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Suggestions for our Oct. & Nov. non-fiction discussion 
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Post Suggestions for our Oct. & Nov. non-fiction discussion
Suggestions for our Oct. & Nov. non-fiction discussion

Please use this thread for making suggestions for our Oct. & Nov. 2008 non-fiction discussion.



Last edited by Chris OConnor on Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post The Cry for Myth
The Cry for Myth by Rollo May.

Here are useful reviews:
http://bookreviewpot.blogspot.com/2005/11/cry-for-myth.html

http://www.amazon.com/Cry-Myth-Rollo-May/dp/0385306857


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Wed Aug 13, 2008 10:16 pm
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Thanks, Ophelia. :smile:



Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:09 pm
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Post A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's
If sociology of religion, comparative religion, religion and politics, science and religion, and religious environmentalism pique your interest, then I suggest we read Roger Gottlieb's A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future http://www.us.oup.com/us/catalog/genera ... E3NjQ4Mw== .

Intelligent, balanced, pertinent, passionate and wise: a great book for today and a watershed publication for the future of environmentalism...especially those who see the integral value of religion in the struggle for ecological sustainability and care of the planet.

From Publishers Weekly
The argument of Gottlieb's hopeful, surprising book is that today, religious people and organizations are among the most committed, and most persuasive, environmental activists. Gottlieb's view is global, principally examining religious green activism in the U.S., but also looking at Zimbabwe, Taiwan and the Vatican. And his approach is ecumenical, encompassing Jewish and Christian theologians who have found a powerful biblical call to stewardship of God's creation, and Buddhist teachers who are prompted by their belief in compassion to extend care to the natural world. Church groups have participated in peaceful demonstrations against the Bush administration's energy policy; Jews, inspired by the holiday of Tu B'Shvat, the birthday of the trees, have planted redwoods in denuded stream banks owned by grasping corporations; and interfaith groups have petitioned lawmakers to address global warming. Sometimes religious groups cooperate with secular organizers, as when the Sierra Club and the National Council of Churches co-sponsored a proconservation TV ad. Not only have religious activists helped energize the environmental movement, but environmentalism has reinvigorated religious practice: Lay people and clerics alike have crafted new religious rituals that celebrate the Earth, such as Buddhist gathas (short verbal formulas) for recycling and Christian liturgies for Earth Day. Gottlieb keeps academic jargon to a minimum, so this timely book should have crossover appeal. (May)
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Post Re: Suggestions for our Oct. & Nov. non-fiction discussi
Chris OConnor wrote:
Suggestions for our Oct. & Nov. non-fiction discussion

Please use this thread for making "suggestions for our Oct. & Nov. 2008 non-fiction discussion.
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In order to help all of us waste less time on things like Big Foot BS, it may be helpful to get some foundational ideas for eliminating superstition(s) from our lives/thinking. Imagine No Superstition is much more than a brief memoir of a former priest-become atheist psychologist; it lays out what seems most necessary for freeing the human mind from prejudice and superstition of the past and think clearly about present realities. Readers will likely come to the end with more respect for their highest power and more tolerance for others who unlearn childhood "stupidities" at slower rates. Enjoy all of reality!

Thanks,

Steve



Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:22 am
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I've suggested Booktalk read Gottlieb's "A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet's Future" in the past, and have found little success in getting much support for it. Actually, there was a time at Booktalk when to even suggest a book like Gottlieb's was anathema to the mission of the site....somewhere in the annals you can find how the contentious conversation unfolded.

Still, I'm hoping to find a smattering of smart readers who are interested in a very fine piece of scholarship that, I think, engages the most important issues of our contemporary world...environmental ethics, economic practice, industrial planning and how to redirect the course of impending ecological devastation: with a central focus upon how religion can and does provide solutions...at least as far as religious environmentalism participates on the local and world stages.

This book will not debate the existence of God, nor will it offer reasons for why God exists: it will offer multiple examples of how religious individuals and communities mobilize the transformation of their traditions and lifestyles into something more ecologically responsible and caring of the earth. It will not argue that one religion is better than the rest, or that all are the same: it will show ways that different religions are struggling to be more environmentally accountable and politically engaged in shaping saner ecological policies.

All readers, religious or not, will be challenged to find new ways of living that reconnects individuals to communities and to their ecosystems...in more moral and, yes, even spiritual ways. The book is also a powerful critique of religious fundamentalism, corporate globalization, and blind consumerism...carefully identifying the ways in which these interconnected threats converge upon our lives and the planet in devastating ways.

It is a book about solutions: showing countless examples from across the planet and from the many world religions where lives can change, practices can develop, and fundamental alteration to planetary damage can cease.

I hope more are interested in the book. I think it will be worth all of our efforts to read it.



Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:30 pm
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Post Rollo May
I would love a great excuse to read and own some more of Rollo May's work.



Mon Aug 18, 2008 7:53 pm
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Post Wonderful Life
I mentioned The Cry for Myth at http://www.booktalk.org/what-purposes-d ... 15-20.html, and feel it may be more accessible and useful for a broader group to discuss than A Greener Faith. Rollo May presents an interesting platform to discuss a range of mythic topics, whereas A Greener Faith, from Dissident Heart's summary, does not seem to engage adequately with the underlying principles which determine ecological policy. The book I am reading now is Wonderful Life by Stephen Jay Gould. This is a wonderful book, showing how the diversity of Cambrian phylla was decimated, leaving the small number which survived to the modern world, and what extraordinarily weird creatures lived on our planet 500 million years ago. Wonderful Life would in my opinion be an even more educational book for people to read and discuss than either The Cry for Myth or A Greener Faith.



Sat Aug 23, 2008 6:26 am
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I think Rollo May would be a very good choice, if our objective is to gather a greater understanding of how myth influences and shapes our lives. I for one think this is a subject that rarely gets old because it is very difficult to get to the bottom of what, exactly, it is getting at. I think it could be very useful in challenging Booktalk members to identify what myths direct and inform their belief systems...something I think some Booktalk members will find, well, insulting....considering they are among the 'myth-free' crowd of enlightened minds who no longer cling to outworn superstition...they might approach May's book with patronizing curiosity at best- but I suspect there will be little interest in learning anything positive about the homo mythos.

I do think Gottlieb's book goes a great distance in bringing environmentalism and ecological ethics to a general audience...keeping in mind the many ways that religious traditions and communities are embracing an ecotheological ethic and reverence for creation. I think the crises he presents are pertinent and demand responses from each of us. I also think the anti-religion crowd at Booktalk may be in for a very pleasant surprise to see just how many religious folk are doing their very best to live righteously and religiously in an ecologically responsible way....and I think it will become obvious, that if we want to take ecological transformation seriously- then the religious crowd has got to get on board....and a Greener Faith is one very smart way to do it.



Sat Aug 23, 2008 4:16 pm
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Yes, and perhaps it is the modern myths that require the greatest objectification.

Why is being religous and green such an abstract idea?

Why not read something like the The Little Green Handbook: Seven Trends Shaping the Future of Our Planet, that inform us as to what we all can do to help the planet beside carrying on like these organizations with the lofty mission statements can actually do what is needed at an individual level for the planet?

I would like to recommend James Lovelock's The Revenge of Gaia, so everyone can get a better idea of how urgent this "climate change thing" all is. He outlines how the concentration of pollutants, depletion of natural resources, the accumulation of waste, abuses of technology, factors climate change, and how the living earth may reach a tipping point where it becomes a failing system.



Last edited by Grim on Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Hi, everyone. I haven't been around in a while, partly because I've been busy. Also, the recent selections don't interest me as much as other books I plan to read. However, I just ordered On Being Certain.

Anyway, here are a bunch of suggestions. I'm midway through the first book, but they all sound promising.

[hr]

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach

Roach is not like other science writers. She doesn't write about genes or black holes or Schrodinger's cat. Instead, she ventures out to the fringes of science, where the oddballs ponder how cadavers decay (in her debut, Stiff) and whether you can weigh a person's soul (in Spook). Now she explores the sexiest subject of all: sex, and such questions as, what is an orgasm? How is it possible for paraplegics to have them? What does woman want, and can a man give it to her if her clitoris is too far from her vagina? At times the narrative feels insubstantial and digressive (how much do you need to know about inseminating sows?), but Roach's ever-present eye and ear for the absurd and her loopy sense of humor make her a delectable guide through this unesteemed scientific outback. The payoff comes with subjects like female orgasm (yes, it's complicated), and characters like Ahmed Shafik, who defies Cairo's religious repressiveness to conduct his sex research. Roach's forays offer fascinating evidence of the full range of human weirdness, the nonsense that has often passed for medical science and, more poignantly, the extreme lengths to which people will go to find sexual satisfaction.

[hr]

Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point by Elizabeth Samet

Azar Nafisi meets David Lipsky in this memoir/meditation on crossing the border between the civilian world of literature and the world of the military during 10 years of teaching English at West Point. Samet's students sometimes respond to literature in ways that trouble her, but she lauds their intellectual courage as they negotiate the multiple contradictions of military life. Considering the link between literature and war, Samet insightfully explores how Vietnam fiction changed American literary discourse about the heroism of military service. Beyond books, Samet also examines how televised accounts of the Iraq War have turned American civilians into war's insulated voyeurs, and discusses the gap separating her from the rest of the audience watching a documentary on Iraq. Lighter, gently humorous sections reveal Samet's feelings about army argot. She has been known to ask her mother to meet her at 1800 instead of at 6:00 p.m., but she forbids the use of the exclamation Hooah!(an affirmative expression of the warrior spirit) in her classroom. Samet is prone to digressions that break the flow of great stories, like an account of her West Point job interview. But this meditation on war, teaching and literature is sympathetic, shrewd and sometimes profound.

[hr]

Looks: Why They Matter More Than You Ever Imagined by Gordon Patzer

From Publishers Weekly
Here is a book whose title says it all. Written by an academic expert on lookism who is also director and founder of the Appearance Phenomenon Institute, this volume is an exhaustive examination of how the handily summarized PA (for personal attractiveness) gets you everywhere, from the better job and the better spouse to the better verdict at your criminal trial. Beginning with early evidence of lookism in history, Patzer analyzes preferential treatment given to pretty people from beautiful babyhood onward. While consumers of women's magazines might not find as much new information as other readers, Patzer refers to dozens of studies, articles and investigation to prove his thesis. Yet Patzer's volume doesn't offer much in the way of solutions, apparently because you've either got it or you don't. While Patzer does criticize the overzealousness of the media, reality television and unethical plastic surgeons, he only devotes one chapter to personal affirmations to help deal with and fight back on image obsession. Although he concludes by proclaiming the reader's newfound awareness of lookism's pervasiveness is a step forward, one can't help seeing the weakness in a conclusion that leaves the reader with little more than a well-argued reminder of our culture's shallow side.

[hr]

The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet by Daniel Solove

"A timely, vivid, and illuminating book that will change the way you think about privacy, reputation, and speech on the Internet. Daniel Solove tells a series of fascinating and frightening stories about how blogs, social network sites, and other websites are spreading gossip and rumors about people''s private lives. He offers a fresh and thought-provoking analysis of a series of wide-ranging new problems and develops useful suggestions about what we can do about these challenges."-Paul M. Schwartz, professor of law, University of California Berkeley School of Law (Paul M. Schwartz 20080201)

"No one has thought more about the effects of the information age on privacy than Daniel Solove."-Bruce Schneier, author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly about Security in an Uncertain World (Bruce Schneier 20080101)

"As the Internet is erasing the distinction between spoken and written gossip, the future of personal reputation is one of our most vexing social challenges. In this illuminating book, filled with memorable cautionary tales, Daniel Solove incisively analyzes the technological and legal challenges and offers moderate, sensible solutions for navigating the shoals of the blogosphere."-Jeffrey Rosen, author of The Unwanted Gaze and The Naked Crowd (Jeffrey Rosen )

[hr]

Reinventing Knowledge: From Alexandria to the Internet by Ian McNeely


Here is an intellectual entertainment, a sweeping history of the key institutions that have organized knowledge in the West from the classical period onward. With elegance and wit, this exhilarating history alights at the pivotal points of cultural transformation. The motivating question throughout: How does history help us understand the vast changes we are now experiencing in the landscape of knowledge?

Beginning in Alexandria and its great center of Hellenistic learning and imperial power, we then see the monastery in the wilderness of a collapsed civilization, the rambunctious universities of the late medieval cities, and the thick social networks of the Enlightenment republic of letters. The development of science and the laboratory as a dominant knowledge institution brings us to the present, seeking patterns in the new digital networks of knowledge.

Full of memorable characters, this fresh history succeeds in restoring the strangeness and the significance of the past.

[hr]

Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy by Ted Nace

From Publishers Weekly
Nace nurtured Peachpit Press from a home-based operation, writing and publishing computer guides, to a business worthy of acquisition by the Pearson conglomerate. The experience inspired him to study the nature of corporate power. He offers a breezy summary of the legal history surrounding the formation of corporations and the parameters of their power, putting an anti-corporate spin on the American Revolution and discussing how the early republic limited corporate power by enabling state governments to issue restrictive charters. But the tight controls didn't remain in place: after the Supreme Court's decision in an 1886 case involving the Santa Clara Railroad, corporations were assumed to be the legal equivalent of people entitled to equal protection under the law and, in subsequent cases, were guaranteed a growing range of constitutional rights. One of Nace's central arguments is that Santa Clara doesn't mean what everybody thinks it means: the original decision doesn't take any stand on whether corporations have constitutional rights; the question comes up in a subsequent version of the decision, but the Chief Justice acts as if it had been resolved in earlier decisions. Although Nace blames the Court's reporter for the shift in emphasis, he illustrates how another justice, Stephen Field, was already buttressing politicians' and financial titans' efforts to eliminate all restraints on corporate power, making their legal supremacy inevitable. Later chapters examine how corporations continue to wield their influence to prevent the government from regulating them too closely, but while the book offers plenty of details about the problem's existence and deftly introduces it, it offers little more than generalities about where to go from there.



Wed Aug 27, 2008 4:42 pm
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Grim: Why is being religous and green such an abstract idea?

I'm not sure what you mean by abstract here...does it mean that examples of muslim, buddhist, evangelical, mainstream protestant, orthodox jewish, roman catholic, indigenous african, navaho, bhakti hindu practices directed at concrete, actual, real ecological hazards...that these kinds of carefully described, critically examined and judiciously compared projects are too abstract?

Since the majority of the planet's population self-identify as some sort of religious adherent...and since turning the tide of ecological devastation will require changing the hearts, minds, practice and ways of life for these great many religious adherents...then multiple, concrete examples from various religious traditions will be an essential tool...perhaps indispensable.

Hi Julian....I think the Reinventing Knowledge book looks like a delicious read...good choice!



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Religious as a group yes, but when these people drive the SUV home at the end of the night they are very much individuals.

I think it is a mistake to confuse a group with a collection of individuals.

Perhaps a reading of Us and Them: Understanding Your Tribal Mind by David Berreby can show us how these notions of group are just an outward show of solidarity and mean little in the personal confine of the mind.



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Post exposing tap roots
Most books, well written, researched and thought out, are stuck trying to make a busted notion work - that notion is that evertything begins with one sort of patriarchy or other (and patriarchs have worked mightily to create that illusion for the past 4K years) - may I suggest a smaller volume which might cut to the roots of so many ills. It is called How Can I Get Through To You?- Closing the gap between men and women - by Terrance Real - ISBN 0-684-86877-6 - the book helped me sort through many of the tactics, brutalities and strategies for keeping us afraid and at war with each other ...



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Two ideas:

Rumspringa: To Be or Not To Be Amish

Tom Schachtman explores the experiences of Amish teens as they sample the "outside" world before deciding whether to be baptized into the Amish church and commit to its lifestyle. In doing so, he explains the Amish faith and rules (ordnung), and the positive and negative aspects of their culture. He also examines the often romanticized views that many Americans--particularly Evangelicals/Fundamentalists--have of the Amish.

Outright Barbarous: How the Violent Language of the Right Poisons American Democracy

This is by Jeffrey Feldman and I think his title is self-explanatory.



Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:44 pm
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