Once again, it’s been too long.  Here are some quick blips about the books I’ve been reading the past 9 months or so.

Postmodern Times by Gene Veith

I think I got this one in high school, and so once I finally got around to reading it the “times” have already past.  Well, not completely.  Helpful in understanding the end of secular humanism – how humanity’s attempts to perfect ourselves and our society have failed and resulted in despair, and how that despair is translated into culture.

All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes by Kenneth Myers

This one was unsatisfying for me, but offered an interesting definition of culture: “What we make of the world”, both in the literal and figurative sense of that phrase.  Also, it helped me understand what is meant by “The medium is the message”, and offered a useful critique of rock music and television along those lines.

Culture Making by Andy Crouch

This one was more what I was looking for when I read the previous book, and he actually adopts Myers definition of culture.  He helped give me a grid for evaluating certain aspects of culture with the following questions: What does it assume about the world?  What does it assume about the way the world should be?  What does it make possible?  What does it make impossible (or at least a lot more difficult)?  What new culture is created in response to it?  Crouch says that while condemning, critiquing, copying and consuming are all appropriate responses to culture, our primary posture should be that of cultivating and creating culture.  I found his discussion about cultural power and the call for Christians to creatively use the cultural power that we have for the sake of the powerless particularly compelling.

I was talking to our pastor about this, and he asked if I had heard of the Clapham sect (one of them was William Wilberforce).  I hadn’t, but I’m thinking about reading this book about it.

The History of Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer

Finished it.  Loved it.  I’m surprised that ancient history isn’t taught as an adult Sunday school class in churches because it makes so much sense of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament.  Like the position of Israel smack dab in the middle of all of those ancient powers.  Like how God’s people would not have survived a minute without all of those disturbing battles.  Like the Roman empire that Jesus was born into.  Like the influence of Greek philosophy on the early church.   I guess it’s assumed that people learn history in school.  Doh.

Seriously, I’m becoming more and more convinced that a good understanding of history is the key to understanding the issues we face today.

The Civilization of the Middle Ages by Norman Cantor

Next in the history of the world (since Susan Wise Bauer’s medieval history book won’t be out until February).  Still haven’t gotten out of the (long) introduction called The Foundations of the Middle Ages.  I’m enjoying it.  Gonna have to return this one to the library soon, but will re-check it out.

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

These two have an incredibly well-thought-out and complete plan for home educating.  I really like them and their approach.  I’m sold on their history and language arts curricula as well.

Men and Women in the Church by Sarah Sumner

A quite compelling interpretation of the disputed scriptures on the issue of women’s roles.  She is mostly arguing against the complementarian position, but doesn’t agree completely with the egalitarian camp either.  This was a non-issue for me until recently, when I became aware of the more extreme Patriarchy Movement.  Let’s just say I’m not a fan, and I felt very unsettled until I was able to finish this book.  I’m not 100% sold on Sumner’s conclusions, but I think she’s on the right track.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

The follow-on to The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  I read this book because it sounded like what he advocates is very close to the conclusions I had already come to about food and health.  Way to be open-minded, eh?  Turns out I agree almost completely with everything he said!  He gives an interesting critique of what he calls “nutritionism”.  It was a good motivator as we began our CSA season.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller

Post-nuclear holocaust novel.  Some interesting ideas tossed around about the relationship between science and religion, and about the nature of good and evil.  Weird ending, but I might feel differently if I were Catholic.