Excellent coverage of the multiple threads of evidence that make evolution of species as close to scientific fact as anything we know about our world....moreExcellent coverage of the multiple threads of evidence that make evolution of species as close to scientific fact as anything we know about our world. Very readable and able to be understood by anyone with a reasonable amount of education.(less)
The War of Art goes on my short shelf of "books that have changed my life"...even though I only finished reading it an hour ago.
This is one book I'm g...moreThe War of Art goes on my short shelf of "books that have changed my life"...even though I only finished reading it an hour ago.
This is one book I'm glad I bought instead of borrowed, as I know I'll want to return to it again and again.
This is not your typical self-help book. Steven Pressfield kicks ass and takes no prisoners. The title is not just clever, it's very appropriate. Taking a cue from Sun Tzu's classic The Art of War, Pressfield uses the metaphor of battle throughout. The person who aspires to being creative--to bringing into existence in this world anything which wouldn't be there without his efforts--is in a continuous war against powerful forces that would defeat that purpose.
The book is divided up into three mini-books. The first names the enemy: Resistance. Resistance is the personification of all those forces--internal and external, but mostly internal--that fight against us actually doing creative work. In short (usually one page) chapters, Pressfield names every attribute of Resistance so we can identify it's influences in our own lives.
The second book is about Professionalism. Professionalism is the decision to "just do it." The author encourages us to treat our creative endeavors like a real job: show up every day, sit down, and do your work until its time to stop. Oh, and tell the critics, internal and external, to go to hell.
The third part may be off-putting to some, but Pressfield is nothing if he is not honest throughout the book. Here he sets forth his belief that there is a mystical element to creativity. He thinks the ancients with their Muses and the medieval theologians with their guardian angels were on to something. As he quotes from William Blake: "Eternity is in love with the creations of time." Pressfield does not require that you believe there is some spiritual reality behind all this (he does), but the important idea here is that once one sits down and actually begins to create, something larger than that person's own intelligence takes over.
Overall I found this book easy to digest but often thought-provoking. The very short chapters make this a good candidate to dip into randomly from time to time just for the inspiration it would provide. Now I've got some writing to do. Take that, Mr. Resisitance!(less)
Brueggemann forces us to unblinkingly confront the God actually presented in the Old Testament, not the God we wish was there via the colored glasses...moreBrueggemann forces us to unblinkingly confront the God actually presented in the Old Testament, not the God we wish was there via the colored glasses of our Western rationalistic theology. He shows us that the Israelite conception of YHWH was as a god known only in relationship, an "unsettling" god, who while in some way "sovereign," could also be capricious, irrationally angry or generous, and who could be changed by relationship with covenantal partners, even as they were indeed changed by their relationship to YHWH.
Brueggemann explores this relationship through each of YHWH's four main "partners": Israel, the human person, nations, and creation. In a final chapter, he issues the challenge that only an embracing of this unsettling God of abundance, suffering, and hope can provide a counter to the Enlightenment's assumptions of scarcity, denial of brokenness, and ultimately despair. Israel in the Old Testament never concerned itself with an apologetical need to try to prove that YHWH exists, nor did they try to arrive at some kind of exhaustive definition of YHWH (both high concerns in Western Christian theology). Rather for them YHWH is the god who fits with "the way things are" in their experience of abundance / the Pit / restoration. So Brueggemann does not bother with such apologetics. Rather his interest is in how this very Jewish way of looking at existence might provide a pattern of counter-cultural living for those of us disillusioned with what our Enlightenment-Western culture has come to.(less)
An interesting--if not quite gripping--true life account of a 30-day fishing expedition aboard a New England swordfishing boat. Main "hook" of this bo...moreAn interesting--if not quite gripping--true life account of a 30-day fishing expedition aboard a New England swordfishing boat. Main "hook" of this book is that the author-storyteller was the first successful female swordfish captain in that fleet. First-time author Linda Greenlaw is familiar to millions through the best-selling book and popular movie The Perfect Storm, as the boat captain friend of the doomed captain played by George Clooney.
Greenlaw gives readers an insiders glimpse at what many have called the most dangerous profession on earth. She does a good job of relating all aspects of the job: its romantic side ("if you are doing this for any other reason than the pure love of fishing, you won't be doing it for long"); its boredom (it takes 5-6 days of steaming just to get to and from their legal fishing grounds); and its danger (from weather, a slippery deck full of sharp implements, and being so far from any help). Hanging over all of that is the more prosaic but very real tension of possible financial disaster: if they don't catch enough fish, everyone aboard has done 30 days hard labor for no pay. Her account of this particular trip is buttressed by flashbacks to earlier experiences, usually disasters that she had learned from.
A particular charm of the book is her descriptions of the "characters," the five men who made up her crew on the trip. They work as a good cross-section of typical modern-day fishermen. With all of their flaws (which are legion), they ultimately, like Greenlaw, are fishermen. An aside: Greenlaw makes a point early on in the book of rejecting the term "fisherwoman" for herself; she recognizes that she is competing in what had been exclusively a man's world, and she prides herself on having earned a place as "one of the guys."
Some readers may be put off by Greenlaw's very apparent ego, but I kept in mind that she never would have been able to rise to the position of captain of such a vessel without being pretty tough and very sure of herself. Besides, she relates enough tales of her embarrassing mistakes to balance the braggadocio.
While this book had none of the high suspense and dramatic tension of Perfect Storm, I would still recommend it to anyone interested in learning about a unique way of life. While away on vacation this year I had begun to read her second book, The Lobster Chronicles, about her post-swordfish life, returning to her small home island off the coast of Maine to take up solo lobstering. In the portion I read, I could already see her improving as a writer, and I look forward to finishing that book.(less)