At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


Ripped from Librarian's Rant: the indiepop cred evaluator. My score was only %16, and most of those measly points came from questions not specifically related to indiepop (ownership of a turntable, frequenting music websites, being in a band). I'll blame market forces; in a small West Texas town there just isn't the audience for Belle and Sebastian (whoever they are).

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Saw I, Robot last weekend. I was excited about seeing the film until I heard that the script was merely "inspired" by Asimov's work. Admittedly, it's been twenty years since I read the book, so I couldn't say exactly where the movie was unfaithful to the original, but I vaguely remember the latter being occupied with Holmesian deductions and philosophical musings, whereas the former is mostly action and special effects. Unfortunately Will Smith was wasted in the film, as his banter was pretty uninspired compared to, say, that in Men in Black. There were lots of gratuitously long shots of his muscled torso, though, which is odd since one would expect the typical audience of a sci-fi movie to be predominantly heterosexual male. (There wasn't much corresponding cheesecake, by the way, except perhaps for one foggy shower scene of the female heroine.) The action scenes left me curiously unmoved, perhaps because I couldn't work up any interest in Smith's character. The villain is an industrialist, of course; while some CEOs certainly are evil, the frequency with which they are portrayed as such in the movies bespeaks a certain leftward bias, methinks. Not recommended.

More Travel

I'm flying to Chicago on Friday for a wedding. The flight leaves at 5:50 am, which means I need to get to Lubbock by 4:50, which means I need to leave Plainview by 3:50, which means I need to get up around 3:00!


As far as I can tell,'s free web stat tool no longer lists referring URLs. Could someone recommend one that does?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Fox, Richard Wightman. Jesus in America: Personal Savior, Cultural Hero, national Obsession. Harper, $27.95

Library Journal: “very successful…exciting…a fresh history that will likely be influential for years to come. Highly recommended.” New Republic: “An extraordinary blend of historical sophistication, theological discrimination, and spiritual understanding.” Booklist: “Sophisticated.” Commonweal: “Entertaining, well-researched, and compelling study. A great read, as well as a superb ecumenical overview. The intellectual coherence, clean narrative line, and readability of these discussions offer a template for scholars doing the cultural history of religion in America. Yet there are a few fissures. Fox’s cultural history largely ignores how religious institutions affected popular conceptions of Jesus. Likewise, Fox never addresses the complex relationship between denominational belief and the transdenominational popularity of Jesus. Nevertheless, these criticisms should not detract form the larger success of Fox’s achievement here. Run out and buy this book.” First Things: “A popular history for the general reader written in a friendly prose. Beneath this cordial classroom manner is considerable scholarship, of which readers can avail themselves in Fox’s generous and well-written endnotes. It does seem a weakness in Fox’s treatment that he never suggests whether or how we Americans can discover any shaping limitations, any integrating constraints, either inherent or derived from authority, on our Jesus-reinterpretation. Mel Gibson earns the distinction of being the only American in four hundred years of whose Jesus Fox unequivocally disapproves, because as a ‘Latin traditionalist’ he is marketing a retrograde and discredited Jesus.” National Catholic Reporter: “A fine book, but would have been enriched and complicated by a deeper consideration of American Catholic traditions.” Publishers Weekly: “Fox’s scholarship is dependable, and he does a fine job of distilling the essence of figures ranging from Jonathan Edwards to Aimee Semple McPherson. But Fox’s net is so broadly cast that the book ends up contributing little to a story that has been exceedingly well told, and more persuasively interpreted, by historians like Mark Noll. This book will undoubtedly be compared to, and confused with, Stephen Prothero’s American Jesus, but the text lacks Prothero’s deftness with historical sources and his interpretive boldness—there is little here to challenge historians’ conventional wisdom or mainstream readers’ assumptions. Nor does Fox, unlike Prothero, give much attention to non-Christian encounters with Jesus. But Fox still does a very serviceable job.”

Monday, July 26, 2004


Green and oolong tea reduces risk of hypertension, Taiwanese study shows. Of course Taiwan has a self-interested motive in reaching such a conclusion, given all the tea farms there. In any case, I'll keep drinking my Arizona Diet Green Tea with Genseng.

Despite the mixed reviews below, I ordered this since Baptists (used to?) believe in the separation of church and state.


Encyclopedia of religious freedom. ed. by Catharine Cookson. Routledge, 2003. 555p bibl index afp ISBN 0-415-94181-4, $125.00

Choice: "A reliable starting place for research into many of the major historical issues involving religious freedom in 140 simply organized and clearly written articles...this volume will ground serious students of religion and history in the processes of learning and unprejudiced understanding of religious issues outside their own faith. Although the articles concentrate on religious freedom in the US, they provide a wealth of information that is both holistic and historically wide-ranging. The well-qualified contributors clearly and concisely explore the pressures on religious freedom and the impact these conflicts have had on the development of modern civilizations. The articles are alphabetically arranged and end with ample references that provide additional avenues for research and exploration. Summing Up: Recommended. All collections." Library Journal: “The articles tend to be clear, avoiding excessive complexity. This reviewer has three caveats, however. First, the book is heavily weighted toward the U.S. experience…Second, there are some odd omissions or emphases…Last, one article (“Islam”) reflects bias by denying the execution of Bahai’s in Iran…Those flaws aside, this is an important work on an essential principle of modern society, and no previous encyclopedias cover this area. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries.” School Library Journal: “Much prior knowledge is assumed regarding religious, cultural, and social history. The entries vary considerably in accessibility and clarity. The book would have benefited from a glossary of basic religious terms, as well as maps and charts showing religious affiliations over time. However, nothing similar is available for any age.” Reference and User Services Quarterly: “This volume is a good ready-reference work and will serve as a starting point for others engaged in in-depth research. There are many interesting articles on a wide range of topics. There are some puzzling aspects of the book that indicate that proofreading, copy editing, and general editing could have been more thorough.” Contemporary Review: “Prof. Cookson has assembled a vast amount of information that will prove extremely useful. The entries vary in quality. This is something of a curate’s egg: the weaker bits do little to advance man’s knowledge whilst the better bits give readers concise summaries of the topics covered.” Booklist: “The quality and usefulness of individual entries vary: two entries on Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, provide an excellent overview; other entries, such as Middle East, attempt to survey very broad topics in too few words. The chronological scope and geographical range are impressive. Especially noteworthy are the generally excellent bibliographies at the end of each entry. The prominent sidebars provide useful and, occasionally, very hard-to-locate documentary material. This volume fills a void in reference sources on this increasingly important topic and is recommended for academic and large public libraries.”