Roni 'ncats Relishes 2012: Books and Arts and Crafts Part 6
This is a continuation of the topic Roni 'ncats Relishes 2012: Books and Arts and Crafts Part 5.
This topic was continued by Roni 'ncats Relishes 2012: Books and Arts and Crafts Part 7.
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Books read in 2012
* indicates re-read, # indicates library book, + indicates Kindle book, % indicates Book Off The Shelf (BOTS)
1. The Night Circus# by Erin Morgenstern (387 pp.)
2. Cannery Row# by John Steinbeck (196 pp.)
3. Darkship Thieves% by Sarah A. Hoyt (479 pp.)
4. Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair (447 pp.)
5. The Family Trade% by Charles Stross (308 pp.)
6. Maxwell's Closet+ by Steven Belskie
7. The Goose Girl# by Shannon Hale (400 pp.)
8. Salt: A World History+ by Mark Kurlansky (450 pp.)
9. A Proper Companion+ by Candice Hern
10. Organized Simplicity+ by Tsh Oxenreider (256 pp.)
11. The Pride of Chanur* by C. J. Cherryh (224 pp.)
12. Crochet Master Class+ by Leinhayser and Weiss (191 pp.)
13. Troubled Waters# by Sharon Shinn (391 pp.)
14. Tuesdays at the Castle# by Jessica Day George (225 pp.)
15. Chanur's Venture* by C. J. Cherryh (312 pp.)
16. The Kif Strike Back* by C. J. Cherryh (299 pp.)
17. Chanur's Homecoming* by C. J. Cherry (398 pp.)
18. The Peach Keeper# by Sarah Addison Allen (271 pp.)
19. Enna Burning# by Shannon Hale (317 pp.)
20. The Wild Ways# by Tanya Huff (295 pp.)
21. Midnight in Austenland# by Shannon Hale (272 pp.)
22. Timeless by Gail Carriger (386 pp.)
23. Oath of Fealty* by Elizabeth Moon (471 pp.)
24. Kings of the North* by Elizabeth Moon (478 pp.)
25. Echoes of Betrayal by Elizabeth Moon (451 pp.)
26. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children# by Ransom Riggs (348 pp.)
27. The Hidden Family% by Charles Stross (309 pp.)
28. Firebird # by Jack McDevitt (375 pp.)
29. Undone Deeds by Mark Del Franco (323 pp.)
30. Murder of a Royal Pain % by Denise Swanson (248 pp.)
31. Finding Clarity + by Kim Novak ((242 pp.)
32. Lord Pete %r by Dorothy Sayers (481 pp.)
33. River Secrets # by Shannon Hale (290 pp.)
34. A Gift of Dragons #+ by Anne McCaffrey (304 pp.)
35. Ready Player One # by Ernest Cline (372 pp.)
36. Glory in Death # by J. D. Robb (293 pp.)
37. Blood Maidens # by Barbara Hambly (244 pp.)
38. The Cruellest Month # by Louise Penny (311 pp.)
39. The Genesis of Science # by James Hannam (355 pp.)
40. Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead + by Christiana Miller (330 pp.)
41. Among Others # by Jo Walton (302 pp.)
42. A Discovery of Witches # by Deborah Harkness (579 pp.)
43. The Kingdom of Gods % by N. K. Jemisin (600 pp.)
44. Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, & Politics in the Book of Revelations by Elaine Pagels (177 pp.)
45. The Coroner's Lunch # by Colin Cotterill (257 pp.)
46. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie # by Alan Bradley (373 pp.)
47. Petty Treason # by Madeleine Robins (316 pp.)
48. Entangled + by Barbara Ellen Brink (340 pp.)
Books read in 2012--2nd Quarter
* indicates re-read, # indicates library book, + indicates Kindle book, % indicates Book Off The Shelf (BOTS)
49. The Screwtape Letters* by C. S. Lewis
50. Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers (511 pp.)
51. James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon# by Julie Phillips (405 pp.)
52. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels (151 pp)
53. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever# by James Tiptree, Jr. (520 pp.)
54. Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire (344 pp.)
55. Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch (389 pp.)
56. Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip (278 pp.)
57. A Princess of Mars* by Edgar Rice Burroughs (146 pp.)
58. The Closing of the Western Mind by Charles Freeman (403 pp.)
59. Tea With the Black Dragon* by R. A. MacEvoy (166 pp.)
60. Jesus, Interrupted# by Bart Ehrman (292 pp.)
61. A Sensible Lady+ by Judith Lown (187 pp.)
62. The Curse of Chalion* by Lois McMaster Bujold (442 pp.)
63. The Hallowed Hunt* by Lois McMaster Bujold (470 pp.)
64. Paladin of Souls* by Lois McMaster Bujold (456 pp.)
65. House of Many Ways* by Diana Wynne Jones (404 pp.)
66. Magic Under Glass# by Jaclyn Dolamore (225 pp.)
67. Who Fears Death% by Nnedi Okorafor (386 pp.)
68. Illegal Magic+ by Arlene Blakely (227 pp.)
69. Religion Explained# by Pascal Boyer (330 pp.)
70. Thirty-Three Teeth# by Colin Cotteril (256 pp.)
71. The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett (718 pp.)
72. Changes# by Mercedes Lackey (326 pp.)
73. Daughter of Smoke and Fire# by Laini Taylor (418 pp.)
74. An Undeniable Rogue+ by Amanda Blair (320 pp.)
75. Dandelion Wine* by Ray Bradbury (184 pp.)
76. The Marriage Bargain+ by Sandra Edwards (190 pp.)
77. Curricle & Chaise+ by Lizzie Church (251 pp.)
78. Od Magic* by Patricia McKillip (315 pp.)
79. 97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman (227 pp.)
80. Ridiculous+ by D. L. Carter (325 pp.)
81. oh. my. gods.# by Tera Lynn Childs (264 pp.)
82. Hell: A final Word by Edward William Fudge (173 pp.)
83. Make-Believe# by Elizabeth Goudge (267 pp.)
84. The Scent of Water* by Elizabeth Goudge (222 pp.)
85. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance+ by Lois McMaster Bujold (400 pp.)
86. The Bible Repairman and other Stories# by Tim Powers (170 pp.)
87. A Breath of Eyre# by Eve Marie Mont (331 pp.)
88. Disco for the Departed# by Colin Cotteril (247 pp.)
89. One Dog and His Boy# by Eva Ibbotson (282 pp.)
90. White Cat# by Holly Black (310 pp.)
Books read in 2012--3rd Quarter
* indicates re-read, # indicates library book, + indicates Kindle book, % indicates Book Off The Shelf (BOTS)
91. Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton (253 pp.)
92. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (880 pp.)
93. A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix (352 pp.)
94. Redshirts by John Scalzi (314 pp.)
95. Across the Great Divide by Patricia Wrede (352 pp.)
96. The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow (317 pp.)
97. The Ill-bred Wife by Rosemary Edghill (248 pp.)
98. Deathless by Catherynne Valente (349 pp.)
99. The House of Wisdom by Jim al-Khalili (289 pp.)
100. Colin Firth: The Man who would be King by Sandro Monetti (304 pp.)
101. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (248 pp.)
102. The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (336 pp.)
103. Ink and Steel by Elizabeth Bear (427 pp.)
104. Hell and Earth by Elizabeth Bear (419 pp.)
105. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (298 pp.)
106. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood (267 pp.)
107. Po's Story by Peter Dickinson (208 pp.)
108. Mana's Story by Peter Dickinson (211 pp.)
109. Wolf Wing by Tanith Lee (229 pp.)
110. Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre (312 pp.)
111. Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill (272 pp.)
Books acquired in 2012
This will be only dead tree books and books for which I actually paid money on my Kindle. All the free Kindle books don't count.
1. The Shadow of Saganami by David Weber (PaperBackSwap) (replace)
2. Disappearing Act by Margaret Ball (PaperBackSwap) (replace)
3. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (Kindle-Amazon) $14.99
4. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale (Kindle-Amazon) $.99 READ
5. Impossible Things by Connie Willis (PaperBackSwap)
6. Ashes of Victory by David Weber (paperbackswap) (replace)
7. War of Honor by David Weber (PaperBackSwap) (replace)
8. A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penney (library sale) $1.00
9. Crochet Master Class by Leinhayser and Weiss (Amazon-Kindle) $15.99 READ
10. Undone Deeds by Mark del Franco (Amazon) $7.99 READ
11. Timeless by Gail Carriger (Amazon) $7.99 READ
12. Echoes of Betrayal by Elizabeth Moon (Amazon) $16.58 READ
13. Reading the Old Testament by Lawrence Boadt (PBS)
14. The Princess Bride by William Goldman (PBS)
15. Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey (BookMooch) (replace)
16. Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers (ER) READ
17. Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip (PBS) READ
18. Buddha by Karen Armstrong (PBS)
19. Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, & Politics in the Book of Revelation by Elaine Pagels (Amazon) READ
20. The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett (B&N) READ
21. Green Belt Kakuro (B&N)
22. Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch (Mysterious Galaxy) READ
23. Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire (Mysterious Galaxy) READ
24. 97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman (gift) READ
25. The Bird Catcher by Laura Jacobs (gift)
26. The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin (ER)
27. Dead Cold by Louise Penney (BM)
28. The Hounds of Skaith by Leigh Brackett (PBS)
29. The Reivers of Skaith by Leigh Brackett (PBS)
30. The Ginger Star by Leigh Brackett (PBS)
31. Hell: A final Word by Edward William Fudge (ER) READ
32. Crafting with Cat Hair by Kaori Tsutaya (Amazon)
33. A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix (Amazon Kindle) READ
34. Captain Vorpatril's Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Amazon Kindle) READ
35. The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (MG) READ
36. REdshirts by John Scalzi (MG) READ
37. How Reading Changed my Life by Anna Quindlen (Abilene yard sale)
38. Timothy's Quest by Kate Douglas Wiggins (Abilene antique store)
39. Turquoise Unearthed by Joe Lowry (Abilene Indian Arts Center)
40. Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie (Abilene Indian Arts Center)
41. The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow (ER) READ
42. The Aware by Glenda Larke (PBS)
43. World Soul by Liz Williams (MG)
44. Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (MG) READ
45. The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper (MG)
46. The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris (PBS)
47. Sword of the Rightful King by Jane Yolen (PBS)
48. The Becoming by Jeanne Stein (PBS)
First up to infiltrate! Congrats on your latest thread and for another lovely shot of Lake Murray.
Beautiful necklace, Roni! I can only imagine that it is even more breathtaking in person!
Dang it, I'm fourth in line? I am losing my stride! Oh, well...
I just wanted to let you know, Roni, that after ages of having it on my wishlist, I finally found The Goose Girl at the library, and I polished it off in three days. What a clever retelling of that Grimm fairy tale! Thank you for mentioning it a while ago - it led me to a YA fairy tale series that I am very interested in pursuing.
Sigh. I think I've missed at least one thread. Double sigh. Oh well, mid-year resolution time!!
Just a holdover from the previous thread -- I LOVE Catherynne Valente. I hope you like Deathless. Her The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is one of my favorite reads... ever.
Gorgeous necklace Roni. I make a little jewellery myself, though nothing as intricate or professional looking as that. Fabulous metal work!
Hi Roni. I like the necklace (even though I don't 'do' pink) :-)
Hope the preparations for your upcoming trip go smoothly - it's rare that I can manage to get everything sorted, cleaned or eaten as necessary before going away.
Whew! I'm back. Been busy prepping for the trip--truck to the dealership for a check-up yesterday, spent 3 hours there, but two of that was reading Our Mutual Friend on the Kindle, so not a complete loss. And then last night I finally finished my other book.
Book #91 Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton (253 pp.)
This was fascinating. Walton is taking the conventions of Regency and Victorian novels--Victorian, I suppose, because there are trains and manufacturing, but the societal conventions are very much the same as Austen and Heyer--and applying them such that those conventions are NOT social but physical by having her characters be nonhuman.
Just like Austen's novels, I found I could not read straight through but enjoyed it the most by reading a few chapters at a time and savoring the milieu. It was actually quite stressful when a social error could end up getting one eaten, instead of merely (?) socially ostracized from society, and the issues of dowerless females finding suitable husbands takes on quite an unique twist when unprotected females also found themselves at physical risk. It was fascinating to see how Walton developed her society of dragons, and also lots of fun to see the parallels to Austen's plots in her story. If you like Austen, definitely give it a try.
Many thanks to all who stopped by while I was off gallivanting!
Paul, you were first and foremost, you prime infiltrator, you.
Thank you, Amy. The photo doesn't capture the irridescence of the beads and gradations in hue, unfortunately.
Valerie, so good to see you (and the monkey) back on the threads. Keep cool in Calgary!
Eris, you are slowing down! But I am very happy that you finally read The Goose Girl--I also found it due to the recommendations of fellow LTers.
Thank you, Sara, for dropping by.
Suzanne, get back to working on those articles! I know between your reading and your work how little time you have to browse the threads, so am honored you made it to this one.
Sarah, I enjoyed Valente's first book as well, which pushed Deathless up my wishlist when Richard recommended it in spite of his well-known aversion to fantasy and young protagonists.
Hannah, that's why I take these classes. South Sun's teachers are always working up new designs that I could never come up with on my own.
Thank you, Heather. I am a "summer" so deep pinks, purples, roses, as well as cool blues and greens, are favorites of mine. And the preparations continue apace. The cat sitter is coming by this morning to pick up the house keys, and I got the suitcases out of the attic while it was still cool this morning. Today is the major packing day, tomorrow is trip planning (with the TripTix from AAA and FuelMyRoute.com on the computer) to plan out probable stops and cheapest gas stations, as well as any sightseeing, and Friday is final laundry and house prep day.
The Closing of the Western Mind by Charles Freeman
Chapter 15: Interlude--Quintus Aurelius Symmachus and the Defence of Paganism
This short chapter is primarily an analysis of the symbols on a surviving diptych which show a number of pagan references and is deemed to show that the pagan tradition was still strong even late in the fourth century.
Rome, although still largely intact at this time, is marginal to the government of the Empire, moved both north and east. The senatorial families of the city retained their prestige and their wealth and mostly their pagan roots. At this time, there was increasing pressure from church and emperor to convert, with Paul's influence being particularly powerful in rejecting pagan symbols and statues. The senators wrote to Valentinian II when he succeeded Gratian in 383, not only deploring the removal of the Altar of Victory from the Senate house, but also the denigration of what it represented, the diverse spiritual world of paganism and the freedom of thought it allowed. Ambrose saw the letter and prevailed with the Emperor, saying that the Word of God gave us the whole truth.
Freeman sees this as a pivotal moment, where the Greek speculative tradition allowing for many ways to the truth is replaced by the Christian tradition in which wisdom rests with God alone. He sees these as totally different ways of approaching and interpreting the world. By the fifth century, Christianity was dominant in Rome, with most of the old families converted and the old temples left to decay or transformed into churches.
Hi Roni! Beautiful necklace, I love stones wrapped like that. Tooth and Claw sounds interesting, will have to add it to my library list. Have a lovely evening!
Hello Roni! Love the necklace -- it's beautiful. I enjoyed your review of Tooth and Claw -- what an interesting premise.
Great stuff here - the review of the Walton, the necklace and one more chapter of Closing. I'm sure as sure that the overlap went on and on - I suspect you would find, as Peggy and I have, the book Porius deeply fascinating for that very reason. John Cowper Powys - it's a huge book but a masterpiece, can't even begin to describe it.
The Closing of the Western Mind by Charles Freeman
Chapter 16: The Ascetic Odyssey
"A clean body and clean clothes betoken an unclean mind" The Ascetic Paula, a Roman aristocrat, to her nuns
This chapter looks at the contrast between the new wealth of the Church and the complete renunciation of wealth by many individual Christians who sought refuge in asceticism.
The idea of disciplined training, askesis, was intrinsic to the ancient world whether for games or statesmanship. In somewhat the same way, the Christian hermit who tortures his body to come close to God is a case where discipline eventually brings the possibility of a spiritual transformation.
Asceticism is a complex phenomenon. There is the implication that the mind or soul has a relationship with the body (and that they are separate entities) and this can be manipulated for some higher end, usually the mind or soul subjugating the body. Plato divided the soul into reason, spirit and sensuality, and when the sensual part of the soul aligns with the body, the individual is prevented from reaching any "higher" state. The association of renunciation and the achievement of a higher state of being is at the heart of the ascetic experience.
Continence and emotional restraint were widely valued, and any excess passion or behavior frowned upon. Stoicism was a popular philosophical framework that supported this. So when Christians turned toward asceticism, they were not in new territory but there were elements that took it beyond mere conventional restraint, often into obsessive intensity. There were other groups (the Essenes, the Gnostics, and the Manicheans, for example) who also preached extreme asceticism. Jesus himself had called for poverty and his death enshrined a tradition of suffering at the core of Christian history. Christians of the 4th century were haunted by the agonies of martyrs of the previous generation. For many, it was as if suffering had to be undergone as a mark of one's faith, even to the extent of inflicting it on oneself.
This sense of guilt would have been exacerbated by the new wealth and accepted status of the Church, even as the sufferings of the poor and sick continued while the new wealth corrupted many clergy into lavish lifestyles. So reasonable Christians, remembering the life of Jesus, might withdraw from such pomp and circumstance in reaction. In addition, with the development of an afterlife in heaven of eternal bliss or hell of perpetual tormet, if the soul could be purified, the consequences were enormous. To be confident of salvation, one could not take the risk of anything less than total commitment.
While many pagan philosophers had seen an ascetic approach a requiring no more than a shift of perspective, a reorienting of the personality or soul, Christians tended to dramatize desires, particularly sexual desires (these were all men, btw--personal comment), as seen with Jerome, St. John Chrysostom ("How shall we tie down this wild beast? I know none, save only the restraint of hell fire."), Augustine, and Anthony.
Clarification: the aim was not to torment the flesh itself, but the sins of the flesh. Since Christ had taken on flesh and, at the Last Judgment the individual's flesh would be returned, flesh could not be evil in itself. Asceticism is necessary to strengthen the will against the onslaught of demons/sin. Many ascetics removed themselves to the desert, a milieu where the body is tested to its physical limit and removed from the distractions and temptations of civilization. The Egyptian desert was one of the first and the most prestigious settings. Eventually so many took to the desert that it was said to be as busy as a city. The Syrian desert was also popular, and ascetics would live on pillars in hopes of coming closer to heaven.
Anthony was an archetype of the desert ascetic. He was an Egyptian Christian who spoke Coptic rather than Greek and he did not bother to learn to read or write. Over a long life, he moved further and further into the deep desert. His life was written up by Athanasius or someone close to him and he was described as "possessed of perfect self-control, freedom from passion--the ideal of every monk and ascetic striving for perfection." Many followed in his footsteps and a whole genre of literature in which the ascetic became a celebrity. Famous collections of holy lives blended historical fact with amazing tales of miracles. Manuals explained how to become an ascetic. Many ordinary Christians took up asceticism in their homes. Women refused to marry, couples gave up sex. Perhaps the most profound transformation n the fourth and fifth century was in women who adopted a view of perpetual virginity. This reversal of traditional role was difficult to handle and such women were often considered as honorary men. This gave such women roles of much greater power and influence.
Along with the elevation of virginity in these years came the development of the cult of the Virgin Mary. She now became the ideal of virginal womanhood. Even though the verse from Isaiah in the Septuagint, "A virgin will conceive", was a mis-translation and early Church fathers concentrated on contrasting Mary with Eve, in the fourth century is when the concept of Mary as perpetual virgin developed. The cult took its strength from the need for a symbol of female virginity, and its power was evident in the way that the interpretation of scriptures was distorted to support it. Doctrinally, this culminated in the declaration that Mary was the Mother of God (Theotokos) in 431 at the Council of Ephesus.
The worship of Mary was not confined to ascetics. The need for a goddess figure was profound in a religion founded by Jesus and shaped by Paul, two unmarried men. She came to absorb the attributes of pagan goddesses. These stories were adopted by the Church hierarchy at the highest level.
A consequence of the elevation of virginity was to transform women who did not espouse it into temptresses, daughters of Eve, leading to the dichotomy of virgin and whore with no acceptable expression of female sexuality in between. While this became deeply engrained in later Christian tradition, it's important to not that there were committed Christians who refused to endorse it, such as Justinian, a monk from Rome. Justinian asked why a virgin would be given prominence in the eyes of God over a married person. What was important was baptism followed by a life committed to faith and true repentance from sin. He had good scriptural support and his views, balanced and realistic, appealed to many. So of course Jerome had to write a vicious counter-attack which resulted in Jovinian being declared a heretic, and sex and sin remained inextricably linked in the Christian tradition.
While asceticism could be seen as a turning of one's back on one's fellow men in search of salvation for oneself, another theme was that the ascetic served as an intermediary between God and man. They could receive revelation, recognize demons, and divert demons from others. However, the more stable and less tortured of those drawn to asceticism began to realize that peace of mind was not easy to develop and that there were drawbacks to the ascetic life. In the fourth century, there was a growing impulse to come together to share an ascetic life in community. Monasteries first appeared in the Egyptian desert, but the concept of communal living spread rapidly throughout the east by 355.
Cassian founded a number of monasteries closer to cities. He appreciated the benefits of asceticism without being a fanatic, and develop an organized structure of prayer, reading and meditation, a disciplined pattern of living under authority. Under his influence, asceticism became a part of the mainstream of Christianity in the west, albeit one that rejected political involvement. Now reined in to communities under authority, they did not challenge the authority of Church and State.
Still, asceticism reflected and reinforced an intense preoccupation with the individual self that was to become central to the Christian experience. One can never know whether one is truly saved. There is no way to judge objectively just how guilty one is in the eyes of God. The only true way to secure a rest from tension on earth is to escape completely from the exercise of moral responsibility--the virtue of obedience becomes crucial.
Whew! Only 4 more chapters, and my goal is to finish before we leave on Saturday.
Thanks, Laura, Anne and Lucy!
Well, I read through the next chapter again and it is dense and I'm not going to get any more summaries done before we go. Sorry if anyone is still paying attention--it will have to wait until we get back in August. I've been juggling too many things getting ready to be gone to be able to handle such a complex chapter.
Thanks for the summary Roni! I feel like I just read a scholarly article.
I read The Dovekeepers a couple of months ago which featured a small group of Essenes who were adamant about being separate from the larger group of Jews. I found all of it rather fascinating.
Hope you have some time to relax before you go on your trip and have an awesome time on the cruise. I've only been on one cruise, which was on my honeymoon, and I LOVED it. :)
Thanks, Valerie. When we get to the cruise in October, we'll have several days each in Seattle and Vancouver before getting on the boat.
Well, we made 700 miles in 10 hours today and are at a motel in Provo, Utah at the moment.
Hope you have a great trip. I really liked your review of Tooth and Claw so must add it to my tbr.
Hi Roni, I'm catching up with the last part of Thread 5 and your new thread. I love, love, love Roberta Flack. We are going to see James Taylor next week, another of my old favorites. Have a great trip and reunion. The weather in the midsection is moderating somewhat just in time for your arrival!
I think I missed another thread but I see that The Closing of the Western Mind keeps going on and on. Roni, I really think that on the basis of your summaries I would be justified in moving this book from my unread section to the completed section. I'm very grateful!
Thanks, Kerry. Hope you enjoy it.
Donna, James Taylor is another of my favorites as well--enjoy! Yes, we were shocked stopping for gas in Las Vegas to find it was only 88 degrees. Our deserts had been in the hundred and teens last week.
Anne, we have 4 more chapters to finish the book, but it will have to wait until I get back to San Diego. Then I'll create a thread of all the summaries.
I only got a little of Our Mutual Friend last night before succumbing to sleep. It's 5:30 in the morning here (4:30 in SD), and we'll be heading off again for another 700 miles today to end up in North Platte, NE.
700 miles in one day. I am flattened by the very idea. And then getting up and doing it again.
I'm another one who seems to have missed a thread.
Wow, that's a lot of ground to cover! I can't do highway driving, myself. It's too boring to hold my attention, though I used to enjoy it when I first started driving.
Hope you are enjoying your trip, Roni. Have fun at the family reunion.
Well, we managed it, Lucy! I'm a little surprised as well. But maybe because we stop several times a day because we have Molly with us, and stretch, I am actually tolerating it much better than I did when younger.
My husband insists on doing all the driving, humouress, so I just enjoy the scenery.
Ready to head off for the last lap today. We should be in Abilene by mid-afternoon. No reading at all yesterday.
We hit Abilene right on schedule. Having a good time with family. No reading yet.
thanks. First part of the reunion is tonight, but I've spent most of today so far at my sister/nephew's yard sale in 104 degree heat. Yuck!
I've made it to chapter 13 of book 3 of Our Mutual Friend.
Roni - hope you are recovering from car lag and that the reunion is everything you hoped it would be.
Who has a yard sale in that kind of heat? I would think customers would be much more plentiful in the fall. Will you be returning home by a different route? There is so much gorgeous scenery in the western states. Have a safe trip home, Roni.
104F ... *feels faint* ... yard sale *collapses*! Why oh why was your sister holding a yard sale in such hellish weather?
Well, it's like this. My nephew and his wife have lived and taught high school in Olathe, KS (KC metropolitan level) for the last 8 years. She's gotten her administrative credential and looked for a position and found and accepted one in Salina, 20 miles west of Abilene. So my nephew took a job here in Abilene, and they have moved in with my sister and her husband until their house sells and they can find a new one out here. And this sale was a lot of their 3 children's clothes and toys. And the garage had to be cleared out so there is room for their furniture from their house, which hopefully sold the same day as the sale. And actually, it was a big success--they sold absolutely oodles.
Reunion is over, was great fun. Another week to the family reunion, and then we'll consider our return route.
Wow, that's hot! My husband and daughter are also sweltering this week on RAGBRAI in Iowa. Hope you find a way to stay cool. They recommend root beer floats :)
Oiy! That is hot! I hope your are enjoying your vacation despite the heat, Roni!
We've been in air conditioning most of the time, but we got out this morning for some fishing after a rain last night cooled it down into the 90s. It was a farm pond with catfish--my BIL caught 3 little ones and one nice-sized catfish, and I hooked a couple of little ones and lost my hook twice.
We've been driving through Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana and it's been horrible. Finally reached a decent temp. Today in northern Ohio.
Just stopping by to say hi, Roni. Glad it cooled down enough for you to get in some fishing.
Passing by to say hello! Glad to hear the trip is going well, regardless of the heat... :)
#47 107 degress? Wowser - I can't imagine that kind of heat. Hope you enjoyed the fishing.
111 yesterday--glad we are starting out of here tomorrow! Should be home in San Diego Thursday night.
Book #92 Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (880 pp.)
It's been a long time since I've read Dickens, and I found some of his idiosyncracies of grammar a little irritating, but the story carried me along. I was completely fooled by the final twist, which was rather fun.
Oh Roni, you will be so happy to get out of this insane heat. My energy is almost nonexistent on these miserable days. I hope most of your activities were inside! Have a good trip back home.
Glad you're back, Roni! I haven't been commenting much, but I've been keeping up. I hope you'll be all right tomorrow.
Glad to see you are home safe and sound, Roni. I bet you are looking forward to some refreshing ocean breezes after the inland heat you've been experiencing!
My thanks to Joe, Faith, Hannah, Anne, QQ, Paul, Stasia, Valerie, Donna, Caro, Reba, Heather, Lucy, Eris, and Judy for keeping my thread warm while I was otherwise occupied. We are tired today but enjoying the 25 degree drop in temps from the midwest! I've been watching Olympics and starting to catch up on others' threads, but now I'm going to go read some more of my Garth Nix, A Confusion of Princes, on my Kindle in front of the big TV while stretched out on the couch.
Guess I was closer to the end than I realized!
Book #93 A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix (352 pp.)
This new YA by Nix is science fiction rather than fantasy and concerns one of the cogs of an interstellar Empire as he learns rather more about its workings than he ever suspected. Decent world-building, but it never drew me in the way the Abhorsen fantasy trilogy did.
>64: Did you read the Keys of the Kingdom series he did? If so, how does this new one compare? I didn't think KoK was as good as Abhorsen by a mile, but I did enjoy it.
64 - Just what I was wondering... I don't think Nix has written anything as good as the Abhorsen stuff since, although I do think his previous novel, Shade's Children, is of comparable quality. Thanks for the info!
Yes, Tad, I've read all of the KoK series, which I enjoyed quite a bit early on and then not the last two books as much. This is written to an older audience (15-18?) than the young teens targeted there, those 12-14 year-olds. It's a first person account of a young (age 22) man who is selected and adapted to be a key mover in this Empire, and how he came to question his training. As I said, I thought the world-building interesting and well-done, but I never connected emotionally with the protagonist in the story. Even with the world-building, I didn't think the plot that original, the detail that detailed, or the character that interesting. I agree with you, Natalie. It's disappointing. But I do think teens might well enjoy it, and that it's better than his Troubletwisters, which was also aimed at the younger kids.
Book #94 Redshirts by John Scalzi (314 pp.)
Obviously a fast read, as I only started it after message 64, this is another fun exposition of Scalzi's offbeat humor. Dealing with science fiction TV shows after his own experience writing scripts, Scalzi uses this as a starting point to play with the genre and Hollywood stereotypes. Light, humorous, whether you are a Star Trek fan or not, you will enjoy this one.
Whoa, you read so fast Roni! You were able to finish the whole book from the time you wrote msg 64?? That is impressive!
I read Redshirts in June, but I found it a bit of a one note joke.
>67: Perhaps I won't read it, then. I have this feeling that Nix will never reach the level he did with Abhorsen—not quite a one-book-author but not one of those who can sustain his best over and over.
I just added Redshirts to my tbr list after seeing Dr Neutron's comments. I thought A confusion of princes was ok and would appeal to it's target audience but definitely not as good as the Abhorsen books and Shade's children. There was going to be a tie-in game based on the book, but it became a lost cause at the beta development stage.
Wow Roni you read Redshirts in less than four hours at over 1.25 pages a minute! Talk about coming back refreshed from your break.
Welcome home! It looks like you are making up for some lost reading time.
Book #95 Across the Great Barrier by Patricia Wrede (352 pp.)
This is the second book in the Frontier Magic series, an alternate history where the settling of the New World was greatly inhibited by dangerous magical wildlife and the setting is second half of the 1800s along the Mississippi. Very interesting world-building.
Welcome home! Redshirts sounds interesting!
Hope you are enjoying your weekend
Patricia Wrede, woohoo! I've never heard of this book before, but I will have to give that book a look, because I'm a big fan of hers. Also, this story sounds interesting (I do love alternate histories). Thank you, Roni!
Redshirts looks like fun, Roni. I've read others by him, but they were more straightforward sci-fi. This sounds like a hoot, particularly for folks (like me) who watch sci-fi TV shows.
I've added Redshirts to my ILL list; unfortunately my library doesn't have it and the partner libraries won't loan it to another library for 90 or 120 days. :-(
Hi Roni, dropping by to see what's going on.
I was wondering about Garth Nix's new series, but haven't had the chance to check it out. I haven't tried anything but his Abhorsen series.
Thank you for dropping by, Hannah, Eris, Heather, Katherine, Joe, Janet and Marie! So good to see you.
Book #96 The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow (317 pp.)
This ER ARC was waiting for me when I got home, and the cover words screaming "SORCERY! SEDUCTION! DEDUCTION!" were so demanding that I had to get it read quickly. (Note: those words are NOT on the official cover, but they are on the ARC in 1.24 inch tall letters.)
Another alternative England, this one puts together sorcery and Sherlock-Holmsian deduction to create a lively story of treachery and betrayal of the Crown. Extremely interesting world-building and equally interesting characters, this one is all action from start to finish.
Although there are some similarities to the Parasol Protectorate books, this is grittier, and there is no comedy of manners here. The steampunk characteristics of Victorian industrialism are shared, but the fog of Londinium in this story is more like an nasty, unsavory character. The built-in antagonism of the sorcerers and the mentaths sets up a dynamic tension right from the first.
Me too. I wanted that one, but got a book on Jefferson instead. That one will be good too! :)
#84: Adding that one to the BlackHole. Thanks for the review and recommendation, Roni!
It's funny how different the discussion about Iron Wyrm is on your thread than mine :) I didn't like it that much. Certainly not as much as Parasol Protectorate or the other steampunk I've read.
The Dramatic Headlines on the front cover were pretty annoying. Wonder why they chose to do that?
Sounds good. I wasn't totally enamored of the Parasol books, but mostly because I thought they were a little too fluffy. The "grittier" aspect of this might strike the right balance for me.
Welcome home Roni! I like the idea of a steampunky detective story with magic...might have to check that one out!
I just realized, as I was recording my books from here onto my spreadsheet, that I missed acknowledging a whole slue of my visitors from messages 69 through 75. So sorry, Valerie, Calm, Chris or Paula, Tad, Kerry, Paul and Donna. I did not in any way mean to slight you, my friends, and thank you for visiting.
I was going through my books in order to prepare my July summary, but realized it is really going to be very short. I only read 2 books in July, Tooth and Claw before I left, and Our Mutual Friend throughout the month. Lucy, I didn't get anything else read while gone--all the rest of those books above were read after I got back home. That's 1133 pages. And I acquired 2 hardbacks from Mysterious Galaxy (supporting my local indie bookstore), Redshirts and The Long Earth.
Blue, I read your review on your thread after I finished The Iron Wyrm Affair, but didn't get back to comment on it. I too would place the Parasol Protectorate and Alchemy of Stone books as better written, but I was intrigued by the writing style of this book. Even if turgid in spots, it reflects the atmosphere it is conveying. (Still haven't managed to read Priest or Westerfeld, although I plan to.) However, I freely admit to being a sucker for magical detective stories--Garrett's Lord Darcy books are among my favorite comfort reads. If you all try it, Kerry, Jim, Stasia, Tad, and Hannah, it will be very interesting to add your reflections to the mix.
Yesterday we cleaned up the back yard and deck, both looking a little shabby after our absence, and sat out watching the birds and butterflies. Today I made it to water aerobics. I'm working slowly on Deathless and waiting for a few books to come in at the library.
Noticing that Vintage has just published a paperback reprint of the Nancy Mitford biography by Selina Hastings and that The Night Circus and 11/22/63 are both out in paperback now. (catching up on email) Star Wars Origami, anyone?
Why is it that every single Lilith Saintcrow book has a cover that is just too obnoxious? I've seen rows of her books in various stores, some of which (like the one you reviewed above) have intriguing premises, but I'm always totally turned off by the cover. They just LOOK like they're badly written. Is it just me?
I am glad to know, though, that this one is fun to read. Perhaps I'll try to get past the cover, since I do love a good steampunk adventure.
Book #97 The Ill-Bred Bride by Rosemary Edgehill (248 pp.)
This was a freebie I picked up at the library give-away box for when I wanted a quick Regency. Respectable but not outstanding.
Sarah, the big words are not on the published copy, just the ARCs, and the cover is really not so awful without them.
No, no, I read the genteel stuff, Piyush. A chaste kiss, perhaps, but NO sex. Not the salacious stuff.
It must be nice to be home. I'm away from home, now, too, and am looking forward to getting back.
Sure you do! Likewise I am sure that the bride earned her reputation of being "Ill Bred" just with a chaste kiss or two!
Oh, that referred to her family being in trade instead of the aristocracy, Piyush. Quite another matter!
Book #98 Deathless by Catherynne Valente (349 pp.)
Cat Valente has an original mind. It doesn't work like other people's minds. This makes reading her books dangerous--it is
>101 Baba Yaga's chickenfooted limo is alive in my memories.
I am remiss for not commenting until now, especially as I am delurking to shed some softly accusatory tears at no mind-closings....
But, but, Richard! I thought you wanted me to be open-minded!! (Not to mention they are showing men's platform diving on tv right now--oh my, oh my!!!)
Actually, I have been looking at that book at least twice a day for the last few days and thinking that I really have to get to that monster Chapter 17 and then finish the last three chapters, all of which will be easier. Maybe tomorrow, just for you? At least, the next chapter.
#101: I have two of Valente's books sitting at my house waiting for me to read them, but not that one. I will have to add it to the BlackHole though!
>103 *beams* Even if it's not tomorrow, it's not forgotten, and that counts for more! xo
Deathless looks intriguing Roni - I must look it up.
Have a great weekend.
Hi Roni, oh but you are so bad for my wishlist! Deathless sounds extremely intriging and it's been added.
Hope you are enjoying the weekend.
The Closing of the Western Mind by Charles Freeman
Chapter 17: Eastern Christianity and the Emergence of the Byzantine Empire, 395-600
In 395, the Roman empire was formally split in two, with Theodosius’ son Arcadius in the Greek-speaking East and his son Honorius in the Latin-speaking West. While the East was able to consolidate its territory and maintain its empire until overthrown by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, the western empire disintegrated. This had profound implications for Christianity, which now would develop within two different linguistic and political cultures. Whatever doctrinal differences are seen as marking the split of the Church, they were rooted in these political and linguistic differences. In the East, Church and state remained closely bound, in the west the bishops eventually regained their independence and negotiated new roles within society.
During the fourth century the emperor had consolidated his position as absolute ruler, with his quasi-divine status. It was written, “The emperor bears the image of God, just as the bishop bears the image of Christ,” by Ambrosiaster. Representations of heaven in Christian mosaics were modeled on the imperial court. This image was matched by the emperor’s power, especially his punitive power, which was wielded more typically in an Old Testament fashion than the New Testament.
Both the Byzantine empire and the Church were constantly preoccupied with survival and became natural allies. The laws against Jews and non-orthodox Christians reached a new coherence and severity, with harsh punishments. The mentality of Christian “weakness” persisted even when the church in reality had achieved strength, and tensions beset the church in the late fourth and fifth centuries, especially in the conflict between the roles of bishop as Christian leader and as imperial servant. An example of this was the life of John Chrysostom (347-407).
John converted to Christianity as a young man. Like so many, he spent several years as an ascetic and always retained his abhorrence of sex, claiming God had intended Adam and Eve to be an asexual couple. Heavily influenced by Paul, he always interpreted him in the most gloomy and grudging way. John’s asceticism permanently damaged his health, but he was eventually ordained a priest in his native city. He became the most popular and influential preacher in Antioch due to the clarity of his language, the emotional power of his rhetoric, and his concentration on everyday challenges. He denounced wealthy women, even the virgins, flaunting their dress and jewels and men obsessed with food and sport while beggars were dying in the cold. He also used his powers of invective against the Jews, calling them dogs, perverts and tarts, and his writings on this subject persisted in influence long after their composition.
In 398, John was unexpectedly asked to become bishop of Constantinople. This could have been an important promotion, but John was hopelessly unsuited for the post. He failed to grasp that in Constantinople more than anywhere else the church was subservient to the state and was made uneasy by the luxury of the court and unceasing in his criticism of the clergy and nobility. He aroused enormous resentment and had no sense of building alliances and support, with his only power base the common people who relished his populist sermons. So when the Alexandrian bishop, Theophilus, challenged his position, John was vulnerable. The empress Eudora was incensed at his criticism of the vanities of women and supported Theophilus when he came to Constantinople, and John was temporarily banished. Even though he was recalled, he did not last long thereafter. He died in exile in 407.
John’s contemporary, Ambrose, in Milan, in contrast knew the intricacies of imperial administration and also the importance of keeping local bishops and clergy on his side. When he used crowds it was in an organized way with clear objectives.
The rivalry between Constantinople and Alexandria erupted again in the debate that dominated the first half of the fifth centure over the true nature of Jesus on earth. By incorporating Jesus fully into the Godhead, the Nicene Creed had created a new controversy. In the tradition, pre-Nicene formulations, the “logos” of Christ was something less than the Godhead. Since the “logos” was not God and although incarnated in Christ, it did not have to show the attributes of an eternal God so there was no difficulty accepting Jesus suffering on the cross. However, the Nicene formulation, where Jesus was always part of the Godhead and remained so while on earth, raised new difficulties as to how he could be human at the same time. If the “logos” really was part of the Godhead, consubstantial with it, then the “logos” could not suffer any more than God could. Yet Jesus in the Gospels did appear to suffer. These questions spawned a variety of putative solutions. There were still the adoptionists who insisted Jesus was fully human and only adopted by God as his Son. The Doceticists taught that Jesus only gave the appearance of being human but was completely divin and unable to suffer. The Apollinarians and others argued that Christ had a human body but his soul and mind remained divine. Another bishop argued that Jesus had been conceived twice, once in divine form and once in human form. But each attempted resolution simply raised more issues.
Connected to this debate was the status of the Virgin Mary, as she became the object of growing person devotion and her status rested on her role as the mother of Jesus. Was the the bearer of God (Theotokos) or of a man (Anthropotokos)? Nestorius, appointed bishop of Constantinople in 428, worried that Theotokos denied the human nature of Jesus altogether, although he would compromise on Christokos. He still had difficulty with Jesus’ status although he favored the word “conjunction” of the two natures. But his made him vulnerable to the new bishop of Alexandria, Cyril. Cyril championed the Theotokos formula and saw the issue as a way to undermine Nestorius and Constantinople’s influence. He circulated a pastoral letter explaining that the Nicene Creed made Theotokos the only possible title for Mary and persuaded the bishop of Rome, Celestine, to agree, as well as the young emperor’s powerful sister Pulcheria. The debate degenerated into a power struggle and Cyrus arrived at the Council of Ephesus in 431 with a large group of strong men and produced a conclusion before Nestorius and his supporters had even arrived, then used massive bribery to keep the imperial court on his side. Nestorius was condemned as a heretic.
In 449, another attempt at solving the controversy aroused even greater anger. A second council at Ephesus was dominated by Cyril’s successor, Dioscorus. He used imperial support and armed guards to bully his way into control of the council and force bishops to sign their names to blank pieces of paper. But now the emperors had learned their lesson--doctrine could not be settled when personal and institutional rivalries were allowed to stop debate. Once again imperial control had to be asserted. Monks were barred from church business, the prestige of Constantinople was enhanced, and it was stated that after the Incarnation, Christ was at all times fully God and fully human with two natures without confusion, change or separation, and disagreeing with this was punishable by law.
However, the debate had gone on for so long with so many different views developed that it continued to be an ongoing source of controversy. In the 490s there were riots in Constantinople when a phrase suggesting a single nature was added to the liturgy of Hagia Sophia. In truth, it was probably impossible to make any satisfactory reconciliation between the doctrine of the Trinity and the doctrine of a Christ with two natures. Once again the state had to declare a compromise formula then enforced by law.
Because of the preservation of the writings of those who came to be considered the early church fathers and because the church was so deeply embedded in the legal and political system, in hindsight the church seems much more powerful than it really was at this point. Perhaps the majority of subjects of the empire continued to live within their traditional cultures. A conversion to Christianity was often not abrupt. A catechumen could linger for years on the brink of baptism, and not be subject therefore to the rules of the Church. The Virgin Mary, saints and martyrs, as well as the angels and demons, filled the Christian world with as many supernatural presences as the pagan world, and Christians continued to believe in the existence of the pagan gods as demons. Many Christian ceremonies were linked to existing pagan festivals, and served the same purposes of fertility, safety from enemies, safe childbirth and good weather. Pagans treated Christian shrines as another manifestation of the divine, equal to pagan shrines, and even adopted Christian imagery.
The church, even while adapting to some degree to existing practices, was deeply rooted in the rejections of Judaism and paganism and heretics. With its new official status, it could take the initiative against its enemies. This took the form not only of reallocating moneys to churches from temples but also of deliberate destruction of statues, inscriptions and temples. This destruction was revolutionary in that the very fabric of city life had grown around the sacred precincts over centuries. The elimination of paganism was accompanied by a dampening of emotion, dance and song so effective that we still lower our voices when we enter a church. Under Justinian (emperor 527-65), the full weight of the law was enforced against paganism. One of his laws ended the imperial toleration of all religions extended by Constantine in 313. The death penalty was decreed for those who practiced pagan cults and after 900 years of teaching, Plato’s Academy was closed in Athens in 529. Yet even then, paganism continued to flourish, especially in the country and mountains. While Byzantium survived as a Christian theocratic state, around it other pieces of the puzzle that still define world politics in the 21st century were being put into place.
Ditto. I keep running across that one and thinking it looks worthwhile.
Hi Roni, The Iron Wyrm Affair sounds interesting and looks like it could be worth a go. It has been added to the never ending wishlist pile sigh.
>110 That was the most painful piece yet. I always want it to come out differently than it did! And somehow it never does. *waaah*
Thank you, many times over, for these wonderful and concise summaries.
Heavily influenced by Paul, he always interpreted him in the most gloomy and grudging way. I like your phrasing!
Thank you for your summaries (are you sure you're not writing a thesis?). They are really interesting; but if the summaries are this long, I'm not sure if I'd survive the actual book.
The Valente books, as I said, are very interesting. Even though I always find some elements disturbing, I am pulled into the narrative. I hope you enjoy them, Stasia, Paul, Heather and Judy.
Humouress, I am now suffering from Olympic withdrawal! Nothing to watch on TV!
Apachecat, I think you'd enjoy The Iron Wyrm Affair.
Richard, I live to please you. I've been working on the next chapter, a parallel one on the Western Empire, for the last few days...soon.
My thread hasn't been all that interesting lately. For one thing, I missed 2 weeks of pottery while I was gone, and then the studio owner is gone for 3 weeks on vacation, so I have had no chance to do any pottery. Also in withdrawal over that. But here are two bracelets I made back in Kansas, and also a rest stop in Colorado on the way back.
This one doesn't really show up well in this picture--much prettier in real life.
Ooohh..I love the bracelets, Roni! Very intricate and beautiful. :)
I too am suffering from Olympics withdrawal. Even if I wasn't interested in all the events, it was nice to just have it on in the background as a constant hum all day.
Oooooooooooooooooooh... pretty! I like how you use the wire to make it so prettyful! If it weren't for all my other crafts that I have going, I would really love to learn how to use wire in bracelets and things. You do such a nice job.
No Olympic withdrawal for me! Just anticipation... Series 7 of Doctor Who is coming. :) :) :) :) :)
#116 I do like the bracelets :-) I thought I would suffer from Olympics withdrawal quite badly but I spent all of yesterday evening buried in Among Others so I was glad that I didn't feel like I was missing anything exciting happening in the Olympics as a result!
#118 Also looking forward to the new series of Doctor Who :-)
Definite Olympics withdrawal. It was fabulous to have on in the background.
I like your bracelets. Beautiful wire work! You must have a lot of patience.
Hi Roni, great bracelets. Your travelling picture is making me all antsy to hit the road! We leave next week and I am really looking forward to it.
Thanks, Valerie, Eris, Heather, humouress, Richard, and Judy--the bracelets really are much easier than they look. I have to do one in goldtone for my mom next.
I feel like I do after March Madness is over--there's nothing on TV, Jenny! But you are right, Heather--it does make more time for reading.
Joe, I read TGWCF a year ago last July. Again, there were things I liked a lot about it, and a few that I found disturbing. I liked Among Others quite a bit too.
FIE on you, Richard, fie upon you! I not only read your review and moved Deathless to the top of my list, I ordered it from the library and read it and logged it in message 101 above, to which you responded in message 102!!!
(Folks, let's put it down to the gout--the pain or the pain medication, one or the other, has shot his short-term memory for the moment.)
Chapter 18: The Emergence of Catholic Christianity in the West, 395-640
Rome, although nominally the center of the Empire at the time of the Apostles, was actually at the far edge of Christianity. The early Church was predominantly Greek and flourished far more vigorously in the eastern than the western empire. Even 6 centuries later, Pope Gregory the Great would write to his brother bishops in Antioch and Alexandria, “Separated from you by great stretches of land and the sea...” The geographical separation was intensified by the linguistic gulf. The works of many of the Greek Church Fathers never reached the Latin west in translation; there were difficulties getting Latin texts of the ecumenical councils. Even in Rome, the Christian community was marginal in a city where the pagan senatorial aristocracy remained dominant to the end of the fourth century. When the political power moved to the east with Constantinople, Rome’s primacy as a bishopric was even further eroded.
Part of the difficulty was translating a movement deeply rooted in the Greek cultural and philosophical world into the Greek one. The first significant theologian to write in Latin was Tertullian, in North Africa at Carthage. He spoke both Greek and Latin and trained as a lawyer prior to his conversion in his thirties. He was rigid in his approach to social issues and used uncompromising rhetoric with strong emotional effect. He castigated intellectuals and gloried in paradox, taunting the Greek philosophers. He portrayed the world as essentially hostile to Christians, where they could never relax their guard, and the threat of sexual temptation was ever present. Tertullian contributed an abiding fear of woman as temptress to the western tradition, and his views became more rigid with age.
Jerome was deeply influenced by Tertullian; in fact, most of what we know about Tertullian’s life comes from Jerome himself. Jerome (345-420) seems to have been an isolated and troubled individual, tormented by his sexuality and super-sensitive to any hint of personal betrayal and obsessive about the necessity for asceticism. His mastery of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew and meticulous knowledge of scriptures gave him the reputation as the leading western scholar of his day despite his personality. His Latin translation of the Old and New Testaments is his masterpiece.
Jerome was born on the border of Dalmatia but educated and baptized in Rome. He then went east, where he was ordained a priest in Antioch and spent several years in the Syrian desert. Here he perfected his Greek and learned Hebrew, the only Christian other than Origen to study it in such depth. When Jerome returned to Rome in the 380s, he was recommended to Damasus, bishop of Rome, as a personal secretary and it was Damasus who suggested a proper translation of Scriptures into Latin. This occupied Jerome for several years, his most stable and productive of his life. But his aggressive asceticism and criticism of the nobility, leading women, and other clergy resulted in his being driven from Rome upon Damasus’ death. He never forgave Rome for the rejection, seeing the city indeed as the “whore of Babylon”.
A wealthy ascetic woman, Paula, went with him and they settled in Bethlehem where her wealth was used to found two monasteries to support them and their followers. The Latin version of the Gospels had been completed and Jerome spent the next 20 years translating the Hebrew scriptures. This work aroused suspicion and fear that a rival to the Greek Septuagint version might result in a break between east and west, and was only completely accepted in the 9th century.
Translation seemed Jerome’s strength; he was less at ease with original and creative work. Most of his commentaries are drawn almost entirely from earlier commentators, especially Origen, although he later publicly rejected Origen’s original and creative theology when it became politically suspect. Jerome had many correspondents; perhaps the most well known now was a younger and brilliant theologian from north Africa, Augustine. Augustine asked Jerome to make more Latin translations as his own Greek was weak, especially that ”Origen you mention with particular pleasure.” His suggestion of an alternate to one of Jerome’s interpretation of scriptures unleashed Jerome’s vituperativeness, but Augustine responded with conciliation. However, Jerome died a lonely and isolated man in 419 or 420.
Augustine, through his sheer intellectual power, probing curiosity, originality, range of concern and enormous output of work, has come to be seen as the cornerstone of western Christian tradition. He remains a deeply controversial figure, his reputation burdened with the responsibility of integrating sinfulness into human nature and with his gradual subjection of reason to faith and authority. He also came from northern Africa, and his mother Monnica was a major influence on his life due to her dominating and stifling love. However, he did manage to achieve independence through university and became a teacher of literature in Carthage for about 15 years. He attached himself to the Manichean sect for about 9 years, which drew strong distinctions between the Evil of the world and body and the Good of light and their eternal battle, the conclusion of which was not predetermined. However, Augustine eventually became disillusioned. At around the same time, he decided to go to Rome to find a better living as a teacher. His mother showed up at the pier, hoping either to drag him home or go with him to Rome, but he gave her the slip. However, it troubled him and he was ill when he arrived at Rome. Rome did not work out, but Augustine found a position in Milan where he encountered Ambrose. He was not a Christian at this point, but a seeker. The Platonists first impressed him, giving him a sense of eternal and unassailable good. He was deeply impressed by Ambrose’s preaching and personality. He came to believe that while Platonism might represent the highest intellectual and spiritual point of the pagan world, Christianity went beyond it and provided an everlasting haven.
This conversion to Christianity had the benefit of reconciliation with his mother, who had appeared in Milan, sent his long-time lover back to Africa, and arranged a suitable marriage for him. Although Augustine rejected the marriage, he made peace with his mother. He returned to Africa in 388, where orthodox Christianity was on the defensive from the Donatists and pagans. So he was persuaded to become a priest, and then a bishop of Hippo where he remained until his death in 430. He appears to have been an excellent pastor, but became culturally isolated in the bleakly authoritarian African tradition. His writings became polarized and his use of reason diminished while his reliance on faith increased. So it was in his early years as bisho that Augustine wrote his most famous and accessible work, the Confessions. For the first time in western literature the world of the interior mind was explored in a dialogue with God, albeit an angry, punitive God, a God who actively punishes as a form of showing love. His development of the doctrine of original sin becomes even more unsettling as God’s punishment extends to life on earth. The contrast with Origen’s loving God who welcomes all souls, even that of Satan, back to him is stark.
Although in his early writings in the 380s Augustine accepted the importance of reason in finding truth, by the next decade he was increasingly relying on faith and the acceptance of authority using the humility of Christ, both the authority of the church and the scriptures. Reason now only plays a supporting role as the means through which one learns that authority must be accepted. His later stress on the effects of the Fall upon man supported the idea that man is corrupted and cannot use reason to grasp God. He paired this with a growing acceptance of miracles as common events.
From the 390s Augustine studied the scriptures intensively, writing commentaires on them, although handicapped by his inability to read Hebrew and his limited Greek. The Latin translations he used were very poor, but Augustine insisted the scriptures could not contradict each other and, as the truth was already known, the main job was to interpret texts to fit orthodoxy. He also believed that every other form of learning had to be subjected to the scriptures. Unfortunately, one of the poor translations seemed to mean that all individuals sinned through Adam, while the original Greek stated that sin, which entered the world as a result of Adam’s action, was a “cosmic” force burdening all humanity in general, not born uniquely in each individual. “No wonder the concept of original sin never travelled to the Greek world.” Only 5 texts from the whole of scripture can be claimed to support the concept, and three of those rested on mistranslations. Augustine’s writings on original sin and on free will (or its lack) became hugely influential in western Christianity, along with his insistence that man can only be saved through God’s grace rather than good works or even church membership. Sin is passed on through sexual intercourse, so again sexual desire is linked with evil. Augustine expects man to fail.
Augustine’s first major opponent was Pelagius, living first in Rome and later in Jerusalem. He stressed the possibility that human beings might conduct their own salvation through the power of reason and the exercise of free will. In 415, the debate erupted into open conflict. After much back and forth within the church, the emperors stepped in and condemned Pelagianism in yet another political decision. There were also disagreements with the Donatists, the largest Christian community in north Africa. The Donatists represented a pure tradition straight from the Apostles and uncorrupted by Rome and were clearly not heretics, yet were not under the authority of the orthodox church. Again, the emperor Honorius in 405 issued an edict ordering the unity of both churches and branded the Donatists as heretics and therefore subject to the rigor of law. Although in his earlier works Augustine was reluctant to condone the compelling of outsiders into the church, it was he who developed a rationale of persecution at this time. Just as God could punish in the exercise of his love, so too could the church, knowing that it was saving sinners from everlasting hell fire.
In 430 the Vandals (a Goth tribe) swept across north Africa and besieged Hippo. Augustine died during the siege before the city fell. At that point, both orthodox and Donatist Christians were overwhelmed with the original Homoean heresy, which had been fervently adopted by the Goths before it was outlawed by Theodosius.
As imperial authority crumbled in the west, the role of the bishops of Rome gradually expanded. The one figure symbolizing the growing power and influence of rome, it is Leo, one of only two popes to be labeled “the Great.” He became pope in 440 and reigned until his death in 461. He had a forceful personality and was determined to enforce his authority as heir of Peter over the other bishops of the west. He issued and enforced decrees on church government, the authority of bishops, and the ordination of clergy. He also tied his authority to the state by acting through the emperor Valentinian III, and even confronted Attila the Hun successfully. He also was the first bishop of Rome to affect church doctrine and his Tome, a formulation of the two natures of Christ in one person, was adopted by the Council of Chalcedon in 451.
However, a century later, Vigilius (bishop of Rome 537-555) was unable to resist the emperor Justinian in the continuing controversies in the east. The west had accepted the Chalcedonian formula a century earlier but the bishops of the east continued to fight over the matter. Justinian wanted political support from the Monophysites and wanted to condemn a writing of the Nestorians to get that support. He kidnapped Virgilius, taken to Constantinople, and kept until he agreed to condemn the writing. This was hugely unpopular in the west, so much so that Virgilius was refused burial in St. Peter’s upon his death.
At this point , the relationship between the church in the west and the church in the east began to disintegrate. The west had barely been represented at most of the church councils, almost all held in the east starting with the first council of Constantinople. At a time when cultural unity in the empire was breaking down, classical learning was fading and the main diet of scholars was Christian writing. The new world emerging in the west was represented by Gregory the Great, bishop of Rome 590-604. He was the son of a Roman senator and had served as prefect of the city before selling his properties and founding monasteries. He became pope of a decaying city, with broken aqueducts and many deserted parts of the city. He was not an original thinker and relied heavily on the writings of Augustine and Ambrose, distrusting secular learning and pride in intellectual independence. Gregory celebrated miracles and in all these matters was expressing what had become the conventional wisdom of his time. However, he was free of the obsession with heresy held by so many of his predecessors, and thought deeply and sensitively about how bishops and pastors could exercise their authority. He championed the rule of St. Benedict, a balance of austerity and humanity, and resisted extremes. Gregory also moderated the more extreme consequences of Augustinian theology, refusing to believe that God was so harsh that a sinner who died by accident before completing his penance would necessarily go to hell, and provided an early definition of purgatory. He accepted that good works and pious practices are of value to God and intercede for those in purgatory. He stressed the importance of music in worship and the Gregorian chant is named for him. He was not obsessed with the problem of evil or sexuality. It was this kind of leadership, humane but unquestioned in its moral authority, that was needed to establish the papacy’s independence of the east, and Gregory is usually seen as the founder of the medieval papacy.
The provinces of north Africa had been reconquered by Justinian in the 530s and restored to orthodox Christianity, but in the seventh century they were overrun by the Arabs and lost to Rome. Because these had provided the most effective challenge to Rome’s authority, it simplified the issue and the Roman church basically completed its separation from from the east both politically and theologically in the eighth century.
Following Augustine, no one in the western church could be sure of salvation. Preoccupation with internal battles and the inherent sinfulness of humankind took and ever more powerful hold in medieval times, unlike the eastern church. The agony on the cross makes sense only in the context of man’s sinfulness, and it became increasingly shown in prurient detail in art. This rupture with the classical world’s conception of “man” was firmly associated with the attack on rationalism, as can be seen in Augustine’s assertion that man’s power to think rationally has been corrupted forever by Adam’s sin.
Yet at the same time, the Roman Catholic Church was assuming responsibility for the poor and unloved. The tradition of learning was narrow, but what education there was was preserved by the church as was health care. As imperial authority had disappeared, the Church in the west began to fill a vacuum, preserving Roman law and a structure of institutional authority. Christianity now took on a new role as an agent of social cohesion in a world build upon the ruins of empire. What remained was a tension between the obedience demanded by institutional Christianity and the original Gospel message of ambivalence to authority.
Whew! Only two more SHORT chapters to go now.
Jeesh, not sure how I got so screwed up on the timing, Roni, but thanks for the quick take on TGWCF. I still don't know whether to try it or not, but my plate's full enough that it can wait for a while.
Kudos for your in-depth reading of what looks like a challenging book.
Book #99 The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave us the Renaissance by Jim Al-Khalili (289 pp.)
I've been reading this for a group read, and will return later to write up a review. My brain is understandably a little tired after finishing the chapter summary above. But I can say that it was very readable and very interesting with lots of new-to-me information, and also links to the rest of my non-fiction reading this year.
Hi, Roni! Love the bracelets, and that latest read looks interesting!
There is a butterfly competition going on, and while I am not part of it, having only about 4 different types, I did finally get some decent pictures of the most common butterfly in my back yard, which you can see at the link below.
Love that new bracelet.
We are all beside ourselves waiting for season seven of Who too.
Thanks, Amber and Lucy!
Okay, here is chapter 19--only one more and the epilogue to go!
Chapter 19: “We Honour the Privilege of Silence Which is Without Peril”: The Death of the Greek Empirical Tradition
This chapter opens with quotes from the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov when Jesus has returned to earth, been recognized, and is thrown in prison for threatening to subvert the Church. “Did you forget that a tranquil mind and even death is dearer to man than a free choice in the knowledge of good and evil?” You hoped, the Inquisitor tells Jesus, that people would worship you out of free will and without the need for miracles, but what they really yearn for is good order. The Church, the Inquisitor concludes, had, through the use of “mystery, magic, and authority” sootghed the anxieties that Jesus had raised.
“Mystery, magic, and authority” are very relevant in defining Christianity as it had developed by the end of the fourth century, which was characterized by destructive conflicts over doctrine in which personal animosities had often prevailed over reasoned debate. Although church fathers saw differences as a host of heresies, 80 or more, that assailed the church, it would appear the real problem was that the diversity of sources for Christian doctrine and the pervasive influence of Greek philosophy made any kind of coherent “truth” difficult to sustain. “A desperation to establish doctrinal certainty, a desperation made more intense by the fear of eternal punishment in an area where certainty was, in rational terms, so hard to achieve, helps explain why the level of bitterness in Christian debate was so high, much higher that it was in the more open world of pagan philosophy.”
One way to calm the theological turmoil was to declare that ultimately God was unknowable. Gregory of Nazeanzus (c. 329-390) was thrust into this turmoil and argued with his fellow Cappadocian Basil that ultimately the nature of God is a mystery and the proper response to questions about his nature is silence. His experience in presiding over the Council of Constantinople appalled him. He wrote, “I finished my speech, but they squawked in every direction...” John Chrysostom also inveighed against those who speculated on God. There were of course conceptual issues raised by the idea of an unknowable God. The Nicene Creed is composed mostly of positive statement of what God IS, and He has frequently revealed Himself in the scriptures. Essentially, the problem was that the Christian concept of God had evolved in too many different and conflicting contexts. By the end of the 4th century, this theological development (the unknowable God) suited the political needs of the emperors. Theodosius II was particularly anxious to bring order into government and religion, as seen in his Code of Laws. While he was outmaneuvered by Cyril, a later council in 451 at Chalcedon was better prepared, where a compromise formula on the nature of Christ was prepared and imposed.
The west, however, was increasingly free of imperial control, alternative structures of authority emerged. Gregory the Great consolidated a rational of papal supremacy, reaching back through history and scripture to impose ideological coherence. Orthodoxy thus became seamless and given unanimous and consistent backing from scriptures, Apostles, Church Fathers, and ecumenical councils. When new disputes arose, it was now the pope who would have final say.
Confronted by the terrible animosities of Christian debate in the fourth century, relief can be felt about the silence falling upon the western churches. Yet there is a difference between accepting that ultimately the nature of God cannot be known, and proscribing speculations about it altogether. The ancient Greek tradition that one should be free to speculate without fear and be encouraged to take individual moral responsibility for one’s views was rejected. In the Christian tradition, it was God who spoke through his preachers, who were merely the conductors of His word. No longer is coherence of argument valued. Augustine follows Tertullian in arguing that it is the very irrationality of the Christian message that is its strength. Aristotle became a casualty and he essentially disappears from the western world, with the exception of two works of logic, until the 13th century. The impact of this fundamental change in approach on intellectual life was profound. One effect was the decline of book learning. Libraries went into decline and debate disappeared. The penalties for transgressing the boundaries of discussion became too great.
In the east, there was increasing emphasis on learning by rote from a select list of texts and a fixed repertoire of images and icons, another means by which the Church defined what it was acceptable to believe.
Both Platonism and Galen were frozen into Christian views of the world. The preservation of their “magic” was frozen and separated from rational investigation and scientific approach. Sickness was not understood within a specifically Christian perspective, where the soul is of greater value than the body and suffering is part of the Christian condition. Sickness was a punishment of God and the relics of martyrs, texts and icons became sources of miracles. Demons are found everywhere and the world became suffused with miraculous happenings. The subversion of the natural order of things by miracles becomes one of the distinguishing features of Christianity and of necessity goes hand in hand with the waning of scientific thought.
There is increasing scientific evidence that reason and emotion need to live side by side in the healthy mind. So paradox had balance to logic. Jesus’ insistence that the poor, the rejected and the unloved may have something to contribute was a major development in western ethical tradition. However, the swing to irrationality as a universal truth to the exclusion of reason became embedded in Christian tradition and used to sustain the authority of the Church. Intellectual self-confidence and curiosity were recast as sins of pride and the inevitable result was intellectual stagnation.
Libraries went into decline : no-o-o-o-o-o-o!!
Just going to insert a personal grump here: learning by rote in some religions lead to the priests being unlearned and illiterate, especially where the text was in a 'dead' language, and sometimes this ended in the people being taught the opposite of what was originally meant. One of the reasons I'm agnostic :-)
ETA for clarification.
Chapter 18 = Augustine, whose nonsense still makes my blood boil; Gregory, the well-intentioned one whose perpetuation of the evil doctrines of xianity should have been prevented; and Pelagius, the last tiny ray of hope for the survival of rational thought within the ignorance-celebrating xian world. Hard reading.
Chapter 19 = the lights going out. Oh the humanity.
*smooch* for doing this! It's fascinating, troubling, and not a little nauseating, but it's also important.
Love the cynical take on all this in The Brothers Karamazov! What would a pre-church Christianity be like today? Wish we had it, even though it still wouldn't be my cuppa.
The Closing of the Western Mind by Charles Freeman
Chapter 20: Thomas Aquinas and the Restoration of Reason
Freeman opens this chapter with an illustration of how a basilica built in the middle of the 5th century in Syria remained a place of pilgrimage for 500 years after the area was conquered by the Arabs in the seventh century, showing that it was possible for a monotheistic faith to assert its identity without necessitating the destruction of other faiths. In one paragraph, he touches on what the whole of Al-Khalili’s book above explains in depth--how Avicenna, Al-Razi, Imn al-Nafis, Averroes and others translated and then built upon the Greek works of Aristotle, Plato, Hippocrates, Galen, Euclid, Ptolemy and others. (Of course, Al-Khalili also shows how the toleration of the Muslim caliphs waxed and waned over this time as well.)
As Christianity spread throughout western Europe, it gained confidence in itself and a relaxation of tension. However, it was accompanied by an intense concentration on the other world at the expense of this one. For centuries there was no sign of a renaissance of independent thought, and most scholarly work focused on analyzing, summarizing and commenting on the canon of authoritative texts. The only western Christian philosopher of note between Boethius (524) and Anselm in the eleventh century was the ninth-century Irishman Erigena. He played an important role in founding western mysticism and his work was, in fact, too original for the church which declared him heretical in the thirteenth century.
In the 11th century, Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) raised the possibility that reason could again play a part in orthodox Christian thought, arguing that certain tenets of faith could be proved by reason. But it was not until the twelfth century that a newly emerging investigative spirit began to rediscover the classical tradition through Arabic preservation and elaboration of the Greek texts (found in part as Christians were re-conquering Spain). Translations into Latin sprang up and the first universities were founded, where secular learning could be taught as long as it did not subvert the authority of the Church. (These movements were the crux of Hannam’s work God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science.) Yet Aristotle was still regarded with suspicion and the University of Paris forbade the use of his works in 1215. Albert the Great, a German Dominican, was the first to promote Aristotle to Christian Europe, claiming the scientific exploration of the world was of value in itself and would enhance knowledge of God.
In 1284, Albert acquired a new student, called Thomas Aquinas. He was to incorporate Aristotle into the Roman Catholic tradition with such intellectual power and hoherence that is some areas of thought the two became virtually indistinguishable. His writings were voluminous in theology and many commentaries on Aristotle’s surviving works. However, in 1273, criticism was growing among traditionalists who resented Aquinas’ insistence on a natural underlying order of things, thus denying God’s power of miraculous intervention, and Aquinas was summoned to Lyons the following year to answer to the pope. However, he fell ill on the way and died. Three years later, several of his theses were formally condemned in Paris and Oxford. Aquinas avoided the abusive and aggressive language of the more combative theologians, believing that reason could convince on its merits. While he accepted the articles of faith revealed by God, he did not denigrate reason, presenting it as a gift of God. God wants men to use their reason to reach toward Him, and in return will reveal those things that remain impossible for the human mind to grasp.
If we are to value empirical knowledge, we must also value its tools, the senses, so the body should not be despised. Aquinas argued that it is the natural instinct of man to develop his highest capabilities to appreciate the nature and love of God. This reason should be used to make moral choices and temperance, prudence, fortitude and justice are important virtues. This concept of natural law was one of Aquinas’ most influential contributions to western thought. He restored the relationship between reason and faith, believing that one sustained the other. Faith included belief in the teachings of the Church, and yet when scientific observations challenge the teaching that “the earth was fixed on its foundation, not to be moved forever”, a conflict arose not covered in Aquinas’ legacy. Empirical evidence could challenge the authority of scriptures. It was impossible to allow orthodox Christian doctrine, much of which depended on faith or revelation, to be undermined by reason, and this meant the uses of reason in the Christian tradition had to be circumscribed so as not to subvert orthodoxy. Despite this, Aquinas’ brilliance was soon recognized and his canonization began in 1316.
Only the epilogue, the summary of Freeman's argument, to go now. Soon.
Hey, humouress, Richard and Joe, thanks for wading through this. I am so close, I can nearly taste it.
Book #100 Colin Firth: The Man who would be King by Sandro Monetti (304 pp.)
This Kindle book was froth to balance my other nonfiction reading above. I like Colin Firth and so picked this up as a freebie. It was very unusual. Are all celebrity biographies like this? It was nonlinear in many ways, and some chapters were just plain weird. Namely where a chapter on Firth's female relationships starts with some "professional celebrity mistress" who has never even met him talking about how he was just too dull for her ever to be interested in, and a whole chapter by a psychoanalyst with a decidedly Freudian bent, who also has never met Firth, analyzing him through what is written in this book. I mean, what?!?!! The final part of the book which traced his film history was interesting and I will now seek out the Bridget Jones' Diary movie to watch. Still, overall? Not recommended.
Book #99 sounds ghastly. Not even for free, thenkewveddymahch.
Roni, it is a wonderful thing you're doing creating these engaging synopses! I would hurl the book against the wall, screeching imprecations and sobbing uncontrollably about the horror and the perfidy of these dreadful people. This way I am able to take a more measured approach to the subject.
Plus no way am I hurlin' my precious computer against the wall.
I concur - I've slowed myself down to read each chapter synopsis with care. It's a brilliant summary and I hope it helps you remember it.
Roni - I may not be quite as physically demonstrative as dear old RD but I agree with his sentiments entirely. Definitely not an authorised biography then?!
Have a lovely weekend.
Do we have a definite date for the Doctor? Especially on BBCAmerica?
I'm just starting to read the third of the Wrede series myself.
#143 - No definite date as of yet (I think), but it should be airing sometime soon after August 25, which is the day that BBC America will be hosting the premiere of the Asylum of the Daleks in New York City. I hope we get it soon, because I'm dying of anticipation!
EDIT: We have a release date! September 1st.
The thanks are all mine, Roni; if the synopses are this long, I doubt I'd ever sit down to read the actual book, though I am interested in what it says. This way, I can have my cake and eat it, too!
I'm recognising some of the characters in this chapter; I went to school in a building that used to be a palace of the Archbishops of Canterbury, and they named the classrooms after different archbishops. When they expanded into the top storey, they couldn't dig up an 'Atticus', but they did manage to discover a 'Loftus'.
The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason by Charles Freeman
Epilogue (wherein Freeman summarizes his argument)
The argument of this book has not been that Christians did not attempt to use rational means of discovering theological truths, but that reason is of only limited use in finding such truths. Rational argument begins with axioms, foundations from which an argument can progress, and proceed to conclusions on which all concur. This can be a theorem, as in mathematical logic, or empirical evidence. However, there is no agreement about the principles of theology. There is no way of assessing what is a valid or invalid revelation and as a result, there was a battle for what counted as revelation. The scriptures also do not have a consistent “axiomatic” basis, being diverse and often contradictory. Again, the churches had to eventually assume control of how scripture was to be interpreted, so that they did not conflict with orthodoxy.
So the point is that Christians could never reach agreed truths through reason. The history of Christian disputes and indeed the splintering into diverse movements occurred as soon as Christianity settled into different cultural and philosophical niches across the empire. The aspect of Christianity that was truly revolutionary was its insistence that Christians throughout the empire should adhere to a common authority. Crucial to the establishment of authority in the early church was the emergence of the bishop and the consolidation of his position within a hierarchy of bishoprics based ont he doctrine of apostolic succession. Constantine’s appreciation of the use of bishopric authority to support the empire enshrined this within the government, although the intractable doctrinal disputes between the bishops forced him to call a council and enforce a common doctrine. The theological history of the fourth century is largely one of the emperors, under immense pressure from invaders, attempting to achieve a foundation of orthodoxy so they could preserve a united society, with politics winning over theology.
The argument then is that despite attempts by Christians to use reason, it was not an appropriate way to determine theological truths. The frustrations of trying to determine these truths led to arguments becoming personal and bitter, with invective used at the expense of reasoned argument. This was a major hindrance to a state hoping to use a docile church to support its authority, thence the imposition of authority, an imposition which crushed all forms of reasoned thinking. Why is this important? Reason is a means of finding truths through deductive and inductive logic, valuable in many areas of need such as medicine. But built into a tradition of rational thought is the necessity for tolerance. Reason also provides external standards of truth, often from empirical evidence, which takes personal animosity out of debates in that disputes over the interpretation of external evidence are normally less abrasive than those between human beings struggling to assert their personal authority (although a history of science and paradigm change shows where the two often intersect--personal comment).
Philosophically, it becomes crucial to define the areas where certainty is possible and where it is not. The Greeks did this in their separation of logos and mythos. The troubles described in this book come not from the teachings of Jesus or even the nature of Christians but rather from the determination to make statements about God. Tragically, the pressures to do so were intensified by the introduction of the concept of an afterlife, in which most would be punished eternally for failure to adhere to what was eventually decided to be orthodox. If there is no external standard to define God, then figures who have the authority to define Him have to be created and this means the suppression of the freedom of independent thought.
An important theme of the book has been the linking of belief in rational thought with a belief in free will. Yet we do have a spiritual and emotional nature that gives meaning to rational thought--a healthy balance seems the goal.
It is worth asking why the political dimension to the making of Christian doctrine has been so successfully erased from the history of the western churches. It is virtually ignored in most histories of Christianity. Part of this is the integration of Plato’s Forms into Christian theology, indicating that the context, time or place or particular circumstances in which orthodox doctrine was formulated was immaterial, as it was eternal truth.
This process was complete by Gregory the Great. His immediate concern was to establish his own authority over the remains of an empire where traditional imperial authority had disintegrated. There was no one to prevent him from rewriting the history of Church doctrine as if the emperors had never played a part in it. Popes were now assumed to have control over emperors, a reversal of the political realities of the fourth century. It is simplistic to talk of the Greek tradition of rational thought being suppressed by Christians and much more realistic to argue the suppression took place at the hands of a state supported by a church which it itself had politicized. The church of Constantine and his successors, embedded as it was in the stressed environment of the late empire, was radically different from that of earlier times. The resultant suppression of independent rational thought led to an extinction of serious mathematical and scientific thinking in Europe for a thousand years.
I was so far behind that I skipped all of *Western Mind*. I just can't do it all in one sitting, but I'll be back in order to have an overview of the book without having read the book. THANK YOU, RONI!!!
The jewelry is lovely. The trip sounds - daunting - but worthwhile. I've added Tooth and Claw to my list. I enjoyed my visit and will come back sooner next time!
Richard, without your support I don't know if I would have stuck to the whole thing, but I did. Thank you. I certainly got a lot more out of the book this way, and now I will never have to reread it to jog my memory!
Lucy, humouress, Peggy, and everyone else who has been following, thank you also. I still have to write (but after a rest) some comments from the Al-Khalili book that have a direct connection to this--that will be coming up next. But in the meantime, for those who requested it, here are all the chapter summaries in one place: http://www.librarything.com/topic/141084
Humouress, that was quite a funny about your school's expansion!
QQ, let me know how the third Frontier Magic book goes.
Thanks for the Dr. Who update, Eris.
Paul, thanks for stopping by even though you are weak from hunger.
Come back again soon, Peggy.
I need to go and read on my 100th book now. Later, friends.
At least the Colin Firth book was free! I hate it when I actually paid for a book I absolutely hate. I can think of 2 times that has happened. :(
I've been lurking through your Western Mind summary, and add my thanks. Well done, and much appreciated!
Absolutely; I agree with that standing ovation!
Although the conclusion Freeman reaches seems a bit of a tragedy.
Well done, and thank you.
>139: "professional celebrity mistress"??? Well, that sounds like a euphemism for quite a few other less-polite terms...
I was busy for a while and am using a little down time today to catch up on some threads I've been woefully behind on ... like yours, Roni.
I have to try steampunk. I think I might like it. Your review of The Iron Wyrm Affair certainly has me adding that to my obese wish list.... forget wish list ... I just ordered it from Amazon. ;-)
Valerie, the fact that the book was free was definitely a consolation to me!
Richard, thank you very much! But that is the ugliest darn fairy I have ever seen!
Steven, humouress, and Kerry, thank you for sticking with me over the long haul. It is appreciated.
Tad, how true.
Caro, I hope you like it. I still have a lot of steampunk to read myself, like Oppel and Priest. Good to have you here.
Well, I've been dithering on my 100th book. I am into 4 books at the moment, all of them slightly stalled, and couldn't decide which to give preference. In cases like that, there is only one thing to do to break the tie.
Go for a favorite reread!!
Book #101 The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (248 pp.)
Ahhhh. Classic, classic fantasy with beautiful language and happy tears at the end. Shades of Kipling in the best way.
ETA and after all that, I just realized I mis-numbered earlier, so the Colin Firth book was #100 and this 101. Oh, well...
Congrats on your 100th Roni - Kipling and fantasy - interesting!
Congratulations on 100, Roni! You've definitely been doing a lot of good reading, and I'm so happy that you're doing quite a lot of it! ^_^
I wholeheartedly endorse your choice to celebrate your 100th. Great choice.
100 books! Way to go Roni. :)
I'm trying to think if I've read any Mckinley books. The name sound so familiar. Will have to go back to my spreadsheets and check..haha
Congrats on your century!
And also thank you for the Closing of the Western Mind summaries. Very interesting!
--edited to fix spelling. Why can't I see the typos before I hit save??
Congrats on 100 and on finishing up and Closure with Closing. That must be very satisfying! I have to get back to Robin McKinley. I gobbled up those books so long ago. It would be 'like new' to read them again, I suspect.
Reread The Blue Sword a couple of days ago as well. Sometimes the old favourites are all you need.
100 books -- WOW! I read and enjoyed The Blue Sword a few years ago. How wonderful!
Oooh, I've just started The Blue Sword, having just finished The Hero and the Crown - good to hear that it's a good one too!
Welcome, welcome to all of you for coming by and saying hi! We are serving only the finest beverages and refreshments for the century party here, so help yourselves. Thank you, Paul, Eris, humouress, Valerie, streamsong, Katherine, Reba, Kerry, Richard, Judy, foggi, Lucy, Jenny, Anne and Amber.
Katherine, I remembered your request and so created that summary thread just for you (and everyone else who might me interested). I'm glad, streamsong, that you enjoyed those summaries too. However, I'm very glad to be done!
Ah, The Blue Sword! First of all, I need to get a replacement copy for reading--my original 1983 paperback is still tight, but the cover is flaking off bit by bit as it becomes more and more brittle. I've read it many a time and, Lucy, it is indeed one that rewards such rereading, so go to it! Judy, I hope you will give it a try indeed. Anne, it is indeed a good book and I am resisting mightily going and pulling The Hero and the Crown off the shelf right now, as I have other books I need to be reading. Jenny, yes, the old favorites are good ones. Amber, I think I prefer The Blue Sword over The Hero and the Crown, but they are both so good that they are on the permanent reread list.
I am so behind. First of all, I picked up my office today after dumping everything in here when we got home, and realized that I acquired several books on my trip that were not reported here, as well as a batch I picked up on Tuesday.
First of all, from Abilene:
I rescued the copy of Pat Conroy's My Reading Life that I had gifted my niece a year ago last Christmas from the garage sale book boxes. While I probably won't keep it, I'm sure it will move on PaperBackSwap! And I liberated How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen as well as the crocheted teddy bear I made for my youngest grandniece that same Christmas--I put too many hours into that bear to have it on the sale table for a quarter! Then I picked up a Kate Douglas Wiggin that I'd never seen before at one of the antique stores, Timothy's Quest. She is best known for Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm but I also really like Mother Carey's Chickens--all that L. M. Montgomery or Louisa May Alcott old-fashioned feel to it. This one was copyrighted in 1894, and has initials with the date 4/17/29 on the title page. Finally, at the American Indian Art Center, I picked up a lovely illustrated book called Turquoise Unearthed because of its gorgeous photos.
And on Tuesday, at Mysterious Galaxy, I bought Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch because he's been getting good reviews here on LT, The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper because it looked like an interesting post-apocalyptic steampunk novel, and Worldsoul by Liz Williams. Now, I already really like Williams' Inspector Chen fantasy novels, but the promo on the cover of this one says "What if being a librarian was the most dangerous job in the world?" (although really, should that be "were"--subjunctive?) Now who among us could resist a teaser like that?
Now I promised some summary RELATED to The Closing of the Western Mind from The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance.
After setting up some ancient history background about the natural science and math of Greece and then the rise of Islam around the 7th century, al-Khalili talks about the translation movement and most especially how one of the early caliphs, al-Ma'mun (786-833), began to gather scholars together into a House of Wisdom where they not only translated into Arabic all the Greek documents they could find, but also extended their work in the sciences and math. Al-Ma'mun was sympathetic toward the Mu'tazilites, who were rationalist Muslims who celebrated the power of reason and the human intellect which guided mankind toward a true knowledge of God. They did not believe in an anthropomorphic God in any form or in the literal interpretation of the scriptures. The most serious difference between them and the literalists was the latter's belief that the Qu'ran and Hadith gave Muslims everything they would ever need to know about their faith, versus the former's view that the Qu'ran was created by God rather than eternal and understanding of God could only occur through the seeking out of knowledge. So, during times when the rulers favored the Mu'tazilite philosophy, the progress of science and math in the Arab world flourished, and when more fundamentalist rulers were in charge, it dwindled, from Spain to Persia.
The theologian al-Ghazali (1058-1111) attacked the fascination with Aristotle and moved toward a more conservative, even mystical, interpretation of Islamic theology. He was a respected thinker and scientist in his own right, but his writings were used to inflict lasting damage on the spirit of rationalism. He argued that a reliance on Greek philosophical ideas was anti-Islamic, an argument which was simplified to a direct struggle between religion and rational science, "which is both naive and silly."
So the struggle, which lies in the failure to distinguish clearly between logos and mythos, goes on.
Finally, a quote from my most recent book is also apropos to my readings above.
Book #102 The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (336 pp.)
This is an okay book. It is a journey book. It has lots of interesting description and hypotheses about human character given the situation--a sudden access into a multitude of alternative earths. Think Around the World in 80 Days updated. There were some cute parts--loved the nuns. But the big climax was definitely anticlimactic and inconclusive, and the journey overrode the story, IMHO.
Here's the relevant quote. An African clergyman who is situated in a small parish in rural England is discussing his background with his retired predecessor.
"Most of all, I wanted to know what it was that we were supposed to be doing here, in the new context of the Long Earth. In short, I wanted to know what we were here for.
Of course, my mother and her faith had lost me by then. I was too smart for my own God, so to speak. I had found time to read up about the affairs of the four centuries following the birth of the infant Jesus, and indeed to look at the erratic progress of Christianity since then. It seemed to me that whatever the truth of the universe was, it certainly wasn't something that could have been discerned by a quarrelsome bunch of antique ecclesiasticals. (bolding is mine)
I'd want to read TLE at some point, but only when they release it in PB. :)
"A Quarrelsome Bunch of Antique Ecclesiaticals: The History of Catholicism"
Not that the Orthodox Church was much better, albeit recognizing the political influence of the emperors instead of brushing it under the rug, nor the Protestants when they got around to it.
"A Quarrelsome Bunch of Antique Ecclesiasticals: A Brief History of Christian Theology, Such As It Is"
Those incoming books brought my books acquired for the year to 43, with 101 books read. However, I spent some time on the library catalog yesterday, and also coordinating my LT wishlist with PaperBackSwap. In the latter case, I have the following on the way:
The Becoming by Jeanne C. Stein: this was mentioned by one of the San Diego LTers as a book with a San Diego setting
Clemency Pogue, Fairy Killer by J. T. Perry: Kerry and Joannasephine have this in their libraries, so probably one of them recommended this.
Sword of the Rightful King by Jane Yolen: Nathan, Kerry, and Aaron (stormraven) have this--although I am wary of King Arthur stories, I am a big Jane Yolen fan.
The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris: Terri (tloeffler), Donna and Sandy all have this.
And then from the library, the latest of the Flora Segunda books by Wilce, Flora's Fury, The Mysterious Howling (finally starting The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series), and Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury, recommended by Kerry.
Roni, I've been absent from your thread a long time - I'm going to have to go read your summaries The Closing of the Western Mind - thanks so much for doing this!
What an interesting addendum about the conflict between the rational and .... the faith oriented muslim clerics. al-Ghazali sounds a bit like Augustine???
I read your review, Lori, and I plan to read this one in pieces, as a series of meditations, rather than a narrative, as per some of the other reviews. Have you read Karen Armstrong's The Spiral Staircase?
Good to see you, Ardene!
Not quite as warped as Augustine--no sexual urge torments and al-Ghazali was actually a respected scientist in his own right. He was moving toward balance, which is not what Augustine was about, I think.
Finally got pictures taken of the glass jewelry I made the first week I got back.
I hope you enjoy Wrapped, I still love the cover. I need to get on and read the second Flora Segunda book.
Love your glass jewellery.
Thank you so much, Kerry, Richard, humouress, Lucy, Amber and Valerie!
You'll never guess what I scored on the latest ER books-- Constantine the Emperor by David Potter. This should be interesting.
Book #103 Ink and Steel by Elizabeth Bear (427 pp.)
This is the first half of a story continued in Hell and Earth, involving Kit Marlowe, Queen Elizabeth, William Shakespeare, Queen Mab, Morgan le Fay, and many, many more. Very complex plot, complex characters--not something I can read quickly, but engrossing. Richard, I think you'd like it. Especially Lucifer. You'd drool over him.
Ink and Steel sounds intriguing Roni. I love the Tudor period, and I'm on a bit of a Fantasy spree at the moment so I might have to check it out. I just discovered a series I think you'd love. Not sure if it has a series name, but the ongoing character that links the four books is an urban sorcerer called Matthew Swift. The first part, which I just devoured, is A Madness of Angels. The author is Kate Griffin, but apparently that's just a pen name of children's author Catherine Webb. Anyway, I think the whole think would be right up your street.
Thanks, Hannah. I see it's already on my wishlist, recommended by kkunker, but I shall push it up the list based on your recommendation!
I have decided I need to put the date (month/year) along with the name of the person recommending into the tags for wishlists!
Hi there, Roni .. I try to tag names of the person recommending books as well in my wish list. Putting the date along with it is a good idea.
How's your vegetable garden doing this summer?
Oooo, Roni! Making up 40 messages here ---- Congratulations on reading 100+ books! WHY am I not equally well-read?????
I'd be hard-put to say which set of the glass fusion jewelry I prefer. It's all arresting!
And, oooo! I have a copy of Ink and Steel, and it didn't register with me as being Elizabeth Bear. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Nor do I know how I missed Robin McKinley - someday soon, I'll try her, I hope.
Amazing jewelry, it'all so beautiful and in such lovely colours...I would be hard pressed to string a bead : )
I read book 4 of the series, Hell and Earth, a while back. I liked it. I can't see going back and reading the previous ones, because now I know how it all turns out! Drat.
Thank you, Anne. Did I ever mention that my great-uncle had a cabin up above Evergreen that we loved to go stay at when we had the chance? Not often--maybe half a dozen times at the max. Do they still have the taffy shop with the big puller in the window in town?
Caro, my garden is doing very mediocrely this summer. The cucumbers did nothing and while the tomatoes produced, they were all little even when they were not supposed to be. I got beets and some carrots, swiss chard. Bummer.
Peggy, thank you. And see the wrap up review of Hell and Earth below--well worth reading. I hope you'll try McKinley also.
Thank you, apachecat. Beading itself is amazingly simple--I'll bet you'd be surprised.
Richard, books 1 & 2 are set in current day settings, and I haven't read the second as yet. You would only need Ink and Steel, which as I said above is the first half of the story--I understand, but am sorry that you are missing the initial seduction of Kit by Lucifer.
Woke up with a migraine today--weather-induced, I am sure--but that didn't stop me from finishing my next book. Indeed, I was too wrapped up in it to be able to stop.
Book #104 Hell and Earth by Elizabeth Bear (419 pp.)
Oh...my...God! What a story! Consider these last two books as one. Don't start Ink and Steel without having Hell and Earth available. The sheer audacity and scope of this tale has me in awe of Bear's capabilities. Not to mention how she has woven in quotes from Shakespeare's and Marlowe's works so aptly and beautifully throughout. This is very much a man's world. There are strong women throughout, but we never see through their eyes, only through Will and Kit in Elizabethan England. And Faerie. And throw all your stereotypes out the window right now. This goes deeper and twistier, and is one hell of a story.
ETA FWIW this is my second 5 star book (both books together) of the year, with my first read of the year, The Night Circus, being the other.
*sigh* ... came for a little visit ...got hit by a big blue bullet! Whammo ... Hell and Earth sounds too good not to add to the obese wish list.
. . . and me. I am adding both of the Elizabeth Bear books to the BlackHole.
Okay, I'm semi-organized for September and the Series and Sequels thread:
Crime and Mystery:
Immortal in Death by J. D. Robb #3 in Eve Dallas series
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penney #4 in Three Pines series (BOTS)
Children's Fantasy Off My Shelf (to complete and donate to school library)
The Claidi Journals by Tanith Lee: I have read the first three, need to read the last one, Wolf Wing. (4 BOTS)
The Firebringer Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce: I've read the first, but will probably have to reread as I've forgotten it completely. Birth of the Firebringer, Dark Moon, and The Son of Summer Stars. (3 BOTS)
Children's Fantasy Series from the library
Flora's Fury by Ysabeau Wilce #3 of the Flora Segunda series
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley: #2 of the Flavia de Luce series
Whiskey and Water by Elizabeth Bear: #2 of the Promethean Age
Ambitious, I know. I'll be back later with the August summaries!
BOTS=books off the shelf
Books read: 12
Pages read: 3955
Average book length: 330 pages
12 new reads, 1 re-read
4 library books
3 Kindle books
2 hardbacks purchased new
2 freebies (1 ER book, 1 free from the library)
1 disintegrating paperback off my shelves for the re-read
0, that is zero, books off the shelf
3 science fiction
1 regency romance
5 by male authors, 7 by female authors
2 authors from Britain, one from Australia, the rest from the USA
All but two of them (the romance 1990, the re-read 1983) published in the last 5 years, 4 of them this year.
6 books acquired:
1 ER book
3 new from Mysterious Galaxy, my local indie bookstore
2 from PaperBackSwap
Brief summary for the year:
104 books read
33,863 pages read
Average book length=326 pages
87 new reads, 17 re-reads
42 books from the library
8 books off the shelf
17 science fiction
14 nonfiction (now there's a category that's come up this year!)
5 general fiction or literature
Books acquired =47 Amount paid to date=$270.93
24 books were free (bookmooch or paperbackswap or gift)
Average cost of remaining books=$11.78
6 mass market paperbacks, 5 trade paperbacks, 5 hardbacks, 5 Kindle
(clearly an equal opportunity media purchaser)
22 books read of the 47 acquired=47%
ETA I forgot to include books out the door via BookMooch, PaperBackSwap and library donations=48
Well, of course I picked up Rivers of London at the bookstore last week BECAUSE of your recommendations, Stasia and Joe! And Richard's as well.
I'm sure I'd be led far astray at any meet-up that had all three of you there, Joe!
One of the Kindle deals today is that Jessica Day George's Dragon Slippers trilogy is on sale for $1.99 each, which is a good deal indeed. These are children's fantasy that can be appreciated by adult readers, shading into YA, and I recommend them. Now, where else can I post this?
Thanks, Hannah. Glad you are safely back home again.
Finished Book #105 last night, Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (298 pp.)
Also known as Rivers of London in Britain, which makes a lot of sense. This urban detective fantasy has been compared to Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series, but without all the angst, which seems a fair comparison. It was fairly light, given all the gruesome murders, with some nice spots of phrasing and character definition. I'll continue with the series--I think it will get even better with experience, but still consider Mark del Franco's Connor Grey series superior.
Almost forgot--yesterday was pottery day. I trimmed 8 pieces and threw one, so won't be bringing anything new home for 4 weeks, but here's what I glazed last week. Not thrilled with the glazes this time.
Usually, that green would be my kind of colour, but maybe you're right; not as a glaze. Though I do like the dark bits at the top. And I love the little flower detail at the base of each handle. That's so cute!
I like the tops of the mugs too, humouress, but the underglaze on the bottom was simply too thin.
Book #106 The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood (267 pp.)
This children's book is simply charming. I was expecting it to be all about the three feral children, but it is actually from the pov of Miss Penelope Lumley, a governess for the first time at 15 and educated at a very common-sensical school for poor girls. The authorial voice intrusions were fun and didn't irritate me as they so often do. There are mysteries aplenty, few of which are resolved in this first book of the series, but it is a lot of fun watching Penelope deal with her employers and civilize the three children--her voice is a delight.
I am really digging the mugs, and I am envious of your craftsmanship! I also love the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, and I think the writing is delightful. Be prepared, though - I just finished up the third book, and hardly any of the mysteries have been resolved. It's driving me slightly batty, but I'll keep with the series.
I'm way behind--lots of congrats for blowing right by 100 books!
The Elizabeth Bear books look wonderful--I've added them to my spreadsheet of wishlisted books. Your thread always makes my wishlist grow. I'm still trying to convince myself that putting things on the spreadsheet is as good as adding to the physical mountain.
Tell us about the little pot in the foreground. It looks to have some really interesting designs and some nice desert-y colors.
Amber, you are too kind. But I remember how you are always dissatisfied with your quilting/sewing projects, seeing the flaws the rest of us don't even notice.
Thank you, Eris. I don't think I will get frustrated at the lack of resolution--this is clearly one of those series where where it is the journey rather than the destination that is the point of the thing. As John Barth wrote, "The key to the treasure IS the treasure." If Wood keeps up the quality of the journey, I'll be content.
Janet, thank you for visiting. The Bear books were excellent and, although they are nominally the 3rd and 4th books of her Promethean Age books, I'd start there. I read book 1, Blood and Iron last year and thought it was a good modern urban fantasy, but these blew me away. Now I'm going to go back and reread the first book and have the second one, also set in the present day, on order from the library and shall see if having that background makes me more appreciative.
The little pot was one that was thrown on a day when I was having problem throwing, and so the walls were very thick and the bottom very thin. So it ended up being a little planter because the bottom broke through so I made a drainage hole there, and a carved piece because the walls were so thick that I was able to play around with a very deep carving pattern. The glaze is Fern Mist, a matte glaze in a soft green.
Books #107 and 108 Po's Story and Mana's Story by Peter Dickinson (208 and 211 pp.)
Peter Dickinson is an English writer of children's books for whom I have had the greatest respect ever since I first read his Changes Trilogy in the 1970s. Since then, he has met and married Robin McKinley, so I admire his taste even more now. This is a four book series, written at a 4-6 grade level, imagining the adventures of one of the first groups of humans with language as they cope with the changing environment, natural disasters, and other groups of proto-humans in the world about two hundred thousand years ago. Each book is narrated by a different young person of the Moonhawk clan after their clan is broken and dispersed by an invasion, as the young group searches for other members of their clan and a new place to live. I had read the first two a number of years ago and then got distracted before finishing the last two, but am taking advantage of September Series and Sequels to complete the series so I can donate the books to my former school's library.
Dickinson paints a fascinating picture of the landscapes and peoples of a prehistoric world, with interspersed "Old Tales" and totem animals. His imagined societies form a context within which we come to know each of the young people's dreams and fears as they make places for themselves in their world. Although the language is simple, the ideas are not.
I read The Kin just recently too. I found it pretty interesting.
Great save on the pot, Roni! If you hadn't told its story, I would have never guessed it came into being because of an oops. It's going to look gorgeous with a plant.
Love the mugs! It must be so nice to have a coffee in the morning in a mug of your own making!
(PS I love the name Hannah, but I think I'll keep mine as Chelle instead hehe ;)
Oops, sorry Chelle! I think I had a brainfart, thinking you were HansGerg for some reason when I was responding. Lovely to have you drop by so soon after your gorgeous, lovely wedding.
Rachel, I'm glad you liked it too.
Janet, nothing is ever wasted, right?
Princess Academy is only $1.99 today on the Kindle, everybody! Of course, I want the new sequel.
Incorrigible looks like fun.
Also fun to imagine tea or coffee steaming in your mugs.
I love your little pot .. the one you turned into a planter. What are you going to plant in it?
I love Peter Dickinson's writing. He writes children's books with such sophisticated ideas in them. They are fabulous. I haven't yet come across one I haven't liked.
#221: Those books look very good. I am going to have to give them a try - despite the fact that I am not old enough for them :)
I think you'd really enjoy the Incorrigible books, Lucy.
Thanks, Caro. Probably a succulent or cactus, something that doesn't grow quickly.
Thanks, Kerry. Yes, it's funny. When McKinley was at a book signing here--I don't remember if it was the one for Pegasus or the book before--they were going to write a book of shared short stories for each of the four elements, and finished the one about water. But McKinley's story for Fire turned into Sunshine instead. I don't know if they've gotten back on track.
I agree, Jenny, that's what I've always liked about his writing. Some of his most children's fantasies recently have been The Ropemaker and its sequel Angel Isle. I haven't ever read any of his adult mysteries, though.
Ha ha, Stasia. Very funny.
Book #109 Wolf Wing: The Claidi Jounals IV by Tanith Lee (229 pp.)
This set of journals of a young woman in a strange fantastic world is a quest story of a sort, as she escapes from being a slave to find her own destiny over these four books. I had read the first three a few years ago, and just never got the last one read. Again, I wanted to finish this series so I could donate the set to my elementary school library and targeted the September Series and Sequels thread as my motivation to do this. I found this a good resolution to the story.
#233: Well, rats. The local library does not have those. It does not have the Dickinson books either. I do not like my local library right now.
Peter Dickinson and Robin McKinley? What a combination. I'm sure I've read his work as a child, and I love McKinley's Damaria books.
The colour on the mugs in the second photo looks really nice. Was it the picture, or did the glaze hold better on the inside? I see you're selling them for $22.00 ;-)
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So much reading done, Roni! Love the mugs! Reminds me that I'm due for a cup of tea this morning. Grey, grey, morning, which means that summer is probably done and on it's way out. My favourite season -- Fall is about to make its grand entrance. :)
>199 Sadly no, that old-fashioned taffy shop has been closed for years. Decades, probably. I loved that! Evergreen has changed quite a bit, but much is also the same. It is still a charming, close-knit community. We went and spent the long weekend with my mother at her house in Evergreen -- the same house I grew up in. We really miss living up there and talk about moving back often. Maybe someday.
Loved your review of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. It sounds terrific!
Sorry, Stasia. But also look for them in the omnibus edition titled The Kin, and see if the library has any other Peter Dickinson.
Humouress, that must be an interesting marriage, no? It's not the picture--the glaze does hold better on the inside of pieces. Ha ha--that was the asking price for that string of beads (not what I paid for it) but if I can get $22 for those mugs, they are sold!
Valerie, you're back! You've been so quiet on your thread the last week. I love fall too. We get our city back. Yesterday we went for a walk at La Jolla Shores, the day after Labor Day, neatly avoiding the 600,000 people who were at the beaches over the weekend, and saw almost all Callifornia plates and found parking even at noon. See?
Anne, I would love to go up there again, and especially try to find the site of my great-uncle's cabin near the park where you hike up to the waterfall--we loved to do that. Sorry about the taffy shop--that machine in the window fascinated us. Do try the Incorrigible book--I think you and your girls would enjoy it.
Maxwell Falls? Off of Brook Forest Road? That's definitely a prime location for a lot of those old summer cabins, and Maxwell Falls is one of my favorite hikes.
I don't know the name (I was a KID!) but the park started a half mile below my uncle's cabin, and if you kept driving on the road above it, you circled around and came back to the park above and could park near the waterfall. Does that sound like it? My uncle's cabin had electricity but no plumbing--it was definitely an old cabin. The stream was between it and the road, and we pumped the water and used the outhouse.
Yes, I'm sure it's Maxwell Falls! Brook Forest Road is just a little ways outside of "downtown" Evergreen, and it does loop around -- eventually turning into Black Mountain Drive, where you can access the falls from the top. If you continue on Black Mountain, it turns into Shadow Mountain Drive, where Stelios and I bought our first house. You could definitely find it. I wonder if the cabin is still there?
Oh, that's great to have a name, Anne! I will definitely be able to find the cabin from the park and one of these days I will check it out. I would love to rent a cabin in that area for a week for a vacation.
Thanks, Jenny. It is a pretty place, isn't it.
Book #110 Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre (312 pp.)
This is the second book in a series (Grimspace was the first) that is science fiction, but also has a big romance component. Fortunately, this book had a bit less of that than the first. This is adequate space opera. It doesn't go above the stock situations and emotional manipulations, it's not a Bujold or a Miller & Lee. There's a lot of angst--not teenage at least, as the protagonist is in her thirties. I'm undecided whether to go on with the series or not--it looks like we might finally be getting to the meat of the story, but that could be illusory.
ETA well, there are 4 more books to complete the series. The good news is that the Amazon reviews are generally quite positive with the possible exception of the final book, and that Jax grows throughout. I'm still undecided. I'm going to go look at the LT reviews.
Okay I'm not even looking at the beach or the people on it because I'm dazzled by the colour of that sky! Gorgeous! :)
Book #111 Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill (272 pp.)
This is the fourth of the Dr. Siri books, and it is just as good as the first three. We have several plotlines running in tandem, as usual, and they keep us intrigued. It looks like there are some big changes in store for Dr. Siri at the end of this book.
Well, I've been applying myself these first 6 days in September and, helped by the fact that half of them were children's books, I've finished 7 of my target books for the September Series and Sequels.
Crime and Mystery:
Immortal in Death by J. D. Robb #3 in Eve Dallas series
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penney #4 in Three Pines series (BOTS)
Children's Fantasy Off My Shelf (to complete and donate to school library)
The Claidi Journals by Tanith Lee: I have read the first three, need to read the last one, Wolf Wing. (4 BOTS)
The Firebringer Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce: I've read the first, but will probably have to reread as I've forgotten it completely. Birth of the Firebringer, Dark Moon, and The Son of Summer Stars. (3 BOTS)
Children's Fantasy Series from the library
Flora's Fury by Ysabeau Wilce #3 of the Flora Segunda series
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley: #2 of the Flavia de Luce series
Whiskey and Water by Elizabeth Bear: #2 of the Promethean Age
BOTS=Books off the Shelf (have been in my library prior to 1/1/12)
This topic was continued by Roni 'ncats Relishes 2012: Books and Arts and Crafts Part 7.
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.