Taking Inventory: 2011

2011, the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, had me hopping from book to book and from topic to topic.  The subjects ranged from political to spiritual to mathematics to history. The genres ranged from non-fiction books, essays and articles to short story fiction and novels.

 These are some of the books and writings that I have read and studied this past year.  They are now taking up residence in my cluttered mind and by extension, my over-crowded book shelves:

 The Thomas Sowell Reader, a compilation of articles and essays written by Thomas Sowell, economist:

 “From an early age, I have been convinced with trying to understand the social problems that abound in any society.  First and foremost, this was an attempt to try to grasp some explanation of the puzzling and disturbing things going on around me.  This was all for my own personal clarification, since I neither had political ambitions nor the political talents required for either elective or appointed office.  But, one having achieved some sense of understanding of particular issues – a process that sometimes took years – I w anted to share that understanding with others.  That is the reason for the things that appear in this book.”

 A Conflict of Visions, also written by Thomas Sowell:

 “What are the underlying assumptions behind the very different ideological visions of the world being contested in modern times?  The purpose here will not be to determine which of these visions is more valid but rather to reveal the inherent logic behind each of these sets of views and the ramifications of the assumptions which lead not only to different conclusions on particular issues but also to wholly different meanings to such fundamental words as “justice,” “equality,” and “power.”

 The New Road to Serfdom:  A letter of Warning to America, Daniel Hannan, British MEP:

 “This book is not aimed at the convinced anti-Americans.  It is aimed, rather, at those within the United States who have become blasé about their transcendent political inheritance.” 

 The Conservative Foundations of a Liberal Order:  Defending Democracy Against Its Modern Enemies and Immoderate Friends, Daniel J. Mahoney:

 “My book aims to contribute to the revitalization of a tradition of political and spiritual reflection that will allow democratic man to navigate the dangerous waters of postmodern, relativistic democracy.”

The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of the American Culture, David Mamet:

 “The struggle of the Left to rationalize its positions is an intolerable Sisyphean burden. I speak as a reformed liberal.”

Evil and the Justice of God, N.T. Wright, bishop of Dunham:

 “”After working for some years on a major book on the resurrection, I resolved at the start of 2003 that I would turn my attention to the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion.  But as soon as I began to think how I might approach the subject, I realized that there was something else I had to do first.  When Christians talk about what Jesus accomplished in his death, they usually say something about his cross as the answer to, or the result of, evil. But what is evil?…

I turned my reflections into five lectures which I delivered at Westminster Abbey, where I was then working, the first half of 2003.”

 Exclusion & Embrace:  A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconcilliation, Miroslav Volf

 “Nothing in God is specifically feminine; nothing in God is specifically masculine; therefore nothing in our notions of God entails duties or prerogatives specific to one gender; all duties and prerogatives entailed in our notions of God are duties and prerogatives of both genders…”
Men and women share maleness and femaleness not with God but with animals. They image God in their common humanity. Hence we ought to resist every construction of the relation between God and femininity or masculinity that privileges one gender, say by claiming that men on account of their maleness represent God more adequately than women or by insisting that women, being by nature more relational, are closer to the divine as the power of connectedness and love.”

 The list continues:

 Saving Leonardo:  A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals & Meaning, Nancy Pearcey

 The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper

 Josef Pieper:  An Anthology, Ignatius Press

 Fidelity, Wendell Berry

 Selected Stories, Andre Dubus

 The Greater Journey, David McCullough

 Three Novels:  Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, Samuel Beckett

 King Lear, Shakespeare

 Death in the Andes: A novel, Mario Vargas Llosa

 The Waste Land and Other Poems, T.S. Eliot

 New Stories from the South, 2009:  The Years Best, edited by Madison Smartt Bell

 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Philosophy:  Everything is Fire, edited by Eric Bronson

 Arguably, Essays by Christopher Hitchens

 Is God A Mathematician?  Mario Livio

 The Golden Ration, Mario Livio

 Cosmicomics, Italo Calvino

 Just Kids, Pattie Smith

 Mystery and Manners:  Occasional Prose, Flannery O’Connor

 Numerous Oxford American Magazine editions

 Numerous Vanity Fair Magazine editions

 My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers,

 The Bible


2011,  movies enjoyed and remembered number two:

 The Remains of the Day, James Ivory (& Ismail Merchant)

 The Tree of Life, Terence Malick


 TV doesn’t hold much interest for me. I am not married so I don’t feel the intractable need to sit in front of a TV screen in order to spend time with a mate.  Because of this, my viewing is attenuated to news, intellectual conversations and a baseline of view-worthy movies. Programs/channels watched:

 FOX News

 Turner Classic Movies (TCM)

 Various speakers/writers on CSPN Book-TV


(Note:  In reflection, this inventory list is of importance only to me.  I have found that this blog is a good place for me to store information that I will later need to queue up.  This in turn was due to my finding out that age dissolves memory in its bitter cup of sorrows.)

2012, is the Chinese year of the dragon.  I was born in the year of the dragon X years ago.  Now, the denatured beast is tamer but there is still fire in her belly.

Happy New Year!  Let’s get on with it.

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