While I pull the shattered pieces of my soul back together, here is a simple list. The list of first lines of books I read in October. It seems like it was a different world way back then.
To observe your mind in automatic mode, glance at the image below (Figure 1). Your experience as you look at the woman’s face seamlessly combines what we normally call seeing and intuitive thinking. As surely and quickly as you saw that the young woman’s hair is dark, you knew she is angry.
Last Sunday the host of a popular news show asked me what it meant to lose my body. The host was broadcasting from Washington, D.C., and I was seated in a remote studio on the far west side of Manhattan. A satellite closed the miles between us, but no machinery could close the gap between her world and the world for which I had been summoned to speak. When the host asked me about my body, her face faded from the screen, and was replaced by a scroll of words, written by me earlier that week.
The regular meeting of the barristers who inhabit my old Chambers in Equity Court took place, one afternoon, in an atmosphere of particular solemnity. Among those present was a character entirely new to them, a certain Luci Gribble, whom our leader, in a momentary ambition to reach the status of an ‘entrepreneur’, had taken on as Director of Marketing and Administration.
I am Uncle Sam, a proud spokesman for the United States of America. I will be your guide through our country’s history as revealed in the key documents of its past and present.
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
A man recently told me something about his faith life, as people are wont to do with ministers. He said, “I’m spiritual but not religious, and I want to give you my testimony, if you will, about why I do not attend church.”
Now, can I just vent for a minute? When I meet a teacher I don’t feel the need to tell him that I always hated math.
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Here are the titles and authors.
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
This book’s main point is that our brains are wired to do easy (fast) thinking first. We are much more susceptible to suggestion than we think we are. There are a lot of important concepts in this book. Unfortunately, I’m too sad to dig up my notes to mention more. I’m pretty sure that this is in there: if someone repeats a lie enough times, then people will believe it’s true. And hardly any of us will do the work to investigate the lie and uncover the truth.
Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
This was a difficult topic: race in America. Coates grew up in Baltimore, as did I, but in a different world. Sadly, I can’t say more about this book because I lost my notes.
Rumpole and the Primrose Path, by John Mortimer.
Rumpole left me grinning as he solves mysteries, wins (or loses) cases, and gets the better of his hapless colleagues in Equity Court.
Uncle Sam Presents The Great American Documents, Vol 1: 1620-1830, by Ruth Ashby, illustrated by Ernie Colón (graphic book).
I learned some things from this comic book. I had never thought very much about the Mayflower Compact. I just assumed that there were only pilgrims on the boat, but that wasn’t true. Only half were pilgrims, and as you can imagine, the pilgrims didn’t get along too well with the rest, who were “tradesmen, merchants, craftsmen, and their families.” Hence the need for a compact. I also didn’t remember much about the Indian Removal Act – a reprehensible part of our nation’s history, and still relevant today.
The Gospel of Mark (The Bible).
Jesus' main activities are healing, casting out demons, and defying the Pharisees and teachers of the law. There is a fair amount of eating in this gospel. There is much apocalyptic language: Jesus predicts his own death and resurrection three times, and talks about the end times. And let’s not forget raising people from the dead, and rising from the dead. Here are a couple of my favorite verses:
Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw [his friends’] faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Mark 3:35 “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
When “Spiritual But Not Religious” Is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church, by Lillian Daniel
I was almost afraid to post those cranky first lines. Because the way I feel about it is that if you are spiritual but not religious and want to talk to me about it, I’m all ears. I am interested to hear how you are (or are not) spiritual, even if it’s to discuss the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But perhaps that’s the advantage I have, in not being official clergy. This book made a lot of good points, Rev Daniel’s occasional grumpiness notwithstanding.
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The only reason I am able to post this is because I wrote it before November 8th. If you would like to reply in the comments, please keep it sympathetic. I’m devastated by the election results. Any comments telling me to get over it already will be put in the toaster oven on high for three hours.