Some very good points towards the beginning, but all the angst about infertility towards the end was completely skippable. (I got the point after abou...moreSome very good points towards the beginning, but all the angst about infertility towards the end was completely skippable. (I got the point after about 5 pages, and there was no need to have multiple chapters on it.)
Still, a good read and recommended. It provided an interesting window into the lives of some, and sadly unsurprising view of how poorly many churches deal with these issues -- and a surprising view of how well some do.(less)
This book was thorough at what it tried to do: prepare people for an exam. It had a few inaccuracies including one flat-out wrong answer, but overall...moreThis book was thorough at what it tried to do: prepare people for an exam. It had a few inaccuracies including one flat-out wrong answer, but overall seemed OK.
My gripe is that it does a poor job of explaining concepts. Most of the book presents one question after another from the NCVEC test bank, offers a paragraph of explanation, and then the correct answer.
I prefer the approach from the ARRL license manual series. They have chapters on concepts, usually going in to a lot more detail and providing clearer explanations than this one. You really come away understanding the material better from the ARRL series. That will not only help you pass the exam, but also actually put the knowledge to use. I feel like from this book, I've figured out how to memorize some information but have a poorer grasp of material than I did from the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual that I used for the technician exam.(less)
I had followed the Twitter feed for awhile, and enjoyed it. This book is more than just snippets from Twitter. It has longer stories, and was a lot of...moreI had followed the Twitter feed for awhile, and enjoyed it. This book is more than just snippets from Twitter. It has longer stories, and was a lot of fun to read. Funniest thing 'I've read in quite awhile.(less)
Rick Steves is known for writing books, and producing public TV shows, about travel to Europe. He encourages people to get out of their comfort zone,...moreRick Steves is known for writing books, and producing public TV shows, about travel to Europe. He encourages people to get out of their comfort zone, advocates staying in homes instead of hotels, and giving yourself permission to struggle to communicate in a land of unfamiliar language. That way, you get to experience not just the landmarks, but the culture and history. That was the approach we favored in our recent trip to Europe, and after being there (and seeing tour groups), I think Rick Steves is right on.
On the plane to Europe, I read his Travel as a Political Act. This is not a guidebook, but more a book about the philosophy of travel. As usual with my book reviews, unless indicated otherwise, all quotes here come from the book. He starts out with this statement:
I've taught people how to travel. I focus mostly on the logistics: finding the right hotel, avoiding long lines... But that's not why we travel. We travel to have enlightening experiences, to meet inspirational people, to be stimulated, to learn, and to grow. Travel has taught me the fun in having my cultural furniture rearranged and my ethnocentric self-assuredness walloped.
I read this book mostly on the plane to Hamburg, or the week prior to leaving. I can credit Rick Steves directly for encouraging me to strike up a conversation with a random German on the bus from Hamburg to Lübeck, which I'll discuss here in a couple of days. Probably the biggest lament from Rick Steves is that the people that really ought to travel -- the ones that are so sure that their ways are correct and best -- are least likely to do so.
Make a decision that on any trip you take, you'll make a point to be open to new experiences, seek options that get you out of your comfort zone, and be a cultural chameleon--trying on new ways of looking at things and striving to become a "temporary local." ... My best vacations have been both fun and intensely educational ... Travel challenges truths that we were raised thinking were self-evident and God-given. Leaving home, we learn that other people find different truths to be self-evident. We realize that it just makes sense to give everyone a little wiggle room.
The book is set with an introductory encouragement to travel, followed by seven vignettes of different countries he's visited, and descriptions of how it's impacted him. He gave a lesson of the opening of the German Reichstag (parliament building), which he was present for in 1999. He was surrounded by teary-eyed Germans -- and a few tourists "so preoccupied with trivialities -- forgotten camera batteries, needing a Coke, the lack of air-conditioning -- that they were missing out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate a great moment with the German people."
He comments that we can learn from other countries -- that no one country has a monopoly on good ideas, and it is plenty patriotic to insist what we adopt good ideas (such as drug policy) from other countries and adopt them for our own.
Particularly touching to me was the description and photo of a memorial in El Salvador, very much looking like the American Vietnam memorial -- except that one remembering loved ones lost fighting the United States. How many Americans even know that we were involved in a damaging war in El Salvador?
A large part of his book was, for me, "preaching to the choir," as this comment illustrated:
In the European view, America is trapped in an inescapable cycle to feed its military-industrial complex: As we bulk up our military, we look for opportunities to make use of it. (When your only tool is a hammer, you treat every problem like a nail.) And then, when we employ our military unwisely, we create more enemies...which makes us feel the need to grow our military even more. If an American diplomat complained to his European counterpart, "America is doing all the heavly lifting when it comes to military," the European might respond, "Well, you seem to be enjoying it. We're building roads and bridges instead."
That's a sentiment I've agreed with for quite some time already, and as such, some parts of the book moved slowly for me -- though I imagine his target audience included people that had never seriously considered these arguments before. Then there were surprising facts:
by the end of World War I, an estimated half of all the men in France between the ages of 15 and 30 were casualties. When some Americans, frustrated at France's reluctance to follow us into a war, call the French "surrender monkeys," I believe it shows their ignorance of history.
And again, I'd agree with him on that point.
The vignette on Iran was particularly interesting, as he described his experiences in person, they sounded far different than the picture we often get in the media.
I have realized, incidentally, that I am terrible at writing book reviews. So rather than inflict more paragraphs upon you with this one, I'll summarize by saying that this is a touching, informative, and motivational book, which I highly recommend. I'll leave you with this quote:
Mark Twain wrote, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." These wise words can be a reallying cry for all travelers once comfortably back home. When courageous leaders in our community combat small-mindedness and ignorance... travelers can stand with them in solidarity.
I didn't travel to make some sort of statement or as a "political act." But I was enriched in many ways by travel -- of course the obvious ones of contemplating the history of a 900-year-old beautiful church, but also in seeing the different character of different cities, being with two families for a couple of days, and seeing different approaches to common problems. I am very glad I wasn't shut off from this behind a tinted window in a tour bus.
A very interesting read -- lots of detail, and a page turner, despite knowing how it all turns out. My only real gripe is that the author seemed to ha...moreA very interesting read -- lots of detail, and a page turner, despite knowing how it all turns out. My only real gripe is that the author seemed to have a severe case of thesaurus envy -- or was it vocabulary insecurity -- and tended to reach for a thesaurus whenever possible. The result was sometimes obscure words that captured the meaning less well than more common ones, and came across to me as rather pretentious.(less)
I enjoyed The Odyssey more than the Iliad; it didn't feel so long and drawn out. The one exception might be the final arrival at the end, though it ce...moreI enjoyed The Odyssey more than the Iliad; it didn't feel so long and drawn out. The one exception might be the final arrival at the end, though it certainly kept my attention as well. It showed a lot of more caring feeling than Iliad, and that was a nice thing to see as well. All in all, a good read -- I again used the Butler translation.(less)
I bought this book because it was free in the Kindle store for a spell. I'm glad I didn't pay anything for it.
Overall, my problem with this book is tw...moreI bought this book because it was free in the Kindle store for a spell. I'm glad I didn't pay anything for it.
Overall, my problem with this book is twofold: 1) it takes an unquestioning literalist view of the entire Bible, and 2) it demonstrates a severe lack of intellectual curiosity throughout.
I maintain that the result is worse than no study guide whatsoever.
The fact that Christianity is a broad tent, and that the Bible has been read in various ways over the centuries and today, is lost to Halley. I do not mind the presentation of the literalist view if it were combined with other credible viewpoints past and present. But to assert that this is the ONLY way to read the Bible is doing a terrible disservice to a religion, and misrepresents it in a egregious fashion. Christianity has had a brief literalist bubble, and there is much that the thinking Christian can question about such an interpretation, which is perhaps why it is dying off.
Let me provide a few choice quotes.
"Accept the Bible just as it is, for exactly what it claims to be. Don't worry about the theories of the critics. The ingenious efforts of modern criticism to undermine the historical reliability of the Bible will pass..." It is terribly bothersome to me that a purported study guide is encouraging people trying to intellectually engage the Bible to suspend their intellect. For whom shall find Christianity relevant today if we cannot understand it in the context of modern science? Christianity ought not fear science, nor science religion; the two ought to be embraced together, and the religious can learn about the Bible from science.
Regarding the creation story: "How did the writer know what happened before man appeared? No doubt God revealed the remote past, as later the distant future was made known to the prophets." No mention of other viewpoints -- that it has strong parallels to other ancient creation myths, what science and philosophy have to say, etc. Even Wikipedia's Creation_myth page reminds us that the Church was not literalist.
In the introduction, it advances the view that the Bible is "God's own record of His dealings with people in His unfolding revelation of Himself to the human race... Nor do we know just how God directed these authors to write. But we believe and know that God did rect them and that these books therefore must be exactly what God wanted them to be."
That is of course a rather controversial view, though it was perhaps widely held in some circles. But it boggles the mind, and ignores, for one thing, the multiple ancient sources that modern Bible assemblers must attempt to synthesize to make a coherent book.
The only value I see in this book is a glimpse at the viewpoint of an earlier age. At that it may excel. As a guide for someone alive today -- frankly I am surprised that it has garnered such high reviews here.
I have nothing against literalists; I respect them even if I disagree. But to pretend that there isn't even a debate here borders on the dishonest, and certainly sidelines this book out of the "serious and useful scholarly work" bookshelf.(less)
I actually read Three Men on the Bummel before this book, unlike most. I enjoyed Bummel more -- it was hilarious almost throughout, while this was fun...moreI actually read Three Men on the Bummel before this book, unlike most. I enjoyed Bummel more -- it was hilarious almost throughout, while this was funny most of the time.
There were some quite beautiful descriptions of the river scene.
I also love the way Jerome describes a battle between a dog and a teakettle, ascribing emotions and desires to both.
A fun read, and I think I'm becoming something of a Jerome fan now.(less)