Thursday, November 27, 2014

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Took this pic at my favorite Starbucks last night. It's interesting.
Have a great Thursday!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Authors, on God

I have a current theory that is making its way across the circuits of my brain, repeatedly, and it goes something like this:
The more intelligent a person is, or becomes, the less will be the tendency to believe in God.
It is my own learning and mind-expansion that has caused me to become less and less convinced of the existence of God -- at least as portrayed in the Bible. Having spent many years as a fundamentalist Christian, I think I have a fair understanding of what faith is. But I have concluded that it cannot be synonymous with reason.
And I like reading. I have always loved reading. So it interests me to discover, in my half century of life -- that most writers, the authors I have grown to love and admire - they almost unanimously are not people of faith. The discovery feels sort of like joining a new congregation. The Bible speaks of the value of not being ashamed of one's faith. In fact, it advocates laying your head down on the chopping block for it. Nowadays, I am more likely to proclaim that I am not ashamed of REASON, and leave the business of decapitations to, you know -- over-zealous religious groups! If you don't know what I mean, watch the news.
Anyhoo -- the videoclip below contains little snippets from authors you and I know and love. 

None of them believe in God. 
For what it's worth, the remarks I found that most resonated with me were those of Isaac Asimov, Jose Saramago, Ian McEwan, and Diana Athill. And then of course, Christopher Hitchens jumps on in there at the end to seal the lid on the thing. The entire clip is 25 minutes long, and worth watching.
Here is a list of the authors, in order of appearance:

1. Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Science Fiction Writer
2. Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Laureate in Literature
3. Professor Isaac Asimov, Author and Biochemist
4. Arthur Miller, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright
5. Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate in Literature
6. Gore Vidal, Award-Winning Novelist and Political Activist
7. Douglas Adams, Best-Selling Science Fiction Writer
8. Professor Germaine Greer, Writer and Feminist
9. Iain Banks, Best-Selling Fiction Writer
10. José Saramago, Nobel Laureate in Literature
11. Sir Terry Pratchett, NYT Best-Selling Novelist
12. Ken Follett, NYT Best-Selling Author
13. Ian McEwan, Man Booker Prize-Winning Novelist
14. Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate (1999-2009)
15. Professor Martin Amis, Award-Winning Novelist
16. Michel Houellebecq, Goncourt Prize-Winning French Novelist
17. Philip Roth, Man Booker Prize-Winning Novelist
18. Margaret Atwood, Booker Prize-Winning Author and Poet
19. Sir Salman Rushdie, Booker Prize-Winning Novelist
20. Norman MacCaig, Renowned Scottish Poet
21. Phillip Pullman, Best-Selling British Author
22. Dr Matt Ridley, Award-Winning Science Writer
23. Harold Pinter, Nobel Laureate in Literature
24. Howard Brenton, Award-Winning English Playwright
25. Tariq Ali, Award-Winning Writer and Filmmaker
26. Theodore Dalrymple, English Writer and Psychiatrist
27. Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-Winning Novelist
28. Redmond O'Hanlon FRSL, British Writer and Scholar
29. Diana Athill, Award-Winning Author and Literary Editor
30. Christopher Hitchens, Best-Selling Author, Award-Winning Columnist 


I would be interested, in the comments section, to hear your opinion on my premise statement, above:
The more intelligent a person is, or becomes, the less will be the tendency to believe in God.
Do you agree that this is true? If not, please elucidate a bit on how intelligence and reason leads us to a belief in God.
And then watch the news again.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Splash du Jour: Monday

Were I called on to define, very briefly, the term Art, I should call it 'the reproduction of what the Senses perceive in Nature through the veil of the soul.' The mere imitation, however accurate, of what is in Nature, entitles no man to the sacred name of 'Artist.'
-- Edgar Allen Poe --

Have a great Monday!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Catholicism, I discovered, was a type of Christianity for humans who like gold leaf, Latin and guilt.
-- Matt Haig, The Humans --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

I'm passing this on because it worked for me today. A well known doctor on TV said to have inner peace we should always finish things we start and we all could use more calm in our lives.
I looked around my house to find things I'd started & hadn't finished, so I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, tha mainder of Valiuminun scriptins, an a box a chocletz. Yu haf no idr how fablus I feel rite now. Sned this to all who need inner piss. An telum u luvum.

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Children Act

I recently read my tenth Ian McEwan novel -- so I can speak with a bit of authority when I say he is an author that elicits a wide range of opinion, among readers. Often I have heard him called "hit and miss", and I've used the phrase myself. But with The Children Act, honestly, I could hardly put the book down once I started it. I love the way this thing is structured, and the story is a fascinating one. It's written in third person, but feels like a first person narrative because of its tight focus on the central character, a High Court judge named Fiona Maye. Everything is seen through her eyes. She presides over very high profile cases in the Family Court section of England's legal system. For instance, at one point she rules upon the separation of Siamese twins. But most of her cases fall along the lines of marital disputes, parental rights, etc. Divorce wranglings. He-saids, she-saids [or more correctly] he-wants, she-wants. 
Her sixty-year old husband announces that he wants to have one last fling with a college sweetheart [who is like… still in college]. She's one of his students. Fiona is outraged, and her own marriage now tends to resemble some of the predicaments she sees in her courtroom.
She begins this battle of juggling her professional career with her own marital woes just as a new case arrives upon the scene. It involves a boy three months shy of eighteen, suffering from leukemia and in need of a blood transfusion. His parents are Jehovah's Witnesses, and feel that it is a violation of scriptural principles to accept blood into the body of their son, Adam. And Adam agrees.
Fiona, prior to giving her ruling, is suspicious that Adam's impending martyrdom is possibly a result of parental coercion rather than based upon a true understanding of what he is facing. And time is running out. As a result, she makes the unprecedented decision to visit Adam in the hospital.
The rest -- I will not say. You must read the book, if you haven't done so yet.
It is brilliant.
The Children Act is an example of Ian McEwan hitting the mark, as he does in the majority of his other novels, as well. So… don't listen to any naysayers. Trust me. It's 221 pages of time well spent.


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Splash du Jour: Monday

We human beings build houses because we're alive, but we write books because we're mortal. We live in groups because we're sociable, but we read because we know we're alone. Reading offers a kind of companionship that takes no one's place, but that no one can replace either. It offers no definitive explanation of our destiny, but links us extricably to life. Its tiny secret links remind us how paradoxically happy we are to be alive, while illuminating how tragically absurd life is. So our reasons for reading are as strange as our reasons for living. And no one has the right to call that intimacy to account.
-- Daniel Pennac, The Rights of the Reader --

Have a great Monday!

Friday, November 07, 2014

You Know You're A Book Addict When...

… you use your last remaining vacation day of the year to attend a used booksale!
That's what I did today. I had one more work-free day for the year 2014, so i "booked" it off specifically to be able to give my full attention -- early in the morning -- to the Annual Rockcliffe Bookfair. There I was standing outside in the freezing cold with the other shivering lunatics this morning, waiting for the doors to open.
I sort of placed a restriction on myself though -- I brought along this orange shopping bag and committed myself to not exceeding its capacity, unlike other years where I fill an empty refrigerator box and then find I cannot move the thing to the car! This year I brought it down to about 30 books, all strategically crammed into this bag. Great books. Terrific books. And the whole shmeer only cost me $60.00. Now, back at my apartment I have a new dilemma. Nowhere to PUT them all! 

I've run out of shelves. Which is, by the way, the second sign that you're a book addict!