Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Small Review And An Update On My Reading List

I posted my current reading list not too long ago, but I fear I've changed my trajectory.  I put Dostoevsky down, and G.K. Chesterton will most certainly come later.  I did, however, finish reading Michel Onfray's book "In Defense of Atheism", and I must say that it was a very good read.  

In particular, I enjoyed the fact that he didn't simply jump on the bandwagon with other popular atheists of the day: Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, and Dennett.  His approach was more philosophical, and less reliant on the myopia of modern science.  In fact, Onfray goes so far as to criticize today's popular atheists for pedaling science as if it is the contemporary Oracle at Delphi.  

Now while he doesn't specifically mention the authors I've noted above, anyone who has been keeping track of the spate of atheist literature streaming forth in popular culture today would know exactly who Onfray is referring to.  So by looking past other popular atheists, Onfray has also managed to avoid the shibboleths of their particular brand of elitism: materialism, naturalism, and Darwinianism.  And while he may very well hold to these understandings/philosophies, his book is premised more forcefully on rationalism, hedonism, modern textual criticism, and a good deal of incisive logic.  The result? An incindiary read sure to explode the understandings of anyone interested in challenging their presuppositions and faith.

Now that I've finished that book, however, I'm not sure it's the right time to read Dostoevsky or Chesterton.  Call it what you will, but I go by feel when I'm on a reading splurge -- and this jump into atheist literature these past 8 months has been just that: a splurge.  Not a frivolous one, mind you.  I do have an objective: to write a reasoned response to the issues the New Atheists have been raising.  I find their perspectives refreshing, insightful, and well worth consideration.  Having said that though, there is a fair deal of obliqueness to their criticisms, and it will be a harrowing challenge to reason out a response to not only some of their more insular perspectives, but also arguments they've delineated that assume wrong-headed information about religious issues that are readily available if they'd only look past their chosen enemies: Catholicism, and Evangelicalism.

All that being said, now I turn to what my actual reading list currently is.  Here we go...

Ehrman's book is extremely challenging, and definitely not recommended for anyone unprepared to have their understandings of inerrancy, and preservation challenged.  His style is engaging for the academically-minded, but for most people he would seem quite dry.  Kind of like licking melba-toast.

Next up, however, is a challenge to Christians from a Christian.  The author is David F. Wells, professor of theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  I've only read the introduction to this book at this point, so I can't say much about it since it consists largely of anecdotes that display a regular occurrence amongst Christians: a regrettable lack of understanding in theology; and thus, in what Christians profess to believe.

This last book was recommended by my former co-author here at St. Cynic, Suneal. I'm looking forward to reading this citing Suneal's usual taste in reading material is quite challenging, and often rewarding.

5 comments:

Tag-photos said...

And my reading list....

"The living dead"

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/1597801437/sr=8-1/qid=1246492063/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books&qid=1246492063&sr=8-1

An anthology of Zombie stories edited by John Joseph Adams.

But not to worry, I have some other nooks in the waiting, considering I am about through this one....

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Talk about the living dead!
As someone who has grown up within the walls of Christianity, and has, especially over the last two decades, been digging into what and why I believe what I do, it is of great concern to me to sense a growing attitude of disdain for rigorous and robust theological thinking among Evangelical groups. The pursuit of knowledge and concern for historic biblical and confessional doctrine has been replaced with feel-good anecdotal musings disgorged weekly from the pulpit. Titillating titles from the New York Times bestsellers list, such as the Purpose Driven Church and Chicken Soup for the Soul, are of more interest to the average Christian then the pursuit of the very thought and philosophy at the foundation of our faith.
In my more despondent moments, I have often felt that there truly are Zombies among us…
and we are they.
Yeah, harsh I know, but when exactly did theology become synonymous with the F word in Christian circles?
Cheers, no seriously... happy thoughts. No, wait, Zombies don't think, they just crave and desire and thirst and hunger and want and....
Wyatt

Tag-photos said...

Actually in some of the short stories in this collection the story is written from the perspective of the zombie. And yes in those stories the zombies so in fact think....
Of course in another of the stories zombies can sense thought and find the living by chasing thoughts....

Tag-photos said...

Okay I moved on with my books.

I just started reading "We were soldiers once... And young."

Yes it is the book that the movie "We were soldiers" is based off of.

sarah said...

Sweetie, I just wanted to reiterate that Ehrman's book is a lot like breathing in dust. It is very dry, in case my description wasn't clear (or dusty) enough.

What I found most useful was the learning that it prompted and implications of what he shared. Otherwise, I do not agree with many, if any, of his conclusions because as you've discovered, they are built on a faulty premise that he reveals near the beginning of the book.

What was enormously helpful though, was that through the reading of this book, I was able to recalibrate my faith-life, and really choose to love God.

I was also faced with the reality that Yaconelli expressed in his book, Messy Spirituality, the same sentiment expressed by (the infamous) Paul of the bible: my love for God and His Son is entirely unreasonable. I am intellectually an idiot for believing and loving as I do, but thankfully, love doesn't require reason, and similarly, this allows me to love others freely too. I have no good reason.

The answer I have to give for my faith is that I just love God and I love Him because He loves me too and we experience life together. I have little else to offer- no apologetic, no theology, nothing. Those come for my own pursuit of understanding, but provide no answer at all to why I believe and in Whom.

Anyway, it is liberating to love God, and find the bible interesting, useful, but not a magical book. If it's an authorised biography, it's still just that, even though containing many truths which I do not deny, but for me, the real magic comes from knowing His voice and being able to delight in hearing it.