Archive for ‘Reading/Books’

May 14, 2011

Foreign Policy Wonkhood of the Weekend

by Vince

Jeffery Goldberg (of TheAtlantic) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (Secretary of State) discuss Arab foreign affairs.

May 14, 2011

Thrilling Read for the Weekend

by Vince

A 20+ year cold case is followed up on and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Tags: , ,
May 12, 2011

Need Reading Material?

by Vince

Look no further.

May 10, 2011

Standardized Testing and Reading Materials

by Vince

We have the Keystone exams today and tomorrow. It is a better form of testing, at least scheduling wise, than the PSSA’s. With the PSSA’s, I would miss 2 classes a day. That would call me to make two separate lesson plans and could get confusing after a few days. With the Keystones, we meet every day but for a pretty brief period (30 mins.)

I am even blessed with having the bright math kids take their exam in my room. Well, it isn’t as much blessed as lucky, I guess.

Anywho, reading for today:

May 8, 2011

To Be Christian and American

by Vince

I just finished Marcus Borg’s new book Speaking Christian. It is, as all of his books that I have read, very readable (not very wordy or heavy on technical/fluffy terminology) and relevant to not only Christians but those of other faith paths. I hope this post can be accessed by those readers of my blog that adhere to other religions beyond Christianity.

In the final pages of Speaking Christian, Borg summarizes what the heart of Christianity should be centered on. In that summary, he delves into what imperial American has become. Think about the following:

We are the most Christian country in the world – and yet we are the world’s greatest military power. With 5 percent of the world’s population, we account for about half of the world’s spending. We have over 700 military bases in about 130 countries. Our navy is as powerful as the next thirteen navies of the world combined. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Air Force is the most powerful air force. More surprising is the second most powerful air force: the U.S. Navy. As a country, we are determined to be as militarily powerful as the rest of the world put together. Though our national motto is “In God We Trust”, clearly what we really trust in is power, especially military power.

Borg does not end there:

We are the most Christian nation in the world – and yet we have the greatest income inequality of any of the developed nations to whom we typically compare ourselves. Our income is – literally – almost off the charts. On the graphs portraying it in relation to that of other industrial nations, we are almost an outlier. Moreover, income inequality in America has been growing for about thirty years. The wealthy have become more wealthy and powerful, and the middle and lower economic classes have seen their well-being decline – in the most Christian country on the globe.

Borg finishes with a final question:

Are we as a nation to become more and more like the domination systems of the ancient and not so distant past, all of which have passed into history? Or might we, as the most Christian nation in the world, change our course and become committed to compassion, justice, and peace?

This short bit is what I try to get across – both explicitly and in less explicit terms – in each of my blog posts and in my outlook towards life and the world. The domination system is what Jesus stood up against. Jesus eating meals with outcasts broke the mold between the clean and unclean. He was killed by the rulers of the world, the powers that were. That comes first and before him dying for our sins (which Jesus never speaks of).

Caring for this world that we have is so much more important than looking to the rapture, the next life, heaven, or the second coming. If we focus on those four, this life will easily seem pointless, addressing the injustices will seem futile, and the gospels will be defanged, domesticated, and mostly muted.

May 7, 2011

Reading Materials

by Vince

Alissa J. Rubin goes undercover in Afghanistan in a burqa.

Reactions and full video to the GOP debate in Greensville, SC. (plus what the GOP debated on during their last primary)

The difference between capital punishment and killing Osama Bin Laden.

How can we fight a drug war in America when we can’t keep drugs out of our prisons?

Finally, a tumblr blog perfect for me and other teachers.

April 28, 2011

For Your Birther Reading Pleasure

by Vince

I give you a slew of reads to satisfy (or challenge) your birther tastes.

Jan Brewer, governor of Arizona, says enough is enough:

In an interview with CNN’s John King, Brewer called the issue a “huge distraction” and said that doubters have failed to offer any proof that President Obama was born outside the country.

“It’s just something I believe is leading our country down a path of destruction, and it just is not serving any good purpose,” Brewer said, calling it a distraction from the much more pressing issue of the economy.

“I think we really just need to move on,” Brewer continued. “Everybody’s had two years to prove, if they wanted to, that he was not born in Hawaii. They haven’t come up with any of that kind of proof.”

Kevin Drum sees the power in xenophobic talking points:

This is why last summer’s Fox-fest of xenophobia — Shirley Sherrod, the Ground Zero mosque, the New Black Panthers, anchor babies, liberation theology, etc. etc. — was so effective. It’s also why all the birther nonsense is so powerful. Without the constant drumbeat of racially charged crap from the likes of Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Dinesh D’Souza, it might just be a fringe curiosity. But with it, it gets a patina of intellectual support that turns it into a dangerous and mainstream belief.

Everybody involved in this pretends to be outraged if you point out what they’re doing. But anyone with a pulse can see what’s going on. And guess what? Summer is coming! There’s no midterm election in the offing, so maybe Fox News will decide to cool it on the xenophobia front this year. But then again, maybe not. Nobody on the right really called them out on this last year, and there doesn’t seem to be any real limit to their shamelessness. So maybe they’ll try it again. It seems to be pretty good for ratings, after all.

David Frum goes in for the kill on birtherism and laments the current state of the GOP:

Any last lingering doubts that maybe, perhaps, a pregnant Stanley Ann Dunham in the summer of 1961 boarded a propeller plane from Honolulu to Los Angeles, then from Los Angeles to New York City, then from New York City to Gander, then from Gander to London, then from London to Nairobi – and then repeated the trip backward a few weeks later – all so that her baby could acquire Kenyan nationality – those doubts are definitively squelched, as they should have been three years ago.

Now the more haunting question: How did this poisonous and not very subtly racist allegation get such a grip on our conservative movement and our Republican party?

I know there will be Republican writers and conservative publicists who will now deny that birtherism ever did get a grip. Sorry, that’s just wrong. Not only did Trump surge ahead in Republican polls by flaming racial fires – not only did conservative media outlets from Fox to Drudge to the Breitbart sites indulge the birthers – but so also did every Republican candidate who said, “I take the president at his word.” Birthers did not doubt the president’s “word.” They were doubting the official records of the state of Hawaii. It’s like answering a 9/11 conspiracist by saying, “I take the 9/11 families at their word that they lost their loved ones.”

Finally, on a slightly different note, DiA proposes removing the “born in United States” clause from the Constitution:

My 69-year-old father was born and raised in Saskatchewan. In his twenties, he became an American citizen by serving in the U.S. Army. He became a policeman in Missouri, and subsequently served the public as the chief of police in two Iowa towns for upwards of 30 years. What’s the point of keeping Americans like this out of the Oval Office? When the rubber hits the road, they might sell us all out to Ottawa? To the Indonesians? What? It seems to me that any worry about divided loyalties can be more than adequately debated and decided within the electoral process. I don’t think Arnold Schwarzenegger or Arriana Huffington would make a very good president, but the idea that they’re ineligible simply because they first saw light in foreign lands strikes me as, yes, un-American.

April 11, 2011

Love Wins (and here is a lot of reading)

by Vince

Heard of the new Rob Bell book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived? I purchased it and am looking forward to reading more of it.

A local York bookstore owner wrote several reviews that are encompassing and intriguing.

March 26, 2011

Saturday Goodness

by Vince

Last night was full of great times with friends in the valley. It brought me to bed just after 11:30pm and I slept so well. Waking up today from the sunshine across my face at 8:30am felt great.

MJ, BM, and I headed out for the morning. We stopped at a few thrift shops and were surprised by the little gems we found. We picked up The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, Pure Pleasure by Gary Thomas, Just Courage by Gary Haugen, and God’s Politics by Jim Wallace (each for $1 or less). I also found a pristine DVD copy of 500 days of summer. I also had the chance while MJ and BM were in a harness shop to read the following pieces in the new Atlantic issue.

Now that we are home, we relax, read, possibly do some Plyo (only me), and take naps.

Here is what I am watching or reading up on from the net.

(Pictured is Stone Valley, PA in a wintry mix).

March 25, 2011

The Ironies of Radical Grace

by Vince

Marcus J. Borg, in his book The Heart of Christianity, which I am reading now, has a very interesting thought on grace and who / which religion has ultimate access to God:

Thus, “Jesus died for our sins” was originally a subversive metaphor, (in that it challenged the temple claim of monopoly over grace and access to God) not a literal description of either God’s purpose of Jesus’ vocation. It was a metaphorical proclamation of radical grace; and properly understood, it still is. It is therefore ironic to realize that the religion that formed around Jesus would within four hundred years begin to claim for itself an institutional monopoly on grace and access to God. (emphasis mine)

So true.

March 18, 2011

Quote of the Day

by Vince

“To be faithful to God means not only to love God, but to love that which God loves – namely, the neighbor, and indeed the whole of creation.”
-Marcus J. Borg in his book The Heart of Christianity (p.34)

March 11, 2011


by Vince

A website totally dedicated to bookshelf design.

March 3, 2011

Adapted Reading List

by Vince

Thanks, Ted, for the idea.

Now that I am teaching, lesson planning, and actually working, I hardly have the energy to devote myself to reading in the same way as a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, here are some books that I am currently reading and would like to soon:

To Know as We Are Known by Parker Palmer*
Beyond Tolerance by Gustav Niebuhr*
The Conservative Soul: Fundamentalism, Freedom, and the Future of the Right by Andrew Sullivan
Theology for Liberal Presbyterians And Other Endangered Species by Douglas F. Ottati
Love Wins: About Heaven, Hell, and the fate of every person who has ever lived by Rob Bell**

* I am almost done these two fine books.
**This one has already received the typical shit storm from universalist labelers.

February 19, 2011

Saturday Reads

by Vince

I give you two extended (but not too long) reads by Andrew Sullivan:

  1. Obama’s budget says screw you to the next generation.
  2. How to be ‘generously angry‘.
February 15, 2011

Verse of the Day: Serving the Poor

by Vince

“When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Luke 14:12-14

February 14, 2011

Love For The Unloved

by Vince

It isn’t hard to notice those today who are disenchanted by love, Hallmark holidays, and relationships of yore.  I have been there myself, wondering if I would grow old and alone, wondering if there was a special one out there for me, wondering if I would feel this way forever.

What I have to offer today is a proposition to lend my heart out to those around me who are unloved. These words inspire me and change my heart:

One day I visited a house where our sisters shelter the aged. This is one of the nicest houses in England, filled with beautiful and precious things, yet there was not one smile on the faces of these people. All of them were looking toward the door.

I asked the sister in charge, “Why are they like that? Why can’t you see a smile on their faces?” (I am accustomed to seeing smiles on people’s faces. I think a smile generates a smile, just as love generates love.)

The sister answered, “The same thing happens every day. They are always waiting for someone to come and visit. Loneliness eats them up, and day after day they do not stop looking. Nobody comes.”

Abandonment is an awful poverty. There are poor people everywhere, but the deepest poverty is not being loved.

The poor we seek may live near us or far away. They can be materially or spiritually poor. They may be hungry for bread or hungry for friendship. They may need clothing, or they may need the sense of wealth that God’s love for them represents. They may need the shelter of a house made of bricks and cement or the shelter of having a place in our hearts.” (pp.65-6, emphasis mine)

The second part of the last sentence really stood out to me. To whom can I open my heart to? To which friend can I truly have my heart reach out to, remaining a presence of compassion and companionship in their life? To whom can I stand by when no one may stand by them? These and other questions are for us all to ask. Mother Teresa volleys these thoughts beautifully back and forth between material and personal connections. I am going to use my free time tomorrow to make a vday goodie package for a good friend.

February 14, 2011

Love: Culture Picks

by Vince

The Atlantic staff pick their favorite books, movies, songs, and more in celebration for heart day today.

February 11, 2011

Egyptians Inspired By MLKjr

by Vince

I hope that those who started the civil rights movement (King, John Lewis, etc) on a foundation of nonviolent opposition appreciate that their contributions have not been forgotten. Andy Khouri explains how various Egyptian protesters have been influenced by Montgomery Bus boycot comics translated into Arabic:

While we can’t accurately quantify The Montgomery Story’s real influence on the protesters in Egypt or elsewhere, it’s certainly cool that a comic book starring one of America’s greatest real-life heroes has inspired even one person to take to the streets in the way we’ve seen over the last several weeks. That an organization as big and forward-thinking as the American Islamic Congress thought to deploy this work – whose actual creators remain unknown – says quite a lot, indeed, and their actions remind us of the potential power and inherent strengths (portability being perhaps the helpful important, in this case) of our beloved medium of comics.

(thanks M.B.)

February 8, 2011

1 Kings 19

by Vince

is mind blowing. But you’ve got to read 1 Kings 18 (also mind blowing) to understand parts of it.

January 28, 2011

Scenes From Within the NYPD

by Vince

I can tell I may already love this book:

Especially during his early days as a foot patrol man, Serpico, in civilian clothes after a four-to-midnight tour, would often seek out muggers on his own. Besides his talent for minicry, he has an actor’s ability with his body, and in a variety of guises – his favorite being that of an elderly man shuffling along over a cane, a big slouch hat concealing his features – he would go alone down dark and silent city streets in high crime areas, waiting for the attack to come, actually inviting it, his eyes probing each doorway for a sudden shadowy movement, his ears straining for the predatory fooffall behind his back.

A girlfriend, lying next to him in bed one night, said, “You must be crazy doing things like that. What are you trying to prove?”

“I’m not trying to prove anything,” Serpico replied. “I just want them to know how some poor slob feels when they jump him.”

Once four young muggers jumped Serpico. He whirled, kicked the knife out of the hand of the leader, drew his revolver, and watched them freeze. He identified himself as a police office and lined them up. (p.23)