What We’re Reading – April 2012

I’ve always been a book lover and I’m betting many of you are as well.  I was thinking that once a month I’d check in to see what some of you out there are reading.  It will be interesting and might give us books to add to our reading list.  Doesn’t matter to me if it’s related to religion or not.  Might be helpful if we provide a bit of a description, but not necessary.  Feel free to share your thoughts about the books if you’re far enough into them – or come back and post your thoughts once you’re done.

Right  now I’m reading The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine.  I read it during my deconversion at some point but wanted to read it again to refresh my memory.  I’ll likely be doing some posts about it once I’m finished.  Here’s a description from Wikipedia:

The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology is a deistic pamphlet, written by eighteenth-century British radical and American revolutionaryThomas Paine, that criticizes institutionalized religion and challenges the legitimacy of the Bible, the central sacred text of Christianity. Published in three parts in 1794, 1795, and 1807, it was a bestseller in the United States, where it caused a short-lived deistic revival. British audiences, however, fearing increased political radicalism as a result of the French Revolution, received it with more hostility. The Age of Reason presents common deistic arguments; for example, it highlights what Paine saw as corruption of the Christian Church and criticizes its efforts to acquire political power. Paine advocates reason in the place of revelation, leading him to reject miracles and to view the Bible as an ordinary piece of literature rather than as a divinely inspired text. It promotes natural religion and argues for the existence of a creator-God.

Most of Paine’s arguments had long been available to the educated elite, but by presenting them in an engaging and irreverent style, he made deism appealing and accessible to a mass audience. The book was also inexpensive, putting it within the reach of a large number of buyers. Fearing the spread of what they viewed as potentially revolutionary ideas, the British government prosecuted printers and booksellers who tried to publish and distribute it. Paine nevertheless inspired and guided many British freethinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Just started Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman:

… Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think and the way we make choices.  System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.  Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities – and also the faults and biases – of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and our choices.

I’m giving these discussions their own category – What We’re Reading – so it will be easy for people to come back to these posts easily when they are looking for book ideas and discussions.

Now your turn!


4 thoughts on “What We’re Reading – April 2012

  1. Ok. I recently finished “Tankbread” (a break from Whitman) which is a raunchy zombie book with some clever and original ideas. If you like the genre, I highly recommend it. Currently I’m reading “Why I believed: Reflections of a former missionary” by Kenneth Daniels; excellent and very challenging. Really.. you have to read this book as he does such a good job of laying out his reasons for leaving Christianity in a gentle and honest way. (Thanks for the recommend, Brenda!).

  2. I just finished reading The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, which is actually a book for tweens and teens. I think my oldest daughter will probably enjoy it in a couple of years — I thought it was very good. Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

    Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones.With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger. As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

    Now, I’m about to wrap up the book Has God Spoken? by A.O. Schnabel. It’s not a well-known book, though Amazon does have a listing for it. My dad gave it to me in the hopes it would change my mind about God and the Bible. Here’s what the first Amazon review says about it:

    What a shame this book is out of print. It is a definitive work on the existence of God. Believe it or not, there are those in this world who do believe The Bible is the word of God. Mr. Schnabel has taken the position of educator, assumes his student does not believe The Bible, and sets about PROVING not only that God Is but that He has indeed spoken to us! Quite a task; yet he does it humbly, eloquently, thoroughly, and exalting only God and not himself. The book is easy to read, follows scriptural authority, yet uses secular sources to prove God’s existence and authority. I have met Mr. Schnabel, heard him teach, and attended two debates in which he participated. He is truly committed to his work as an evangelist, is a very humble man, a very eloquent, articulate and knowledgeable man. This book of his is well worth the price and doubly well worth the read.

    Much of the book deals with science. However, he’s a young earth creationist and maintains that science backs up that position. He has a number of sources — I’ve noticed that most of his sources, especially the ones against evolution, were published in the early 20th century. Not much of a surprise. Anyway, he offers some evidence that I haven’t run across before, so once I finish reading the book, I’m going to spend some time verifying these claims. I expect them to be overblown, but I’m going to give them a fair shake anyway.

    Once I finish this, I’ll probably finish reading my copy of The Speech by Bernie Sanders. It’s just a transcript of the filibuster speech he gave at the end of 2010. It’s pretty interesting.

    And then I plan to start reading The Frontiersmen: A Narrative by Alan Eckert. My uncle gave me a copy last weekend, and I’m looking forward to getting into it. Here’s the first paragraph from the Amazon description:

    The frontiersmen were a remarkable breed of men. They were often rough and illiterate, sometimes brutal and vicious, often seeking an escape in the wilderness of mid-America from crimes committed back east. In the beautiful but deadly country which would one day come to be known as West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, more often than not they left their bones to bleach beside forest paths or on the banks of the Ohio River, victims of Indians who claimed the vast virgin territory and strove to turn back the growing tide of whites. These frontiersmen are the subjects of Allan Eckert’s dramatic history.

    Thanks for posting this, Brenda — it was a great idea!

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