"The voice of the Alexandrian [Origen] is more like that glowing, rainless desert wind that sometimes sweeps over the Nile delta, with a thoroughly unromantic passion: pure, fiery gusts. Two names come to mind in comparison: Heraclitus and Nietzsche. For their work too is, externally, ashes and contradiction, and makes sense only because of the fire of their souls which forces their unmanageable material into a unity and, with a massive consumption of fuel, leaves behind a fiery track straight across the earth. Their passion, however, stems only from the Dionysian mystery of the world. But here, in Origen, the flame shoots out and darts upward to the mystery of the super-worldly Logos-WORD [. . .]"
But the best comments are reserved for Origen himself, as in the Epigraph where he says:
"I want to be a man of the Church. I do not want to be called by the name of some founder of a heresy, but by the name of Christ, and to bear that name which is blessed on the earth. It is my desire, in deed as in spirit, both to be and to be called a Christian.
If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and throw me away."
Truly a man of steel, too many have thrown Origen away and he needs to be reclaimed by many, many more. This book is a step in the right direction. TBTG.
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A great deal of the content of this book was provided by interviews done in the 1980's of people who worked in the mills and lived in mill communities. This oral history is both fascinating and priceless. Most of the mills have closed and the memory and history of them is becoming scarcer to find as most of the mill workers who lived during the era portrayed in this book have died.
While most of the mills have closed, central North Carolina is dotted with the communities that are remains of old mill towns. I am from this region and my mother lives in Bynum, NC, a mill town dating from the mid-19th century. Several of her neighbors were interviewed for and written about in Like a Family. The old company store still serves as a post office and the mill community's church has regular worshipers. Unfortunately the rest of the community from the mill days, including the mill itself (which closed in the early 1980's and has burned down recently), have succumbed to time and aging from the elements.
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I found the book interesting, though a little light on examples: there's one chapter devoted to historical examples of strong(er) democracy. On the other hand, the book offers some ideas about how to get there from here, how to move incrementally towards stronger democracy. The author's proposal to create the democratic foundation for a sustainable future is the major focus of the book: it would be interesting to explore in greater detail those aspects of modern culture that mitigate against popular participation, and those that might be brought into play to support it. How does the increasing homogenization of world culture, and the concomitant consumerization of the world's people (and the corresponding influence of advertising), undermine democratic participation? What trends, like the coop movement or the expanding NGO movement, help develop political participation? How can we shift the direction of the increasingly international economy and it's political implications as illustrated by the WTO, for example? What are the implications of modern communication/computer technologies, both positive and negative, on the ideas outlined here?
"Local Politics" doesn't attempt anything so grandiose. It's presents interesting ideas regarding strong democracy. I think it will be more interesting to theorists than activists, but many people might find something to chew on here.
If "names" such as Robert Costanza and Herman Daly can shift their thinking away from confrontation and toward working with non-environmentalists as collective problem-solvers, there is no end to the possibilites. Interestingly, they endorse the process of public deliberation or what Benjamin Barber calls "strong" democracy. They are dsicovering, as many of us already know, that citizens engaged in deliberation naturally tend to gravitate toward "sustainable" concepts. Hence, if we can create forums for strong democracy in our communities, pro-environmental thinking will follow.
In this manner, public deliberation can foster "principled" negotiation where all of us look for win/win solutions and treat each other with respect. Or, we can continue to confront and litigate each other and/or wait for big brother to impose a resolution. Are we, as "ordinary" citizens, up to the challenge. Prugh et al imply we are. Those of us in the "front lines" of community development know we are. Happy reading!!
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In 1988 Ann Laforest was "trying to pay back student loans," while caring for a baby of two married surgeons. Because the baby slept a lot, Laforest found ample time for reading. She began rading all of the works of Therese de Lisieux, a 19th century saint and Doctor of the Catholic Church, who is credited with the religious philosophy known as "The Little Way."
"I was deciding whether I should go back to the monastery,," Laforest recalls in a telephone interview. "The Story of a Soul, Memoirs of St. Therese", was what initially prompted Laforest, at age 20 in 1954, to enter Carmel, where the lifestyle closely resembled the Carmel of her role model. After earning her degree in human development from the Plattsburgh Unit of Empire State College, Laforest took a leave of absence to earn two master's degrees (a master of divinity in 1986 and a master in sacred theology in 1992, both from Boston University).
Laforest eventually did re-enter the monastery, but her time of soul-searching and study convinced her that the Catholic saint--young (she died at 24), female, and consumed with love for the "little people," the poor and disenfranchised--"had an urgent message" for young people today.
She recently published a book on her role model, "Therese of Lisieux: The Way to Love". It took her eight years to write, and she sent it to only three publishers`before she found success with the Catholic publisher Sheed & Ward. Laforest contends in her book that The Little Way is "nothing more than the gospel lived according to the signs of the times today." Therefore, she sees a relevant connection between St. Therese's emphasis on the "littleness" (humility before God, and denial of human greatness) and the role of liberation theology (which posits a "preferential option" for the poor by God), and such things as the abolition of slavery and discrimination. As Laforest explains in her book, there is nothing more arrogant than another human being feeling he or she has the right to "own" another.
She also sees a connection between care for the environment and the saint's Little Way. There is a violation of The Little Way "when the owner of a paper mill knowingly pollutes a river and gives no regard to the suffering caused to human beings, wildlife and plant lif," she writes. The saint placed a great emphasis on what she saw as the preeminent Christian virtue, love. St. Therese felt that the gospel had to be lived out through acts of compassion for the helpless (slaves, children) and through acts of kindness toward ordinary people. She noted that Jesus "emptied himself and took on the form of a slave." Thus, The Little Way emphasizes doing little acts that can lighten the burden for others, Laforest writes.
Laforest's book skillfully weaves strands of psychology, human development and spirituality in what is a scholarly look at the life of the saint. Indeed, the book began its life as a thesis for Laforest's second master's degree. In her phone interview, Laforest ticked off the names of those who she feels lived in accordance with St. Therese's Little Way: Catholic Worker founder Dorothy Day, as well as Oscar Romero, archbishop of El Salvador, who paid with his life in 1980 when he shifted his concern to care for the poor. His theology radically changed after the murder of a Jesuit priest friend, who was also an advocate for the poor.
Laforest earned her degree in human development because of its connection with theology. "For me the two are very related. Humanism is a way of worshiping God. You accept people and love them regardless of religious belief, recognizing the basic human goodness that all religions affirm," she says.
Laforest spends her days at the convent in prayer and work. Although the chores the sisters do can be anything from cooking, to transcribing a cardinal's talk, to sewing vestments, to providing spiritual direction, Laforest's work centers around her writing. She conducts correspondence and cotributes to the community newsletter.
"We are each only little people so we can only do little things," she says. "We hope for success, but the success is not the point. We do what little we can to promote the Kingdom of God."
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This results in a text which is extremely detailed in places, and extremely sketchy in others, apparently where Fr. Kilmartin was unable to "flesh out" the material. Some chapters were complete -- some were more outlines.
Nevertheless, this book is a wonderful discussion of both the history and the theology of the Eucharist throughout the course of Western Christian history. The medieval Eucharistic controversies are covered in detail, as are the issues surrounding the Eucharistic questions at the time of the Reformation and the Council of Trent.
Kilmartin is noteworthy here for his insistance that the task of the Church in the Third Millenium is to provide a theology of the Eucharist which is theologically sound, biblical, historic, and at the same time meaningful and relevant.
While not necessarily agreeing with every point and emphasis, nevertheless, I highly recommend this book. It represents a clarion call to authentic thought scholarship -- and to the translation of such thought scholarship to the level of the man in the pew.
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The Cat Who Covered the World tells the true of story of New York Times Foreign Correspondent (and author), Christopher Wren, as he travels around the world with the family cat in tow. Not a born cat-lover, Chris took his time warming up to Henrietta. Eventually, however, she became an integral part of the family. And when Chris was dispatched to his first overseas assignment, Henrietta was sure to tag along. This book paints a sweet picture of a man just doing his job and the cat who made it bearable for 18 years.
As for the book itself, it's cute. The writing is for the most part simple, but I did tend to get a bit confused when the author reminisces about certain political happenings in the countries he lived in. If you're not up on your foreign history, be forewarned! However, the story as a whole is good; the cat, Henrietta, is a very endearing and sweet character, and I see much of her in my own two cats; and the different countries discussed will allow the reader to do some armchair traveling of their own. I recommend this book as a quick weekend read, but I believe it was written solely for the cat lover. All others may not find it as endearing or sweet, or may not relate to the relationship between author and family pet.
Naturally there are wonderful adventures with Andrei Sakharov, diplomats, and other journalists, as well as near-death experiences and disappearances. Wren lightly describes the lore of cats in the various countries they visited, a touch of feline physiology and psychology when useful, and the more practical concerns of how to feed a kitty and procure her litter in faraway, isolated lands. This charming book is enhanced by a handful of ink and watercolor illustrations in a Chinese style by Meilo So, and would make a perfect gift for any cat lover.
Unfortunately, this book is yet another victim of publisher slovenliness and neglect: I found a taxi "weaving through Rome's narrow seats" (72), "an smiling vendor" (95), "other more more obscure meanings" (143), and "...we spared the cat the seventeen-hour flight back to Beijing and by leaving her with the young schoolteacher...." (150). The text also seems confused about whether Henrietta got lost in Cairo "more than a month" (86) or "nearly a month" (88). One cannot but regard this as yet another sign of contempt on the part of the publishing world for readers, books, and the poor author, but one can do nothing about it but complain.
As a writer for the New York Times, Christopher Wren and his family lived abroad in such widely separated cities as Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, Ottawa and Johannesburg. Accompanying them everywhere over her 18-year lifespan was Henrietta, the family feline, herself a native of New York City. Amazingly adaptable, Henrietta coped with airplane baggage holds, Nile River rats, Hadeda ibises, African ants, a People's Liberation Army veterinarian, and a scarcity of kitty litter. At the same time, she developed a taste for caviar, cockroaches, yellow fish, cabbage, prosciutto, sturgeon, herbal tea bags, and gongbao jiding.
Considering the timespan and distances covered, this book is relatively short at 200 pages. The devotion and affection that the Wren family has for their furry pal is striking, as when Chris drags a 26-pound sack of cat litter home to litterless Beijing from Hong Kong. Or the distress the family feels when Henrietta goes missing for several weeks in Cairo. Though sometimes Chris lapses into a newsreporter's matter-of-factual style, the humor and poignancy of life with Kitty in exotic places always shows through. For example, in bed after being assaulted by Soviet security goons, Chris writes:
"And then I felt something hop softly on the bed. I opened my eyes and saw Henrietta ... She liked to curl up with the children and (wife) Jaqueline, but had never seen fit to favor me with such a visit ... Then I heard her purr. I reached down and lightly caressed the soft fur along her neck. She snuggled in tighter until my sore mouth and gut no longer throbbed. There is something consoling about stoking a pet when you feel frightened and alone. For the first time, it was clear that Henrietta and I belonged together."
I've not been worked over by Red thugs. However, as I write this, my cat Trouble is perched on the back of my chair close to my neck ...purring. Yeah, I can relate.
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Far more helpful than this vacuous tome is the Worldwatch Institute series "State of the World," issued every year on selected topics edited by Lester R. Brown, with a variety of individually written well-footnoted articles, each on a specific aspect of development and its effects on the environment and people all over the earth. These volumes will remain useful for years to come, and you can get three of the latest books in the series for less than the cost of "An Introduction to Ecological Economics," which you won't want to keep after reading anyway.
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