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Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions 
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
Chris: There are literally thousands of books advocating one religion or another. Theist authors don't seem to feel the literature market is saturated with religious books.

Chris, I don't think Julian's statement was about the market being saturated with atheist texts. At least that's not how I feel. In fact, I find it quite annoying that the few atheist texts available are often lumped in the religion section, without getting a section of their own. I think he was stating, and I would agree, that this forum, right now, seems saturated with, as he put it, "Yeah for atheism" books, and I would add discussions in general.

Either way, I don't think theists' practices should necessarily be emulated. Just because theists flood the market with yeah-for-religion drivel, doesn't make it a good idea for atheists to mirror same.

Chris: My point is that this battle is not over and reading and discussing quality books that educate people about atheism is valuable and worthwhile.

I would agree that there is still a necessary struggle for the rejection of theism's influence on the secular; however, I would disagree that some of the atheist texts around are of a quality that makes them "valuable and worthwhile," nor are they particularly educational. Some of them are largely and merely, as Julian so succinctly put it, "Yeah for atheism" books. I don't see much educational value in such texts.

Please note I am not describing Hitchens' book as a "yeah for atheism" book, I haven't read it. But looking at the description and chapter titles, I wouldn't be surprised if it were.




Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:28 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
Then maybe we should be suggesting and voting on some of the more classic atheist works, such as Bertrand Russell's, "Why I Am Not a Christian," or George Smith's, "Atheism: The Case Against God." Some of these books are indisputable classics representing the atheist viewpoint and arguments.




Mon Jun 04, 2007 11:28 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
More currently, David Mills book was very good. And he is a contributor/supporter of Booktalk!!!

But I think for at least the next quarter, maybe we should try to stay away from another atheist specific book.


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Mon Jun 04, 2007 12:48 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
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I refuse to read a Christopher Hitchens book. His arguments in support of the Iraq War were fervent, obnoxious, and incoherent. Besides, we've discussed too many "Yeah for atheism" books already.

I have been an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq since long before the United States even proposed the action through the United Nations. That said, saying you wouldn't read Hitchen's views on Atheism because of his views on Iraq does not make much sense. Perhaps you do not want to support him financially because of his view points but you can likely find the book in a library or get it second hand for which the author would not profit. The two subjects couldn't be more different and we should never discount out of hand every point a person makes because we disagree with certain other points.

Suggesting we pick another book due to the "Yea for Atheism" of recent readings is a valid point. Seems like we have part of the community here to discuss freethought books which includes Atheism and the other part wanting to discuss freethought and Atheism with a focus on the later. Certainly would be good to include more people rather than less in a reading as the community could use a boost in active discussions. But as previously noted by others, the Atheism titles have had the most participation.




Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:06 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
Well, let's look at it from this tack:

What books not about atheism would you say qualify as Freethinker books?




Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:30 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
I think we need a page entitled, "Yea for Atheism!"

Just a thought.




Tue Jun 05, 2007 2:18 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
I personally find the Hitchens books to be rather appealing for a variety of reasons. First, I don't tire much of the topic. Second, it is rated highly, fits our mission, and would probably result in lengthy and heated discussions.




Wed Jun 06, 2007 12:02 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
This book sounds more appealing the previous suggestions.

The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions
by Karen Armstrong
www.amazon.com/Great-Tran...016&sr=1-1
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Having already recounted "a history of God," the redoubtable Armstrong here narrates the evolution of the religious traditions of the world from their births to their maturity. In her typical magisterial fashion, she chronicles these tales in dazzling prose with remarkable depth and judicious breadth. Taking the Axial Age, which spans roughly 900 B.C.E. to 200 B.C.E., as her focal point, Armstrong examines the ways that specific religious traditions from Buddhism and Confucianism to Taoism and Judaism responded to the various cultural forces they faced during this period. Overall, Armstrong observes, violence, political disruption and religious intolerance dominated Axial Age societies, so Axial religions responded by exalting compassion, love and justice over selfishness and hatred. Thus, the central Buddhist and Jain practice of ahimsa, doing no harm, developed in India in reaction to the self-centeredness of Hindu ritual, and Hebrew prophets such as Amos proclaimed that justice and mercy toward neighbors offered the only correct way of walking with God. Accounts of the world's religions often present them as discrete entities developing apart from each other in a vacuum. Armstrong's magnificent accomplishment offers us an account of a violent time much like ours, when religious impulses in various locations developed practices of justice and love.




Thu Jun 07, 2007 10:45 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
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Now, I could overlook all those factors if I believed that he wrote the best book, by far, about a subject I was eager to learn more about. However, that isn't the case here.

That is certainly a very good reason for not wanting to read a book. As mentioned before, you can get the book used or borrow a copy so as to not contribute financially to Hitchens if that is a problem. Concern about poor writing style and incoherence certainly warrants concern, but from what I keep reading, most people love Hitchens writing style even when they completely disagree with what he is writing about.




Fri Jun 08, 2007 6:03 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
Is it too late for a suggestion? And is this suggestion in the right thread? With "God Is Not Great" on the nominations, does it even matter?

The De-moralization Of Society: From Victorian Virtues to Modern Values by Gertrude Himmelfarb

From Library Journal
Himmelfarb, professor emeritus of history at CUNY and the author of several works on Victorian England, including most recently Poverty and Compassion: The Moral Imagination of the Late Victorians (LJ 7/91), here contrasts the Victorian "virtues" of respectability, self-help, orderliness, cleanliness, and obedience with today's vague concept of "values." The author debunks the popular perception of Victorians as repressed and materialistic. Instead, according to Himmelfarb, their "manners and morals" created a society that emphasized a strong family life for all classes and gave rise to a prosperous economy and the early feminist and social service movements. Furthermore, the influence of these virtues caused the incidence of illegitimate births and violent crimes to drop significantly and remain low until the 1960s.

I found the book intriguing in part because the opening chapter traces the origin of the modern moralitic interpretation of values to a 1983 PM election in England. It suggests a historical component to the distinction between "virtues" and "values", and presumably the book will include some discussion on how each concept effects the way in which we put moral discourse into practice.




Mon Jun 11, 2007 4:34 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
Which 3 books would you all like to see on this poll?



Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

Yeah, christianity makes sense.




Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:21 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
1st Choice: After the Death of God (Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture) by Gianni Vattimo and John Caputo.

Two top-notch philosophers from both sides of the Atlantic discussing religion, politics and culture within a postmodern context, arriving at something akin to a post-secular religionless religion...among other things. I think it wil be a welcome departure from the usual either/or bifurcated debate...a challenge for all sides.

2nd Choice: God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens

A premiere example of the current either/or bifurcated debate...will undoubtedly be preaching to the choir at Booktalk; but will be preaching better than most we've read to date.

3rd Choice: On Bullshit and On Truth by HG Frankfurt

These two are currently part of our Non-Fiction selections, but I think they would be more appropriately lined up as Freethinker texts. Both texts are attempts at clarifying what it means to think clearly, speak truthfully and how to sharpen our BS detectors...they get to the heart of Freethinking.

Edited by: Dissident Heart at: 6/12/07 3:20 pm



Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:07 pm
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
Thanks to those that added additional comments about the book suggestions. I'm going to put the poll up tonight or tomorrow. Please comment on the current book suggestions if you would like to influence the choices for the upcoming poll. Thank you.



Christianity: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

Yeah, christianity makes sense.




Thu Jun 14, 2007 11:06 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
I've now read and considered every suggestion and comment in this thread and will add some words before I create the new poll. First of all I want to thank those of you that gave quality feedback on other peoples suggestions. This seems to be the most valuable means of narrowing down the pool of suggestions to a reasonable number for the polls.




Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:19 am
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Post Re: Q3, 2007 Freethinker Book Suggestions
I am ignoring my own book suggestions and preferences as this seems fair right now. With everything going on in my personal life I am simply not as active as many of you guys. So my opinions on book choices are going to hold less weight.

I do, however, reserve the right to veto certain book suggestions. When a book doesn't seem to qualify as either a freethinker selection or, more generally, a booktalk selection I will have to eliminate it as an option for our polls. And when a suggestion is made by one member, but not a single other member offers either positive or negative feedback on it I am left to assume that suggestion doesn't have much of a chance at being a successful choice for our polls or official readings. This is why feedback is such an essential part of this book selection process.




Sat Jun 16, 2007 11:27 am
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