At Home He's a Tourist

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

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Book Reviews

McGrath, Alister. The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World. Doubleday.

Library Journal: “Unfortunately, though he is usually adept at the popular presentations of complex topics, his argument falls short in this book. In addition, there are historical inaccuracies…Not recommended for academic collections but suitable for popular collections that emphasize Christian apologetics.” Publishers Weekly: “Readable and memorable, this is intellectual history at its best.” Kirkus: “McGrath is incontestably correct on a couple of points, shakier on other points. Not all preaching to the choir, though—comparative-religion types at least should take a look.” Booklist: “For readers trying to understand this unexpected reversal [of atheism] in cultural fortunes.” National Review: “McGrath is an engaging, anecdote-loving writer with irenic sympathy for all his subjects, even the atheists. I found him a shade too irenic. He gives too much credit to the postmodernist theorists who helped push modernity over the edge. Even more distressing is the scant attention that McGrath pays to the highly credentialed and supremely self-confident Richard Dawkinses of the world.” Choice: “In this beautifully written reflection on the gradual resurgence of religious longing, McGrath traces the history of atheism in the West with erudition and insight.”

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Four inches of snow? In West Texas? In early November? Proof.

I'm enjoying the company of the Reformed. On Sat. I drove up with the pastor to visit a liquor store and smoke shop. At the former I decided to buy some unusual wines (including Portugese, Hungarian, and Cretan vintages) but my beer purchases were conservative (Pilsner Urquell, Unibroue Fin du Monde, and Sierra Nevada stout). At the smoke shop I bought a replacement pipe and 2 oz. of tobacco. Sun. night the parish had a Reformation Day party, a sanctified substitute for Halloween. German food for dinner (red cabbage, brats, onion pie, beer bread), a short presentation by the pastor on the life of Luther, singing of some of Luther's hymns, and some games for the kids: first, a variant of Pin the Tail on the Donkey in which the contestant is blindfolded, spun in place, and then has to grope around trying to tape the "95 Theses" to the "Wittenberg door"; then a three-legged race with pairs of bound contestants carrying a scrolled "Indulgence" on a spoon and depositing it in the trash. These folks are truly Protestants with a capital P.

Unfortunately, one of the ladies told me that the church will fold unless they can get more members in the forthcoming year, so my Calvinistic good times may be coming to an end soon.