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What are you reading?
Posted: 05 November 2010 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 136 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 04 November 2010 07:24 PM
garythehuman - 04 November 2010 03:17 PM

I have just finished Nicholas Wade’s The Faith Instinct.  Wade has worked for the NY Times as editorial writer as well as Nature and Science magazines. This book is a fairly short (284pgs) work. 

Wade’s basic premise is that humans have evolved a biological faith instinct that promoted group cohesion.*
  IMO this may or may not be true, that is up to the biologists to determine. 

It does sound like an interesting book… *isn’t this just another way of saying tribalism?

Goes considerably beyond tribalism.

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Posted: 09 November 2010 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 137 ]
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I’m reading a book about Bill Hicks at the moment.

Very amusing, and interesting.

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“A question in your nerves is lit, yet you know there is no answer fit, to satisfy ensure you not to quit, to keep in your mind and not forget, that it is not he or she or them or it that you belong to.”

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Posted: 30 November 2010 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 138 ]
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By what author?

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Gary the Human

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Posted: 30 November 2010 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 139 ]
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Right now I’m just finishing up reading “50 voices of Disbelief”, edited by Russell Blackford and, Udo Schüklenk, in preparation for the next HAO/CFI ‘Science, Society, and Beverages Book Club’. Interesting bunch of essays from a pile of damn interesting disbelievers.

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Posted: 07 December 2010 05:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 140 ]
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Just finished reading Tested: How Twelve Wrongly Imprisoned Men Held Onto Hope. I’m always intrigued by stories of wrongful convictions and exoneration so I thought this would be right up my alley. The co-author Dorothy Budd is a former prosecutor and now an ordained minister. Knowing the latter did make me hesitate just a bit about purchasing the book (I sensed there might be a religious bias), but I did anyway.

Many of the stories contain references to religious texts and faith in a sky daddy. It was almost as if the reader is expected to believe that faith in a higher power is what led to the exonerations, not the science behind DNA testing.

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Posted: 07 December 2010 08:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 141 ]
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T. Ruth - 07 December 2010 05:10 PM

Just finished reading Tested: How Twelve Wrongly Imprisoned Men Held Onto Hope. I’m always intrigued by stories of wrongful convictions and exoneration so I thought this would be right up my alley. The co-author Dorothy Budd is a former prosecutor and now an ordained minister. Knowing the latter did make me hesitate just a bit about purchasing the book (I sensed there might be a religious bias), but I did anyway.

Many of the stories contain references to religious texts and faith in a sky daddy. It was almost as if the reader is expected to believe that faith in a higher power is what led to the exonerations, not the science behind DNA testing.

Then you should pick up The Innocent Man by John Grisham, one of his few non-fictions. It is a damning portrayal of a miscarriage of the justice system, where the defendant was a mentally ill man who was framed, and unable to defend himself.
http://www.amazon.com/Innocent-Man-John-Grisham/dp/0440243831/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1291778835&sr=1-1

Another suggestion is The Right to Privacy, by Caroline Kennedy and Ellen Alderman.
http://www.amazon.com/Right-Privacy-Caroline-Kennedy/dp/0679744347/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1291778912&sr=1-1

As soon as I finish this light fluffy scifi novel by Connie Willis, I will dig in to Nonsense on Stilts by Massimo Pigliucci!

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Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

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Posted: 08 December 2010 09:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 142 ]
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Thanks for the suggestions, asanta. I had no idea Grisham wrote non-fiction. I’m considering reading A Plea For Justice: The Timothy Cole Story.

Until then, I’ve decided to read “The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas.”

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Posted: 08 December 2010 03:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 143 ]
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That is on my list too, I just hope it is an ebook!
It was! I just ordered it. She also wrote an edition in 2009, after I read the first book, I will have to see if she uses the same essays in both.

[ Edited: 08 December 2010 03:16 PM by asanta ]
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Posted: 08 December 2010 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 144 ]
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I saw two editions at bn.com. One for $1.99 the other for $9.99. I actually bought the latter.

I didn’t know Simon Le Bon was a non-believer.  grin

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Posted: 10 December 2010 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 145 ]
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Just finished an excellent book “Reinventing Knowledge - From Alexandria to the Internet” by Ian F. McNeely and Lisa Wolverton.  It is a historical investigation of the social factors and institutions that produced and preserved formal knowledge from the oral age of the ancient Eastern Mediterranean to today.  It deals with things like Socrates opposition to written recording of intellectual debate, through the Library of Alexandria, the medieval monastery, the enlightenment intellectual guild, the university and then the college,( which are two different things), the Republic of Letters and through the age of the laboratory and finally the possibilities of the internet.

A few quotes;
“To add to the encyclopedia of knowledge requires more than industry and calculation of Adam Smith’s earnest businessman.  It requires the passion born of a missionary impulse and transferred to the calling of specialized research.  Secular humanists were then first to steal the fire of Protestant evangelism in this way, and it was they who first made the production of research a cardinal task of the modern university.”  Pg. 202

“Today’s information utopian values, born of a homegrown countercultural humanism to replace the discredited classical humanism of the Republic of Letters, is one of the most enduring legacies of the sixties, and one with deep roots in American history.”  Pg. 268
“Promoters of the vaunted ‘information age’ often forget that knowledge has always been about connecting people, not collecting information.  . . .  New electronic communities such as wikis and blogs, at the moment collectively dubbed Web2.0, if anything make the pursuit of reliable, authentic knowledge more, not less, difficult online, by drowning out traditionally credentialed gatekeepers.”  Pg. 272

I would definately recommend this book to anyone with and intrest on how we got to where we are today in science.

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Posted: 10 December 2010 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 146 ]
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It sounds interesting. I’ll put it on my list, thanks!

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Posted: 13 December 2010 07:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 147 ]
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History of the Incas:  The Execution of the Inca Tupac Amaru, (Pedro Sarmiento De Gamboa).  I enjoy that his accounts and interviews were “closer” to the historical sources, more contemporaneous.  Also, it’s neat that I’ve actually been there and gotten to know so many folks from Cuzco.  It is an amazing treatise on the “Spanish Right” to “civilize” the Inca. 

An amazing culture and people and a rich history.

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Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (Democrat):

“It’s a free country; I wish it weren’t, but it’s a free country.” when speaking of a rally on the Capitol.

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Posted: 19 December 2010 10:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 148 ]
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I am now starting the 3rd book InkDeath, in the InkHeart series by Cornelia Funke. Inkheart is the interweaving of fiction and reality and the erasing of boundaries between worlds. The central premise of the first book is that someone with the gift to do so can read characters out of books and people into books. No plot details have been given by author Cornelia Funke, but it will resume only a few weeks after where Inkspell left off with Farid and Meggie’‘s mission of bringing Dustfinger, who died at the end of Inkspell, back to life.

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Posted: 20 December 2010 10:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 149 ]
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My best friend recommended the Inheart series because she just loved them, but for some reason I got bored about halfway through the second.

I recently finished Hawking and Mlodinow’s Grand Design, which I liked a lot. And I’m currently reading Frank Furedi’s Where Have all the Intellectuals Gone, which is sobering but pretty spot on.

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Posted: 20 January 2011 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 150 ]
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I Have taken notes on several books over the years.  I will post a set here, if anyone is interested I can post others from time to time.  Let me know.

“Righteous Empire: The protestant experience in America“.    Martin E. Marty; 1970, The Dial Press, New York


1.    A complex society is held together by certain common assumptions and shared beliefs . . . large groups of people do not organize themselves simply around philosophical concepts.  These become concrete in certain traditional slogans, promises, threats.  Much of what was concrete in American hopes and dreams had been fashioned under religious auspices.  Pg 148


2.    This anti-social teaching (Social-Darwinism) individualized the old Puritan-evangical idea about “election,” ideas which were previously seen in the context of a covenanted community, and used them to justify personal economic competition as being guided by the principal of natural selection.  Pg 152.

3.    . . . the reality of personal religion in the late nineteenth century was itself part of the history that was being made.  Colonial Protestantism involved believers in custodianship of the covenant for the whole community.  Early nineteenth century evangelicalism called people to the trusteeship of a religious-political empire.  But in the late nineteenth century there was a growing acceptance of a division of labor in religious life.  Particularly among individualists in religion, there was a widespread feeling that to comment on politics, economic, and social issues as the Beeches did was meddling in areas that did not concern religious people gathered in churches, to them religion had to do with sequestered and segregated areas of life.  The personal, the “spiritual” and the familial, and that having to do with private life comprised the whole.  The postulation of this sphere, then, represents the obverse side “of religion that makes history.”  pg.168

4.    Protestantism had provided the nation with the symbolism and mythology   that shaped folklore as well as sophisticated literature of novelists and poets.  Its architecture highlighted the landscape and its hymnody, from the lips of blacks and whites alike, was the folksong of a majority of the people.  What was often called the Protestant ethic had left its stamp on public institutions, the business and industrial creeds and the way people raised their families and styled personal life.  Non-protestant symbolism was arcane and exotic to all but those who adhered to minority creeds, while protestant mythology and ethos were recognizable beyond the churches.  pg 210

 

 

 

5.    The automatic identification of Protestantism with the middle-class way of life points to still another reality.  The acceptance of social Christianity had never been widespread or more than skin deep.  With the South and much of the northern Protestantism permanently and deeply committed to revivalist individualism, only the few - however articulate they may have been - had been won to a deep involvement that Christianity should get out of its private corner, where it had reposed for one century, and back to all areas of life where it had been at home for many centuries.  pg 229

6.  The passions which later Protestantism was to bring to the racial question and which earlier evangelicals had brought to personal vices and reforms of them, the social realists directed to the problems of labor.  pg 239

7.  To the critics of nationalism and colonialism, the former (worldwide missionary activity) was an expression of Anglo-Saxon and even of American empire.  To the partisans of mission, it was an enlargement of witness to the power of the Kingdom of God and a fulfillment of Christ’s command to go into all the world.  To the cynical outsider, or anti-ecumenical Christian, the ecumenical movement represents a great retreat, a failure of nerve, the compromise men make when they have no longer much to profess, when their faiths are vague and meaningless.
  The missionary movement of the nineteenth century and the ecumenical movement of the twentieth, however, had common roots.  Both were in their origins, expressions of northwest European and Anglo-American desires to reduce the world in the name of Christ to the faith and the culture of the superior West.  Missions would convert and transform men; they would save souls, spread holiness, bring education and healing, help develop cultures.  Unitive would be the agent for missions and the follow-up to them.  pg. 244

8.  Premillennialism, a view that would have been heretical to colonial and the early national period evangelicals, says in effect that the churches cannot do much about the nagging issues of their day.  pg 256

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