Heinlein got his start in the pulps, but he was not content to stay there. This collection represents his time of initial expansion, perhaps the heighHeinlein got his start in the pulps, but he was not content to stay there. This collection represents his time of initial expansion, perhaps the height of his power as a writer of short fiction. As such, these stories carry an extra level of sophisitication, breaking out from the techno-centered character of his earler work. He is no longer appealing only to the pre-war "geek" culture, but to the population at large. Heinlein, however, does not content himself with appealing to the lowest common denominator. Instead, he continues to reach for an audience educated in the softer sciences of antrhopology, economics, psychology, and sociology. By softening his dependence on physics and enginieering, he makes the point that science fiction is a genre for the masses, that anyone can enjoy.
To do this, he accesses his portrayal of the energetic and somewhat cynical salesman (as he did earlier in Life-line and in The Man Who Sold the Moon). He enters into a more domestic environment and even into the elements of folk-lore where not just the songs of the poets, but the identies of the poets themselves take on an idealized ring.
Read the Green Hills of Earth to revisit a more naive time, when women (it is said) idealized their men and the men they loved were capable of heroic strides. It was a time when people still believed in such things, and the stories that arose from that belief system were read through rose colored panes. ...more
Man's Search for Meaning is an amazing achievement. I am not one to dwell on the holocaust. I am of the opinion that the attempted Genocide of the JewMan's Search for Meaning is an amazing achievement. I am not one to dwell on the holocaust. I am of the opinion that the attempted Genocide of the Jewish people, as terrible as it is, has overshadowed the absolute magnitude of the attrocity, the murder of more people than live in many nations of the world, five times the number of Jewish people killed. I don't feel the need to emphasize this fact because, unlike those who do, I am not of the opinion that we will soon forget the horror of it all. It is not the forgetting that is the problem, for the tendency still persists and is tolerated as people from Somalia, Croatia and other war torn nations will attest. It is the human spirit that needs rescuing, not education of a past attrocity.
Frankl, though he tells his story with deep authenticity, does not play on the emotions of the reader. He is not saying, "never forget this, lest it happen again." He is saying, "Horrors will come, but they need not destroy you." In fact, the truth he gleans from his own horror is not that horror should be prevented (though I'm sure he would be first in line to see it happen), it is that in the midst of life's suffering, bearing responsibility for one's own attitude and maintaining a fix on one's own life meaning is a human achievement in itself. He is so insistant on the importance of responsibility in this matter that he proposes a Statue of Responsibility on America's West Coast to balance Liberty on the East, a project that has a certain following.
This insistance on responsibility I see as one of the reasons that though this book has gained respectable status, it has not taken its place in the world cannon as it should. In these degenerate times, people like Freud's pleasure principle more than Frankl's purpose principle. If I have purpose I have responsibility. It is easier to slough it off and live in misery and the apparent pathos of our personal tragedies. Our neuroses give us the excuse we need to suffer for no reason at all, a situation Frankl says should be changed immediately.
The other reason I think Man's Search for Meaning does not gain the readership it deserves is the same reason people reject the solutions to their mental distress offered by faith. They dislike thinking that they can so "easily" overcome something that seems to them (and they have been told is) so deep. Surely my depression has a more complicated solution than merely admitting my guilt or grasping responsibility to discover my life's meaning. These solutions depend on my conscious choices, not on something out of my control. We can feel so much better about ourselves if we are hapless victims and acting on our conditioning.
But Frankl denies all this. He insists that we are responsible. This book has colored my preconceptions about existentialism in general and about Nietzche in particular. I am sure that I will still disdain his conception of a superman, but the grasping of a "why" to overcome the "how" in which we live is powerful enough to inspire Frankl and he is no nihilist, in fact, he utterly rejects it.
Read Man's Search for Meaning when you are old enough to fix your own philosophical plate. I had begun to question myself, whether I was living in the past and allowing cynicism to color my present too darkly. It had been a good many years since a book had moved me so much that it rose without question to the top of my library as a favorite. For me, this list is relatively (I insist on that qualification) short. My favorite books are what I consider to be better than great, but absolutely essential; books that deserve a reading by everyone if at all possible. I admit that some of these books are rather lighthearted, nevertheless they say something to the human spirit that needs saying. Frankl's book has answered the question I posed myself, whether I was still capable of being completely captivated by a book....more
N.T. Wright may be one of my new favorite authors. It's hard to say since I've only read this one book, but what a book, and what a mind. It doesn't hN.T. Wright may be one of my new favorite authors. It's hard to say since I've only read this one book, but what a book, and what a mind. It doesn't hurt that this Anglican Bishop seems so fond of C.S. Lewis, but it is for his own wit and insight that he should be read.
Good but not best is the man's well rounded knowledge of so many ideas. His ideas are drawn from the worlds of sports, music, politics, art and other sources, especially philosophy. Of course, he's a talented and studied theologian.
Establish a goal Determine the best path to reach the goal Discover the steps appropriate to the path
This process is the logical and practical way of changing and improving. He pits against each other the opposite ideas of "doing as comes naturally" on the one hand and rules on the other. There must be a way to develop an integrated ethic.
Instead of these two bankrupt methods he discusses an ethic based on principles using virtues instead of rules. Intentionally practicing the virtues are steps to a "second nature", the key to living a life consistent with God's kingdom.
I understand Wright has some unconventional theological ideas. I'll have to read more before really deciding, but as far as his reasoning and his style goes, I'm on board with him for the time being. More importantly, I don't remember seeing anything in this book I disagreed with, so he'll definitely get a second reading from me very soon....more
I am very glad I bought this book. It will keep an ever present place in my library unless someday I can't help myself and I give it away to a personI am very glad I bought this book. It will keep an ever present place in my library unless someday I can't help myself and I give it away to a person who will appreciate it. Read this book. If you love the Bible, read this book. If you enjoy the history of publishing, read this book. It will expand your vision of how we got the Bible. It will relieve your view of the transmission of the Bible from half-truths and mythology. If you've never heard of the author, the introduction by Ravi Zacharias should help smooth any doubts you have about the book's value and accuracy. I cannot say it too emphatically, read this book!
The Story of the Bible is an absolute gem. It is big and colorful with many pictures and a graphically gorgeous presentation. The centerpiece of the book is the collection of life-sized, full color reproductions of pages from historically significant Bibles (from the Dead Sea Scrolls, to Sinaiticus, to Gutenberg, Erasmus and the original KJV). These are scattered throughout the book with their appropriate chapters in convenient open-top envelopes. You not only read about historic Bibles and their interesting stories, but you can actually look at them and see for yourself the development of the texts. Even if you don't read Hebrew, Greek or Latin, you can appreciate the beauty of the pages and the monumental amount of work that has gone into preserving a book most of us take for granted.
I loved this book. It captured my attention and kept it. I strolled through its too few pages, looking at the reproductions as they surfaced and enjoyed the stories about their production and discovery. This book will delight your appreciation for a book that besides telling the most important story in history, you will see, has an amazing story of its own.
Stone covers his topic thoroughly and not pedantically. The topic could get tediously scholastic, but he does not allow that. From time to time, his passion for a particular chapter in Bible history shows, but it does not damage the story he's telling. The story is well balanced from period to period. There were times I thought he could tell part of the story more thoroughly, but he kept to his purpose to survey the topic and did not weight it down with needless detail.
Most of the reviews I read about this book on Goodreads were written by people who were given the book and required to write a review as a condition of the gift. Not me. I wanted this book from the first time I saw it on the shelf and could not afford it. Then Barnes and Noble put it on the sale shelf and I scarfed it up. I have not been disappointed.
There are only two things that keep me from saying that this book is indespensible. First, it is too new (the 2011 NIV revision is not mentioned though the now out of print TNIV is). The Story of the Bible has yet to stand the test of review that all great books should endure. Second, it has a bit of an American slant which is a little sad. I guess that should not bother me, because in the history of English Bible translation (arguably the most significant development since Jerome), the United States looms large, and if not for the massive number of Bible's published and sold in America, much of Bible distribution throughout the world could not happen. So, even though Stone gives the U.S. a whole chapter, making the book seem a little provincial, it is probably objectively appropriate.
I cannot recommend this book too heartily. It deserves a place in every church's library and every Bible scholar's home. If I ever teach another course in Church History, this book will be one of the textbooks....more
There is a reason this book has hung around for a 40th anniversary edition. I predict it will stay around for longer too. Of all the fantasy books I hThere is a reason this book has hung around for a 40th anniversary edition. I predict it will stay around for longer too. Of all the fantasy books I have read only the Lord of the Rings compares with it in depth, and it surpasses Tolkien in poetic beauty.
Beagle's world is alive. By that I do not mean it seems vividly real, though that is true. In this world stone breathes and laundry gropes. The magic permeating The Last Unicorn's world causes everything to have a heartbeat. Everything, that is, except Haggard, the king. He is as lifeless, most of the time, as our own sand.
The unicorn herself, in all her forms, is enough to stir a longing, a deep wish for a world in which beauty has an ultimate form and immortality can be known, even if it is elusive.
The Last Unicorn is an allegory of the beauty and isolation of uniqueness, of the loneliness of those who will know themselves and the beauty they embody. It is about desire that must remain forever unfulfilled, perhaps what Lewis refers to as a longing for a longing. It is about the fragile nature of true courage.
Read The Last Unicorn, because ultimately, if you do you will be glad you did. You will realize the vast ignorance of not having read it and having missed out on a book so lovely it can create an ache....more
This book is a classic for a reason. It is the second best selling Christian book of all time (the Bible being the first of course), written by a medeThis book is a classic for a reason. It is the second best selling Christian book of all time (the Bible being the first of course), written by a medeiaval monk. His reflections on who God is and what He is up to in our lives is quite provocative, if you have time for it. Not everyone wants to hear it.
He says things like God is likely to bring suffering in your life, and you should embrace it and connect it with the suffering of Jesus for the sake of seeing your own spiritual growth move ahead. In fact, suffering in this life should be something we give thanks for knowing that God has a purpose in everything, even if we don't know what the purpose is. In this age of feel good at all costs lifestyles, this goes down hard.
He also points out the importance of real devotion in our lives, not devotions in the 10 minute quiet time sense, but devotion in the sense that we pursue God at all times and by all means to know Him better and trust Him beyond any experiece we have. Kempis is not for the spiritually flabby. In his manner, you either want God or you don't and if you do, you critique your own sin and your own apathy.
But there is a grace in Imitation too. Kempis emphasizes the idea that once we have taken our sin to God for forgiveness, it is a kind of pride to obsess about it. Leave it behind and reject the guilt as soon as you can. God's forgiveness is complete and immediate. When we obsess about our sin, we give it more space in our thinking than it deserves.
Much of the book is written like conversations between the devotee and the Beloved. Man pours out his heart, his spiritual poverty, his anxiety to God, and God reassures, expressing love and purpose in the life of the devotee. Some might object to this putting words in the mouth of God, but it is mere devotional reflection, and should be taken as the thoughts of Thomas, not as gospel.
The fourth section of the book is an extended reflection on communion. How I wish my own view of communion was so rich. It is a goal, to approach the Lord's table with a deep and intense love and mind fully on Him.
Read it if you dare. Get a modern language edition like this one. Don't try to read the old fashioned Project Gutenberg editions or you'll just give up. This book deserves to sit on your mind and simmer, to marinate your thinking and transform your conception of what the Christian life is all about....more
This has been my third time through The Time Machine. I forget too much of it each time. Some of the dumb stuff Hollywood has done to foul it up has lThis has been my third time through The Time Machine. I forget too much of it each time. Some of the dumb stuff Hollywood has done to foul it up has leaked into my memories of the actual book, so I get confused. However, this book has much more to offer than it's premise indicates. A device that has become a trope in modern SF was, at the time deeply innovative. Thanks to Einstein, we now nearly dismiss the whole idea as absurd. And that would be all fine and good if that's what Wells was about, but it wasn't.
Wells was deeply interested, as a student of Thomas Huxley (Darwin's Bulldog), in considering the future fate of man as he evolves. He was also a socialist embroiled in a world where communism was on the rise, a philosophy he vehemently disagreed with (a reminder to us all that the terms are not synonymous). So when his nameless "everyman" arrives in the future to find the dark symbiosis of the Eloi and the Moorlocks, it is to bring back a cautionary tale.
His initial foray among the Eloi is understandably superficial. They are a beautiful, simple people given to pleasure. It is only on further reflection that the Time Traveller realizes that they must have an industry of some sort or their material culture would be nonexistant. With the dissappearance of his time machine, he explores and discovers the darkness that lurks beneath.
He has stumbled (literally) into a world where the decadence of humanity is causing it to devour itself with its own unreconciled duality. Its beauty is past its prime, shallow and meaningless. It's industry is hideous, creeping and cannibalistic. There is nothing of the light hearted "what if" tale in The Time Machine. It is rather a warning that humankind must draw together or suffer the consequences.
I am not an evolutionist, but I am a firm believer in the laws of consequence. If the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, sooner or later the poor will no longer tolerate the divide. If the intellectual and the artistic insist on an elitist disconnect, the practical man will sooner or later allow him to wander into his own illusory dreamworld. In a world like that, uninformed power becomes a thing to be feared.
There is nothing of Marxist dialectic in Wells either. He does not suggest that the Moorlocks and the Eloi should try to get along or reintegrate, drawing the best from each other. There is no best. The Eloi are empty and the Moorlocks are savage. Both are beyond hope. The Time Traveler is drawn to the Eloi as all of us are drawn to sunlight rather than shadow, ease rather than work, sight rather than blindness. This suggestion that a point of no return can be reached without realization is the loudest warning of all. If we don't pay attention now, while something can be done, we are swept into the wild fire that kills both humanity's sensitivity and brutality. And the wild fire is lit by a lack of forethought, by reason misused.
In the 1986 Tor edition additional material by James Gunn (an expert writer in his own right) explores Wells' life and influence as well as his ideas about the future that so influenced The Time Machine. It is a beautifully useful devise that helps the reader move beyond the novelty of the story and to pay attention to the Time Traveller's asides reading them as the voice of Wells himself. Even his self-contradictory childhood contributes to his own familiarity with the Eloi, Moorlock contradiction.
The Time Machine is such a pillar in the SF cannon that it is beyond recommendation by any individual, but I recommend it anyway. As Mark Twain observed a "classic" is "A book which people praise and don't read." This book is in danger of falling into disfavor for its naivette' and its linguistic obsolescence. Even its victorian masculine perspective is a threat. Never the less, it's profundity is in its cautionary word, its philosophy more than its specific speculation. It's short. Read it and relive the wonder....more