afincher in Washington, D.C. is doing 32 things including…

read forty books in 2006

12 cheers


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afincher has written 23 entries about this goal

#21. Reflections on the Psalms

by C. S. Lewis

I have, unfortunately, a very poor memory of this book as I read large portions of it when I was quite ill. What I can recall-that is, what I’ve read over the past few days-is excellent. Lewis offers an exceedingly sophisticated account of how to read the Psalms as prefiguring Christ without going off the deep end, theologically speaking. I would definately recommend this book.

All Consuming

I did manage to heed Stacey’s suggestion and get all of my reviews, etc. posted onto All Consuming, if anyone cares.

#20. Pilgrim in the Clouds : Poems and Essays from Ming Dynasty China

Trans. and Ed. by Jonathon Chaves

I completely forgot to add this one to the list! This book was absolutely superb!

My boyfriend, Adam, takes Chinese literature with Professor Jonathon Chaves (not Cháves, but a one-syllable surname). Professor Chaves gave a reading from his book a few months ago which Adam and I had the priveledge to attend. Afterward, I “stole” Adam’s copy.

Chinese poetry is really a fancinating artform. The Chinese have none of the Western mystique about “the poet,” but all properly educated Chinese men are expected to be able to write poetry following a well-defined style. Of course, some men are more talented than others, but this casual element means that some ancient Chinese poems are remarkably funny depictions of funny scenes that happen to the poets in their daily lives. A large number of poems are written about drinking as these men sat around tipsily drinking wine.

I highly recommend this book!

#19. Apologia Pro Vita Sua

by Saint John Henry Newman

This autobiography isn’t so much the work of apologetics the title seems to promise as the story of a man’s quest for the truth. Newman was a popular leader of the Oxford Movement, a group of high-church Anglicans who emphasised the “catholicity” of the Anglican Church and Anglicanism and the “via media” (middle road) between Catholicism and Protestantism. The more he searched, however, the more he found his church in error and the Catholic Church the true keeper of Apostolic succcession and theological legitimacy. His eventual conversion caused a huge scandal. He was even charged of having secretly infiltrated the Anglican Church to convert its members to Protestantism. He wrote a pain-stakingly thorough (a little too detailed in the longest chapter) account of his story to vindicate himself: even more so, he wrote one of the most-enduring stories of Christian faith in the face of modern pluralism and skepticism.

Please consider reading this book, especially the final chapter.

#18. Resurrection

by Tolstoy

This was an absolutely fantastic novel about redemption and the ideas of Christianity put into practice. It is definately worth finishing all 500 pages!

#17. Salomé

by Oscar Wilde

This is the last of the Oscar Wilde plays in the book Laura loaned to me. It was also the strangest by far. The play is a very poetic retelling of the story of Herod’s stepdaughter, Salomé, who asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter as a special favor from the king. The text is lyrical, the play certainly adds nothing to the already-uncertain state of the characters’ motivations.

#16. An Ideal Husband

by Oscar Wilde

Well, only one play left in my borrowed copy of The Selected Plays of Oscar Wilde. I’d like to say that reaching the end saddens me more than it does, but most of Wilde’s “non-Earnest” plays seem to have the same plot:

One member of a married couple has a terrible secret he or she may or may not know, often involving an unknown parent. The secret, no matter how tedious, would ruin his or her reputation in the high society Wilde seeks to critique. A series of fortuitous events prevents discovery. The audience sees that the character society would most quickly condemn is in many ways a hero or heroine.

In An Ideal Husband, the husband-ideal because he has been placed on a metaphorical pedestal by his wife-is the one with a terrible secret. His hero is a foppish dandy who is taken seriously by no one. (I tried to explain foppish to my boyfriend last week and couldn’t do so without the word dandy… but then I couldn’t explain dandy without foppish, although seems to have the same problem.)

An entertaining read, but I could have lived happily having never read it.

#15. A Woman of No Importance

by Oscar Wilde

I continue to be disappointed by Wilde’s “non-Earnest” plays, but he is still an excellent playwright.

This particular play is a critique of the social norm that allows men to avoid consequences for their sins while women are branded for life. Not particularly funny, except in Wilde’s ever-classic discourse between skeptical and bored members of the English upper class.

#14. Lady Windemere's Fan

by Oscar Wilde

I believe this was Wilde’s first successful play. It is certainly no where near the brilliance of The Importance of Being Earnest. It seems, though, that I can give no summation without spoiling the whole thing. So, read it for yourself.

#13. The Proslogion and Gaunilo's Reply on Behalf of the Fool

by Anselm

Anselm attempts to do more briefly and concisely in the Proslogion that which he did in the Monologion, prove the logical necessity of the existence of God. He develops what has become known as “the ontological argument for the existence of God.”

Man understands that something exists greater than which cannot be thought. But anything thought would be greater if it existed both in thought and in reality. So, that than which a greater cannot be thought must exist in reality or it is not actually that than which a greater cannot be thought. And, you guessed it, God is that than which a greater cannot be thought.

Gaunilo was a fellow Benedictine monk, though no philosopher, who sought to show that philosophy and religion are poor bed fellows. He tries to disprove Anselm’s argument, not because he thinks God doesn’t exist, but because he is skeptical of Anselm’s idea, adopted from Augustine, of faith seeking understanding.

afincher has gotten 12 cheers on this goal.


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