books

What’s On Your Bookshelves?

Yesterday, in response to a Tweet by Goodreads (@goodreads) that asked: “How many books do you bring on vacation?” (which was a retweet of @TamoraPierce), I admitted that I prefer an e-reader (Kindle specifically for Wifey® and I both).  I mentioned several reasons;

  • No rushing back to a library to return the books on time.
  • E-books (and whichever device you use) take up much less physical room than a traditional “dead tree” books.
  • You can download new books anywhere you can get a Wi-Fi signal at a minimum (or a cellular signal if your tablet has that capability).

When we took our trip to North Carolina over the Thanksgiving week, both Wifey® and I had at least five unread books on our tablets (we both have Samsungs), available for us in case of bad weather, or if we just decided not venture out that day.  I think the only day we didn’t do too much was Thanksgiving day.  I know I only read, maybe, a total of 3 hours over that week. But that was my choice.

Then, later yesterday my friend Kiersten (you can find her blog at Once Upon A Spine, (which I think it a really cool title) asked me “What do you put on your bookshelves?” Why Celtic pottery and a family altar of course! Well, at least the tops of our little bookcases are filled that way.  We do have a collection of books in both of the cabinets, one is mostly cookbooks and the other old sci-fi. I have no idea why we’re holding on to these, but there they are.

 

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Some of our Celtic pottery. The cookbooks are stored below.

All the pottery has been purchased from And Sarah Laughed. We find them every year at the Central Florida Highland Games. This year we didn’t buy anything simply because we’re running out of room. Plus we are trying to downsize. After spending twenty years in the military and averaging 22 months between moves, we learned to live with a lot less “stuff”. We’ve been in this house twenty years now. And we have lots of “stuff”.  Too much “stuff”.

 

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A bad picture of the family altar with our parent’s pictures above. Sorry, I cut off my mom’s picture.

We also have about 5 different versions of the Bible under the TV in our bedroom. We don’t use them anymore, but they’re still there.

So that’s what we have on our bookshelves.  What do you have on yours?

Peace,
B

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Some Resources

If you read my post yesterday, I’ve Been Tagged, (If you didn’t why not? Go read it now dammit!) One of the questions I was asked was “If you could befriend any author in real life, who would it be?”. I had several on my list, but number one with a bullet (sorry a throwback to my DJ days), is Dr. Bart D. Ehrman.

Dr. Ehrman is a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, the college I wanted to go to when I graduated High School way back when. My SAT score was even #1 for the school that year, so I feel that despite my mediocre grades (I’m sure my grades would have been much better if I had only shown up for more classes than band – yes I was, and still am a band geek), I would have been accepted. No financial assistance or anything, but I could have gone. But my mom said it was out of the question since it was a “party school”. How the hell did she know? Did she read the Playboy Party School articles? I know that’s how I learned which were the biggest party schools (it was always some little college in San Diego that took top honors, I forget the name). My reason for going there was at the time, the Dean of the medical school was a Dr. Issac Taylor. Probably better known as the father of musical genius James Taylor. I was just hoping that James would make a spontaneous appearance or two while I was there. I didn’t know he and his father were not exactly on speaking terms.  So I joined the military instead.  That’ll show ’em I thought. Screw college.

So that was a long paragraph with very little about Dr. Ehrman.  This is a link to his Amazon Author Page. I tend to buy Kindle books, simply because I don’t like killing trees. Although I admit, I do sometimes miss being able to just flip back to a section to quote something online. But you can highlight in the Kindle app, and that works for me.

Dr. Ehrman’s books are simply amazing. As a preeminent professor of the New Testament, despite not being a Christian, his views will quite often fall outside the “accepted norm”.  But, many times his writings have become the “accepted norm”.

He has a blog.  It’s not free, which at first disappointed me. I was like, “I’m already paying for your books, why do I need to pay to read your blog too?”.  But after reading a little deeper, I found that all proceeds from the blog go straight to several charities in and around where he lives. That made all the difference to me. I immediately signed up and paid my “dues”.

One of the benefits of this blog is his almost daily postings on various biblical topics.  They have covered topics such as “Paul’s View On Women”, “Were Cut & Paste Jobs Common In Antiquity” (which was actually a guest post). Along with “Is Paul Given Too Much Credit”, which is today’s post, asks some great questions about why the early church fathers don’t use Paul’s teachings. His series on “Was Jesus Given Special Treatment” (a series on whether or not Jesus was allowed to be taken down from the cross the day he was crucified or not). Is especially interesting (and I agree with Dr. Ehrman). It also has a quote that sums my belief in the person we call Jesus Christ;

He is important to us.  For Christians, he is their Savior.  For those of us who are not Christian – at least for me – he is the most important figure in the history of civilization.  I spend my life thinking about him, reading about him, researching about him, teaching about him, and writing about him.  I *do* give him special treatment.  Did PILATE give him special treatment?  I just can’t believe he did.

Another resource I’d like to pass along is called “The Great Courses“.  They have courses in just about anything you can think of, from cooking to religion to photography to languages. They are currently running an 80% off special through February 8th, so check them out soon. I bought the combo set of the “Old Testament” taught by Dr. Amy-Jill Levine and the “New Testament” taught by none other than Dr. Ehrman. You can get DVD’s, video downloads (my choice – don’t even own a DVD player anymore). Also available are complete transcripts (in paperback dead tree versions) of the videos so you can follow along while watching the videos or for later reference, but there is an extra cost for these. I plan on watching the first Old Testament video today during lunch.

I realize this isn’t living up to my “goal of having a humorous blog” as I said yesterday, but I wanted to pass this along before I forgot about it.

Go check these resources out and let me know what you think!

Peace,
B

Book Review – The Shady Elders Of Zion

I don’t normally do book reviews, I leave that for my friend Kiersten over at Once Upon A Spine. (Hope you don’t mind the link Kiersten, I didn’t ask first). If you like to read, check out her blog, lots of reviews!

Here is what Amazon says about the book;

“The Shady Elders of Zion” is a Minnesota ghost story. Ivan Kalinsky, the book’s narrator, is the last surviving Bolshevik from the class of 1917. When Stalin started purging Jews from the Communist Party ranks in the 1930’s, Kalinsky escaped to Northern Minnesota, where he lived out a long life as a union organizer. Now dead, he’s just about to happily ascend to heaven and reunite with his Bolshevik clan, when two pesky Hassidic ghosts, Singer and Himmelman, blackmail him into helping heal and redirect Joshua Bronstein. Bronstein is a damaged soul, and a candidate for the Lamed Vav, one of the thirty-six hidden righteous men from whom the messiah will be chosen when God decides it’s time. And it becomes Kalinsky’s charge to lead stubborn Bronstein out of his wilderness.

This book was anything but politically correct. Which is why I found it quite funny. Not only does it poke fun at the contentious relationship between Catholics and Jews, it manages to throw in a very bad Native American stereotype as well (it calls her an “Indian”, a term I personally don’t care for).

I don’t read a lot of novels, I tend to keep to theology and philosophy, with a concentration of ancient Biblical texts.  So I was familiar with most of the Jewish concepts that came up. However, I had never heard of the “Lamed Vav”.  Wondering if it’s a real Jewish tradition or just something made up for the book, I looked it up (ain’t Wikipedia a wonderful thing?). Turns out it real! Here’s the link to Wiki article.

I give the book four out of five stars, only taking one away for the over the top racism. The characters are funny, although very stereotypical as I’ve said before. All in all, a very enjoyable read.

Peace,
B

Random Thoughts….

When the wifey and I left the world of structured Christianity and started reading other sources, I dropped most the Christian authors and pastors from my Twitter (which by the way is @beachdaze if you want to connect with me).

I started reading books like;

  • “Did Jesus Exist?”, “Lost Christianities”, and “Misquoting Jesus” by Bart D. Ehrman
  • “The Future of God” by Deepak Chopra
  • “Living Buddha, Living Christ” by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • “Irish Paganism” by Morgan Daimler
  • “Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess” by Courtney Weber
  • “The English Translation of the Qur’an” by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan

And many more mostly on ancient history. I seem to be drawn to stories and information of the first century CE.  Basically the beginnings of the Christian church. For too long I had been told that the bible was inerrant, so it contained no mistakes and no contradictions. Well that didn’t last long. Even as a child I had trouble believing in the flood story.  I knew that almost every race of people on the planet had some kind of flood story. Especially in the Mesopotamian area. And I won’t even get started on “Jonah and the whale”.

I have started again reading books from what would best be called “Christian authors”;

  • Rob Bell – “Velvet Elvis”, “What We Talk About When We Talk About God” and my favorite of his “Love Wins”.
  • Pete Enns – “The Sin of Certainty”, “The Bible Tells Me So”, and “The Evolution of Adam”.
  • Sarah Bessey – “Jesus Feminist”.
  • Marcus Borg – “The God We Never Knew” and “Meeting Jesus Again For The First Time”.

Mixed in with all these are Hunter S. Thompson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Hiaasen to name but a few.  Many baseball books, some books on the ancient Picts (still looking for books on the Dal Riadia) and even “The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus” by Amy-Jill Levine, an atheistic Jew that attends a conservative synagogue.  If you want to learn about the anti-Semitic views in the New Testament, this is a good place to start.

Gone are the old school folks – Max Lucado, John Ortberg, Phillip Yancey and Beth Moore.  Oddly, I still rely on Bishop John Shelby Sprong and the late Phyllis Tickle. We meet Ms. Tickle at a UMC event some years ago. My favorite quote of that event was hers;

“The best thing about being Anglican is where ever there’s three or four of us, there’s bound to be a fifth!”

But to get back to the original idea of this post; Twitter followers.  Since the election I have found myself gravitating backs towards the “Christian” authors and pastors I dropped long ago. I find my social justice and political views aligning back to that compass point. My faith hasn’t changed, I’m still very agnostic and maybe even more so as I age. But it’s these faith leaders that I find on the front lines, at least electronically, that stir my heart and soul (if there is such a thing).

I won’t call these folks out by name. I know that don’t do these things for any kid of recognition, they do it because their faith calls them to do it. I admire that. I wish I had that kind of faith. Some are folks everyone has heard of, others are just friends and family that only know by a few. Some are near, others I’ve never met, but hope to some day (we’re going to make it to The Wild Goose festival one of these years).

So for all the unsung heroes who blog, tweet, facebook, snapchat or otherwise call out those that need calling out (and there’s lots of them there folks these days), thank you.

I got your back.

Peace,
B