Saturday, December 28, 2013

Annotated Booklist for 2013

I hope readers will indulge me in an observance of what has become something of a tradition on Viewpoint. For the last few years I've done a year-end list of books I've read and movies I've watched during the year coming to a close. I'd like to continue that tradition with this list of books, with a word or two of explanation, that comprised my reading in 2013:
  1. From Tyndale to Madison - Michael Farris: A fascinating account of the history of of religious freedom in England and the American colonies.
  2. Back to Blood - Tom Wolfe: A tale of ethnic tribalism and hedonism set in contemporary Miami. Not Wolfe's best work, in my opinion.
  3. The Painted Veil - Somerset Maugham: A story of the undoing of a vain, superficial, and unfaithful wife who realizes too late what a fool she'd been.
  4. Introduction to Phenomenology - Robert Sokolowski: An explication of Edmund Husserl's major contribution to philosophical thought.
  5. On What Matters Vol. I - Derek Parfit: A technical, meticulously exhaustive study of Kantian deontological ethical thinking.
  6. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens: Dickens' classic novel of human relationships, shortcomings, and redemption.
  7. Inquiry and Essays - Thomas Reid: The most famous works of the man known as the philosopher of common sense in which he challenges the idealism of Berkeley and the skepticism of Hume.
  8. Quiet - Susan Cain: A Fascinating look at introverts and introversion.
  9. An Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals - David Hume: Hume reduces morality to gaining the approbation of others.
  10. The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God - D. A. Carson: Carson inquires into the meaning of the phrase, God is Love and finds it enormously complex and somewhat counterintutive.
  11. All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren: The Pulitzer-Prize winning fictional account of depression-era Louisiana politician Huey Long.
  12. Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Introduction - Richard Mouw: A summary of the life and thought of pastor, journalist, theologian, and prime minister of Netherlands, Abraham Kuyper.
  13. Macbeth - William Shakespeare: The classic story of betrayal and lust for power and its consequences.
  14. Our Culture, What's Left of It - Theodore Dalrymple: A critique of British culture, which serves as a synecdoche for all of Western culture.
  15. Memoir on Pauperism - Alexis de Tocqueville: An exploration of the causes of poverty by one of the most trenchant of early 19th century political and cultural observers.
  16. The Road to Serfdom - F.A. Hayek: A classic analysis of how progressive economic policies lead to impoverishment and the loss of freedom.
  17. Darwin's Doubt - Stephen Meyer: Another blow to the edifice of Darwinian dogma. Meyer shows that there simply are no good naturalistic explanations for what's called the Cambrian explosion where all the major phyla appear suddenly and fully developed in the fossil record.
  18. The Path Between the Seas - David McCullough: The history of the construction of the Panama Canal. The short version is, it would never have been built today.
  19. Going Clear - Lawrence Wright: A fascinating exposé of Scientology. Reading this book will cause you to wonder how anyone could believe what Scientologists evidently believe.
  20. Leg Up - Louie Castriota: The inspiring story of how one young couple were motivated to do something for autistic children and the amazing facility and program they've built for these children.
  21. God on the Rocks - Phil Madeira: Anecdotes from the life of one of the most prolific songwriters in America.
  22. The Last Superstition - Ed Feser: A philosophical smackdown of naturalism by a Thomist philosopher. A bit too nasty in some parts for my taste, but pretty decisively argued, nonetheless.
  23. American Exceptionalism - Charles Murray: An explanation of what, exactly, American exceptionalism is and isn't.
  24. The Darkest Jungle - Todd Balf: The true story of the 19th century expedition which was the first to cross Panama in search of the best route for a canal. An amazing account of endurance and courage.
  25. Killing Jesus - O'Reilly and Dugard: The judicial murder of Jesus told as history.
  26. Consciousness and the Existence of God - J.P. Moreland: Moreland makes a compelling argument that consciousness does not fit in a naturalist ontology but fits very well in a theistic ontology. Thus its existence is strong confirmation of theism and disconfirmation of naturalism.
  27. Inferno - Dan Brown: Another 24-hour thriller set amid the art and architecture of Florence and Venice. Brown can't seem to decide whether he wants to be a tour guide or a story-teller, nor can he shake himself of his obsessive need to get in his jabs at the Catholic Church, but the book is still entertaining for all that.
  28. Out of the Silent Planet - C.S. Lewis: The first of Lewis' space trilogy in which he describes how human hubris corrupts and destroys. Reading it reminded me of Bartholomew de la Casa's Destruction of the Indies, the history of the Spanish war of extermination of the Indians of Caribbean and Central America in the 16th century.
  29. Moral Man and Immoral Society - Reinhold Neibuhr: Neibuhr's thesis is that individuals can be selfless and altruistic but societies can only be egoistic. Writing in the period between world wars he explores the justifications for violent revolution.
  30. God of the Possible - Greg Boyd: Boyd makes a powerful case for open theism, the view that God's omniscience nevertheless does not mean that he has exhaustive knowledge of the future.
  31. Christian Philosophy - Bartholomew and Goheen: A summary of the history of Western philosophy from a Christian perspective. It tries to cover too much ground without explaining much of what it covers to be very helpful.
  32. The Fall - Albert Camus: Camus' portrait of the modern egoist whose only value is the gratification of his own ego and desires.
The year's movies will be posted on Monday.