Friday, December 26, 2008

From the Writers' Almanac

On this day in 1927, Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary:

The tree was illumined — more presents given away. Mother's dinner was efficiently disposed of, without much grace or wit — the Danish spirit prevailing. Stupefied by the labor of digestion, all the family sat around in a circle: Manny, like a wilted flower; Liska, like a tired athlete; Emily, with her hands on her stomach and her knees wide apart; Betsy, with sagging shoulders.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Same Man

I loved this book. It compares and contrasts writers Eric Blair, a.k.a. George Orwell, and Evelyn Waugh.

In The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and Warthe author Deavid Lebedoff presents the childhood experiences that formed each writers' consciousness. I learned that while Blair's father was a civil servant and thus the family had less income than Waugh's the intricate English social system did confer rather high status on the family. Though he needed a scholarship (and was sneered at for this reason) Blair went to Eton, a prestigeous, if not the most prestigeous boarding school in England. This education, though painful at times, left an indelible mark on Blair. In their respective schools Waugh was the bully and Blair the bullied. Lebedoff mentions that someone once said that if you were the bully in school you become a conservative, if you were bullied, a liberal.

Then even more surprising, I learned that Waugh, whose family was more obsessed with social class, who was so enthralled with aristocracy, could not afford Eton or a boarding school of that ilk. He had to settle for school in his town and eventually got into a rather second class version of Eton.

Both writers were born in 1903 and their lives took radically different paths. They subscribed to different belief systems, and their writing achieved success at different points in their lives. Waugh was recognized early on as a writer of great style and wit, whereas Blair started out as a terrible writer and slowly improved to the greatness of his 1984.

The last chapters describe and interpret these authors' beliefs towards politics, communism, family life, speaking out, and their own writing. It was most engaging. While both men would vote differently, parent differently and pray (or not) differently they shared some common beliefs. They both were skeptical of the modern age and its trust of technology and meritocracy. They believed instinct and character were human's most important attributes and were leary of a society, like ours, where high SAT scores and such determined our leaders. (Though I doubt they'd be thrilled by Bush.) They saw that intellect without character led to great troubles.

I was inspired to learn that Blair wrote while sirens went off during air raids. What excuse to I have to neglect my writing?

Monday, December 22, 2008

American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin

I'm at a bit of a loss to explain my reaction to this book.

Perhaps, it's due in part to reading it immediately after the rather weak 109 East Palace.

Perhaps, it's due simply to how well done it is.

All I know is that I recommend it. Highly.

American Prometheus is a 784 page paperback book that despite its length is never dense. In crafting their biography, the authors wisely made the decision not to get weighed down with the science that played such a central role in the protagonist's life.

The reader is treated to a clearheaded depiction of a compelling man, one which makes no bones about his flaws while at the same time celebrating his triumphs. The book delves into Oppenheimer's life from start to finish and provides the reader with a perceptive perspective on his motivations.

The section on the Gray Board hearings and the concomitant government abuses which culminated with Oppenheimer's loss of his security clearance is eerily reminiscent of the government misdeeds during the Watergate era (in the news recently due to the death of Mark Felt) and the more recent attack on civil liberties which we have suffered through under the current administration.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

At Rachel's insistent and repeated urging, I finally read Twilight. (Of course, it didn't help that I started a 784 page book, instead of starting Twilight. She was basically apoplectic.)

But, I finished the 784 page book in a few weeks and then read Twilight in 24 hours.

As Rachel promised, Bella is not quite as much the victim as she is in the movie. Well, actually, she's probably every bit the victim but because you're privy to the inner dialogue, her victimness isn't as stark.

As usual with books and movies, the book is better. The reader comes away with a much better understanding of the motivations and intentions of the characters than the movie is able to convey.

The romantic teenage girl in me definitely thrilled to the budding romance between Edward and Bella. The cynical adult in me was a bit put off by the ooziness of Meyer's love scenes.

I guess I liked it in spite of myself . . .

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Bushido: The Soul of Japan by Inazo Nitobé explains samurai philosophy to Westerners. Nitobé lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was born and grew up in Japan and later moved to Europe for study. He worked for the League of Nations and retired in Canada. He came to have a deep understanding of both east and west. His knowledge of Western philosophy and cultural anthropology far exceeds mine for depth.

He is the perfect writer to compare and contrast Japanese and Western thinking. He helps readers understand foreign concepts and practices like ritualized suicide, the roles of women, bushido loyalty. In doing so he gets readers to consider their own culture in a new light. His writing is graceful and insightful. I read this on the train to help me develop a warrior-like mind for law school. It didn't exactly do that as it showed that the samurai were more complex and merciful that I previously believed.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Babbit was my book club's November choice, which was quite appropo given the real estate crisis. It's the story of George Babbit, a completely average, middle American business man, a conservative, Republican, who goes to church and the right Booster clubs. He sticks to the middle of the road with a vengence.

Lewis' has some beautiful sentences in this satiric novel. The tone's matter of fact with a zing. For example,
His name was George F. Babbitt. He was forty-six years old now, in April 1920, and he made nothing in particular, neither butter nor shoes nor poetry, but he was nimble in the calling of selling houses for more than people could afford to pay. p.2
Babbit is quite smug clearly thinking he was the bee's knees. Of course, readers expect this to catch up with him. It does, but it takes quite a while. Lewis' description of Babbit's lukewarm feelings for his wife and later his confused feelings about his lover are powerfully written. The scenes when Babbit and the widow are so tentative and bourgouis, that you feel Lewis is the first writer to get this kind of relationship right. Lewis gets all the characters just right.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

109 East Palace by Jennet Conant

Whilst in Santa Fe this summer, we picked up a couple of books about Los Alamos and Robert Oppenheimer.

109 East Palace serves as an interesting and illuminating, if not stellar, social history about the creation of and living conditions at Los Alamos.

Using Dorothy McKibben, the Santa Fean who ran the small office which served as the entry point for the secret Los Alamos installation, as the entry point for the story, Conant's first intention seems to be to provide us with the look and feel of the war time home of many of the best scientific minds of the era. As long as she is working towards this end, her book works.

However, as she strays from this goal and begins to try to become more of an overall historian of the overarching events put into motion at Los Alamos, the book loses its focus and suffers from superficiality.

This superficiality became brutally apparent upon reading just a few pages of the other book we purchased in Santa Fe, American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin.

In comparison, American Prometheus is clearly the better crafted project but, considered on its own, 109 East Palace is a supremely serviceable entry into the subject matter.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I read about Nurk: The Strange, Surprising Adventures of a (Somewhat) Brave Shrew
in The Japan Times and thought a bit of children's lit might be a good read for my commute. It's a charming adventure tale of a not so brave little shrew, a rodent, who admires his plucky grandmother's courage, but really would be happy just to stay home, where it's warm and cosy, and plan of one day going on an adventure.

As luck would have it, adventure comes to him by way of a mysterious, fragment of his grandmother's writing and a weird letter. It's an offer he can't refuse, as much as he'd like to.

The author is witty and charming. Nurk is a delight and probably a third or fourth grader could tackle it with ease.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lamy of Santa Fe by Paul Horgan

1976 Pulitzer Prize for History.

It caught my eye this past July while I was in Santa Fe.

Fascinating window into the difficult life that was the West in the mid to late 19th century. Horgan takes us from France to Ohio to New Mexico and back many times as we follow Jean Baptiste Lamy and his lifelong friend, Joseph Projectus Machebeuf on their journey from young priests sneaking away in France to Archbishops of Santa Fe and Denver respectively.

Horgan painstakingly details the conditions and tribulations these two men encountered as they did their part in bringing education and religion to the American West.

Well researched and well written translates into well-read.

Shock Doctrine

My friend Yuki recommended The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalismso I ordered it from the library. (My library got it from Wilmette.)

What a powerful book! Yep, I'm shocked. To my core. Naomi Klein, an investigative journalist from The Nation looks into the work of Milton Friedman, the University of Chicago economist. She examines his theory that the best time to implement change, economic, political, educational, whatever, is right after a disaster hits. When a population has been hit with a hurricane, tsumani, or coup, they are unable to question or oppose radical changes to their systems. So that's the "best" time for say the Chicago Boys or Neocons to enter the scene and experiment with other people's countries or cities.

I will warn people that this is not a cheery book. Don't read it after reading about say some horrible tort or injury. So for me it's take a long time to get through.

I haven't finished the book and it must go back to the library. I will get it again after my exams are done.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Doctor Faustus

I've felt so guilty about spending time doing things not related to law school that I haven't written this post. Doctor Faustus and Other Plays (Oxford World's Classics)is a legendary play by Christopher Marlowe. It's the story of a scholar who sells his soul to the devil. We read it for my Act One Great Books selection last month.

It is a quick read, as most plays are. I expected a five or three act structure, but Marlowe divides things up into I think 12 scenes. That did seem disjointed and at times uneven. I read a book of essays that confirmed that idea.Doctor Faustus: Divine in Show (Twayne's Masterwork Studies) states that many scholars think the version we have is more of a draft and that more than one author worked on it. (Again, this a quickish read if you don't read each essay. Something to read on the train where you can't study. The guilt, the guilt.) Faustus is a work like Dracula, that I enjoyed more by reading about the intellectual history and social issues that influenced the author than I did reading the work itself which was pretty good. I do think it would be marvelous on the stage where you'd get the effect of the costumes and set.
Got to get back to Torts. More later.

Friday, October 24, 2008

After the Quake

Murakami is one of my most favorite writers. His style is smooth, hip, imaginative and succinct. He looks at aspects of relationships and kinds of relationships that are so easy to gloss over. His characters are so cool. They are all outsiders with trenchant observations about the status quo.

After the Quake: Stories is a collection of six stories written with insight and depth. The stories read fast. The collection is an entertaining, two commute (for me) read that I wished lasted longer. Murakami is one of a kind and convinces me to buy into characters like giant talking frogs that I normally wouldn't.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees is a pleasant read and perfect for my train ride. It's the story of a 14 year old, engaging runaway, who finds refuge with a loving family of African American women. It fits in the genre of wise women nurturing wounded women. Its backdrop is the late 60's racial conflict of the South, where those in power want to keep Jim Crow laws.

The main character Lili flees a cruel father and rescues her Black housekeeper who got arrested when she was going to register to vote. They find the family of sisters, who keep bees and pray to the Black Madonna. These sisters have their share of idioscracies and offer support to their neighbors. The two men in the story are very much on the sidelines.

The book reads fast and follows in the tradition of other novels that celebrate women helping women.

I pulled the book off my sister's shelf when I saw ads for the movie. I bet Queen Latifah et al will be good, but I'm not racing to the theater as the story wasn't that original. I'm sure I'll get the DVD though.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Starbucks Experience

Though I resist most franchises, Starbucks won me over when I was living in Asia. It was an oasis of home and of calm. The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary by Joshpey Michelli is a quick and fairly interesting read describing how the ubiquitious coffee chain has pioneered creative and caring service. I found it interesting to learn how local barristas cope with customers who come in with their own milk or who want the most bizarre concoctions (e.g. "15 pumps of chai, 2 pumps of cinnamon, with nonfat milk poured into a cup and all steamed together"). There are stories of true caring for the customer that you just rarely hear of. Also policies that promote cooperation rather than restrictions on the customers or neighboring stores.

Michelli's story is 100% positive. He does note some troubles Starbucks has had but then shows how they turned some lemons into lemonade. Am I too skeptical to think things can't be that rosy? I do think it's a good company and one businesses should study.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I heard Lapchareonsap, the author of the short story collection, Sightseeing.He intrigued me as he spoke of growing up in Thailand and the U.S. crossing the ocean time and again.

The stories in Sightseeing show "Thailand off the tourist route." In fact some like one about a teenage Thai-American boy who dates an American tourist, much to his mother's displeasure, the critical aspects of tourism and disdain some locals feel for foreigners. You get a feeling that you're seeing the Thai's without their party manners, what they experience daily as they go through the ritual of the army draft, care for elderly parents, tension in friendships with Cambodian refugees. The stories are pretty well written though nothing outstanding. The collection's strength lies in the subject matter.

It's good light reading on the train home after work or law school.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shakespeare Is Hard

If you have to read a Shakespearean play for school or choose to read one on your own, Shakespeare Is Hard, But So Is Life: A Radical Guide to Shakespearean Tragedyis a good companion text. The author Fintan O'Toole offers an innovative way to view Shakespeare. He feels too often teachers offer students a Victorian-style view of Shakespeare that's just off base. His thesis is that Shakespeare was trying to break classic molds. Fintan asserts that the Bard didn't want to fit the classic molds of tragedy involving a character flaw. He wanted to develop a new kind of drama to address the radical changes he saw in his own society.

On the whole, I think O'Toole's on to something, but even when I disagreed or doubted his theory, I was engaged with the new vision.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Speaking of Faith

Although I don't listen to it often, I do like Minnnesota Public Radio's Speaking of Faith which presents interesting interviews on religous matters. The host Krista Tippett has written Speaking of Faith: Why Religion Matters--and How to Talk About It.

I expected a collection of essays reflecting and analysing her interviews. Instead this book presents Tippet's journey as a person of faith and a journalist. I found it breezy in a good way and kind of interesting, yet all that's stayed with me is the general outline of her career and no specifics on religion. So I can't recommend it unless you're a big fan of Tippet. Instead go to the show's website and listen to some programs.

Friday, September 12, 2008

King Lear

I finished King Lear (Norton Critical Editions)for Loyola Law School's Great Books. This may mark me as a philostine, but I just didn't get into it. Lear's making his daughter's prove their love and all the disaster and madness that ensues seemed needless, which is sort of the point. I just didn't care. It is a classic that I can now check off my list.

Perhaps the discussion, if we have one ever, will shed light and help me appreciate the play more. Watching a cheap film production didn't help all that much. I'd like to see Kenneth Branaugh or some other high caliber actor in it. It'll be 20 years before Branaugh is old enough for it.

I am reading Shakespeare Is Hard, But So Is Life: A Radical Guide to Shakespearean Tragedyand it's helped me appreciate the play.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Not really sure if Miss Jane is for me.

I'm halfway through her six novels and, just now, when I figured it out, I said, out loud, "I'm only halfway through?"

Not to say that I've disliked any of the three I've read so far, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and, now, Northanger Abbey. Let's just say that none of them have been page turners.

I was aware that Northanger Abbey was a parody and was anticipating reading it. But I found Catherine's obliviousness and Isabella and John Thorpe's conniving quite frustrating. Mrs. Allen was irritating in her cluelessness. Thinking back on it, Eleanor and Henry Tilney were about the only likable characters therein.

On the other hand, I did appreciate Catherine's clear sighted assessment of Isabella's final letter and my heart was warmed by Henry's gallant appearance at the Morlands' residence.

Perhaps since Austen's conclusions are foregone (ie., the main characters will end up happily ever after) and, therefore, I am not reading her novels for plot, I tend to find them rather slow going, reading perhaps a chapter a night until I near the end when the pace picks up slightly.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I usually enjoy Canadian writer Carol Shields writing. I highly recommend Larry's Party and The Stone Diaries. While Unless: A Novel (P.S.) is a well written story, I just didn't get into it. I felt so removed from the characters.

The main character, Reta Winters narrates the story. Reta is a 44 year old translator, writer, wife and mother. Her oldest daughter drops out of college and society. She lives in a shelter and spends her days holding a sign saying "Goodness" on a Toronto street corner. The family does not know why. They can't convince her to come home. Well, actually no one does try to bring her home. They let her be and bring her food and clothes. (Enabling? IMHO yes.)

Reta tries to understand her daughter's action through the filter of feminism and the struggles women have had to gain equality. As a writer, she is particulary concerned with the omission of women's work in the canon of great literature. I found the subject worth my interest and the writing was perceptive, yet I wanted Reta and her husband Tom to do more. Reta shares a lot inner dialog on her inner anger due to life in a man's world. I wanted her to express this. Don't stew. Tell your husband, mail those letters you're composing and never mailing, do something.

I do love Shields' writing, but I can't recommend Unless.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bejing: From Imperial Capital to Olympic City

I'm glad I grabbed Beijing: From Imperial Capital to Olympic Citya couple weeks ago to compliment my Olympic Fever.

Beijing: From Imperial Capital to Olympic City traces the history of the city from around 916 when it was one of five capitals in early China. There had been a city there since around 221 BC when China began to form into what we'd consider a nation.

This book is packed with facts about how the city was organized, where different groups lived, the impact of changes throughout the city and its relationship to the rest of the country. The focus is always on the city, but through that one learns about the government, politics, architecture, and daily life. For example, China was unique amongst nations because the leaders wisely always subsidized food and protected its safety. Thus when famines struck centuries ago, everyone would still eat and there'd be fewer riots and trouble. Also, it wasn't till recently that people considered themselves Beijing-ren (like New Yorkers). So many who lived there considered themselves rather transient and identified more with their hometowns.

I learned about Emperor Yongle, who has been compared to Augustus Caesar, who found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble. Yongle ruled during a time when fire destroyed the city and he elevated Beijing to a new level of magnificance (p. 24-25).

I was particularly touched to read about a Western educated architect Liang Sicheng who argued passionately to save the outerwall of the city when Mao and the Communists took power. He saw its beauty and historical significance. Yet during his campaign to save it, it was already being knocked down before those trying to preserve it were told.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My friend Laura turned me on to Robertson Davies a few years back. He is a terrific writer. Here's what the Writers' Almanac said about him today:
It's the birthday of the novelist and playwright Robertson Davies, (books by this author) born in Thamesville, Ontario (1913). In the 1930s, he was a successful Shakespearean actor in London, until 1939, when all of the city's theaters closed down because of the war. Davies decided to return to Canada and look for a new job. At the encouragement of his father, he took over the family newspaper. The stories that he covered — sex scandals, murders, children locked in basements — eventually inspired him to write novels. He said, "I have been among people who would make your hair stand on end. And this is where I find the stuff I put in my books."

He's best known for his Deptford Trilogy, Fifth Business (1970), The Manticore (1972), and World of Wonders (1975), which revolve around a boy from small-town Ontario, who grows up to become involved with magicians, millionaires, and modern-day saints.
I read "Fifth Business" and loved it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisitedis one of my favorite books and this month's book club selection. I love this book about Charles Ryder's history with his college friend Sebatian's family so much that I didn't want it to end. Also it's the second time I've read it and I knew what was going to happen so I slowed myself down to avoid the beautifully written, but sad ending. Charles, an artist, comes under the spell of the Flytes, a wealthy, intriguing Catholic family. The mother's quite pious, while the father ran off with his lover and lives in Venice. The four siblings are each quite distinct as well. Charles keeps crossing their paths between the two World Wars.

Waugh is a masterful writer. He includes so many deep, witty, complex characters. His emotional range is wide, parts are quite witty and others deeply sad. He does some smart things like giving us Sabastian's backstory through a character we can't trust at all, Anthony, who clearly doesn't like Sebastian, but Anthony is witty and smart so we know some of what he says is true. What bits?

It's a good book for discussion (my group's will be this week) as there are questions on the nature of various relationships and everyone's true motives. I have gone to some blogs with movie reviews and the comments pages have been full of perceptive, engaged posts. It's a book people aren't ambivalent about.

Since the movie is supposed to be completely unfaithful to the book, I'm waiting to see how the other book club members think about it before I decide to go.

I have put the BBC's 1982 television mini-series in my queue. It's got a "very long wait."

Religion of Peace?

I do think everyone, whether conservative, moderate or liberal should read Religion of Peace? by Robert Spencer. Spencer has well researched and documented his evidence that proves that Islam is not the religion of peace that people including George Bush contend. Wow! That statement might hit some readers like a bomb. However, I urge your to read the book (if you can't make your own trip to say Saudi Arabia or Indonesia to see for yourself) before you judge that thesis.

From our rather calm communities it's easy to figure every country is kind of like ours just with different holidays and customs. Cultural relativism has been taught through schools and television. I admit I pretty much thought that way.

Then I moved to Sulawesi in Indonesia last year. It didn't take long to see how different life was in a Muslim-majority country that bills itself has having freedom of religion. As my other blog, Ruined for Life (search "Indonesia") shows discrimination against non-Muslims was quite common and radical Islam is on the rise. Young women were starting to wear burqas more; they'd recently begun segratating high school classes by religion; interfaith marriages are illegal; the church nearest my house had been burned down and on and on. So that changed how I viewed the peacefulness of Islam.

Back to Spencer's book - he covers topics such as the role of women in Islam, how the crusades and inquistion compare with the spread of Islam through force, false or inaccurate portrayals of Christianity and Islam in the media. Each point is supported with evidence and it's easy to find Spencer's sources. I did look up a few online because I wanted to see the original article and it all checked out.

Spencer is not spreading hate. He sensibly acknowledges that there certainly are good Muslims. He does examine the history and current events of Islam that threaten our national security and that of Buddhists, Hindus, and others in Asia and Africa. He also sets the record straight on areas of Christian history that have been exaggerated.

Here are a few things I learned:
  • Muslim men may marry up to 4 wives after that the women are considered concubines. I'm not sure why 4 is a magic number.
  • Non-Muslims are called Dhimmi (like goy in Hebrew I suppose) and often have had to pay extra taxes to live in Muslim countries.
  • If a man marries a pre-pubescent girl, he should wait till she reaches puberty to initiate sexual relations.
  • The reason for female victims of rape to have to have 4 male witnesses to the crime is that Shar'ia courts suspect many adulterous women would just cry rape.
I don't think this should be the only book a person reads about Islam, but it should be one among several.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Gift from Brittany

After reading Almost French Marjory Price's A Gift from Brittany: A Memoir of Love and Loss in the French Countryside was the perfect book to read after Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris. Again a young English- speaking woman goes to France, falls in love and tries to acclimate to French culture. However, there were some important differences in how each woman engaged the culture.

In 1960 Price, a painter, decided to move to Paris to immerse herself in the art world there. She meets Yves, another painter, and is smitten. They soon marry and have a daughter. When the daughter is three, Yves decides to buy property with seven delapidated houses in the boonies of Brittany. Did he consult his American femme? Non! Price protests, but soon decides to make the best of things.

In Brittany, Price meets Jeanne, an older, wise, loving woman and their friendship makes up the core of the book. Jeanne teaches Mitch (a.k.a. Marjorie) farm skills to survive the rigors and social challenges on La Salle. Price widens Jeanne's horizons taking her to the beach (yep, Jeanne had never set foot in the sea) and later to Paris. Their friendship is deep and has a reciprocity, that I liked.

I admired Price's resourcefulness and courage. She never whined. When her husband tells her that they'd never find a skilled architect from the nearest city and they HAD to make due with a local incompetent, she doubts him. She winds up getting a great architect who loves the idea of working on these old homes.

It seems from the beginning Price spoke French well and when she faced adversity had little assistance from her husband, who was definitely more of an obstacle than anything else. She had to make hard choices and deal with major problems (while Sarah Turnbull lived more on the periphery and had a lot of help and luck getting work, etc.) while considering the needs of her daughter. It was just more rivetting to move through this book that presents a France that's probably disappeared. In fact, Marjorie saw some traditions die during her 10 years in LaSalle.

Price revealed more about her relationship with Yves and her own inner struggles and doubts. Thus I felt I knew her much better than I did Turnbull.

Read this! (It would be a good book club book.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Peace in the Post-Christian Era

Thomas Merton wrote Peace In The Post-Christian Erain the 1960's during the Cold War. Sadly, it's still relevant. Intelligently and objectively, Merton assesses the politics and philosophy of the atomic age when nuclear war was a great threat.

He points out how hypocritical it is for Christians to consider nuclear weapons "just" or pre-emptive attacks (see how timely this is) a moral choice for a Christian leader or people. He traces the history of the Christian doctrine of "just war," challenges Machiavellian philosophy and takes apart the "Red or Dead" cliche. He asserts with Fr. Murray (whom I don't know) that "war has now become a moral absurdity." He points out that when democratic, capitalistic countries believe they must defend their way of life through war, they prove Marx right. He questions why we assume that the teaching of Christian meekness and forgiveness just applies to individuals, not to nations or organizations.

The book makes us look at Christian hypocrisy or lack of deep faith in Jesus exhortations to abandon weapons and make peace. I should send a copy to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

I highly recommend Peace In The Post-Christian Era.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Glenview by Beverly Roberts Dawson

I grew up in Glenview so this book basically leapt into my cart when I saw it at Costco (in Glenview, of course).

I found it very interesting. I've always been intrigued by the history of my little hamlet north of Chicago and this book provides a lovely pictorial trip down Memory Lane.

It was fun to see what familiar environs once looked like, to see urban legends confirmed and to catch glimpses of things I hadn't even imagined.

These Images of America series are charming.