Monday, February 21, 2005

Reading Week Begins 

And, as is fitting, I've finished my first book of the week. Oh no, it was not a school book, but the pleasure book I'd been reading, The Devil in the White City. Historian Erik Larson has pulled together massive amounts of research in coorespondence, newspapers, memos, lists, journals, diaries and just about every other form of written communication available at the turn of the century (19th-20th) to put together the tale of two men whose lives were changed forever in 1893. With splendid prose and page-turning events it is easy to see how many might confuse this story of the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago (World's Fair) for fiction, but it is not. I found I learned a tremendous amount about the origins of much of Americana by reading this book. Daniel Burnham was the man whose genius brought the fair to life and Dr. H.H. Holmes was the madman whose cunning and evil ended the lives of at least 12 innocents, including three children. In these pages, these real characters speak to us from beyond the grave (maybe that's a bit melodramatic, but it's a fun turn of phrase) relaying their tale. I would recommend this book highly to anyone interested in Gilded Age American history, true crime stories as good as anything Thomas Harris has imagined, or Chicago history.

The next book I grabbed off my shelf is by a man who has become a favorite author of mine, Neal Stephenson. This time, it's The Diamond Age: Or a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. I'm not real sure what all it is about just yet, but so far the writing is up to par with Stephenson's other works and the characters just as lively. One of my favorite things about the way he writes is his wry humor inserted almost casually here and there throughout. The way he says things sometimes has the ability to make me chuckle out loud. Not a full-bellied laugh, but an appreciative chortle for his craftsmanship. To those of you looking for a good read that is fun and imaginative, I would recommend Stephenson to you. (I started with Snow Crash and it was a good introduction. Some of his longer works might turn some people off, but then again, if you feel up to the challenge...)

In other, more academic news, I began research today for two papers coming up. My second New Testament II probe will be on just who in the heck this Melchizedek character is in the letter to the Hebrews. He only appears at two other points in the whole Bible, first in Genesis 14 and second in Psalm 110. Much is made of him in Hebrews however; the author of the missal seems to be making a creative power play when he likens Christ to him rather than the Levitical/priestly tribe. Much more than that I cannot yet say, other than, by drawing on my Hebrew studies, I can tell you his name means something along the lines of "my king is righteousness", or "my righteous king". For my second Ethics II paper, I think I have finally settled on looking at Christian Ethical in the debate surrounding pre-marital sexual relations. How I'll narrow that down is another question altogether (define marriage, between whom, define singleness, etc.). I'll need to try and get a balance in the variety of sources because many have written solidly in support of the myraid sides to the argument. Where I'll come down is also still up in the air.

That's about all for tonight.



This is an interesting post.

I take it you're a theology student (I only just happened to stumble upon your blog).

Hope you don't mind if I drop in once in a while to see what's going on and maybe start up a discussion thread here and there.

By Blogger Aronwy, at 8:58 AM  

Thanks for your comment Aronwy, and welcome to my corner of the blogiverse. I am a second year Masters of Divinity student on track to be ordained to the Episcopal priesthood. Please do stop by as often as you like and start up as many discussions as you like. There are plenty here who enjoy a good stirring of the pot from time to time!


By Blogger Ryan, at 9:36 AM  

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