Monday, June 21, 2010

Godly & Ungodly & the Summer Solstice

Day 133 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and Sarah is reading Why I Am Not a Christian, by Bertrand Russell. Meanwhile, Bob is reading The Case for God, by Karen Armstrong. They can strongarm,* or arm wrestle, each other!

Sarah says, "Unlike many vociferously off-putting secularists or atheists, he's gentle in his critiques. I like his calmness and rationality in addressing arguments and tenets of the Christian faith. He's also quite honest about the fact that Jesus said and did good things, but at the same time, he doesn't acknowledge that Jesus was the wisest man who ever lived. I find it a refreshing and enjoyable read."

She also provides this interesting youtube clip from an interview with Russell that shows his gentleness as well as his firm dismissal of "nonsense" and what is merely useful, but not true:

*The "strongarm" humor above is not meant to make light of a terribly serious situation--when advocates of one religion strongarm believers in other religions, or nonbelievers. Russell even suggests at the end of this little video that some believers would lie--strongarm the truth--about some nonbelievers' supposed deathbed conversions. That gave me some pause.

Meanwhile, Bob appreciates Armstrong for being such "an excellent scholar and writer." I was fascinated by her accounts of life in the convent, and her decision to renounce her vows and do her search-for-God work in the secular world in her books Through the Narrow Gate and The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness. The latter uses T. S. Eliot's spiral staircase image from Ash Wednesday. She has a bunch of thick books on a number of religions that I yearn to read!

And today is the Summer Solstice, celebrated by pagans! No, really, it is a "pre-Christian" fertility holiday, honored and celebrated in various ways, as well as an astronomical event! Some of us love the longest day of the year, the stretching out of sunlight, and some of us welcome the shift back from sunlight to gradual darkness, as we move toward the Winter Soltice.

But right now, some of us are still deeply engrossed in our summer reading, some of it godly, some of it ungodly. Krystal is reading The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger. Maria is reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, with her son, joining him in his summer reading assignments. Susan is reading The Sparrow, by Maria Doria Russell, having discovered it here! (And I know she will want to read the sequel, Children of God, as soon as she's done!) And Rebecca is reading The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters, a ghost story.

So, whether you enjoy the natural or the supernatural, and whether you are godly or ungodly, happy summer solstice, and happy summer reading.


Kim said...

Sarah might enjoy Saving Jesus from the Church, which you highlighted earlier in this blog. It gives another option which is to be a follower of the man Jesus who was a force for change in his time, speaking truth to power. The author acknowledges the dangers of believing the post-Easter mythology of the "Christ" largely created in Rome to subvert the original messages of the man Jesus.

JulieK said...

Should we all be watching "A Midsummer Night's Dream," "Smiles of a Summer Night," "A Little Night Music" or "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy"?

Swedish men jump over bonfires on Midsommer. It's probably related to the pagans, don't you think?

Kathleen said...

I am linear time challenged, but why is it called Midsummer AND the first day of summer?