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Finished reading: 2018, part four

What I’ve read the past month or so:

Head On by John Scalzi
A sequel in Scalzi’s series from the near future where some humans are afflicted by a disease that causes “lock in”, where their bodies are vegetative but their minds are able to interact with the outside world via a neural interface and proxy robot-like bodies. An entertaining read.

The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton by Michael Mott
Interesting to read a biography of Merton written by someone other than himself. (While The Seven Storey Mountain is well worth a read, it’s clearly pretty one-sided.) Merton remains a fascinating character to me.

Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution by Kenneth Miller
I found Miller’s name when looking at biology textbooks – he’s the author of a very popular one used by our public high school. Turns out he’s a professing Christian who has spent a bunch of time thinking and writing about how he makes sense of his faith in light of his life-long study of evolution. I found the book thoughtful and very reasonable. Worth a read.

On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books by Karen Swallow Prior
This one isn’t out yet, but I snagged a review copy and will write a full post later. Prior uses each chapter in this book to highlight a virtue and a great book that illustrates the virtue. I now have a bunch more books on my list that I’ve somehow failed to read thus far.

How Right You Are, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
Light-hearted fluff… perfect for reading on vacation next to a swimming pool… which was exactly what I did.

Warning Light by David Ricciardi
Highly forgettable spy thriller. Something about a guy who may or may not have been spying on an Iranian nuclear site and then is trying to escape. Yawn.

The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: The Improbable Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire by Alan Kreider
Now this was a good one. Kreider was a Professor of Church History at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana. He spends most of this volume examining primary sources from the first few centuries A.D. (basically 1st century up through Constantine) and looking at what those Christians viewed as important. Notably important: patience and longsuffering. It becomes clear reading Kreider how much the tenor of the early church changed when Constantine brought them out of the

Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon
This one was in urban legend status for a while – an old, out-of-print title from a beloved (if somewhat niche) author that supposedly was very good. And hey, it got reprinted, and it’s not even that expensive! Capon is his familiar crusty self, and honestly the chapters on marriage fell a little short in my mind. But the chapter on Things and our approach to them was golden. Completely worth the price of the book. Merits a blog post later.

Eisenhower vs. Warren: The Battle for Civil Rights and Liberties by James F. Simon
A nice overview of Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and President Dwight Eisenhower and how they interacted specifically around civil rights issues in the 1950s. Most striking to me was how different a time it was politically – Warren and Eisenhower were centrist and courted as presidential candidates by both political parties. We could use some more of that today. Warren particularly was an interesting story to me. Second-generation European immigrant, son of blue-collar parents just scraping by, had fairness as an overriding political objective, and championed both social programs and fiscal responsibility, and somehow made it all work as governor of California.

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