Apr 20, 2010

Newest Old Book Round Up

Spring is here and that means library book sales begin! This is an important part in giving oneself a good education! You can study what you want; you can discover forgotten, excellent scholarship of decades ago; and a few bucks go a long way. Library sales are a lot of fun because I never know what I'll find among the boxes and boxes of donated, used, out-of-print books that sell for dirt cheap. Well, that used to be so. Lately, however, I've acquired so many books this way that I can no longer leave a sale with boxes or bags full of books and instead I leave with just a few or, rarely, only an armful at most. This is for two reasons. First, I have pretty much got enough good books on subjects that interest me that I really do not need a whole lot more any time soon. Second, many books at any sale are - ones I already have! There's no more for me to get! Wow!

Some of the best finds for me are books by those I consider philosophical opponents. It's important to know what statists, religionists and others believe and are up to. The best way is to get their writings, especially the ones out of print. There are a lot of these philosophical opponents and they wrote a lot of books - and I'm collecting them! Those books have had their impact on their time which in turn influenced what is happening today and what will happen in the future. They are worth knowing about in understanding the battle of ideas going on.

Here is what I acquired from a library sale this weekend. I thought I will share my finds in case anybody might be interested in any of them.

On religion:
Religion In America: An historical account of the development of American religious life (2nd ed.) by Winthrop S. Hudson (1973). This 400+ page book starts with the Puritans and ends with black theology. That's hardly what I would call progress. Anyway, I expect it should be good.

Also I obtained Vol. 3 of Mircea Eliade's A History of Religious Ideas (1985). This volume is "From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms" and I suspect this might be a textbook, but it looks like good overview of the subject matter. Old textbooks tend to be of better scholarly quality than today's, I believe.

On philosophy:
I found one book on philosophy that looks very insightful, Nicolas Berdyaev's The Origin of Russian Communism. This is a 1966 edition, the original published in 1937. It is a short book, but the chapter titles look like it should be an interesting read. Some chapters are "The Russian idea of religion and the Russian state", "Russian socialism and nihilism", "Russian 19th century literature and its predictions", and "Communism and Christianity." I intend to read this soon and I would not be surprised if it is worth reviewing.

In history:
A History of the Weimar Republic Vol. 2: From the Lacarno Conference to Hitler's Seizure of Power by Erich Eyeck (1967). I do not know much about Weimar Germany but I know enough about it to understand that there are important lessons to be learned from it. From the blurbs on the back cover I gather that Eyck was an expert authority on the subject and his book is first-rate. If so, I have to track down a copy of Volume 1.

The Movement: A History of the American New Left, 1959-1972 by Irwin Unger (1974). I knew I found a dandy when I saw that title! I am reading it now and it is very informative and revealing. This one will be in my next book review.

Turning to what is a more positive subject compared with religionists, communists, and New Leftists is Peter Gay's Voltaire's Politics: The Poet as Realist (1965). I read Gay's excellent two volume The Enlightenment: An Interpretation so I knew had to grab this. This is a history of Voltaire's political and social thinking, not presented merely in itself, but how his experiences and events shaped it. I expect I'll be enjoying and learning a lot from this book when I get to it.

John K. Galbraith's The New Industrial State (1967). I know that Galbraith is a "big name" in economics and this is an important book. Being a free-marketeer I am not likely to agree with this book, but I am curious about what Galbraith's ideas were and what their impact was.

Lastly, environmentalism:
The Ages of Gaia : A Biography of Our Living Earth by James Lovelock (1988). I think to be in a frame of mind suitable to reading a biography of the organism that we are parasites on Gaia, a.k.a. "the earth" I should first consume ample quantities of Killian's Red. Good thing this book is on the short side!

So those are my library's new additions.

And come to think of it, it is just as well that I am not buying as many books as I used to. My book cases are way overcrowded!

Apr 2, 2010

Davenport, Iowa: How Not to Eliminate Christianity

I am an atheist and I find this outrageous.

A so-called "Civil Rights Commission" of Davenport, Iowa recommended that Good Friday should be renamed "Spring Holiday" and City Administrator Craig Malin made the change official. Malin bypassed city council approval which is necessary for such a change. There was uproar from residents and the city council did not take lightly to being bypassed so it undid the name change.

The Civil Rights Commission said it recommended changing the name to better reflect the city's diversity and maintain a separation of church and state when it came to official municipal holidays.
"We merely made a recommendation that the name be changed to something other than Good Friday," said Tim Hart, the commission's chairman. "Our Constitution calls for separation of church and state. Davenport touts itself as a diverse city and given all the different types of religious and ethnic backgrounds we represent, we suggested the change."
Hart said the commission had no plans to change the name of Easter Sunday, because it fell on a weekend and government offices were already closed. The commission, he said, discussed changing Christmas, but decided enough other religions celebrate Christmas too. Hart, however, could not name one.
The Constitution does not call for church-state separation, as valid and important a principle as that is. It is consistent with the Constitution and certainly implicit. This politically correct "Civil Rights Commission" of leftist thought-police is part of the state - so what is it doing interfering in religion by renaming a religious holiday for its own political agenda of “reflecting the city‘s diversity”? Is that church-state separation, Mr. Hart? Merely recognizing what Christians call their holiday is not state support of their religion.

The Civil Rights Commission’s attempted name change is simply a thinly-disguised means to smuggle in their meaning to someone else's holiday, which is ironic because that is what Christians have done. When Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire the pagan holidays were forbidden but when the pagans persisted in celebrating Saturnalia the religious authorities renamed it “Christmas” and changed its meaning to suit themselves. What the Davenport Civil Rights Commission did is essentially the same thing.

Imagine if this commission tried renaming a Muslim holiday with a similar justification! Of course, they would not dare think that, but according to their own logic, why not? Why just single out Christianity? How does eliminating the name of this - and only this - Christian holiday reflect diversity? “Spring Holiday” reflects nothing because it is a term so vague it is meaningless. Davenport is "diverse." So what? Given that we should be color-blind, well then who cares? What does “diversity” accomplish - other than providing self-important leftist busy-bodies with a justification to pat themselves on their backs?

They considered renaming Christmas but because other religions celebrate it, they did not?

That is an early April Fool’s joke, right Mr. Hart?

The absurdity of that statement aside, Hart is saying that “diversity” means multiple religions celebrating the same holiday; one religion having an exclusive holiday is not “diversity.” Furthermore, if, for argument’s sake, it is true that “enough other religions celebrate Christmas too,” the church-state separation Hart is so concerned with that justified changing “Good Friday” to “Spring Holiday” is suddenly irrelevant! Why?

The thinly hidden agenda of these PC leftists is to stamp out Christianity. Trying to end Christianity is fine - but not through the deception of acting like that is not the goal, using improper means to do so, and when caught, offering pathetically lame excuses by donning a self-righteous "tolerance" facade. If Hart and his counterparts were held to their own standards they would be sent to "Christianity-sensitivity training."

Notice how these leftists have no substantive argument that justifies what they did. What Hart said is foolishness. Christianity should be ended, but that means through successfully arguing against it with reason and intellectual honesty. People in their own minds need to be rationally convinced that it is false and harmful and therefore to be abandoned, as other superstitions have been refuted and abandoned.

Secularists like Hart are clearly intellectually impotent and dishonest if this is all they can resort to against Christianity - a religion as irrational as any, if not more so. It is precisely people like him using this sort of tactic against religion that gives secularism a bad name.

On a final note:

City employees, beginning with local police, feared the name change would violate their union contracts with the city, which specifies Good Friday as an official municipal holiday. Employees that work city holidays are paid time and a half.
I have long said that Christianity is only good for curse words and paid holidays.

Enjoy your day if off today - goddammit!