April Reads

May. 1st, 2016 11:10 am
[identity profile] jobey-in-error.livejournal.com
Good times this month!

1. Airframe (Michael Crichton): This book is wicked engaging. There is an awful air disaster, with some casualties. But the cause of the disaster is unknown. It reads like a murder mystery, only we're examining technology, not personal drama. This is a great setup -- great enough that one overlooks pedestrian prose and cardboard-thin characters. Unfortunately, the end drags and plays a few games and therefore is not as satisfying as it might have been.

On the plus side, it roasts modern media. Roasts. Burns. Skewers. It's terrific.

Also, you get to leave with the impression that you now know a great deal about commercial airliners.

2. Coming of Age in Mississippi (Anne Moody): This has to be the MOST thought-provoking book I've read this year… well, not counting Fatima book… and at least tied with Les Mis (which related similar things with the Friends of the ABCs)… But there's no shame in either of those… This is outstanding, though.

Anne Moody, in her college days, became very active in the civil right movement, most famously participating in one of the most violent and dramatic sit-ins of 1963. In her autobiography, she recounts her life from her childhood in Mississippi, her family's struggles, her political formation, and then her full-time "Movement" work life in '63, where she earned the terrifying distinction of being on the Klan's circulated shortlist of key people to eliminate. And, by eliminate, we mean kill. Her account really brought home the violence and genuine threat they lived in. Not a world lacking trigger warnings or with harsh opinions. A world of actual, physical danger. (Little wonder -- although interesting -- that Anne's opinion of Martin Luther King, Jr. was very low and that she was impatient with nonviolence on her side once violence on the other side escalated.)

Anne is clearly remarkable even from her childhood… in her intellect, in her sensitivity, her guts, her refusal to be anything less than honest and direct, and especially in her ambition and drive… and the people that she joins with in college are equally remarkable.

This book stirred so much in me… I always respected the civil rights movement, but now I am fascinated by it.

3. A Short History of the Chinese People (L. Carrington)

I was interested in the subject, which is why I did some research on a good overview. This book wasn't quite it though. It did have long digressions on culture, philosophy, and art, which I appreciated. But the geography and the politics were explained only in quick broad strokes that left me mostly confused. I guess I'd rather read something less short and more detailed -- like my European and American history textbooks from high school! (Man, I loved history textbooks.)

4. The Red House Mystery (A.A. Milne)

The Winnie-the-Pooh author wrote a detective novel, even though he thought they were a bit silly, because his father really liked detective novels.

Tell me that's not cute.

It's full of humor... and potshots at Doyle. )

53 Acts of the Apostles (Luke) -- re-read

Our pastor told us to read it for the Easter season. So I did. I hate how he follows up with us later. ;)

But I love this book. I'm no historian, but somehow I doubt if there is anything else written in the first century A.D. that's quite like this this document -- so full of so many snapshots of Mediterranean culture in this time. The disasporadic Jews gathered in Jerusalem from Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Eygpt, Cyrene, Roma, Crete, and Arabia; Jewish tentmakers and Ethiopian court eunuchs and charlatan sorcerers in Samaria; women merchants like Lydia, who traded in purple dye and therefore ran a rich household; anxiety about sources of meat; trilingual middle-class professionals who observed Jewish law while also rising in Roman society; unlettered cripples carried here and there by unlettered neighbors; centurions who have bought their Roman citizenship at a high price; buying and selling of houses; Jewish high priests hiring Roman lawyers; the teacher GAMALIEL making a cameo appearance (!); God-fearing Italian centurions meeting with ultraobservant Jews; slave girls (lots of slave girls); state-sponsored cults and their effect on the local economies; ship voyages with statesmen and prisoners together being shipwrecked; so, so, so many ship voyages; unmarried prophetic sisters; the local politics and factions at Ephesus; and let's not forget, Barnabas and Paul (those two inseparables!) being taken for ZEUS AND HERMES by the people of Lystra!

You cannot make up this stuff. The details in this story are just too much for anything but reality itself.

I also noticed this time that the book can be divided neatly into four parts of about seven chapters each:

1. The early church, up to the martyrdom of Stephen at Saul's feet (1-7)
2. The conversion of Saul and the similar 'conversion' of Peter, both entwining and culminating in the Council of Jerusalem (8-15)
3. Paul's ministry to the Gentiles in the East… you can tell his ministry has changed coz now he has his Timothy :) (whom it's worth noting had a Greek father and was uncircumcised… signaling the change the church has undergone in this short amount of time) (16-20)
4. Paul's return to Jerusalem, arrest, trials, and eventual arrival (still under arrest) to Rome, where he begins a new ministry -- a very important one too (ROME!) (21-28)

Then the document ends, and the Bible helpfully gives us Paul's Letter to the Romans next.


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