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Jesus is a Twin!

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Or, at least, he is in Philip Pullman's enthralling novel, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. I’ve recently finished reading this alternative version of the New Testament story, and I loved it! It was un-put-down-able, if I may coin a phrase.

As a student of religious studies, I was made aware that before the Bible was assembled as the book we now know, there were all sorts of different myths and stories about Jesus. Some of these stories claim that Jesus was a twin; others claim that Jesus escaped to Egypt while an unsuspecting dupe was crucified in his place. How fascinating to consider the alternatives...

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is a story (repeat: story!) about Jesus and his twin brother, Christ. All the familiar players are involved: Mary, John the Baptist, Barabbas, and a flock of uptight Pharisees. But, this is a story unlike the one you may have read in Sunday school.

Pullman’s writing style is effortless and spare and yet he creates such wonderfully rich characters and atmospheres.

Check this book out over the Christ(s)mas holidays! I especially recommend it for those who are interested in religious studies, Bible studies, history and spirituality, and storytelling.

The Honor Code, by Kwame Anthony Appiah

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

I listen to podcasts from BBC radio, and I recently heard philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah discussing the role of honour in the 21st century. Appiah’s interests lie primarily in moral progress, and how that progress is made.

The Chinese tradition of footbinding had existed for centuries, but within a generation, it was completely eradicated. How did this happen? Appiah argues that reason, morality and religion are not enough to spur moral revolutions. Morally repugnant practices are changed only when they come into conflict with honour.

I can't wait to delve into it! Yes, I’m going to spend my “down time” reading about footbinding, the Atlantic slave trade, and the aristocratic custom of duelling. That’s just how I roll.

The next time you hear about a great new book, go online and place a hold through our website. That way, you’ll beat me to the punch!

Unbearable Lightness, by Portia De Rossi

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

WOW – what a fantastic book! Portia De Rossi is a gay actress, married to well-known talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres. In Unbearable Lightness, De Rossi reflects on her past and shares insights into why she developed and eventually overcame both anorexia and bulimia.

This is a wonderful book; I read it in only a few days. De Rossi is insightful, sharp, funny, honest and unflinching about her past. What surprised me most was her skill as a prose writer. I may be judgemental, given that I don’t typically assume former models with long blonde hair are “the literary type”, but De Rossi certainly is. In articulate and poignant descriptions, she reveals how difficult it is to be an actress (let alone a gay actress) in a culture of beauty, thinness and body obsession.

Read this book if you struggle with anorexia or bulimia. Read it if you’ve ever felt too fat or too thin. Read this book if you enjoy biographies. Read this book if you’re a fan of the TV program Arrested Development.

I have a new appreciation for De Rossi’s work, and I’m sure you will, too!

Sam Harris is Back!

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Sam Harris is a philosopher and a neuroscientist. In The End of Faith, he writes emphatically and convincingly about the dangers of religious faith. Letter to a Christian Nation is his follow-up, and it is Harris’s response to the thousands of letters and responses that The End of Faith provoked. Now, Harris is back, but his focus has changed. In The Moral Landscape, he aims to convince you that we can figure out morality using scientific methods and principles. Sound like a mammoth task? An unlikely one? One that’s long overdue?

Check out The Moral Landscape today!

Losing My Cool, by Thomas Chatterton Williams

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

What are the effects of hip-hop immersion on a young black mind? How can we navigate issues of identity and find who we really are, outside of our peer group? Can parents influence their children without employing overt means of controlling them?

I loved Losing My Cool. It’s a memoir by a young black man who evolves from a hip-hop loving and somewhat cloistered youth to one who studies philosophy and abandons ‘hood aspirations for the life of the mind. Along the way, new friendships are established as old ones atrophy, and the freedom of undergraduate life replaces the relative conformity required in high school. I found one of the sharpest insights towards the end of the book, when Williams begins to appreciate the difference between being “of” hip-hop culture, and being “into” hip-hop culture. He concludes that those blacks who are into hip-hop but not “of” it can see hip-hop ironically; see how distanced the concerns of the street are from the priorities within their own lives. Those who take hip-hop seriously and without irony (and to the exclusion of all else!) can become trapped by its hollow pursuits, and slaves to its materialistic ethic.

Not only is this memoir about Williams’s own evolution, but it’s a loving tribute to his father, whose stoic presence looms large in the narrative.

Emotional, probing, and very insightful! This was a great and unique read.

Suggest it to the philosopher, son, father, or gangsta in your life!

The Idle Parent, by Tom Hodgkinson

by Katherine - 0 Comment(s)

Some time ago, I read and thoroughly enjoyed (and reviewed!) Tom Hodgkinson’s The Freedom Manifesto. I loved the way that Hodgkinson wove philosophy and humour, and created what is actually a very inspirational read, while informing me that I need to quit my job, plant a garden and take up the ukulele.

So, when I saw Hodgkinsons’ latest, The Idle Parent, on our shelf of new books, I couldn’t wait to tear into it. And what a treat it was!

Hodgkinson implores us to quit bothering our children and to leave them well alone, if we want to ensure they are self-reliant, creative, well-adjusted individuals. Throughout, he offers insights into why children whine (spoiler alert: it’s because they’re powerless), how they can contribute to the household, why they should be taken out of school and away from glowing screens, and how parents can do a lot for their children by doing nothing.

This book is not an endorsement of neglect; the idle parent is not a reckless, irresponsible one. Rather, the idle parent is one who does not seek to control or mould children. The idle parent realizes that children are people, and need to pursue what it is that people were created for: to enjoy a pleasurable life.

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