Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Booklist

My reading this year was broadened by my participation in a book club that consists of a group of eight men whose ages range from late twenties to early sixties. Such a group is bound to represent a diversity of reading interests and tastes, and so I found myself reading works I probably never would have picked up on my own (and some I probably wouldn't pick up again).

At any rate, here's a list of books that I managed to complete in 2009. I list them without giving an evaluation because I don't like to give a blanket recommendation of books. Even more than movies, a book requires a considerable investment in time and effort, and more than with films, I think, the reader usually has to have an interest in the topic to find a book worthwhile. This is especially so if the book is non-fiction, as are many of the entries on this list.

So here without comment is my reading list for 2009:

  • In Hovering Flight - Joyce Hinnefeld
  • Faith and Culture Devotional - Kullberg and Arrington, eds.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns - Kaled Hosseini
  • Quantum Enigma - Rosenbloom and Kuttner
  • The Showdown - Ted Dekker
  • Celebrate Liberty - Dan Burton
  • Ten Big Lies about America - Michael Medved
  • Divine Hiddenness - Howard-Snyder and Moser, eds.
  • 1984 (reread) - George Orwell
  • Reasonable Faith - Wm. Lane Craig
  • Questioning Evangelism - Randy Newman
  • Rules for Radicals - Saul Alinsky
  • Unchristian - Kinnaman and Lyons
  • Signature in the Cell - Stephen Meyer
  • Galileo Goes to Jail - Ronald Numbers, ed
  • God, Reason, and Theistic Proofs - Stephen Davis
  • Faust (Pt. I) - Goethe
  • Seeking God in Science - Brad Monton
  • Indefensible - David Feige
  • Creation Regained - Al Wolters
  • Atheist Delusions - David B. Hart
  • Agents Under Fire (reread) - Angus Menuge
  • End of Secularism - Hunter Baker
  • The Hole in Our Gospel - Richard Stearns
  • C.S. Lewis' Dangerous Idea (reread) - Victor Reppert
  • Dead Aid - Dambisa Moyo
  • How We Decide - Jonah Lerner
  • Letter Concerning Toleration - John Locke
  • Bondage of the Will - Martin Luther

If you watched a movie or read a book that you found particularly good this past year write and tell us about it.


Second-Hand Hate

It's sometimes hard to avoid thinking that liberals are masters of Freudian projection. They peer into their own minds and project whatever unseemliness they find there onto their political opponents. That's essentially the message of a pair of essays, one by Noemie Emery and the other by Robin of Berkeley.

Emery's is the better of the two, but Robin's is interesting because it's based on her personal experience as a leftist atheist turned conservative believer. Emery's essay includes example after example of how liberals in the media simply assume that any opposition to Obama is ipso facto rooted in a profound racism. She writes:

For years now, those on the left have conflated resistance to any item of their agenda--high taxes, extravagant spending, laxity on crime, what have you--with motives of a dark nature: racism, nativism, fear of "the other," and various species of "hate." Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, a reaction to overregulation, stagflation, and the foreign policy failures and weakness of one James Earl Carter, was described as the bigots' revenge for the civil rights era. The midterm elections of 1994, a reaction against Hillarycare and the Clintons' malfeasance, were seen as a Confederate renaissance. After Bill Clinton was impeached for lies under oath (and terminal tackiness), his allies floated the theory that some of the votes against him came from Southern conservatives, because he was friendly to blacks. (As the "first black president"--vide Toni Morrison--Clinton was fond of this sort of rhetorical legerdemain until 2008, when his wife ran against a real black for president, and these tactics were turned against him.)

But it was the appearance in 2009 of the real first black president that lifted this theme to a whole new level: The left, which invented first "hate speech" (opinions they didn't like) and then "hate crimes" (crimes judged less on the criminal's actions than on what he was presumed to be thinking), has now gone on to its epiphany, which is "hate" defined not by your words or deeds but by what other people have decided you really think. "Hate" is no longer what you do or say, but what a liberal says that you think and projects on to you. You are punished for what someone else claims you were thinking. It hardly makes sense, but it does serve a political purpose. You could call it Secondhand Hate.

Case number one was New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who was listening to Barack Obama's September 9 health care speech before Congress, when Congressman Joe Wilson burst out "You lie!" at the president. Everyone, starting with the congressman himself, agreed this was a breach of manners. But Dowd heard something more--a voice shouting, "You lie, boy!" This voice, of course, was in Dowd's head, not Wilson's, but she managed to convince a number of people that it had popped from his brain into hers. -MSNBC's Chris Matthews was one of those who seemed to believe this had happened: "She sort of heard the word, almost sub-audibly, that word we don't like."

Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic also believed this, and added his own voice, which was very long-winded: "This voice tells me [Obama's opponents are] motivated by tremendous anxiety about the direction of history, and how it seems to be moving away from them--white, traditional, bounded--and toward something else--global, multicolored, unbounded, experimental. This is the Silent Majority, the neo-Bircherite majority, the reactionary id that resents affirmative action, ethnic integration, and gays."

At Salon, Joan Walsh said, "Wilson's shriek [it was more like a mutter] served as an exclamation point on an undeniable trend: Obama steadily lost support among white voters during this long, hot summer of hate."

There are many more examples of this sort of liberal mind reading at the link.

Robin talks about her personal search for God after she had left the Left and her desire to find a synagogue/church where she could worship on Christmas:

I have been looking for God my whole life. I first recognized Him in the black foster parents I worked with who manifested Christ-consciousness.

I then found him four years ago, when my parents died three weeks apart and I was carried by a force stronger than myself. And more recently, as I've gone from left to right, I have discovered him in the many conservatives guiding me, such as AT (American Thinker) readers.

Given my spiritual longing, I decided it was time to explore places of worship. Being a secular Jew, my first step should have been a temple. However, the synagogues around here are practically recruitment stations for Obama (aside from the Orthodox ones, but I don't speak a word of Hebrew). So I decided to experience church on Christmas Eve.

Checking out churches online, I found almost none that offered political neutrality. Most heralded their progressive credentials, welcoming the transgendered, but not conservatives.

I was pleased to find an Episcopal church whose website focused on religion, not ObamaCare. I left a message for the priest that I was looking for a church that didn't press a political agenda because I wasn't a liberal.

I received an icy reply from the priest, the Reverend Lucy, who said with barely-contained disgust, "I don't think you should check us out."

Her response left me shaken and angry. I understand that leftists despise conservatives. I have seen that creepy look of pure hatred when I na�vely told a leftist friend about my political conversion.

But an Episcopal priest rejecting me during the holiest time of year? Isn't anything or anyone sacred?

In shunning me, the Reverend Lucy exposed not only her own hypocrisy, but the duplicity of the left itself. She unveiled the left's dirty little secret -- that their doctrines are as bogus as global warming.

I used to believe it all. But when I removed one piece -- that the left protects women -- the whole house of cards came tumbling down.

Some may think the rest of Robin's piece a bit overstated, and perhaps it is, but she touches on a fascinating irony. Churches which preach tolerance of all God's children are often very intolerant of conservative (either political or theological) opinion. Among "progressives" who make a fetish of tolerance it often turns out that it's only for those who already agree with them.