Saturday, January 21, 2012

An Aid to Reflection

“Fiction is, among other things, an aid to reflection: a means by which we can more vividly and rigorously encounter the world and try to make sense of it, to confront ‘the problems of being’ as freshly as we can. But we vary in our interpretative needs: the questions that absorb some of us never occur to others. Each of us has her own labyrinth. Every genre of fiction puts certain questions in brackets, or takes their answers as a given, in order to explore others. Not even the greatest writers can keep all the balls in the air at once: some have to sit still on the ground while the others whirl. People who come to a book by Murakami, or Neal Stephenson, or even Ursala K. LeGuin with the questions they would put to a Marilynne Robinson novel are bound to be disappointed and frustrated. But if we readers attend closely to the kinds of questions a book is asking, the question it invites from us, then our experience will be more valuable. And the more questions we can put to the books we read — in the most generous and charitable spirit we can manage — the richer becomes our encounter not just with the books themselves but with the world they point to.”

— Alan Jacobs, Reverting to Type: A Reader's Story, (location 523 of 550 when viewed on an iPad in Kindle).

Friday, January 13, 2012

I Always Preferred Studying Alone

“At every institution studied, from research universities to small colleges, some students performed at high levels, and some programs fostered more learning than others. In general, though, two points come through with striking clarity. First, traditional subjects and methods seem to retain their educational value. Nowadays the liberal arts attract a far smaller proportion of students than they did two generations ago. Still, those majoring in liberal arts fields—humanities and social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics—outperformed those studying business, communications, and other new, practical majors on the CLA. And at a time when libraries and classrooms across the country are being reconfigured to promote trendy forms of collaborative learning, students who spent the most time studying on their own outperformed those who worked mostly with others.”

HT: AyJay

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Trueman on Public Prayer

As are most things I read from Carl Trueman, this is worth your time to read the whole thing. Here is an excerpt.
To listen to a lot of public prayer in churches is too often like listening in to a private quiet time -- and that is not meant as a compliment.  The erosion of the boundary between public and private and the relentless march of the aesthetics of casualness have taken their toll here.  It seems that unless somebody prays in public precisely as we think they might do in private, we all fear that there is a affectation that prevents the prayer from being `authentic' -- whatever that might mean.  Yet oftentimes there are people in the congregation on Sunday who have come from a week of pain, worry and confusion; they may be spiritually shattered; they might barely be able to string two words of a prayer together; and at this moment a good pastor can through a well-thought out and carefully expressed prayer draw their eyes heavenwards, lead them to the throne of grace and give them the words of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and intercession which they cannot find for themselves.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another Reason Not to Blog

“What might be delicate or unseemly in normal life, however, is daily meat for the butt-wiggling exhibitionists on the Internet; otherwise there would be no blogs.”

— Andrew Ferguson, Crazy U, p. 159.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Committee of Morons

“The Town hall, which looked as if it had been designed by a committee of morons in an excess of alcohol and civic pride, stood in isolated spendour bounded by two bombed sites where rebuilding had only just begun.”

— P. D. James, Cover Her Face, p. 158.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Books Completed in 2011

Here is the list for 2011. My goal is a minimum of 12 books completed per year, or an average of one per month. If I start a book in one year, and finish it in the next, it counts in the year it was completed. My sights are set low, but the goal is attainable. (Obviously, I am not shooting for stars and hoping for the moon: I am settling for clouds.)

I try to read some books that my kids are reading, because I love to read young adult fiction, and I love to read what my kids are reading, as it makes for great conversations. I prefer novels, as I have been reading fiction since my earliest memories of reading. I also enjoy reading essays and theology. The problem with the latter is that I am very slow. Oh well. Novels help me attain my yearly goal.

I also previously posted on books read in 2010 and 2008/2009.

Wayfaring: Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant, by Alan Jacobs
The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One, by Rick Riordan
The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic, by Jennifer Trafton
The Sea of Monsters: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Two, by Rick Riordan
The Titan's Curse: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Three, by Rick Riordan
The Battle of the Labyrinth: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Four, by Rick Riordan
The Last Olympian: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book Five, by Rick Riordan
The Lost Hero: Heroes of Olympus, Book One, by Rick Riordan
The Fiddler’s Gun, by A. S. Peterson
The Fiddler’s Green, by A. S. Peterson
The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. & E. B. White
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Dragon's Tooth, by Nathan D. Wilson
Holes, by Louis Sachar
The Monster in the Hollows: The Wingfeather Saga, Book Three, by Andrew Peterson
The Son of Neptune: Heroes of Olympus, Book Two, by Rick Riordan
Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting His Kid into College, by Andrew Ferguson
Living in God's Two Kingdoms: A Biblical Vision for Christianity and Culture, by David VanDrunen