I am now on Lesson 63 of Chinese (Unit 3 lesson 3) and I couldn't think of a better way to spend 30 minutes a day. They all follow the same pattern. I will always start here with foreign languages.
One of my professors told me after I had graduated college "now your real education begins" ...that's what this book feels like. It is a man who gets the academic foundation, then pushes it aside to begin his own self-discovery. It's both a physical and mental travelogue (or, Chautauqua) through the United States on a motorcycle and the authors well-informed questions about life. Its premise reminds me of another book I read recently, "On the Road" by Kerouac.
The primary question the author deals with is the dichotomy (originally proposed by Aristotle if I understand it correctly) between heart and head, the emotional and the rational, or as the title states it, zen and motorcycle maintenance.
Some people go through life based on their feelings, their 'romantic' ideals, the 'vibes'...others are practical, rational, classical.
The author encounters people who seem to be mostly one or the other but is searching for an answer to the struggle he senses in himself with the dichotomy. He explores streams of philosophy throughout history and his relationships/experiences with the people around him. I believe he does a very good job of representing both sides. I found myself siding with the romanticists most often, but I saw in myself the desire for more of the classical, practical side. Pirsig helped me to understand how they can interact. The author turns the practical nuts and bolts working with his motorcycle into working with an idea rather than an impersonal mechanical 'this does that' process. I might theorize that arguments, even wars are started based on the Aristotelian separation. And so many of us consciously or subconsciously have it! The world would do well to heed this author.
There's also all kinds of psychology present in this book...the author playing around with sources of motivation...some political theory... again, it's a real education! There is so much here that the author makes practical. If you are on kindle, do a search for "lateral truths" -- the information in those few pages can be worth so much to the current "drifting" generation.
The trouble with this book (and knowledge in general!) is that there is so much it is hard to assimilate it all. As I flip through it, I want to so bad! Every few pages it seems the topic switches a bit and I can't always remember the preceding thoughts and how they connect. It's like I know there's gold but in picking up a new piece I drop the first one!
This book I think embraces the romanticist in me and pushes me toward a more practical/logical/scientific understanding of philosophy, without abandoning my romanticist ideals. It follows a similar premise to "On the Road" by Kerouac, but is not nearly as passive in it's approach to life and learning/discovery. Robert Pirsig is hungry and motivated to learn and grow, he's not only putting himself in situations to learn, but he is active in those situations. He has a practical, classical, scientific philosophy which is absolutely motivated by his honest, heart driven, romantic, idealist desires. Absolutely beautiful, stimulating and compelling. Highly recommended.
Disclaimer: I am an avid audiobook listener, especially biographies. I wanted this on audio. So I called my brother who is an audio engineer and said, let's make an audiobook for the experience. So we spent 3 days in his studio and recorded it, got my book designing friend to design a cover and submitted it to Audible, iTunes, etc. Good experience, but obviously my reading skills are not on par with accomplished narrators!
Whether you read it or listen to it, I think you will benefit from this short bio on Thoreau.
This book, written by Ralph Waldo Emerson's son (who was 18 at the date of Thoreau's death) is an excellent short biography of Thoreau. Edward Emerson does a great job of countering criticisms of Thoreau. One of the quotes I will remember is "to his lonely happiness the world will owe the best gifts he has left."
He was certainly a happy, but also a lonely man. Edward remembers him as both. Henry was kind to the children especially of the Emerson household. The short 50 or so pages/just over 2 hrs on audio is well worth it. After reading this book I began to connect Thoreau's life to that of Jesus' and Socrates. They both were outcasted by the society who didn't understand them, they both were friends to outcasts and dedicated to their ideals. Thoreau was certainly a prophetic voice carrying ideas and ramifications into our own time period.
I started at 4 stars, but considering the brief nature of the book, I think the investment is well worth the yield. Everyone needs some Thoreau in their life, and this is a great addition/brief picture of his life to augment one's reading of his works.
Also consider checking out Ralph Waldo Emerson's 12 page biography on Thoreau (which I have not narrated ;)
I listened to this 7 and a half hour audio book in less than 24 hours. That's how good it was. I could not put it down. I originally got it because I've watched some of John Green's educational youtube video stuff, and you constantly see this book on bestseller lists, and when I clicked around, I could not find a bad review of it! So I said, what the heck, I want to support the best parts of pop culture, I'll pick up the book, I really didn't have an idea what I was getting into. I just wanted some exposure to what's going on in the popular realm.
Let's just get a few things out of the way:
1. Yes, it is "Young Adult Fiction"
2. Yes, it is a romance.
3. Yes, I liked those two aspects of it.
Ok, #4, it is more! The two main characters are cancer survivors/fighters. They meet at a teenage cancer support group. They take on life's difficult questions head on. Their other friend gets both his eyes removed because of cancer. They play video games with him on his last day as a person with sight. That is a scenario where you are looking at life wondering what it is all about. They are on the receiving end of all the cliche phrases. This book calls out the phrases for what they are. These smart characters take an honest look at death and life and have to come up with a reason for living.
4a. Their reason for living: They see the tragedy that is life, they want more. Instead of being disappointed about the future, I think they choose to be excited for today. They can't change what has happened, this is what they've got. So they take what they've got and live in it. I think the frustration they have with life not lasting is in a way a celebration of what life has given them. They know their relationship will be short, but the point is to embrace what they can get out of it, being open to the pain and the new ways life can be enjoyable. This book will open your view to a bigger, more sustainable way of living your life.
5. Reading contemporary literature is really great. He uses words and phrases that I know from experience. I bet reading this book is something like reading the literary greats as a person from the time period they were written in.
6. It is very readable, very accessible. Anyone who wants to read a good piece of fiction. I would heartily recommend this book.
7. Yes, it borders on being a bit cheesy, but John Green pulls it off.
Einstein was impudent. Did not respect convention. He didn't wear socks. He considered himself a human more than he was a German, a Swiss, a Jew or an American. These qualities I deeply respect about him. He was a pacifist until confronted with Hitler's extremism, who beat out Einstein as the greatest living person according to incoming Princeton freshmen in 1938 and 1939 by the way.
The way he interacted with the women in his life is not something I want to emulate. He fell in love with one of the few women scientists early on, had a few kids with her, but their relationship deteriorated. His next relationship wasn't much different. He had a lot of acquaintances with other women. Sadly I think his relationships are kind of a prototype of what seems common to many of the men and women I have interacted with in our day.
He played violin. Despite trying, he didn't get a job as a professor until 9 years after his graduation. He started out without favor from the scientific community, then became their celebrity, and then again moved out of their favor. I like that about him as well. He was his own person. He was a man of thought experiments. A theoretical Physicist. He was offered the job of being the president of Israel.
I learned a bit about science from the book as well. At least, some terms perhaps. If I had my education to live over again I might be interested in being on the cutting edge of human progress... The sentiment that Einstein had about his science reminded me of Robert Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" emphasis on the romantic and the practical coming to meet in one person. Einstein did that. He was a romantic, feelings driven person who happened to understand the practical, technical in such a way that he could not only define it, but interact with it on a feelings level. A curiosity. He said he was not particularly talented he only possessed an insatiable curiosity.
After being caught in a storm in his sailboat he said "one feels the insignificance of the individual, and it makes one happy."
He was convinced God would not play dice as it seemed (and still seems) in quantum physics. He believed in Baruch Spinoza's conception of God...mostly as revealed in the natural world, not personal.
"Einstein’s brilliance sprang from being a rebel and nonconformist who recoiled at any attempt to restrain his free expression."
This book has got me interested again in World War 2 affairs. It is so astonishing to me that Hitler was so popular. In addition to the Princeton Freshmen, Time Magazine called him the person of the year in 1938. The story that the victors tell history is very true here. I realized that I have no idea why the world fought that war. It is my impression that people have to be really mad and really frustrated to go to war. And I think the perception of Hitler I was given was one that was told by the victors. The victors who had previously thought he was one of the best people ever. There is something missing in my understanding.
I am exactly the audience this book is supposed to connect with. I was right there in the young evangelical circles who were being most affected by the ideas contained in this book. And I was dissatisfied with what I was finding. The book does connect with me to an extent. To be sure, when it was written in 2001 I think yes, cutting edge, very strong, beneficial challenge to mainstream evangelicalism (though I was not ready for it). Since then there has been quite a few groundbreaking books in a similar vein. Donald Miller's "blue like jazz", Shane Claiborne's "the irresistible revolution", and others who haven't quite hit the mainstream like Frank Schaeffer "crazy for God" and "Patience with God", and other authors still more recent like Rob Bell and Shane Hipps who have pushed the envelope further. Because this book does define a lot of who I am I have to say yes to 4/5 of it. However, the 1/5 is the part that sticks out.
From my perspective, his basic premise of needing a new kind of christian is absolutely right on. I'm not totally sure that the word Christian is worth salvaging from the mess people have made of it. Jesus said a lot of good things and is definitely worth following. There is a lot of controversy here that I don't feel compelled to get involved in at the moment.
In the intro the author acknowledges one of the big problems: the over-usage of the now somewhat over-generalized terms of modern and post modern. This is probably the biggest single part of his argument, and yes, like the author acknowledges, it is too general. It needs to be more specific about which "Post-" he is talking about.
I'm frustrated with the end of the book. Much of the talk throughout the book is about transcending organization yet mcclaren closes it with how to box up this "outside of the box" movement. It is organic, right? Alright then, let it be organic!
It is easy to see his attempt at writing a good story falling into the cheesy category (and he admits it). He is also dealing with a lot of modern philosophy like Michael Polanyi who seems like he was big for the author, but I think the example falls flat to me. Perhaps if I knew more about Michael Polanyi it would help. I'm interested in him now. As one who has got into a lot of Biblical studies there's a number of places that are for and against his argument he could have used. I also would have liked to see some interaction with the new england transcendentalists of the 1800s (Thoreau, Emerson) who (as post-puritans) I think contribute very deeply to this discussion.
I admit I have not read any other more recent mcclaren books and perhaps the more recent editions contain further thinking...However, I fear he is missing that furthest step into authenticity he needs for a fifth star from me. If you are really interested in a book that transcends McClaren's transcending ideas check out Anton zijderveld and peter zerger's "in praise of doubt" and for the more specific to Christianity/the church, (and a very easy read!) i would make sure to read Shane hipps' "selling water by the river".
Loved it. Like "the fault in our stars" I tore through this one in 2 days. This is a book that will take you through the american high school growing up experience. It doesn't attempt to avoid any part of it, which is why it is often found on banned book lists at schools. I think it is easy to see why (though the author is apparently surprised). There is drug use, there is sexual stuff, some violence. Having said that, I don't think it is a book that emphasizes any of it, but simply acknowledges: these things are a part of the culture.
I really appreciate that is doesn't overhype any part of life. It is not trying to sell you anything and that is so refreshing.
The story is set up as a character named charlie writing letters to a more mature person he has never met, a person who "listens and understands and doesn't try to sleep with people just because you could have." Someone describes charlie as being a "wallflower" --a person who observes things and doesn't participate. He tries and begins to participate a bit more often. He finds a group of friends that is something like the 90's equivalent of the modern "hipster" crowd, who likes to listen to music, read books, is not inclined towards pop culture, experiments with some drugs and alcohol.
This book is full of observations on the american culture from a wallflower perspective- someone who is in it, but observing it as much as participating in it. In retrospect it is beautiful for taking a calm look at it, not worried, but seeing what is there.
This book would be most valuable to the adolescents who are going through, and about to go through the experiences described. They will know that there are many parts that are socially constructed and they should know it is all a phase and to feel confident in who they are, there is more to life than what you experience as an adolescent. Experience that time, don't miss it, but be yourself, even if there is no immediate popularity, you will be fine.
Some parents would feel nervous about some of the topics in the book. But to be honest, that is life. I'm reminded of a certain man from Galilee who was eventually killed saying "don't worry about your life" and a certain hobbit from the shire saying "it's dangerous business to walk out your front door" ... it is. There are great experiences and ones that hurt and are sad. That's life. This book is a snapshot of life. If I continue to work with this age group, I will often recommend it.
I thought it was appropriate to listen to this millenia old Chinese book on the way to Beijing. I've heard it is the most read book of all time apart from the Bible. It's about military strategy but puts it in a way that can apply to almost any kind of achieving-your-goals situation you want to apply it to.
The audio edition is only an hour and 15 mins long (without commentary) so the investment was minimal, and for the investment...worth it. A predecessor to the modern self help genre. Could be a good one to read when you are pushing to achieve some goals.
"It is not enough to put ones trust in the tethering of horses or in chariot wheels in the ground" ... Sound similar to the Bible readers out there?
Don't command "the army to advance or retreat, being ignorant that it cannot obey. This is called hobbling the army."
I read the Giles translation...seemed good.
A good read, but lots that I didn't care about. I have more and less (moral) respect for Ghandi now that I've listened to it. He was bound to a a strict conscience without a doubt. I don't know that I would recommend this over any of the biographies written about him....
I learned a lot about Ghandi from this book. He wasnt really a religious figure, definitely interested in spirituality (as in, how to be in a life-giving state of being) but could not really spell out his Hindu beliefs until after he came in contact with a lot of evangelical Christians in South Africa (which was post-college, beginning his career). Those people drew him to begin to try to articulate his religion. He was most influenced by John Ruskins 'unto this last', Tolstoy's 'the kingdom of god is within you' and Jesus' sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7). He could not accept the exclusivity of evangelical Christianity, but valued and even took part in many christian beliefs and practice especially when the result was love, joy, peace etc... Despite his Christian influences He read the Bhagavad Gita in a more devotional manner than he did the Bible or any other religious works.
He was really a principle driven lawyer. He had a strong conscience that he endeavors to be faithful to. There are countless times when doctors tell him to drink milk for his health, but he will not as he was different forms of vegan his whole life. A lot of the book is dedicated to describing court cases with which he was involved. He would not take any case which was false. One time he was tricked and recommended to the judge the case be dismissed.
This book is dedicated to his experiments with truth. Everything was an experiment to him, I like that mindset a lot, it is ok to fail. He experimented a lot, even with his own family. He spent a lot of time away from his wife and kids (his marriage was pre-arranged). And later decided he would seek bramacharrya aka celibacy.
I also enjoyed hearing him talk about various Eastern ways of thinking and his endorsement of smaller class sizes/customization of education...mostly 1 on 1!
In retrospect, Gandhi and his emphasis on celibacy and dedication to law and only mild connection to previous theological thinking reminds me a lot of Augustine. Obviously a little different on the specific religion angle, but If they get past their religions, I think they are buddies...maybe Gandhi is Augustine reincarnated. hah!
I'm going with a strong 3 stars. This book was well researched. The kind of book that your professors want you to write. Very logical, with each point being addressed, and an 'area for further study' at the end of the book. He is a professor at UCLA...so it kinda feels like a dissertation...definitely more readable than that, but tedious for the average reader like myself.
Jared Diamond has lived a really interesting, global life. While in New Guinea a young politician asked him "why do you have cargo and we don't?" Cargo meaning stuff, boats, technology, etc. Diamond boils this down to the most essential advantages the Europeans had that others did not: Guns, Germs and Steel.
Then he asks, why did the Europeans get guns, germs and steel and not people from other places?
Then you have lots and lots and lots of information that I mostly got lost in...and you realize he's saying: Geography. The geography of places led to them having 'advantages' in moving towards settled societies with technology and literacy and food crops. ...My professors at Jerusalem University College would love that.
This book is especially valuable because the subconsciously assumed answer to the question of why one race has more cargo is generally that certain races are more superior in some way, but he's saying no and giving a good, well thought out reason for this. This book will make subsequent history books better. For the average reader, you could probably get away with reading the intro and the conclusion...that's mostly what I will remember.
It is a huuuuge undertaking to answer the question of how everything happened and became the way it did and he does it in about as concise a manner as I can imagine anybody doing...but still, for my desires, it was still too scientific feeling and not enough stories. I would have liked it if it followed a few biographies or something. Too tedious for me. Maybe I need to read a bit more around the topic and then come back to it.
I did like when he dabbled in Linguistic history, I think I have a little connection to that having studied a few languages and asking a few questions in that realm. I listened to this on audiobook and my ears perked up when he started making those connections.
I am now on Phase 3 of Mandarin Chinese, and I can't recommend it highly enough!
I live in southern China and this has helped me immensely in picking up some of the language. 30 minutes a day is SO worth it. That being said, I still like to get a cup of coffee and focus a bit. I can't really cook and do this at the same time. I am trying to maximize that 30 minutes...
Also, once you are through with this part, I might try to jump on something that will help you learn writing if you are interested in that. It is a little bit of a disappointment to myself that I didn't do that earlier. Still, for speaking and listening...you can't get a better 30 minutes in my opinion.
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