Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Recommended Reading, Particularly on Religion

Another round-up of recent (or not) things to read. This time we have (for no particular reason) a lot of religion-related links. So it goes.

1. Religion

• "I do not want the messiah": this is a post by an orthodox Jewish blogger, talking about why she does not want the messiah to come. You sort of have to know the context, but if you do, it's bloody fascinating.

William Lobdell's story in the LA times on how being a religion reporter caused him to loose his faith has been getting a lot of comment. So far I think the most interesting post about it has been this one by Hugo Schwyzer.

• Also getting a lot of comment has been Noah Feldman's recent NYT Magazine article "Orthodox Paradox". (If you need a disclosure of the fact that Feldman and I were friendly in college -- though I haven't seen him since -- then this is it.) I won't even try to round up the extensive commentary on it, although I think that this article is representative of the Orthodox Jewish response. (Does anyone know of a comprehensive collection of links to responses? I haven't found one.) Mostly I wanted to point to what was the most interesting response piece for me, namely this one at Gene Expression.

This review essay in the Nation by Ronald Aronson on the so-called "New Atheists" (Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens) is one of the more interesting pieces on the (largely publishing) phenomenon that I've read.

• On a similar topic, this post at The Valve about Terry Eagleton's review of Dawkins is quite good; I particularly like Adam Roberts' description of the "new version of Pascal's Wager". (Dennett, by the way, has a Roberts-like, not Dawkins-like, take on this issue; that's why I think it's inaccurate to lump him in with Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens.)

2. Politics

The first step in how the Republicans plan to steal the 2008 election -- this particular step isn't even illegal, it's just stacking the deck, setting up another situation where the popular vote winner looses in the electoral college. If this doesn't scare you, than you haven't been paying attention.

Digby's always extremely good, of course. This post is just particularly good, that's all.

3. Art

A fascinating essay on SF writer Samuel R. Delany's three pornographic novels, including an aesthetic defense of the genre.

The Watchmen movie cast has been made, which presumably means that the movie is that much closer to being made. This is really, really bad news to those of us who love the comic -- actually, it's really bad news to those who love good art of any kind. It can't possibly be any good, and will simply tarnish a great book with whatever dirt rubs off due to its memetic proximity. Here's hoping that there's still time for this project to fall through.

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