Wednesday, May 2, 2007

What a reading-addicted pathetic egghead reads

Hey bloggers and bloggettes,

I occasionally get asked, "What ya reading these days Greg?" So -- since I've committed myself to sprinkling in academic reflections with random "me" stuff -- I thought I'd tell you.

But -- be warned -- the stuff that interests me bores most people silly.

Okay, starting with most recent and going backward... a week or so.

On the plane OUT to Michigan to talk at Mars HIll, I read Rob Bell's VELVET ELVIS. I figured if I was meeting Rob I should know something about what he wrote. This isn't the genre I normally hang out in, but I really liked this book. It was clever, funny, but most of all insightful. The dude has the vision of the Kingdom. I love it. But the book nothing much to say on either Velvet or Elvis.

On the plane way BACK from Michigan I read a book I randomly bought about four months ago because it intrigued me. It was by William Stringfellow and its called AN ETHIC FOR CHRISTIAN AND OTHER ALIENS IN A STRANGE LAND. Wow... what an incredible hard hitting little read!! It was written in 1972, but it might as well have been written in 2007 -- it is THAT prophetic. He argues that America epitomizes the Babylon of the book of Revelation. One of the most insightful and trenchant critiques of American culture I've ever read. I of course don't concur with everything he says -- but I wish all overly-patriotic Americans would read this book.

Okay, over the two days preceeding this one I read The ORATIONS of Maximus of Tyre, a second century Platonist philosopher. This would bore most people to death but it excites the living daylights out of me because it provides such a clear expression of the dominant philosophy that influenced the early Christians in the direction of the blueprint worldview. Also, Maximus presents a couple of interesting arguments against the efficacy of petitionary prayer that I'll be interacting with in a couple of future blogs.

For a couple days before that I was reading AMMONIOUS AND THE SEABATTLE -- this is part of a commentary by a fourth century (as I recall) Aristotelian philosophy on Aristotles famous work "De Interpretatione." It concerns Aristotle's view of the truth value of statements about future contingents. Ammonius (and other philosophers like the Neoplatonists Iamblichus and Proclus and Boethius) were SO CLOSE to discovering that statements about what "might and might not" happen have a truth value as well as statements about what "will and will not" -- and that if the "might" is true, the "will and will not" statements are BOTH false. SO close -- and yet, because of a fatal assumption they make about the nature of knowledge, they are SO FAR. (In essence, they mistakenly assume that whether something is known as necessary or contingent depends on the nature of the KNOWER instead of the nature of what is KNOWN. Since God is necessary, they thought, he can know future contingents in a necessary and timeless mode).

Sorry...I'm getting kind of academic again, aren't I Marcia (she probably quit reading when I got into the future contingency stuff -- LOL). Anyway, the work REALLY excites me because it serves up a softball I think I can hit out of the park with the LOGICAL HEXAGON (I think I have an essay on this somewhere on my site for the two of you who care).

Okay, sorry. sorry.

The day before I read Ammonius' commentary I read ALCINOUS: THE HANDBOOK OF PLATONISM -- another second century work I love for the same reason I loved Maximus of Tyre.

Do you see how totally pathetic I am? I get up most mornings between 4:00 and 5:00 AM excited to read this stuff... and at least three or four days a week I've put in 10 to 12 hours.

Finally, for two days before that... about a week ago, I read JM Rist's PLOTINUS: ROAD TO REALITY - a very good book on one of the most important philosophers in the ancient world -- for it was his philosophy, more than any others, that influenced St. Augustine and thus (in my humble opinion) helped get Christian theology so far off track.

And now you know why you should never ask me "What ya reading these days Greg?"

Unless you're having trouble getting to sleep.