Tag Archives: books

On Stephen King and Steven Utley

Fantasy and Science Fiction kindly gave me a freebie copy of their upcoming October/November double issue. The most notable story is that of Stephen King, who delivers a short but touching story that isn’t scary, but strange, like a dream that may haunt you for a few days after waking up. The editor likened it to a Twilight Zone episode, which seems like a fair comparison.

The other story in the issue that struck me the most was Steven Utley’s The Sleepless Years. It reminded me in a strange way of H.P. Lovecraft at his best. Utley is a better writer than Lovecraft–he doesn’t overuse terms like “cyclopean” or “blasphemous”–but Lovecraft’s stories have a certain power because there is a fundamental loneliness behind them–which I presume reflects Lovecraft’s own life–and this can lend his tales of madness and a cruel universe a disturbing verisimilitude, like The Whisperer in Darkness.

Mr. Utley reminds me of that aspect of Lovecraft with his sad tale of a man trapped in an experiment. Just as Lovecraft’s loneliness powered his tales, to judge from the story’s dedication, Mr. Utley’s story was semi-autobiographical as well. Sounds like a man who could use a few prayers, if you have a mind to do that.

Not all the stories are sad: Mike Resnick has what can be best described as science-fiction variation of a fairy tale, where a robot scarecrow befriends a lost boy. Albert Cowdrey has a funny story of alien abduction in post-Katrina New Orleans (which is something of an alien environment itself). And I haven’t named quite half of all the issue’s offerings.

The double-issues are fun since there’s just about something for everyone–let me know what you think if you get your hands on a copy.

In Search of Catholic “To Kill a Mockingbird”

I met my wife three years ago in northern Quebec, and at the time she could barely speak English and I could barely speak French. Now that we are both proficient in each other’s language, one of the great joys of our married life has been to introduce each other to the literature of our respective languages. I will never forget the day she finished “To Kill a Mockingbird.” She fell in love that day with the English language and has explored dozens of authors since, from C.S. Lewis to J.D. Salinger to Margaret Atwood.

Now my wife is thinking of becoming Roman Catholic (she was one of the few Evangelical Baptists in Quebec when I met her). She has asked me for books to read that will give her sense of what the RC religion is all about. This has got me asking myself: what is the “To Kill a Mockingbird” of modern Catholic literature–by which I mean the most gripping, readable book that should be every newcomer’s first introduction to the RC faith? She is presently reading Ste-Therese of Lisieux’s “Story of a Soul,” which, though excellent, is not exactly Catholic 101. She is already a well-read Christian, and has basically exhausted C.S. Lewis.

Any suggestions?

Starting “The God Delusion”

I started reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins on the train going home on 23 April 2008. I plan to write a running commentary about each section. I wonder if I can really do it, especially before the book it due from the library (I’m definitely not buying it).

I will be retyping quotes from the book. All of them will be referencing the Houghton Mifflin Company 2006 copyrighted version.

Here it goes. Continue reading

WTF?! Wednesday: Delayed due to Anger

I’m posting this installment a few days later than it should be, but for good reason (There will be a few of these today). On Wednesday I had a list of things I was planning on ranting about, but then one specific message crossed my Twitter stream:

QueenofSpain OMG WTF http://www.newsweek.com/id/…

11:11 AM April 16, 2008 from web (Direct link to her Tweet)

I agree with Erin (aka QueenofSpain) on a number of things, and just seeing that was enough to rouse my interest. I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t ready. I clicked that link and I was outraged. Feel free to go read the Newsweek article “Mommy 2.0“ if you can stomach it.

Here’s the gist: Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Michael Salzhauer has a new children’s book, My Beautiful Mommy aimed at 4-7 year olds being released on Mother’s Day this year. The focus of this picture book is to help 4-7 year olds understand why Mommy would electively choose cosmetic surgery.

Continue reading

Explàrrogance and the Modified Toddler Theory

The next thing on my to-do list is to read four books in this order: (1) Your God is Too Small by J.B. Phillips, (2) The God Delusion by R. Dawkins, (3) What’s So Great About Christianity by D. D’Souza, and (4) God is Not Great by C. Hitchens. I have already listened to the debate between D’Souza and C. Hitchens and would like to see more of the nitty gritty details of the sides in order to get a better picture of the current state of popular religious affairs.

However, I have read much on the Internet about the Atheist books, and, of course, I already have an opinion on the overall subject. I just wonder if my opinion will change after I read the books. I hope you will join me along the way. Let me know if I make sense or not.

The first opinions I have are about Militant Atheist Richard Dawkins et al (hereinafter Dawkins). I have made up two terms to help me in my understanding of his and his minion’s position. The terms are explàrrogance and the Modified Toddler Theory.

First, it seems that in explaining why something exists or came to exist at a superficial, or materialistic level, he puts on arrogance that is inexplicable. That is, in his explanations of scientific causalities, he is very haughty in the confidence upon which he puts his scientific conclusions as if they were sufficient in explaining the causes. He has much explàrrogance.

Second, for one to gain the most understanding of the world, one must continue to ask how. This is the Modified Toddler Theory. Since Dawkins does not continue to ask how, but instead stops his search at superficial materialistic explanations, he doesn’t have complete explanations of anything.

To say something exists because of its evolutionary journey does not ultimately explain how it exists. Just as a toddler asks, “why, why, why” to get the best answer, a scientist must ask, “how, how, how”. Eventually, we won’t know how something came to be; we just say it is. This leads us to God who just is. However, science may not venture to the end of the how’s since this inquiry is out of the empirical domain.

Dawkins tries to say that the only required and sufficient explanations come via science. However, not even science has all the answers. It would need to rely on data outside the empirical domain of inquiry, which is not in its nature (see above post). Only in Dawkins’ explàrrogance and inaction within the Modified Toddler Theory (he doesn’t continue to ask how) can he confidently say that science killed God with his shallow explanations.