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3 hours ago
Publicity material says the book "explores the [Mormon] church's habit of converting millions of deceased souls into Mormonism, and turns the tables when someone starts baptizing Mormons into an alternative church. Initially deemed a nuisance, Mormon leadership reacts with sinister professionalism when it's discovered the baptisms have taken a toll on their tithing revenue stream. ... It forces the reader to wonder if churches have become all too business-like, not at the local level, but certainly at the highest bastions of power." The computer geeks who are behind this are also trying to get the LDS church to pay up to get them to stop these activities.Were the characters and their problems believable?
From the publisher: "The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena is new to the mountains — but she soon shows herself to be the equal of any man, overseeing crews, hunting rattle-snakes, even saving her husband's life in the wilderness. Together this lord and lady of the woodlands ruthlessly kill or vanquish all who fall out of favor. Yet when Serena learns that she will never bear a child, she sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. Mother and child begin a struggle for their lives, and when Serena suspects George is protecting his illegitimate family, the Pembertons' intense, passionate marriage starts to unravel as the story moves toward its shocking reckoning."Location and time period
"The discovery of a previously lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot has electrified the Christian community. What Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell us about Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, in inconsistent and biased. Therefore, the revelation of an ancient gospel that portrays this despised man as someone who saw his role in the Passion of Christ as integral to a larger plan -- a divine plan -- brings new clarity to the old story. If Judas had not betrayed Jesus, Jesus would not have been handed over to the authorities, crucified, buried, and raised from the dead. Could it be that without Judas, the Easter miracle would never have happened?"I should have looked it over more carefully, though it has a good publisher (HarperSanFrancisco) and the author (as I already knew) had edited The Nag Hammadi Library. Should have been a book right up my alley. It wasn't. Oh, the subject matter was -- and is -- but the book is misrepresented. Though I've read about the papyrus found decades ago that wasn't published until 2006, this book is really about "peddling" the resurfaced Gospel of Judas that had been condemned by Irenaeus in 180 CE and subsequently supressed by the Church and "lost." Most of Robinson's book, subtitled The Story of the Misunderstood Disciple and His Lost Gospel is about who said and did what, and when, and how he was (mostly) left out of the loop as shady dealers took it from continent to continent. His book was timed to get his information out before the National Geographic special, which was to be followed by three books published by NG. Robinson had not seen this codex and, thus, didn't know anything specific about its contents. How disappointing!
"In their slim but excellent Reading Judas, Elaine Pagels and Karen L. King rightly focus on the text's ancient and provocative theology rather than on the codex's modern and tortured history, with King also providing a new and very well annotated translation of this early Christian document."How would I rate The Secrets of Judas?
Do you align books at the front edge of your shelves? Or way back from the edge? Or an inch back? Why? Or do you stack your books, instead?The Book on the Bookshelf ~ by Henry Petroski (1999, history) is about the shelves where we put our books. I'll start with a couple of quotes from the book:
"The recessed alignment of books on my bookshelves also gives me a narrow shelf space before the books where I can keep mementos like pencils and letter openers. It all seemed sensible to me until one day a writer visiting my office expressed surprise at my arrangement and remarked that he always pulled his books forward to the edge of the bookshelves and thought that was the proper way to display them. I did not have a definitive answer for him at the time, and I still do not, but I have learned that the literary critic Alfred Kazin kept his books well back from the edge of the shelf, giving him room to display photos of his grandchildren and to lay down books being read. Like so many questions of design and the human adaptation to and interface with technology, there are arguments that can be presented in support of either option. I was, however, pleased to have the visitor question my book arrangement, for it assured me that I was not alone in thinking about bookcases and how to use them" (p. 12).Another question: Do any of you shelve your books with the spine toward the back of the bookshelf? Why? When I owned a bookstore, I was surprised at the number of people who inserted books "backwards" after browsing, so I'm really curious.
"For centuries, the spine was shelved inward..." (p. 22).
"Is an empty bookshelf an oxymoron?" (p. 22).Note to myself after the last quote: I was born at the right time!
"The more things change, the more they remain insane" (p. 222).
"When I travel, I find myself drawn into bookstores and to books I wonder if I will ever see again. Many of these volumes must be bought, of course, lest the opportunity to possess them be lost, and I have lugged inordinate numbers of titles through airports and squeezed overstuffed bags into undersized overhead bins (ill-formed bookshelves of a sort?)" (p. 230).
"It is a spectator sport to look at someone else's books, if not an act of voyeurism or armchair psychology" (p. 6).
"The use of electric lights in bookstacks became firmly established in the early part of the twentieth century" (p. 181).
"Inspired by the Eskimo shaman Oogruk, Russel Suskitt takes a dog team and sled to escape the modern ways of his village and to find his own 'song' of himself. He travels across ice floes, tundra, and mountains, haunted along the way by a dream of a long-ago self whose adventures parallel his own."What was the book's central question, and how was it answered?
"Choose a novel or short story that you like and try to discover its theme. How does the author get the theme across? Title? Plot? Names of characters?" (page 231 in The Fiction Class).The theme is the book's central question, its dominant idea. Even though I have this question in my book review outline, I don't think I've ever used it here on my blog. Now that I know the importance of themes, I'll try to do this more often.
"Nothing disrupts the mood of a class more quickly than people whispering" (p. 4).Here's a comparison of the writing classes, which I am still pondering:
"She can hear people laughing in the next classroom; that's the screenwriting class. They are always so cheerful in screenwriting; the memoir class is always in tears, and the fiction class seems to be confused" (p. 31).What did you like most about the book?
"The library is surprisingly lovely. In the midst of so much pastel neutrality, the bright colors of the book jackets are a welcome explosion of color. Here is life; even a nursing home cannot deaden the joy of a book" (p. 104).How would you rate this book?
For an example of one of the writing assignments, see my next post: theme