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Topic: So...what do you read?

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Subject: So...what do you read?
Date Posted: 2/8/2009 4:26 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,930
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I've read the usual atheist books; Dawkins' The God Delusion, Hitchens' God is Not Great, Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation.  They can be pretty abrasive, but its nice to see someone set the arguments out so concisely.

I also read arguments from the other side, because I think its important to be informed and open-minded (and to make my mom happy).  Last year I read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, UnChristian: What a New Nation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why It Matters by Dave Kinnaman, The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel and The Koran for Dummies.  Most of the arguments for faith that I've read have been mind-numbingly circular.  But its easier to debate when you understand the other side's argument.

I still have to read The Reason for God by Timothy Keller and The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama.

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 1:53 AM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2009
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I don't really read religious or atheist based material at all. Unless it's fiction that happens to have a religious or atheist undertone, but is in no way meant to be persuasive or scholarly. Trying to have a discussion with a religious person about religion is usually like banging your head against the wall, and not something that I like to do, or that I'd ever intentionally prepare for. I have read the Holy Books for the major religions, to understand what their beliefs are based on, but since I've never been able to view them as anything more than a set of stories, a bit like Aesop's Fables (and no more true than them), I've never seen any reason to intentionally torture myself by reading scholarly works on the issue. Frankly, I have no interest in reading about religion, or the lack of it.

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 1:49 PM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2006
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I read everything....I like to be able to hold my own in a debate..and I love to play the devil's advocate..lol....

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 4:16 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2006
Posts: 2,087
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I've read The God Delusion and Letter to a Christian Nation.  I haven't read any of the modern Christian polemics.  I agree about the circular logic.

I'm a medieval historian, so I've read a lot of saint's lives and early church documents.  One of the best classes I ever had in grad school was Women in Early Christianity.  Even though I'm not a believer, I enjoyed studying the early history of Christianity and Islam as well.  It's truly amazing what ideas have come into being over the years and people take as fact in their beliefs.  

 

Date Posted: 2/9/2009 7:15 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
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I've read Dawkins and Hitchens.

As far as religious literature goes, I attended Catholic school from K-11, so I got my fair share of that there.
I don't read it anymore. I know the arguments.

I do enjoy reading works by medieval Christian female mystics. The Book of Margery Kempe fascinated me for a long time (and still does). It's hard for me to wrap my head around such profound expressions of faith.

Date Posted: 2/10/2009 2:37 PM ET
Member Since: 9/17/2007
Posts: 1,129
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I tend to stay away from religious materials. The only thing that is remotely close is the christian fiction Sisterchick books. LOL! And I just skim over the religion parts in those. LOL!

Date Posted: 2/10/2009 4:19 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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I've read Letter to a Christian Nation...it was interesting. I didn't love it though.

Does anyone know of any *good* books on Agnoticism? I do most of my reading on the internet cause I never seem to find anything at the bookstore (I could be in the wrong section lol) but I would like to have a book that's not terribly long...one that I can give to people to read who don't seem to understand what I'm explaining...know what I mean? I'm not always the best with words and it would be nice to have something that gives a general idea to people about what it is...I feel like I'm misunderstood 99% of the time. lol

p.s. I was totally surprised to see this forum! surprised but pleased :)

Date Posted: 2/10/2009 11:34 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2006
Posts: 2,087
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Medieval female mystics are great aren't they?  I wrote a paper on Margery Kempe in graduate school, many years ago.  I just a biography of Hildegard of Bingen from the library, but haven't started it yet.

 

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 2/11/2009 6:03 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I have read all of Richard Bach's and Daniel Quinn's books. Not sure that you would call them Athiest literature.   They are usually listed as New Age. Blue Birds by David Frasure, is/was new age, but has a lot of Hindu teaching in it.

I have read a few books on Biblical Archeaology that disproved some stories in the bible and proved others. Also, some Druid and Wicca books. My 14 year old was friends with a boy who was raised Wiccan. So her and I read some books to learn more. It was pretty interesting.

Hannah,

All of the books by Bach and Quinn are short books. No more than maybe 200 pages. Some of bach's are under a hundred. His best at Illusions and One. IMO.

Date Posted: 2/12/2009 9:15 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
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Reading about religion for me is fun in a philosophical way.  I enjoy it in a "comparative cultures" fashion.  It's fascinating to read about the history of religion, and the varying divisions among them.  But personally I don't belong to any religion so I don't have a "bible" of my own.

Date Posted: 2/12/2009 10:15 AM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2006
Posts: 462
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I should rephrase what I wrote...lol

 

I don't read Christian fiction..can't stand it.....I love reading Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens..those are my faves...I read somebooks by christian authors..but agree about the circular argument..so I read the bible, the koran, and various other works and teachings.....That way I am informed as to what is believed and a little bit as to why..but all the dizziness...

 

I love reading about different religions and what makes people tic...so it is kind of a hobby for me...lol

Date Posted: 2/12/2009 4:03 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2006
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You know for the longest time, I didn't even know that there was such a thing as "Christian fiction." 

 

Date Posted: 2/12/2009 4:20 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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Honestly, I still really have no idea what "Chistian fiction" is.  I thought it was Graham Greene and Muriel Spark.  Obviously I was wrong. 

I will say, in true freethinking fashion, I can't really abide Hitchens or Dawkins, and I'll take CS Lewis over Philip Pullman any day.

Beverly - I love the early Christian mystics. I am also really obsessed with all the early apocryphal saints.  I've been toying with ideas for a theater project about some of the early (apocryphal and not) martyrs.  There's so much great stuff there.  Says the buddhist/existentialist/very-lapsed-Catholic/pagan/mostly agnostic/skeptic.

Date Posted: 2/12/2009 6:46 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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I love C.S. Lewis' fiction work, Narnia & the Screwtape Letters are just fun.  But a lot of his apologetics are just pointless and unconvincing, and some of the things he says in Mere Christianity about the role of women just make me want to throw the book across the room.

Date Posted: 2/13/2009 9:32 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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I read C.S Lewis' Narnia books when I was younger. I never realized until I was in college that he wrote all the Christian lit...I never read any of it though.  I get the bad feeling that if I do it will take something away from Narnia which I love. :( so I've stayed away from them. However, I thnk at some point I should read them.

Does anyone else have the same feelings about reading the personal views of authors who's fiction work you like? I'm the same way with actors. the less I know about them personally the more I enjoy their work.

Date Posted: 2/13/2009 11:26 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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One of my favorite quotes of all time is:  "Nasty men make nice things, unpleasant people think important thoughts." 

It's the Roald Dahl paradox. Although, even if you don't agree with him, Lewis was supposed to have been a very nice man.  I went to school for a while with the daughter of a very famous, and very well respected actor.  After what she told me combined with interviews of him I read, I've lost the ability to watch his films.  It's almost always better not to know.   

Date Posted: 2/13/2009 11:31 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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PS  Both Lewis's & Tolkien's views of women were horrendous.  I'm dying to read the Laura Miller book about Narnia, though.  Apparently, out of all the characters, he identified most strongly with Lucy.   So interesting and so odd.  But I was really glad when Neil Gaiman wrote his Susan story.

Date Posted: 2/15/2009 6:37 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
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I just looked up the Laura Miller book it does seem interesting! I also didn't know that Lewis and Tolkien were friends at some point.  In my children's lit and fantasy class we're going to be reading The Hobbit. I've not read any of his work before and I'm very excited to start! He seems like he was an interesting person.

Date Posted: 2/16/2009 5:43 PM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
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Tolkien and Lewis both taught at Oxford and were very good friends for many years.  He was actually the person responsible for Lewis's religious conversion.  The Hobbit is completely delightful, and unlike Lewis, Tolkien kept his religion pretty much entirely out of his fiction.

Tolkien was a really interesting man.  He honestly thought modern industry was evil, and there is an almost radical environmentalism that runs throughout The Lord of the Rings.  He refused to ever own a car and loved the country.  When I was growing up, and read his books, I always assumed he was gay (he's wasn't).  Unlike with Lewis, I didn't have a problem with Tolkien's portrayal of women, they just hardly exist in his works.  There are all these really romanticized friendships betwen men.  

I'm so jealous that you get to read The Hobbit for the first time!  I must re-read it soon.

And seriously - if you like Roald Dahl's books - never, NEVER read about his personal views or life.



Last Edited on: 2/16/09 6:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/16/2009 8:57 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,930
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....now I have to know....what was Dahl's deal?  I've never heard anything about the guy's private life?

Date Posted: 2/16/2009 11:36 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2006
Posts: 2,087
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http://www.amazon.com/Irregulars-Roald-British-Wartime-Washington/dp/0743294580/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1234845167&sr=1-12

The link above is for the book about Dahl's espionage activities during World War II.  

Edited to say:  Both Tolkien and Lewis were medievalists.  From the book Inventing the Middle Ages - chapter 6 - The Oxford Fantasists.  "In the early forties, during the height of the war years, while a bomber moon shone down upon the deer park on the grounds of Magdalen College, Oxford, a half dozen dons and their friends, who were also writers and lived in or near Oxford, gathered on Tuesday evenings in the rooms of the Magdalen College tutor in medieval literature and political theory.  The Magdalen tutor was C.S. Lewis - Jack to his friends.  They drank beer and tea, smoked heavily, throwing their cigarette ashes on the worn carpet and read to each other from written work in progress.  The group came to call themselves the Inklings.......Another Inkling was the reclusive professor of Anglo-Saxon, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, called Ronald.  In the late twenties and early thirties he was renowned as an authority on Old and Middle English....."

 



Last Edited on: 2/16/09 11:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/17/2009 12:17 AM ET
Member Since: 1/30/2009
Posts: 5,696
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Beverly - thank you for posting this.  No matter how much I may have disagreed with them on other things, and however much I know I would not have been welcome, if I had access to a time machine, I would want to sit and drink at Magdalen College with the Inklings.

Dahl was a really wonderful writer.  He was also a mean, unpleasant, anti-semite. My mother was really fascinated with the wickedness of Roald Dahl when I was growing up, so I heard all about his nasty, nasty divorce from Patricia Neal. 

Subject: for Beverly and Caviglia, particularly
Date Posted: 2/28/2009 6:03 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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There is a book by a woman physicist both of you might enjoy taking a look at.  It is Pythagoras' Trousers, and the author goes 'way back into ancient times to show how 'priests' and 'physicists' were indistinguishable back then, and continues the story throught Time until a real division between the two philosophical stances occurs and strengthens.   And she includes information on the now and then in history woman  philosopher-scientist such as Hypatia.  (I thought you'd like that part, because of your affection for early female 'mystics',)

Many contributors to this new forum might find Rocks of Ages, by the late Stephen Jay Gould, interesting.  Personally, I find it intriguing in a special way to hear what a genuine top scientist (such as evolutionary biologist Gould) has to say about matters 'religious'.  Another such scientist is the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, whose book, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, includes a chapter (13) called The Relation of Science and Religion.

A book that has fascinated me for years (since I first ran across it) is The Golden Bough, in which Sir James Frazier describes the history ("evolution"--?) of religion in our species, and delineates the rituals and practices that have accompanied the shifting beliefs of humankind in various parts of the planet, in various historical eras.   (Reading in this volume, for instance, you can get some real perspective on some of the odd elements of the observances of "Christmas" and "Easter".

Another curious volume is The Jefferson Bible, in which our third president (a lawyer) edited a New Testament account of Jesus' ministry to include only the portions that did not strain his credulity to the breaking point.

Many years ago, I was persuaded to a belief that Saul/Paul (of Tarsus) was the true key figure in the introduction of "Christianity" to the (then-known) world, by a book by the eminent Unitarian minister, A. Powell Davies.  Dr. Davies served at All Souls' (Unitarian) Church in Washington, D.C.  for many years.  The book was entitled The First Christian.   The book showed how Saul/ Paul combined in his own person the formative influences of the era---Jewish heritage, Greek education, and Roman citizenship.

I found Sophie's World, by Jostein Gaarder, an interesting review of the development of philosophy from the time of animism and mythologis down to existentialism and materialism.  I read it because one of my grandchildren was reading it.   It included material on Darwin and Freud, too.

 



Last Edited on: 3/9/09 5:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 2