The introduction is fantastic, brilliant! But between catchy aphorisms, most of this book is dry & dull. Merton is not as negative or accusatory aThe introduction is fantastic, brilliant! But between catchy aphorisms, most of this book is dry & dull. Merton is not as negative or accusatory as in Seeds of Contemplation, but far too many of the great lines are about spiritual weakness, rather than strength. ...more
Merton is full of sharp lines, inspirational quotes, and powerful paragraphs. He is undeniably a great spiritual writer. Why, then, does he need to beMerton is full of sharp lines, inspirational quotes, and powerful paragraphs. He is undeniably a great spiritual writer. Why, then, does he need to be so accusatory and cynical about people who are not as far along the journey? This book is not necessarily prideful, but it does not have a tone that encourages one to follow the regular brilliance that shines through. ...more
Wherever she is, Phyllis Tickle is the smartest person in the room. She has absolutely shaped any understanding of the Christian emergence movement. AWherever she is, Phyllis Tickle is the smartest person in the room. She has absolutely shaped any understanding of the Christian emergence movement. And when she describes, or one collects, her ideas about the history and future of the church, it could not be more persuasive and impressive. This particular book, however, does not quite fulfill those accolades. The Great Emergence is creative and descriptive, even one of the most important books in the field. For a layperson it might be shocking and transformative. But for anyone familiar with her later work—-Tickle has added so much about what to expect for the life of faith, and clarified so well how the major religious changes came about—-this book is good, not great. Here, she spends much more time on the cultural movements that impacted religion, which are interesting and relevant, but not as fun to read for a theology and church geek. Her description of a holy “cable” and graphs of modern faith authorities are overwrought. And yet, wherever she leans into existentialism, Tickle really does inspire, whether it be with an explanation of why the gay debates are so difficult for society, or in her advice about finding meaning from faith: “Life is simply too hard and too painful for us to endure, if endurance is the only purpose.” (34) (re-read Aug 2015)...more
Americans all struggle, to some degree or another, with modernity. We live in a society that naturally distances us from things true about life and ouAmericans all struggle, to some degree or another, with modernity. We live in a society that naturally distances us from things true about life and our selves. Women carry certain unique burdens, to which there are libraries of books to address the spiritual dimensions thereof. Men also face their own sorts of issues, such as expectations of aggressiveness or the concept of success as conquest. We have, however, fewer resources, relationally or in literature, to deal with how this affects the male soul. To that end, Jeffrey Duvall has written a really sharp and interesting guide for us to reconnect with meaning, through prayer and fellowship, trust and simplicity. Stories of Men, Meaning and Prayer has perhaps a Christian backbone, but with the flesh of diverse poetry and native spiritual traditions. It is respectful of all experiences, though urging each of us to still reach deeper into our own “human potential for inspired living.” (8) The language is conversational, warm, and confident—masculine without bravado. Duvall offers plenty of disapproving analysis of modern living, to which we all take part and are responsible, and he does so with his own confession and grace towards readers. He also offers great advice to move forward, some of which that would definitely stretch the average city man, through rarely in the tone of the New Age-y sentimentality that would turn him away. This is more thematic than, for instance, Don Miller’s narrative journey toward self-discovery. It is far gentler than the adventurous sense we come to expect from the likes of John Eldridge. And because Duvall is so intentionally humble to rest on the genius of so many masters, from Rilke to Rumi, Thoreau to Fools Crow, Men, Meaning and Prayer> might not carry the novelty, baggage or marketability of the latest spiritual works—though for all those reasons, this is absolutely the sort of book to which I will return every five or ten years. ...more
This was a fun story, entertaining, but not without something intellectual. Namely, alongside the characters (perhaps shaped too much) and the adventuThis was a fun story, entertaining, but not without something intellectual. Namely, alongside the characters (perhaps shaped too much) and the adventure (written about as you might expect for a bestseller), the theme that runs throughout is how humankind evolved. Auel spells out a story about our biological shift, but more so, she points to our cultural evolution. Ayla challenges and adapts their tribe toward new social interaction and group norms, new scientific method and knowledge; and her very presence pushes them to consider more deeply how the religious life functions. (You wonder what David Sloan Wilson would say about this.) Perhaps most importantly, we see Ayla wrapped up in a development from brutality toward mercy and compassion. (You wonder what Xavier Le Pichon would say about that.)...more
The idea for this story was very clever, and certainly entertaining as a guilty pleasure. However, the writing was uninspired at best, the charactersThe idea for this story was very clever, and certainly entertaining as a guilty pleasure. However, the writing was uninspired at best, the characters hollow, and the dialogue sometimes comically bad. Moreover, I lost count of typos… With the religious implications throughout, my interest remained; but had Card floated his time travel in any other way, or if religio-moral engineering isn’t your bag, this will be a flat, silly little beach read....more
Sacks’ own stories are interesting, and his patients’ stories are touching and fascinating. Musicophilia is definitely what its sub-title expresses: “Sacks’ own stories are interesting, and his patients’ stories are touching and fascinating. Musicophilia is definitely what its sub-title expresses: “Tales of Music and the Brain”. Yet for all the descriptions of extraordinary and dysfunctional brains interacting with classical music or aspects thereof, the book was very light about ‘normal’ brains, or for that matter ‘normal’, popular or traditional music. Perhaps this was my own poor expectations, but I hoped to find at least some basic conclusions about psychology or neurology, rather than simply a litany of estimations about abnormal situations.