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May Books

Well, no school + no television + no girlfriend = hella lotta books.
1. Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross, Michael Gorman.
This is one of the best books I have read. Comparable (in caliber) to The Moral Vision of the New Testament by Richard Hays, I think that anybody who wants to accept or reject Christianity should read this book — here a genuine Christian spirituality is revealed. Those who have developed an affinity for the likes of Piper or McLaren should really read this book so that they can get a better understanding of what Christianity is all about. A much needed voice.
2. Where is God? Earthquake, Terrorism, Barbarity, and Hope, Jon Sobrino.
A poignant reflection upon the 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador, the bombing of the WTC, the bombing of Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. Sobrino is one of the best liberation theologians out there.
3. The Disappearance of Childhood, Neil Postman.
Picking up themes that are further developed in Amusing Ourselves to Death and Technopoly, Postman argues that, with the decline of a typographic culture and the ascendancy of a visual culture, childhood is bound to disappear. He argues we have once again returned to the Dark Ages, where children are simply miniature adults (and adults are large children). I love Postman, he’s witty, intelligent, and is often bang-on with his socio-cultural critiques. Postman has said that, of his writings, this book is his favourite.
4. Dorothy Day: A Radical Devotion, Robert Coles.
Dorothy Day — one of those people that makes me want to become a Roman Catholic.
5. Prison Journals of a Priest Revolutionary, Philip Berrigan (edited).
Although one can’t help but wonder about a certain egoism in Berrigan’s writings, reading his journals is humbling for any who aspire to making sweeping (revolutionary) changes in our society. An interesting perspective on Vietnam from an American priest who was willing to be jailed for his religious convictions.
6. Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean.
Staying with the theme of American Catholic social activists… Prejean is quite an interesting voice. The things that struck me the most about this book were (a) the way in which she was unable to journey alongside of both the victims and the perpetrators of violent crimes (b) the way in which she gradually moves towards a more restorative approach to justice by the end of the book.
7. The Gulag Archipelago (I-II), Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn.
I think I stayed away from Solzhenitsyn for a long time because I was sick of people trashing the U.S.S.R. in order to make the West look righteous. A grievous and horrifying read — especially in light of Guantanamo Bay and other places where the U.S. is creating it’s own Archipelago.
8. Bread and Wine, Ignazio Silone.
Self-described as “a socialist without a party, and a Christian without a Church” this is Silone’s most autobiographical work. The ending completely shocked me. Completely. I think I actually gasped.
9. Poor Folk, Fyodor Dostoevski.
Dostoevski’s first book and the one that launched him into the circles of Russia’s literary elite. It’s interesting that, at the time, this book was considered radically empathetic.
10. The Double, Fyodor Dostoevski.
Dostoevski’s second work. It did not receive nearly as much acclaim as his first, due largely to the fact that is was misunderstood by a lot of critics. Quite an interesting look into mental illness — especially considering Dostoevski’s own struggle.
11. The Eternal Husband, Fyodor Dostoevski.
The best of these three short novels, Dostoevski writes a very compact, well put together story that picks up on themes that are more fully developed in The Idiot and The Possessed.
12. The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
It’s always interesting to go back and read something that totally took Europe by storm at the time it was published (and actually made Goethe a renowned author). But, being quite removed from that romantic period, I can’t say I really loved this work.
13. Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the Brothers Grimm.
Some people read encyclopedias in the washroom, others read magazines… I decided to read Fairy Tales.
14. Kissing Chaos, Arthur Dela Cruz.
Still looking for other graphic novel’s comparable to Craig Thompson’s. And still coming up empty.

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  1. Those fairy tales really are grim, eh? Nothing like graphically violent stories to send the kiddies off to sleep. It’s funny how Disney’s version of Cinderella has far less self-mutilation, flowing blood, and gouging-out of eye-balls. I’m a little partial to Hans Christian Andersen, myself, although there is plenty of death and destruction in his tales too.

  2. Joshy!
    It’s true those Grimm fairly tales are horrific. I think the one that scarred me the most was the one about a band of robbers that seduces women, murders them, strips them and then cuts them up and eats them. What the bloody hell?!?!
    I actually found it quite interesting to read the fairy tales in conjunction with The Disappearance of Childhood. Postman argues that fairy tales were one way in which children were introduced to some of the truths and secrets of adulthood — yet such an introduction was given through a very different medium than current ways (i.e. a loving mother vs. a television) and had very different results. Frig, I love Postman, he makes me think.