Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This Week at the Library (28 January)

This past week has mostly been about The Reformation, which I am 2/3rds of the way through. It started out strong (The Age of Faith, part 2), but boy -- hundreds of pages about fanatics screaming at and killing each other gets tiresome quickly. Happily I'm now in jolly old England, where Henry VIII's third wife has just died in child birth and he's looking for lucky number four.

I'm also an asteroid's throw from finishing off Walking with Dinosaurs. We're in the Cretaceous. 

Today at the library, I picked up...
  • The Odyssey, translated by E.V. Rieu and illustrated by John Flaxman. I read The Illiad a few weeks back, so this seemed appropriate. It's sort of low priority, though, because I've got The Reformation to finish.
  • Christianity: the First Three Thousand Years, Diarmaid MacCulloch. This is a Really Big Book that I have no business picking up while I'm busy with The Reformation, but I keep wanting to read it and so I decided to bring it home with me today.
  • Sharpe's Fury, Bernard Cornwell.  Obviously I'll be wanting some leisure reading at some point, if only to get relief from the constant murderous frenzy of the Reformation.
  • annnnnd The Good German, by Joseph Kanon, because Germany's national day is coming up soonish and I want to do some appropriate reading. I meant to do some German-related reading last year, but forgot the date I was looking for. I didn't want to read a book about World War 2, but hang me if almost every book in my library isn't about the Nazis or the Holocaust or some other similar subject. I have a little book on the German Empire I could read, I suppose, but in the end I decided to look for a novel set in Germany and found this, the story of an American journalist who looks for his old German sweetheart in postwar Berlin.  Next year I'll use the internet to look for some better German reading -- something set in the Weimar years, say. 

I also have three books in the post, though none of them are from my 'books of interest' list. I won one in a contest, and the other two are a couple of rare Asimov paperbacks that surfaced on eBay and Amazon while I was fishing for copies of The Roman Republic and The Roman Empire.  One of them is a collection of mysteries which I am quite looking forward to.

And to end, a quotation.

For hundreds of years, he pointed out, men had debated free will, predestination, heaven and hell, Christ and the Trinity, and other difficult matters; no agreement had been reached; probably none would ever be reached. But none is necessary, said Castellio; such disputes do not make men better; all that we need is to carry the spirit of Christ into our daily lives, to feed the poor, help the sick, and love even our enemies. It seemed to him ridiculous that all the new sects, as well as the old Church, should pretend to absolute truth and make their creeds obligatory on those over whom they had physical power; as a result a man would be orthodox in one city, and become a heretic by entering another; he would have to change his religion, like his money, at each frontier. Can we imagine Christ ordering a man to be burned alive for ordering adult baptism? [...] What a tragedy (he concluded) that those who had so lately freed themselves from the terrible Inquisition should so soon imitate its tyranny, should so soon force men back into Cimmerian darkness after so promising a dawn! 

p. 486, The Reformation. Will Durant. 

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