I had a gift certificate for Waterstone's given to me for my birthday back in March that I had not used.
I'd to do some bits-and-bobs in town so popped into Waterstone's to see if anything took my fancy. I had considered getting a nice hardback copy of War and Peace, but headed for the 'Christianity' section (Watherstone's don't have a 'theology' section).
Fernando noted a while back that theology books are getting thinner, well at 5cm think and 851 pages (including end notes), Taylors book bucks this trend, if indeed it is a trend. (Ok I'm perhaps blurring the distinction between theology and philosophy to say Taylor's work is a theology book - perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it is a philosophy that includes theological insights?)
NB - Taylor teaches at McGill University in Montreal. It's founder was James McGill. There is a plaque on a rather ugly building on Stockwell Street here in Glasgow to state that this is where James McGill founder of McGill university was born. I'll try and remember to photograph it next time I pass bye.
I've been ill with flu like symptoms which means that I've had a legitimate excuse to do nothing and read the new Harry Potter book HP and the Deathly Hallows. [WARNING WHAT FOLLOWS WILL CONTAIN PLOT SPOILERS].
I can't answer the question, "was it worth the wait" as I've not been waiting for it, but if you liked the other books then you'll like this one, but if you disliked the other books then I don't think there's anything here that will change your view of the books. In some respects I think Rowling had a really hard job - her audience has become so wide in age range that it must have been difficult to know who to aim it at. Should she aim it at the late teens and early twenties who bought the first book in 1997 when they were just ten years old or so? Or should she just keep to her 'normal' writing style. I think she has done the later, although if you've not read the other books then you'll be lost with regards to who is who and why certain things are happening.
People talk about the books getting "darker", but to be honest I'm not sure exactly what is meant by this - do they mean there's more "magic", more sense of danger and threat, more deaths or that much of the action takes place on dull days or at night? Certainly especially given all the rumours about deaths of main characters you read with a sense that anyone could die at any point. Rowling diverts from her normal sequence of events, i.e. starts at Privet Drive, Journey to Hogwarts + 1st term, Christmas break, 2nd term at Hogwarts with climatic battle at end. Harry, Ron and Hermione don't go to Hogwats as pupils this year and spend most of the book on the run. This gives the story much more of the feel of journey, indeed for large sections it feels like a poor mans Lord of the Rings. There's the quest (this is the word the book uses) to destroy an evil artefact. In LOTR it was the ring, for much of this book it's a "Horcrux" in the form of a locket they wear around their neck (just like Frodo in LOTR), the evil in this object changes their book making them angry, grumpy, fall out with each other (hmm also like LOTR), and it scars the main carrier, i.e. Harry by burning into his flesh (seem to remember this happening with the ring in LOTR), and in order to destroy this Horcrux they have to go on a journey which they may not survive. Just as Gandalf reappears in LOTR so in the penultimate chapter Dumbledore and Harry meet again. Just as in LOTR the destruction of the ring destroyed Sauron so Voldermort can only be destroyed by the destruction of the Horcrux's.
The body bag count is high and starts early, but Ron and Hermione whom I has assumed would die do not. Hedwig the owl is first to die then Mad-eye Moody. George Weasley looses an ear early on but near then end it is Fred who is killed. Dobby the house elf makes a welcome return, but pays for this with his life too. Lupin and Tonks also die along with many others in the "battle of Hogwarts". Many of the baddies die to, but I'll not bore you with the details.
asked back at the start of July, "will they crucify Harry Potter" and had the following interesting quote from Rowling,
Asked if she was a Christian, Rowling answered:
''Yes, I am,'' she says. ''Which seems to offend the religious right far worse than if I said I thought there was no God. Every time I've been asked if I believe in God, I've said yes, because I do, but no one ever really has gone any more deeply into it than that, and I have to say that does suit me, because if I talk too freely about that I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what's coming in the books.''
Now I don't know where this quote is originally from so I won't comment on it's authenticity or otherwise. That said Harry chooses to lay down his life for the other, the goes silently to meet Voldermort (reminisent of Aslan and the White Witch in Narnia) and does not defend himself. It is this act of not defending himself that "saves" Harry and means he comes back to life [ that said it's ambiguous as to whither he was really dead or just so badly stunned that he appeared dead].
Once again the book is not really about magic but about virtues, about flawed heroes about trust, love and reconciliation.
Perhaps the twist Rowling includes that not many will have seen coming is to do with Snape - but I'll let you read the book for yourself to find out what I mean by this.
I've been tagged by Jason 77 in the most random tagging thing I've come across yet. In fact it's so random I'm not tagging anyone else with it (you can participate without compulsion).
So here's the deal;
(1) grab the book nearest you
(2) turn to page 161
(3) find the fifth full sentence
(4) post the text of that sentence on your blog
(5) don't search for the coolest book you have, just use the nearest
(6) remember to say what the book is.
The problem for me is the nearest book to me was JH Yoder's "Body Politics". I had lent it to a friend and it had just been returned. `Problem is it ends on page 88! So what do I do now? I decided that I would choose the book directly behind me on my lowest book shelf, it's Barth's The Gottingen Dogmatics, Vol 1 (and no I've not read it yet).
on page 161 the fifth full sentence is, "This is in order".
I trust these wise words from Barth are both illuminating and edifying to you all.
Qoheleth gives the warning that, "the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body" (12:12).
If this was true back in his day then in our information age the writing of many books seems to have exploded exponentially and the desire to "keep up" can be wearying never mind the actual reading of these books!
(1) what strategies do you employ to keep up with your reading and (2) how do you do this so it's not wearying?
I came across the word fissiparousness today and thought, "now that's got to be a made up word"! But it's not, check out it's definition here, and see how many conversations you can drop it into before someone gives you some strange looks!
"the society which enters the twenty-first century is no less 'modern' than the society which entered the twentieth; the most one can say is that it is modern in a different way" - Zygmunt Bauman
I've had conversations with a number of people about how 'post-modern' Scotland is and to what extent modernity still has a grip of us.
To help give me some tools to think about this I bought Bauman's Liquid Modernity. It's a hard read, but I think his hypothesis is simple - modernity is alive and well, albeit it in a chaotic form in which individualization has brought about the "disintegration of citizenship" and thus how we relate with each other and society as a whole has been irrevocably changed.
Jim mentions that a few years back he gave up giving up thinks for Lent and instead added something.
I must confess that Lent is something that's rather new to me. I've been a Christian for 21 years but I was brought up very low church and Lent was soemthing that as a family or a church community we never did.
Inspired bu Jim's idea of adding things for Lent I'm going to do likewise. What I'm going to add is Sam Wells book Power and Passion. Who knows I may even get around to blogging about it?