Reading Dangerously Through the Dog Days of Summer
My year of reading dangerously continued in August and I nailed it. I carved out a good chunk of time early most mornings and took advantage of two fairly free weekends to hammer out five books. There was no cheating this month. No 100 page novellas, or finishing off a book I had started a year ago, or listening to a book on Audible. Here’s the books that kept me busy.
I was strolling through a used bookstore in town and ran across Robert P. Jones’ book The End of White Christian America. Jones is the CEO for the Public Religion Research Institute and he pieced together a fascinating sociological read. He walks through a history of Christianity in the 20th century and explains the differences between mainline Protestants and Evangelicals. Jones digs into the Evangelical take over of politics in the 80s and 90s and addresses issues that are changing the cultural dynamic of America.
In my quest to determine why people are so vitriolic and judgmental on platforms such as Facebook I picked up a copy of Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. Haidt is a moral psychologist and put together a compelling scientific case that helped me understand why I scratch my head so often at friends on Facebook or at people screaming at each other on the streets. The last words of his book are a great summary: “Morality binds and blinds. It binds us into ideological teams that fight each other as though the fate of the world depended on our side winning each battle. It blinds us to the fact that each team is composed of good people who have something important to say”.
I’ve never read much of C.S. Lewis in the past but have decided to make his works an important part of my reading dangerously plan. The more I read of Lewis’ work the more I realize that he’s simply much smarter than I am. I’ve even had to download a dictionary app on my phone to keep up with his vocabulary. My friend Anthony suggested Surprised by Joy should be next Lewis read and he was right. It’s an autobiography that details Lewis’ early years, his slide into atheism, his elusive search for Joy and his awakening to Christianity.
I also read The Captain’s Class by Sam Walker which focused on the most successful sports captains of all time and the qualities that made them great. I finished the month off by reading SPQR by Mary Beard because who doesn’t need to read 500 pages worth of Roman history.
Be on the look out for my September reads early next month.