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review 2019-03-22 23:16
He's right about Halloween
Remember? Remember? - Charles Beaumont

Described as 'mini obituaries for times gone past', Remember? Remember? by Charles Beaumont was exactly what I wanted it to be: Lots of fun. What I hadn't counted on was the excellent history lesson that I got as a bonus. This book is partly a history of life in America circa the early 20th century (nostalgic reminiscence being the preferred narrative lens) and partly a condemnation of letting this superior past be taken over by the clearly inferior pursuits of the present (1960s). His main concern seems to be that the adults of today's (1960s) generation have ruined the future of their children by doing away with the pleasures of yesteryear. 

 

Examples of ruination include but are not limited to: 

  • Charlie Chaplin's exile from America after being a prolific entertainer that created art in a time when the world was gray.
  • The spectacle of silent movies taken over by the sterility of 'blockbusters' in cookie cutter movie theaters.
  • Steam trains being replaced by diesel engines which were then supplanted by airplane travel. (Beaumont is all about the romance.)
  • Halloween no longer being a night of mischief but a highly sanitized and supervised few hours of getting candy from pre-approved houses before calling it quits before the sun has even sunk below the horizon.

 

Conclusion: This was a fun (and surprisingly educational) book which has me looking forward to ferreting out more work of his in the (not too distant) future. 10/10

 

 

What's Up Next: Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2019-03-17 23:51
E.J. Waggoner: From the Physician of Good News to Agent of Division
E.J. Waggoner: From The Physician Of Good News To The Agent Of Division - Woodrow W. Whidden

One of the pivotal figures at the 1888 Minneapolis General Conference sessions, he did not plan to follow his father into ministry but when he did he tragically followed his example.  Woodrow W. Whidden’s E.J. Waggoner: From the Physician of Good News to Agent of Division follows not only the life of the Adventism’s most controversial figures, but also the developments of his theological thinking which both contributed to Seventh-day Adventist thinking and to his separation from Adventist doctrines.

 

Whidden brought the most out of limited sources available to detail Waggoner’s life beginning with the troubled family life of his troubled Adventist minister father and egotistical, uncaring mother.  Waggoner’s family were encouraged and rebuked by Ellen White throughout the young E.J.’s childhood and his home life might have led to heartbreak later in his life.  Not wanting to follow his father into the ministry, Waggoner studied medicine and became friends with John Harvey Kellogg as he began his career in medicine which came to an end after a “vision” at a campmeeting in which Waggoner was impressed by Christ on the cross and began his lifelong theological study of justification and sanctification.  Upon entering the ministry, Waggoner became was prolific in preaching, lecturing, writing, and in editorial work for the next two decades in both the United States and Great Britain but that would later result in have no time to nurture his marriage resulting in a scandalous divorce after his family’s return to the United States.  The lead up and aftermath of the 1888 Minneapolis is hinge of the biography and Whidden analyzes Waggoner’s role thoroughly.  Yet the most interesting aspect of the biography was Whidden’s analysis of Waggoner’s theology on justification and sanctification throughout his life divided into four time frames by Whidden.

 

The difficulty of finding sources to chronicle Waggoner’s life did not deflect from Whidden’s achievement in revealing the numerous facets of his subject’s life especially in the lead up to the “biggest” scandal in Adventism at the time with Waggoner’s divorce.  The most important aspect of the book was Whidden’s in-depth discussing of Waggoner’s evolving theological beliefs, especially justification and sanctification, and how his bent towards mysticism as well as his slow moving away from distinct Adventist doctrines.  Another important aspect is Whidden’s analysis of Ellen White’s interactions with Waggoner both in encouragement and concerned rebuke as well as if Waggoner’s later theological beliefs takeaway his emphasis on his Christ-centered message before, during, and after 1888.  If there is on serious drawback is that Whidden’s study of Waggoner’s theology is very deep and can be a tad mindboggling.

 

E.J. Waggoner is an insightful look into the life of one of the most important second generation figures in Adventism.  Woodrow Whidden’s expert work on getting out the most from the few primary sources available as well as his theological analysis is a great asset for any reader in Seventh-day Adventist biography and history.

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text 2019-03-17 00:15
Reading progress update: I've read 99 out of 186 pages.
Quartet in Autumn - Barbara Pym

Is this the fate that would have awaited Pym's heroine from Excellent Women, Mildred Lathbury, if she had decided upon permanent "spinsterhood"?

 

So quintessentially late 1970s -- cheap drabness (the cityscape and office life mirroring the four protagonists's personal lives), occasionally contrasted with and punctuated by the visceral shocks of the psychedelic age.  Pym (1913-1980) quite obviously more than empathized with her protagonists -- but unlike other writers born before WWI and still publishing books in the 1970s (looking at you, Dame Agatha and Ms Marsh), she seems to also have looked upon the concerns and attitudes of the representatives of younger generations with quite a fair amount of sympathy.

 

Now that the two female protagonists have retired (and I'm about halfway through the book), it seems a good moment to take a break.  I wonder how Pym is going to keep the "quartet" together, though -- the office so far having provided their only, albeit persistent, point of contact.  I guess I'll be finding out tomorrow!

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text 2019-03-12 13:19
Reading progress update: I've read 127 out of 304 pages.
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

 

Almost done with chapter 3 and so far, so fluffy and easily digestible.  It reminds me a lot of some of the animal-related science programs on TV that I used to be glued to as a kid (and that I sometimes still enjoy watching) -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing; they did / do get quite a bit of interesting information across, even if somewhat superficial in actual science terms.  As a result, there are a number of things I already knew going in (e.g., the Komodo dragon's bite and the garter snakes' fake-female pheromenes featured in a program I watched just recently), but there's enough that I hadn't heard about before to keep me interested.

 

The humor was funny for about 5 pages, then it got a bit much and I started getting a sort of "one-upmanship" vibe between the two authors as to who could come up with the funnier turn of phrase, and it began to intrude into the text.  I'm glad that by the beginning of chapter 3 they seem to have been over it and are now keeping it to more bearable levels.

 

Props for mentioning a scientist from my (German) alma mater, Bonn University!  (Prof. Helmut Schmitz, he of the scorched-wood-detecting fire beetles -- whose actual research paper can incidentally be read HERE, in case anybody is interested.)

 


The building where Bonn University's Institute of Zoology is located (an erstwhile palace of the Archbishop / Electoral Prince of Cologne)

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review 2019-03-11 22:50
A Poor Man's (or Woman's) "House of the Spirits"
The House on the Lagoon - Rosario Ferré,Silvia Sierra

Ugh.  If this hadn't been my final "Snakes and Ladders" book I'd have DNF'd it.  This is essentially a Puerto Rican version of House of the Spirits minus magical realism, plus a plethora of characters and episodes that don't greatly advance the plot (think 500-episode telenovela) and a whole lot of telling instead of showing.  That isn't to say I learned nothing at all about Puerto Rico, its people and its history -- indeed, the island itself was by far this book's most interesting, believable, fully elaborated and just plain likeable character -- but by and large, I'd have accomplished more by reading a nonfiction history book or a travel guide about Puerto Rico ... or by going there to see it for myself.  (Which I'm still hoping to do at some point.)

 

Nevertheless, I've enjoyed my "Snakes and Ladders" run enormously -- a huge thanks to Moonlight Reader for her spur-of-the-moment inspiration in initiating this game!

 

(Charlie and Sunny also say thank you for the exercise and all the snacks along the way.)

 

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