Full disclosure: I'm a Bad Religion Fan Girl. Or something. Fan Girl sounds awfully frivolous, but what else do you call it?
I'm a Bad Religi...moreFull disclosure: I'm a Bad Religion Fan Girl. Or something. Fan Girl sounds awfully frivolous, but what else do you call it?
I'm a Bad Religion fan. And I have been for something like 17 years. Bad Religion was a huge influence on my life and world view as a teenager. You know those years where everyone is figuring things out for themselves and starting to ask the big questions? Those were the years that I listened to and studied Bad Religion albums. And I sang along. I knew every lyric (still do) and found so much to think about. So Yeah. I pretty much grew up with Greg Graffin's philosophic influence. And, not necessarily as a result, but as it happens, I'm an atheist and a monist and I find evolution in everything. I am not a scientist, but I sometimes wish I was. Pretty much I've been so influence by Greg Graffin and I've listened to and read his lyrics for so long that Anarchy Evolution is just common sense to me. I'd like to say that I think like him, but maybe it's more correct to just say that I understand what he's saying. It's what I would say if I were eloquent (OK, I wouldn't write the personal memoir-type stuff, but the philosophy/atheism/evolution stuff).
In short. I'm going to buy my own copy of this book because I want to read it again with a hi-lighter (they frown on that with library copies) and I want to hi-light the crap out it. And I want to shove my neon yellow copy into the hands of the next person who asks me some dumb question about atheism or what I believe and say read the yellow parts.
Then, there's also the fact that it's a punk rock memoir. Awesome.
I don't believe in self-important folks who preach No Bad Religion song can make yourself complete You'll get no direction from me.
Its awkward to read a memoir when you don't like the subject. It's awkward to read religious propaganda from a religion you don't subscribe to or ever...moreIts awkward to read a memoir when you don't like the subject. It's awkward to read religious propaganda from a religion you don't subscribe to or ever intend to subscribe to. And it's really awkward to feel the terrible sadness of a real person's death while gawking at the absurdity of her family and friends' visions of angels and spirits.
I have to admit I started off with the idea that I wasn't going to like Same Kind of Different As Me. I'd read some reviews and they were largely polarized, with religious folks loving it and everyone else complaining about the preachiness. I fully expected to be in the second camp and got to my nit-picking right away.
One of my pet peeves is book (and movie) descriptions that are not accurate. The subtitle is: A Modern-Day Slave, and International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together. No no no. Yes in his early years, Denver was a "modern-day slave" and lived through shit that most of us cannot imagine. However, he left that life 40+ years ago, and I'd not call the 1960s "modern day". While we're on the topic of slavery, isn't the word "bound" kind of in poor taste? And if anyone is going to bring together a wealthy snob and a jaded homeless man, a wealthy person with a passion for serving the homeless seems to be the most likely person to make the introduction (or is it unlikely for any wealthy person to be genuinely philanthropic?).
Once I got beyond the book jacket things didn't get a whole lot better. While, Denver's story was fascinating, Ron came across like a egomaniac, a woman-hating rich guy pushing his religion. Eventually the cancer story kicked into one heart breaking scene after another and I finally started to become involved with the story and my opinion of Ron slowly climbed. In the end, I did find the book to be inspirational from a civic-works kind of context and I was able to dig out a few pearls of wisdom from Denver's messages.
Once I realized I was reading evangelical propaganda, it all made a little more sense. (Make no mistake this isn't a memoir that happens to be religious, it's published by a publisher who deals exclusively in Christian books.) In a way, I read it as kind of a social-studies text-a view into a world I don't normally see. There are people who believe this stuff and talk like this and attempt to disguise their proselytizing as humanitarian work. Ron and Deborah are probably supposed to be roll models. I could see that the things I disliked about Ron are part of that whole culture. In all, Same Kind of Different As Me reinforced some of the negative stereotypes I already had about evangelicals. I wish that wasn't the case as I'd like to be less judgmental.
Denver's fascinating early life, Deborah's good works, her good intentions and her emotional story all lead me to like this book more than I'd expected to. But the self congratulations, religiousness and propaganda subtracted largely from my ability to like this book.(less)
I was kind of worried that A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail would make me want to hike the Appalachian Trail. Not o...moreI was kind of worried that A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail would make me want to hike the Appalachian Trail. Not only do I not have the time or money for such an adventure, but I don't have the temperament for long-term backpacking, and I'm willing to admit that. There is a reason I call my blog PDX Day Hiker, I much prefer sleeping in my own bed than in a tent. And while I don't mind peeing in the woods once or twice a in a day, I don't want to do it for a week straight and I do enjoy washing my hands occasionally. Thankfully, Bill Bryson's candor about the difficulties of the route was more than enough to keep any longing for a long hike at bay. I am inspired by the idea of hiking every day. I'd love to take a staycation and just go hiking every day and return home each evening. Or maybe rent a cabin at the coast or on Hood or something.
I'm really intrigued now at the idea of the Appalachian mountains. I've never been that far east, and my Northwest mind knows what a mountain looks like and has always considered everything east of the Rockies to be flat. I suppose a trip out to Maine or Vermont is in order one of these days.
Best quote from the book:
A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old.
Bryson's humor cracks me up at times and I highly enjoyed reading A Walk in the Woods. I'm fully impressed with anyone who even attempts such a long hike and I'd love to hear from folks who've done it. Have you hike the AT? Or read A Walk in the Woods? (less)
Whenever I read essay-style memoirs I get my hopes up that the writers will be immensely funny, brilliantly witty, mindbogglingly intelligent or at th...moreWhenever I read essay-style memoirs I get my hopes up that the writers will be immensely funny, brilliantly witty, mindbogglingly intelligent or at the very least my kindred spirits who have the same deep thoughts as me plus that ability to express them in writing. Most of the time I'm let down. Meghan Daum's essays, aptly enough, revolve around the theme of being let down. Or more specifically, being let down after developing a whole big fantasy about how some situation will play out.
I did enjoy several of the essays. Some are funny, some are intelligent, none are my soul mates. Not even close. Basically, while I appreciate her honesty, I think Megan Daum is a rich-kid snob.
Specifics: Love the concept of baby dolls as meta (without using the word "meta", because the book came out in 2001 and back then "aesthetic" was the word of the day).
Did not understand the carpet essay. I get that she's accepting and celebrating her own brand of snobbishness. And I found that mildly entertaining. I'd probably do the same. But I don't understand the association of carpet with faux-class. In my neck of the woods, no one pretends carpet is a sign of wealth. You have to be wealthy to afford anything other than wall to wall carpet.
Essays on polyamory and flight attendants seemed out of place and boring. Rejected New Yorker articles that she worked too hard on to not publish somewhere, anywhere, how about in the book?
I think at some point, Daum considered herself to be the voice of her generation, or at least of her aesthetic. A short 8 years later and I find myself not in her aesthetic or her generation and marveling at how fast times change.
I fully expected to get annoyed at Barbara Kingsolver. And because I'm self-centered like that, I expect that lots of people are avoiding Animal, Vege...moreI fully expected to get annoyed at Barbara Kingsolver. And because I'm self-centered like that, I expect that lots of people are avoiding Animal, Vegetable, Miracle because they too expect to get annoyed with Ms. Kingsolver. I'm happy to report that these fears were unfounded.
You're all free to enjoy this book without being overwhelmed with monetary privilege, farm-knowledge privilege or even free-time privilege. Contrary to my fears (and to some reviews), Kingsolver does not make her year of locovory out to be saintly and does not guilt the reader for not owning a 20 acre farm. Also she does offer a fair amount of politics and science without giving that "preaching to the choir" feeling or a re-read of everything Pollan. I did skip chapter 1, but after that, everything was great.
I was reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as my grandmother was dying. Over the last month, I spent a lot of time at my grandma's farm and found her life story in this book countless times. It felt like a window into the life and farm that I somehow grew up ignoring and neglecting and not helping with.
I loved the descriptions of farm life. I loved learning about the quirks of farm life. I could seriously feel the love Kingsolver and her family share. Asparagus trees, turkey sex, tomato sauce. Love love love.
I expected this book to be amazing and change my life and finally allow me to fully understand how Buddhism and atheism can play well together. Unfort...moreI expected this book to be amazing and change my life and finally allow me to fully understand how Buddhism and atheism can play well together. Unfortunately, I was expecting too much. It's not the book I was expecting to read. I'd describe it as HHT Dalai Lama's memoir of science and how he resolves it with traditional Buddhist beliefs.
I remember when I first heard of The Universe in a Single Atom. In fact, I'm fairly certain that reading the book jacket in Powells was the spark for my interest in Buddhism over the past year or so. For no good reason, I didn't get around to reading it until last month. And it took me a full two months to finish it. I'm glad I didn't read it right away, I think it would have been too over my head had I not had the basic understanding of Buddhism that I have now. Yet, even so, some of the concepts were over my head!
It's tough text to sit down with.
The chapters on Buddhist psychology were the only that really interested me.
The rest was hard to get through. Example: the concept of Emptiness and quantum mechanics complementing each other: I don't get it. Maybe because I don't truly understand either topic. Or maybe because it's a stretch to compare them. Same goes for karma/evolution. I don't see the parallel and completely and totally fail to understand how reincarnation can jibe with science.
Additionally, I think he was grasping with the descriptions of ancient Tibetan explanations of the world. All cultures have stories and explanations on topics like the origin of the universe/Earth/life and the makeup of stuff (elements). They can't all be true, even if they are the basis of The Dalai Lama's home culture. He seemed to be trying to claim that science is proving the Tibetans to be correct- another stretch. Can we admit confirmation bias here?
In all, I hate to give a bad review, because I admire the Dalai Lama so much. So I'm lets call this a moderate review. Glad to have read it, maybe even will try again if I ever get to a point where I understand the Buddhist philosophy well enough. But definitely wouldn't recommend this as casual or scientific reading.(less)
I think I did myself a disservice by watching the movie first. I bet I would have loved Persepolis had I not always known exactly what was about to ha...moreI think I did myself a disservice by watching the movie first. I bet I would have loved Persepolis had I not always known exactly what was about to happen.(less)
I especially was interested in President Carter's discussions about fundamentalism, in religion and in politics. He...moreI like Jimmy Carter. Even more now.
I especially was interested in President Carter's discussions about fundamentalism, in religion and in politics. He defines fundamentalism in a way I'd not through of it before, but seemed dead on to me. He says that fundamentalism is the idea that we're right, and chosen and everyone else is wrong and therefor un-chosen and therefore disposable. Also that it gives power to leaders instead of to people, which leads to abuses of power. These are exactly the qualities of so many vocal religious groups that make me hostile to religion in general. Sometimes I forget that there are other kinds of religiosity. It's really rare to hear a public figure, especially a Christian public figure, standing up to the idea that some churches and church leaders have taken a selfish and corrupt path. I was preparing myself to really disagree with President Carter for the religious chapters, and I did disagree with him, especially when he talked about missionary work. But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed what he had to say. He really shows that it is possible to separate religion and politics without being disloyal to your strongly held beliefs.
I was also so refreshed to hear him talk about religion in politics in a way that promotes peace, environmentalism and kindness, things that the most vocal religious political groups condemn. I want to give this book to all my Christian relatives who seem believe that Jesus wants them to starve the poor and bomb the middle east and all that other evilness.
I "read" this as an audio book, and I have to admit that I probably wouldn't have got through the book format. The second half or so got a big dull, but listening I could just tune out a bit without giving up entirely.(less)
If Thoreau were alive today, • He’d carry a sign that says “Keep the government out of my Medicare!” • He’d be Tim Ferris. • He’d live in a custom-built...moreIf Thoreau were alive today, • He’d carry a sign that says “Keep the government out of my Medicare!” • He’d be Tim Ferris. • He’d live in a custom-built trailer and call it a “tiny house”.
If Thoreau were alive 2,000 years ago, he’d be Jesus. • What the H is he rambling on about? What do Egyptians have to do with this? • Let me tell you the only acceptable way to bake bread. • Wise, and quotable quip... Worship me, please. • Did he just say that black slaves had it easier than free white men? Really? I can’t even.(less)