Thursday, May 08, 2008

What I'm Reading - May 2008

Thought I would give another update on what I'm reading right now. I have finished all but the Lamott book from my most recent list - and her book may have to take a back seat to higher priorities.



Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America by Steven Waldman. This is a very recently published work on a controversial and particular poignant topic: The American History of Religious Freedom. I'm only a couple of chapters in, but this book feels very balanced. The author has few biases, and owns those he has. I find even being an American who is a student of religion and the history of religion I have discovered historical nuggets I find valuable. This book would be accessible to those with or without expertise in the history of religion or American history.



The Last Word: Scripture and the Authority of God--Getting Beyond the Bible Wars
by N.T. Wright. Just picked up this book this week. My interest in this work came out of a conversation with one of our Christian Education/Sunday School teachers who is looking for resources for a course on canonical history, particularly regarding the New Testament. I've only read the introduction, but this short work appears to be classic Wright -- very readable and insightful. I'll plan to comment more on this work in the future.



The Town: A Novel of the Snopes Family by William Faulkner. I've nearly finished the second book in Faulkner's "grand" trilogy of the Snopes family in his fictional Yoknapatawpha county, Mississippi. And I still have never decided how I would pronounce Yoknapatawpha. There are moments in the first Snopes novel, The Hamlet, which I think are among the best fiction I've ever read. The Town has fewer of these moments, but actually functions more smoothly as a single novel. The story is set in Jefferson, the county seat located near but not too close to Frenchman's Bend - the "hamlet" of the previous book. Three characters, with three very different perspectives, tell the the story. Each narrator has limitations, whether it be a tendency to romanticize or naivety of age. By the end of the book the narrators even begin to become frustrated with each other as their competing perspectives each try to convince the reader of their "truth." The climax is surprising, though upon reflection I'm not sure it should have been. There are no heroes to be found (not one), but there is incredible insight into the human condition. This is classic Faulkner, and I agree with the back cover of the book: These book are best experienced together.



From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible
by Eric H. Cline This is the final book I am reading right now, and it is a book which, in a way, chose me. Each month, LibraryThing.com invited readers to apply to receive free advanced copies of books which are "coming soon." Usually many more requests are made of each work then are copies available -- however, I submitted a request for this book and recently received my free copy. In return, LibraryThing asked those who receive books to submit a review (good or bad). I look forward to this. This book explores the archaeological evidence for such biblical locals and items as the Garden of Eden, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Ark of the Covenant (among several others). Since the author is an accomplished archaeologist (and I am not), I will likely be reviewing whether I find his arguments persuasive, rather than arguing the evidence. I will post my formal review as a separate post upon completion. Note: This is a revised paperback version of a work published last year in hardcover.

I'm sticking to Wisdom Literature in my biblical studies at the moment - Ecclesiastes. Read any of these books? Reading something related? Share a comment!

Grace and peace,
James

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