Notes from our travels across a mysterious world.

Category: Books (Page 2 of 2)

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism?

A review of Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, from The Revealer. Sample quote:

In religious terms, according to teenagers, God cares that each teenager is happy and that each teenager has high self-esteem. Morality has nothing to do with authority, mutual obligations, or sacrifice. In a sense, God wants little more for us than to be good, happy capitalists. Smith and Denton elaborate: “Therapeutic individualism’s ethos perfectly serves the needs and interests of U.S. mass-consumer capitalist economy by constituting people as self-fulfillment-oriented consumers subject to advertising’s influence on their subjective feelings.” And to be good, happy capitalists, we should be good, unless if being good prevents us from being happy.

Sounds interesting, particularly since they don’t just pick on kids.

The Silmarillion

Wow, folks are actually talking about one of my favorite books! Of course, the reasons I found it fascinating are the same reasons people cite for its lack of appeal.

I actually like the Biblical structure and voice. It makes it seem more like a dry, fragmented history of ancient, half-legendary events, rather than a story.

However, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings isn’t for everyone, and The Silmarillion is much, much less so. What we’re looking at is essentially Tolkien’s background notes for an entire world in which he was going to set his main stories. That probably puts it one step above the entertainment level of getting a script from a movie you like.

So, I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone who hadn’t read or didn’t really like LOTR, and even then I wouldn’t expect them to like it. On the other hand, I still get geeked by knowing that Sauron wasn’t the first evil in the world, or even close to the most impressive. 🙂

(It seems to me that The Silmarillion performs the particular function, however, of making Middle Earth seem more real. Not because of the background materials, but because the myths and stories follow the familiar pattern of “Everything was bigger, grander, and more dangerous back then” that seems to be a human storytelling trait.)

Books, books, used books

One of the nice things about working where I do is that we occasionally have little sales during the day, primarily for charitable purposes. In this case the sale was of used books, and the charity was the Food Bank of North Carolina.

Now, anyone who has seen our house knows we do not need more books, but I ended up with 11 of them anyway. Must keep the books circulating. The weird thing is, I almost never buy biographies new, but I’m compelled to when I see them used. Something about thumbing through a musty biography just seems right. Good haul in this set:

I should point out that the books were donated by Felton’s Books, which is doing its thing online now. Check them out. I highly recommend them.

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