A lovely escape into the grime and gristle of European and Japanese cultures mixing and manipulating over the politics of commerce.
Glimmers of individual virtue are pitted against cultural chauvinism, with graphic descriptions of the foibles, constraints and violences of both.
A thoroughly enjoyable escape -- like a vacation for the imagination.
I cannot think of a more natural choice for the narrator. Not just because he played Arthur Dent in the movie (if I recall correctly), but because he has the dawdling Brit thing down so well.
It makes me think Freeman and Douglas Adams were kindred spirits.
I've read the books, and listening to this was no less of a pleasure.
I confess this was my first exposure to Graham Greene's writing. And what a collection of characters.
To me, the story boils down to a heightened mix of good intentions, nobility and scrabbling criminality. Self-interest is trump.
The narration was excellent, the characterization was distinct without getting cartoony.
I'll probably come back to another Greene novel in the future.
This book was like auditing a colourful lecture series. A great learning experience ... if only I had taken notes!
I am grateful that someone of Rob Bell's stature, for those of us who appreciated his work until this book came out, has broached this subject from within the evangelical camp.
This book asks the questions that so many of us have been silently wondering about for a long time. Or bailed on church as we know it because the answers were just so much stonewalling.
Hell ... really? Or is it a "spin" that serves evangelists and pastors that want more forceful leverage on the behaviour of their flocks or communities? (Sometimes understandably, where human selfishness and hate drive people to others' harm.)
Problem is, fear is a crummy foundation for faith. The antithesis, actually. And the friends I have who embraced faith, or at least church culture, out of fear of Hell or some cartoon end-times anti-Christ, have largely dropped out of both.
Bottom line: Very few Bible-believing Christians actually believe in Hell. Not really. If they did, they'd be up sweating at night and weeping in the streets.
Would deflating the hyperbole of Hell mean that patently evil people get off Scott-free? I doubt it. We will all be held to account, and Paul suggested that those outside the faith will have "blows" meted out to them to a lesser degree than those who should know better, such as the local "saved" church pedophile.
I respect that Bell does not shove definitive answers at us (as his orthodox opponents do.) Though we who were weaned on yes/no doctrine might wish he would -- I think he's smart to leave the codifying to sterner academics. This is a pretty short book, and undoing such a daunting shibboleth will be a huge undertaking.
For now, this will do.
And at least the silenced majority in the Church, and the numerical majority now outside the camp, can see that their quiet musings on the subject are registering. Somewhere.
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