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)
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)
Unveven but entertaining collection of essays about the popular TV series. Some of the essays could have benefited from more careful editing (one stat...moreUnveven but entertaining collection of essays about the popular TV series. Some of the essays could have benefited from more careful editing (one states Rory's age a 14 at the start of the series, many contain too many long-winded sentences). Two essays though are worth the price of the book: one on the use of food in Gilmore Girls, and the other on the important place of books and reading in the series.(less)
According to N. T. Wright, our tendency to dwell upon evil as a philosophical problem can too often obscure a more important question. In these postmo...moreAccording to N. T. Wright, our tendency to dwell upon evil as a philosophical problem can too often obscure a more important question. In these postmodern times right and wrong may be considered passé, but evil is back in style. The failure of Hegelian belief in the inevitability of progress combined with the horrors of modern warfare, terrorism, and overwhelming natural disasters such as the recent Indian Ocean tsunami, all have led to a reinstatement of the term “evil” as acceptable speech. The problem is that everyone is talking about evil, but no one knows what to do about it. Postmodernism, says Wright, has not been any better at providing an answer than any of the attempts of post-Enlightenment modernity. “You can’t escape evil with postmodernity, but you can’t find anyone to take the blame either.”
Wright challenges Christians to step into this vacuum. He warns against either a triumphalistic “we have all the answers approach” or an equally unhelpful retreat from the problem. Turning to what God can do about evil, Wright first surveys the Old Testament, finding not the simplistic “God solves it all” answer one might expect, but rather “a narrativ of God’s project of justice within a world of injustice,” a project that is no less in its extent than to “set the existing ceation to rights.” Above all the Old Testament is a story of that part of God’s “project” that leads inexorably to its climax in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the cross we have Christus Victor, the defeat of the powers of evil. This victory begins with the gospel vanquishing of the power of sin in the life of every believer, plus their hope in the eschatological victory to come which God is already working backwards into their own time. Returning to the “problem of evil,” we see here one of Wright’s key insights in this book: the real problem of evil is not in its cosmic, philosophical dimensions, but rather the problem is in me. The forgiveness enabled by Christ’s work on the cross is the key to one’s moving from being part of the problem to part of the solution.
In the next section of the book, Wright begins to outline what it might look like for a forgiven people to begin to apply the power of forgiveness throughout their societies. Through prayer, holiness, and action, we are to live in the reality of the cross and resurrection while bringing in to play imaginations inspired by the world to come. Above all, Wright believes that it is the power of a forgiven people bringing forgiveness that provides the most radical and effective answer to evil.
While some may come away disappointed that Wright refuses to apply his great mind to the classic philosophical and theological battles over the origin and nature of evil, those more concerned with dealing with evil as we find it in our world will find much here to challenge how they think, pray, and act. As always, Wright’s writing is engaging and vivid, full of lively word pictures, and with a pastor’s concern for helping people where they really live and struggle.
A much more subtle, balanced, and realistic account than The Poisonwood Bible of what may happen when Western religion and science directly confront t...moreA much more subtle, balanced, and realistic account than The Poisonwood Bible of what may happen when Western religion and science directly confront tribal religion and culture. A young anthropologist succeeds in breaking through the wall that had frustrated the fieldwork of so many before her, the seemingly impenetrable wall that prevents members of one culture from truly experiencing and understanding another culture through the eyes if its own people. She does so, however, at tragic cost to herself and others.
The story is told through the narration of a young, bored American freelance journalist living in Thailand. He comes across the story of an anthropologist who murdered a Christian missionary, and becomes obsessed with finding out how and why. Along the way he uncovers the fascinating back stories of both the anthropologist and the dynastic missionary family working with the people she came to study.
SPOILER BELOW! For me the most powerful moment of this story is the revelation that the event that triggers the murder of the missionary and eventual destruction of the anthropologist is the failure of one representative of the religion of forgiveness to forgive when it is most needed. (less)
Fascinating insights into a world that has disappeared.
Derek Lundy signed on to a modern-day yacht trip around perilous Cape Horn to retrace part of t...moreFascinating insights into a world that has disappeared.
Derek Lundy signed on to a modern-day yacht trip around perilous Cape Horn to retrace part of the journey his forebear Benjamin took a century before. As Derek traveled in the relative safety of a contemporary vessel, he became fascinated with how different, and how much more dangerous, Benjamin's immigration trip must have been.
In the end, Derek decided to tell Benjamin's story in a unique way. Way of a Ship alternates chapters of factual information about the lives of 19th century square-rigged sailors with a semi-imagined, fictional novelization of Benjamin Lundy's time "before the mast."
As someone who has had a lifetime love affair with the era of tall ships--and who will read any novel or book about those times--I can say that I have never read anything that informed me better about square-rigged ships and the men that sailed them. While the novels of Patrick O'Brian and Herman Melville certainly are rich in such detail, they also assume a lot without much explanation. Derek Lundy, on the other hand, patiently and lovingly helps those who wouldn't know a back stay from a yardarm to get a deep working knowledge of those glorious vessels. Part of his genius is to show us how sailing ships necessitated and bred a symbiotic relationship between man and machine that has rarely been seen before or since.
The Way of a Ship is not only a novel about turn of the 19th-to-20th century sailing, it is also a beautiful elegy for the passing of a time never to return. Benjamin Lundy made his passage 'round the Horn during the dying days of sail. The big square riggers were already being replaced by the faster, more efficient steam ships. Benjamin's ancestor Derek captures for us a thought-provoking picture of one of the hidden costs of progress: the loss of a way of life, the way of a ship.(less)
This is not so much a novel as it is a sermon. It starts out looking like there will be an interesting story, but ends up being just a vehicle for Ran...moreThis is not so much a novel as it is a sermon. It starts out looking like there will be an interesting story, but ends up being just a vehicle for Rand to preach her individualist gospel.
Anthem is set in a distant future when only the dimmest memories of our "Unmentionable Times" remain. All traces of individuality have been stamped out. Everyone has a number instead of a name and speaks of themselves and others in a collective plural ("we" never "I" and "they" never "him/her"). The main character discovers remnants of the science of the Unmentionable Times, and his knowledge leads him to rebel against the authorities of his world.
I think I might have enjoyed this book more if I had thought of it as a poem or parable, rather than as a novel. The characters were flat and lifeless who only speak to each other in speeches instead of real dialog.
Stylistic considerations aside, this book's usefulness is as a rather brief introduction to the radical individualism that was Ayn Rand's gospel.(less)
I loved The Jesus Way because it takes seriously that to be "in Jesus" is "a way." It is a walk, a journey on a path.
For a book about the way of Jesu...moreI loved The Jesus Way because it takes seriously that to be "in Jesus" is "a way." It is a walk, a journey on a path.
For a book about the way of Jesus, Peterson takes an unusual path. Most of the book is about several Old Testament characters, each as an (imperfect) example of a certain way to walk in God, all of them pointing toward Jesus, who would be the perfect model of the way in which we should walk. He finishes with six negative examples (Herod, the Zealots, Josephus, etc.) who show the way to walk after the world and why walking in Jesus can never be about power or wealth or religious purity.
Worth the price of the book alone is the introductory chapter which takes on the ways we have read the story of Jesus with rose-colored glasses. Particularly not to be missed is the section on the power of metaphor in the Bible.(less)