I picked up this book in the hope that it would have some advice on the eternal question of what's the best way to respond to a panhandler. Of course,...moreI picked up this book in the hope that it would have some advice on the eternal question of what's the best way to respond to a panhandler. Of course, I didn't find a pat, easy answer. What I found instead was a book geared more towards those in church leadership whose congregations wish to offer collective aid to the poor. The authors do a very good job of presenting a holistic view of ministering to the impoverished, pointing out that poverty is more than just material wealth but also extends to the social and spiritual realms. A person helping out the materially poor can often find those same people ministering to his or her own spiritual poverty. The book encourages a Christian to be aware and repent of their own weaknesses as they seek to help others in their need, lest the wealthy person's spiritual or social poverty cause harm to those they want to help. So while I didn't get "the" answer, I did get some guidance in my dealings with the poor and homeless folk who approach me in my neighborhood. (less)
The Seattle Public Library only had this brief biography of our 23rd president, a book from The American Presidents series. As much as I would have pr...moreThe Seattle Public Library only had this brief biography of our 23rd president, a book from The American Presidents series. As much as I would have preferred a longer, more in-depth book, I have to say that Professor Calhoun did a pretty good job. While Benjamin Harrison will never stand out as one of America's great presidents--indeed, the book states that Harrison's election (and subsequent defeat in 1892) owed as much to the political zeitgeist as to his abilities as a president and politician--he's portrayed as a shining example of a president who can work with Congress to accomplish a lot. (Well, that's assuming that the Congress is controlled by your own party....) (less)
This collections of short stories by a man who grew up during China's Cultural Revolution reminded me almost immediately of my time spent in China. Th...moreThis collections of short stories by a man who grew up during China's Cultural Revolution reminded me almost immediately of my time spent in China. The big difference, of course, is that I experienced China as a guest and a foreigner. For Dr. Qi's characters, on the other hand, China is their home and fatherland. (or is it motherland? I forget their preferred gender) Overall, I found the book to be somewhat poignant, though Mr. Qi also caused me to smile more than once. I was a bit surprised by the rampant adultery (never presented graphically) in the book. How accurately Dr. Qi caught that area of Chinese culture, I don't know. There was a lot that I missed during my brief time there. (Sheesh! Can that be taken the wrong way. Let me clarify: I had no interest in adultery in China. Nor did any adulterers proclaim their activities to me.)(If there was a Chinese equivalent to The Jerry Springer Show, I couldn't understand the language to watch it.) Anyway, it's a good book and I'm going to have to keep it on my shelf for those times when I'm missing my "home" in the Far East.(less)
The child borrowed this book for a research paper. It was sitting around and I picked it up and ended up reading it through. 'Tis a heavily illustrate...moreThe child borrowed this book for a research paper. It was sitting around and I picked it up and ended up reading it through. 'Tis a heavily illustrated biography of Harry Houdini, organized more thematically than chronologically. It was interesting how it compared with my only other exposures to Houdini, namely the theatrical and television bio-pics.(less)
Ah, what can I say about The Star Shard? Shall I tell about Cymbril, the enslaved chanteuse? Or perhaps the exotic sidhe child, Loric? The wise and mi...moreAh, what can I say about The Star Shard? Shall I tell about Cymbril, the enslaved chanteuse? Or perhaps the exotic sidhe child, Loric? The wise and mighty Urrmsh? The loquacious Byrni? The dark Eye Women? No, I guess if I'm going to hold forth on The Star Shard I must begin with the Thunder Rake. Ah, the Rake. The setting for this tale of captivity. Think of a traditional marketplace, with all its sights, sounds and colors. Pack it all up on a large ship, put the ship on wheels, supply the ship with massive forked oars that bite into the soil and drag the ship along. That's the Thunder Rake. Way cool, if you ask me. Of course, there was a voice in the back of my mind that pointed out that the Rake was probably quite impractical from a technological and economic standpoint. But the rest of my mind told him to shush, because we were enjoying the story. Oh, yeah, the story. Like I mentioned above, you have this orphaned slave girl, Cymbril. She's the property of the Rake's owner, Rombol, and her main job is to sing for the crowds whenever the Rake crawls into town and sets up their market. It's not a horrid existence, but slavery can make any life bitter. Cymbril's a curious child, given to explore the Rake and its mysteries when she can. But those wonders all fade to the mystery of Rombol's latest purchase, Loric. Rombol buys the boy for his innate ability to see in the dark, so he can act as a guide for the Rake on it's nightly journeys. At first, Cymbril plots to get a chance to talk to Loric, but once she does that, the two start to plan an even more risky enterprise...
The Star Shard was quite enjoyable to read, not only in its original incarnation in Cricket magazine, but also as this expanded novel. I did feel slightly let down--the world Mr. Durbin has created really calls out for more stories, perhaps a sequel or two. So, Fred, write some more!(less)
A central, yet unspoken, lesson of this book is, "You can't believe everything you read." Mr. Myers shows how this tenet is shown in the realm of envi...moreA central, yet unspoken, lesson of this book is, "You can't believe everything you read." Mr. Myers shows how this tenet is shown in the realm of environmentalism. In particular, he focuses on those movements which capture the public imagination, cause political and social action, and yet, are really a bad idea. He calls them "Eco-fads". First he explains them, and explores how different social forces bring them about. Then he looks at specific examples and points out how the arguments and data against them have been marginalized or just plain ignored. There are a lot of folks out there who want you to buy into the latest "green" scheme--people with an agenda, looking to modify your behavior. Of course, in the course of the book, Mr. Myers shows that he has his own values, priorities, and possibly even an agenda. But as with anything, its usually worthwhile to hear and consider what both sides have to say. (less)
This book is an intro to Paganism, geared towards those seekers who might be wanting to give one of the various practices a try. It's clearly written...moreThis book is an intro to Paganism, geared towards those seekers who might be wanting to give one of the various practices a try. It's clearly written and well laid out. So well laid out, in fact, that I was able to see right away in the first chapter that I disagreed with paganism's two main themes. I didn't let that stop me from reading the rest of the book, of course. As a Christian, I found the experience to be interesting and, at times, irritating. Given the diversity in paganism, the Higginbothams had to be somewhat generic in their explanations. Even so, I was able to see the differing world view and could better the logic behind some pagan practices I had heard of or encountered in the past. The irritating parts were when they tried to touch on Christianity. Their tone is very polite and clement, but I got the sense that they have no use for it. They raised some good points, but there were also times when they were describing a religion other than my own. All in all, I sometimes felt like I was on the receiving end of a sales pitch. (Just toss out that old Christian doctrine and replace them with some bright, new, shiny pagan beliefs!) (less)