focuses on neither "the 'living Christ' of faith nor the 'historical Jesus' of scholarship"(9). Instead, Prothero seeks to trace the develpment of the "cultural Jesus"(9) who hs been divorced from the Biblical text, from the foundational creeds of traditional Christianity, and even from Christianity itself.
Organized into two halves, <u>American Jesus</u> focuses initially on the "rebirths" of Jesus within American Christianity, beginning with Thomas Jefferson, who took a razor blade to his Bible in order to eliminate everything extraneous to the historical person of Christ. Jefferson's version of Jesus as an enlightened sage serves as a precursor to subsequent attempts to identify the historical Jesus.
After Jefferson, American Christians repackaged Jesus in a number of ways. Reacting against the dominant strains of Calvinism, 19th-century Christians transformed Jesus into a personal friend desiring a personal relationship. While such language is commonly used to describe Jesus today, Prothero points out that Calvinist theologians tended to depict Jesus as less of a person and more of a function bringing together a holy God and a sinful humanity. In the 20th century, this personal, sentimentalized depiction of Jesus was replaced with a manly, masculine Jesus in an attempt to increase his relevance outside the private, domestic sphere. The contemporary Promise Keepers movement, for instance, is very much indebted to the "muscular Christianity" of the early 1900s.
In the second half of the book, Prothero examines the way in which religious traditions other than Christianity have appropriated and "reincarnated" Jesus. Exploring shifting depictions of Jesus generated within the Mormon, African-American, Jewish, Buddhist, and Hindu communities, Prothero illustrates the extent to which the cultural and religious diversity of the United States is "making Jesus into a likeness of America"(290).
A recognition of an iconic, cultural Jesus has immense implications, particularly for the contemporary Christian church in America. The various and shifting depictions of Jesus within our culture raise questions about both contemporary theology and the church's interaction with the larger culture. How is today's understanding of Jesus--both within church and outside of it--shaped by our culture? How does the variety of depictions impact the manner in which the church interacts with culture (e.g., evangelism, etc.)? As Prothero concludes: "It is highly unlikely that Americans will ever come to any consensus about who Jesus really is, but they have agreed for some time that Jesus really matters"(300). ...more
I picked up this book after hearing it mentioned by Dave Ramsey. The underlying principles are useful, but simple (which is not to say that they're eaI picked up this book after hearing it mentioned by Dave Ramsey. The underlying principles are useful, but simple (which is not to say that they're easy). The book consists mostly of anecdotes reinforcing the three basic guidelines for "Questions behind the Questions" (QBQs):
1) Begin with "What" or "How" (note "Why," "When," or "Who"). 2) Contain an "I" (not "they," "them," "we," or "you"). 3) Focus on action.
The book might be useful for some, but a most readers have at least heard the admonitions for personal accountability, the book is probably most useful as a periodic reminder to do what we know we ought to do. I'm just not sure that reminder needs to be 115 pages long....more
As a fan of most anything written by Wendell Berry, I enjoyed reading this novel, but I also found it to be more of a companion piece. Of course, I haAs a fan of most anything written by Wendell Berry, I enjoyed reading this novel, but I also found it to be more of a companion piece. Of course, I had just finished re-reading Jayber Crow for about the fourth time, so perhaps Andy Catlett simply suffered a bit by comparison. Still, very much worth a look, particularly for Berry fans....more
I've been a long-time fan of Berry's work. Anyone familiar with his essays will probably have read some of these before. It is nice, however, to haveI've been a long-time fan of Berry's work. Anyone familiar with his essays will probably have read some of these before. It is nice, however, to have the "agrarian" essays in one place and encounter them together. The collection is at once humbling and inspiring. Prophetic, as others have said. ...more
Book was a gift from Aunt Sharon on 08.21.2009. Originally a gift from my great-grandfather and great-grandmother to my great-great-grandfather. InsideBook was a gift from Aunt Sharon on 08.21.2009. Originally a gift from my great-grandfather and great-grandmother to my great-great-grandfather. Inside the cover is the inscription: "To Father. from Wilbur & Grayce & family."...more
This isn't a book for everyone, but it was a five-star book for me, and might be with others whose lives and loves are rooted in the Great Plains andThis isn't a book for everyone, but it was a five-star book for me, and might be with others whose lives and loves are rooted in the Great Plains and the literature it has produced....more