Thursday, July 21, 2005

Still on the theology slant, I managed to find 'Introduction to the Study of the Gospels' by B. F. Westcott published 1888. Westcott was a member of the Cambridge triumverate, a highly competent Biblical scholar he was involved in the Revised Version of the Bible.

He has a wonderful image in his preface about truth:

"The winged word leaves it trace, though the first effect may be, in the old Hebrew image, transient as the shadow of a flying bird."

I love that idea. Truth is something that has to be searched for like the shadow of a flying bird. The same could be said for all truth.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Actually I am still reading and thinking about Newman but I'm going to change the subject today to Alastair McCall Smith and 'The Sunday Philosophy Club'. I really feel like being totally scathing about this book. I am not impressed. It seems to me that the author is a philosopher who wants to encourage ordinary people to read more philosophy so he decides to write a detective novel with a philosopher in it. It doesn't work, for one thing the guy doesn't know how to write, he is much too concerned with telling the writer how brilliant he is in philosophy and what startling ideas the character has about philosophy.

I really wanted this book to be good, so perhaps it will get better. I can see all too clearly what he is trying to do.

I bought a new book today - another Pelican - 'The Wandering Scholars' by Helen Waddell. It is about wandering medieval latin poets. Slightly different! I'm looking forward to giving it a go.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

After reading Newman last night I read that Henry Tristram regarded the start of the Oxford Movement as a sermon entitled: Personal Influence, the Means of Propagating the Truth from January 22nd 1832. I thought it would be nice if I could read it and I found it online. This couple of paragraphs are very interesting, they talk about truth needing to be revered. Whilst academics merely want to treat it like sport. Just for a moment move yourself back173 years and imagine listening to this:

19. (1.) First, every part of the Truth is novel to its opponent; and seen detached from the whole, becomes an objection. It is only necessary for Reason [Note 1] to ask many questions; and, while the other party is investigating the real answer to each in detail, to claim the victory, which spectators will not be slow to award, {89} fancying (as is the manner of men) that clear and ready speech is the test of Truth. And it can choose its questions, selecting what appears most objectionable in the tenets and practices of the received system; and it will (in all probability), even unintentionally, fall upon the most difficult parts; what is on the surface being at once most conspicuous, and also farthest removed from the centre on which it depends. On the other hand, its objections will be complete in themselves from their very minuteness. Thus, for instance, men attack ceremonies and discipline of the Church, appealing to common sense, as they call it; which really means, appealing to some proposition which, though true in its own province, is nothing to the purpose in theology; or appealing to the logical accuracy of the argument, when every thing turns on the real meaning of the terms employed, which can only be understood by the religious mind.
20. (2.) Next, men who investigate in this merely intellectual way, without sufficient basis and guidance in their personal virtue, are bound by no fears or delicacy. Not only from dulness, but by preference, they select ground for the contest, which a reverent Faith wishes to keep sacred; and, while the latter is looking to its stepping, lest it commit sacrilege, they have the unembarrassed use of their eyes for the combat, and overcome, by skill and agility, one stronger than themselves.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Last night and this morning I started to read again my biography of Newman. It is interesting how a biography can reveal aspects of character that you would never have realised. I always knew Newman was awkward and shy but I had never read the account of his illness in Sicily. Newman travelled in 1833 with the Froud’s to Italy. He separated from them to travel to Sicily alone. Sicily in the 1830s must have been like Africa today with a great deal of poverty and quite dangerous healthwise. Newman fell ill with what was most probably typhoid fever. His sole companion was his Italian guide - Gennaro. Whilst Newman lay ill for three weeks, having hallucinations, almost close to death, Gennaro looked after him patiently and nursed him back to health. When they parted Gennaro asked Newman for one thing - his blue robe but Newman refused. I can’t understand how he refused the man. He paid Gennaro £10, a large sum in those days but it is startling that Gennaro saved his life and yet he wouldn’t grant him one request.

When Newman returned from Italy it was almost immediately that he started the Oxford Movement. The Oxford Movement was one of my favourite events in church history. It was a revival of sorts. A revival which involved the Anglican church reacting against government trying to reduce the importance of the church. It also stresses the idea of ‘apostolic succession’ the idea that the Bishops of the church were given authority by the apostles and that this authority was held by the Church of England.

What is interesting is the gradual drift for Newman from the Anglican church to the Roman Catholic church. This drift is caused because Newman appears to favour the Roman Catholics too much, it is his drive for the authority of the church that actually strengthens the opposition towards him and forces him into converting into Roman Catholicism. Whilst in the Roman Catholic church he causes trouble too but I didn't get time to study this at school, I am looking forward to that.

The Oxford Movement was attempt by Newman to get back to the 'True' church ie the early church. When Newman talks about truth, he means the indestructible element of faith that manages to survive no-matter what the situation or the people entrusted with the truth. Newman likes this idea that 'the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not comprehended it'. The light shines but the darkness doesn't have the ability to understand it. It needs to be taught, it only reaches the people who the truth 'allows' to understand itself. This was the idea that fascinated (and confused) me at school and this is the idea that draws me to Newman. It still confuses me!

Friday, July 08, 2005

This is a dark day for London. Forgive me but this post isn't going to be reading related. A lot of my reading has concerned the rise of terrorism and fundamentalism in the world. I feel strongly for London, especially considering our experience in Belfast. I was born during a time of bombs in Belfast, July 1972.

What we learnt in Belfast and what the world needs to learn is that terrorists can not be fought physically. They are by nature anonymous, silent threats and as someone famous once said, 'if you want to hide a leaf go to the forest' so it is with terrorists.

All efforts to fight terrorism by force will merely strengthen them. Instead we need to be cunning and analyse the situation, try to understand them. One very positive thing is to work against poverty in the world. Dialogue, though controversial, is in the end one of the only things we can do if we want to stop them.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Today I finished 'All the flowers are dying'! All 288 pages, quite amazingly in 5 days. It was a real blast. I've forgotten how good those crime fiction books can be when they really get going. Yes, at times it was a bit too violent for my tastes but overall it was a solid fascinating chilling book.

The story is about a killer who kills young boys and then deliberately frames another stranger who is then executed. This very clever criminal then comes after Matt Scudder the ex-PI that Block has written about for years.

Paedophilia is one of those topics that is almost feared today. It seems that no matter how well known or respected a person is, if he is accused of paedophilia everyone assumes his guilt. This is what happens to Preston Applewhite. Evidence is planted on him that would indicate he had killed 3 young boys. No one doubted his guilt and the police accepted the evidence quite happily, he was then executed.

Block has created a PI who thinks a great deal, prehaps too much but thankfully he hasn't turned him into a left wing sympathiser for the criminal. The book is very cleverly written and there are a couple of gut wrenching twists, completely unlike the traditional 'whodunnit' and that caught me completely by surprise (books rarely surprise me!).

I loved it and now I have moved on to McCall Smith and it seems to be more mellow and thoughtful - the main character is a middle aged female philosopher from Edinburgh. Slightly different to a recovering alcoholic in New York but still seems to be interesting.

Monday, July 04, 2005

this is a test post


Sunday, July 03, 2005

Happy Birthday to me!

I indulged myself a little bit ! I got 5 new books and 3 CDs, plus a coffee machine, an MP3 player and some other things!

'All the flowers are dying' by Lawrence Block was my number one priority. I am loving this book, I haven't read Block in a long time but this book has me hooked already. Steinbeck is facing some harsh competition.

I got the following other books:

Rubicon by Tom Holland - supposedly a new hip history of the Roman empire.

The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith - really wanted to get 44 Scotland Street but it was only available in hardback. I am very eager to get an insight into the hype about this guy. I normally prefer my crime fiction hard boiled but I've been increasingly intrigued by the number of philosophical detectives appearing recently.

Comparative Religion by A. C. Bouquet - I am a sucker for a 1950s Pelican in good condition ie I consider myself a collector. Looks interesting.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe. A classic from the 1960s, one of the eras that I really admire, especially English literature from the time. I started it this morning at 6.00 am. Looks like my sort of thing.

I am listening to the new Foo Fighters CD which is wonderful.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

p.s Tomorrow is my birthday!