Saturday, January 27, 2007

2006 Books List

I decided at the beginning of 2006 to try to keep up with the books I read during the year. Below is a list that I think must be incomplete, since I don’t believe I wrote everything down. First are the books that I read completely, followed by a second list of books that I read only in part, which could mean anything from a few paragraphs to a couple hundred pages. The fact that I only read part of a book does not imply that it was a bad book or couldn’t keep my attention (though in some cases that is true); rather, it means that, for one reason or another, I wasn’t able to complete it at the time. Sometimes I have to stop what I’m doing and read something related to a writing project I'm engaged in. Sometimes a discussion with a friend or family member prompts me to read something to be better informed on the subject. Sometimes I just pick up an old favourite and just jump into it for a random chapter or two. At times I just don’t get back to the previous book, or at least for a while.

Apart from grouping an author’s books together, these are in no particular order. Short stories are included in the second list, as they don't represent an entire book read.

What were your favourite books during the year?

Here are the books read entirely:

1. The Everlasting Man (G.K. Chesterton)
2. The Flying Inn (G.K. Chesterton)
3. Four Faultless Felons (G.K. Chesterton)
4. The Man Who Was Thursday (G.K. Chesterton) (3rd time)
5. The Club of Queer Trades (G.K. Chesterton)
6. The Man Who Knew Too Much (G.K. Chesterton)
7. Lepanto (G.K. Chesterton)
8. Wise Blood (Flannery O’Connor)
9. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
10. Wise Words: Family Stories That Bring the Proverbs to Life (Peter Leithart)
11. Against Christianity (Peter Leithart)
12. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (J.K. Rowling) (2nd time)
13. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (J.K. Rowling) (2nd time)
14. Carry On, Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse) (2nd time)
15. Very Good, Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse) (2nd time)
16. Jeeves in the Morning (P.G. Wodehouse)
17. The Magician’s Nephew (C. S. Lewis) (Can't remember how many times)
18. The Silver Chair (C.S. Lewis) (Can't remember how many times)
19. Taliessin Through Logres/The Region of the Summer Stars/Arthurian Torso (Charles Williams/C.S. Lewis)
20. War in Heaven (Charles Williams)
21. The Last Disciple (Hank Haanegraaff and Sigmund Brouwer)
22. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes (Bill Watterson)
23. Yukon Ho (Bill Watterson)
24. The Leper of St Giles
(Ellis Peters)
25. Godless: The Church of Liberalism (Ann Coulter)
26. For All the Saints? Remembering the Christian Departed (N.T. Wright)
27. More Than a Skeleton (Paul Maier)
28. Never Call Retreat: Lee and Grant: The Final Victory (Newt Gingrich/William R. Fortschen)
29. Cricket on the Hearth (Charles Dickens)
30. America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It (Mark Steyn)
31. Zeal of Thy House (Dorothy L. Sayers) (4th time)

Here are the books that were regrettably (in most cases) unfinished:

1. The Foresters: Robin and Marian (Alfred Lord Tennyson)
2. The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is (N.T. Wright)
3. The Crown and the Fire: Meditations on the Cross and the Life of the Spirit (N.T. Wright)
4. The Case for Covenant Communion (Greg Strawbridge)
5. The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism (Greg Strawbridge)
6. Paedofaith: A Primer on the Mystery of Infant Salvation and a Handbook for Covenant Parents (Rich Lusk)
7. The Federal Vision (Steve Wilkins/Garner)
8. The River/Good Country People/The Displaced Person/Wildcat/A Good Man is Hard to Find/A Temple of the Holy Ghost (from O’Connor: Collected Works, Flannery O’Connor)
9. Trinity and Reality: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (Ralph Smith)
1o. A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a Confused, etc, Christian (Brian McLaren)
11. Lee and Jackson: Confederate Chieftains (Paul D. Casdorph)
12. How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe (Thomas Cahill)
13. Lillith (George MacDonald)
14. The Wise Woman (George MacDonald)
15. The Valley of Fear (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
16. The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers (from Lord Peter: The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories, Dorothy L. Sayers) (2nd time)
17. Creed or Chaos (Dorothy L. Sayers)
18. Henry V (William Shakespeare)
19. The Return of the King (J.R.R. Tolkien)
20. Descent Into Hell (Charles Williams)
21. How Right You Are Jeeves (P.G. Wodehouse)
22. The Most of P.G. Wodehouse (P.G. Wodehouse)
23. City of God (Augustine)
24. A Reformation Debate (John Calvin, Jacopo Sadoleto)
25. The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (Charles Darwin)
26. How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture (Francis Schaeffer)
27. Knowing God (J.I. Packer)
28. Demon Possession (ed, John Warwick Montgomery)
29. More Liberty Means Less Government: Our Founders Knew This Well (Walter Williams)
30. Omnibus III: Reformation to the Present (ed, Douglas Wilson and Ty Fischer, with a contribution by Yours Truly)
31. Mother Kirk: Essays and Forays in Practical Ecclesiology (Douglas Wilson)
32. Federal Husband (Douglas Wilson)
33. My Life For Yours: A Walk Through the Christian Home (Douglas Wilson)
34. The Oxford History of Christian Worship (ed, Geoffrey Wainwright and Karen B. Westerfield Tucker)
35. From Cottage to Workstation: The Family’s Search for Social Harmony in the Industrial Age (Allan C. Carlson)
36. Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (C.S. Lewis)
37. God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (C.S. Lewis)
38. The Pilgrim’s Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity Reason and Romanticism (C.S. Lewis)
39. The Gospel According to Tolkien: Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-earth (Ralph Wood)
40. The Encyclopaedia of the Middle Ages (Norman Cantor)
41. Bullfinch’s Mythology: The Age of Chivalry (Thomas Bullfinch)
42. Piers Plowman (William Langland)
43. The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Novel Writing
44. General Washington’s Christmas Farewell: A Mount Vernon Homecoming 1783 (Stanley Weintraub)
45. Our Nation’s Archive: The History of the United States in Documents (ed, Erik Bruun and Jay Crosby)
46. The Journals of Lewis and Clark (Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, ed, Anthony Brandt)
47. The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War (Thomas J. DiLorenzo)
48. Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know About Dishonest Abe (Thomas J. DiLorenzo)
49. An Honourable Defeat: The Last Days of the Confederate Government (William C . Davis)
Theodore Roosevelt (Louis Auchincloss)
50. Southern Tales (Webb Garrison)
51. Scotland: The Story of a Nation (Magnus Magnusson)
52. Scotland: A Short History (Christopher Harvie)
53. 1314: Bannockburn (Aryeh Nusbacher)
54. Troubadour for the Lord: The Story of John Michael Talbot (Dan O’Neill)
55. In the Arena: An Autobiography (Charlton Heston)
56. The Size of Chesterton’s Catholicism (David W. Fagerberg)
57. Crossing the Threshold of Hope (John Paul II)
58. Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church (H.W. Crocker III)
59. The Blood of the Moon: The Roots of the Middle East Crisis (George Grant)
60. The Autobiography of G.K. Chesterton (G.K. Chesterton)
61. Glory and Honor: The Musical and Artistic Legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach (Gregory Wilbur)
62. Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling (Ross King)
63. Stonewall Jackson: The Black Man’s Friend (Richard G. Williams, Jr)
64. Roosevelt: Letters and Speeches (Theodore Roosevelt)
65. America: The Last Best Hope, Vol I: From the Age of Discovery to a World at War (William J. Bennett)
66. American Courage: Remarkable True Stories Exhibiting the Bravery That Has Made Our Country Great (ed, Herbert W. Warden III)
67. Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves During the Civil War (Bruce Levine)
68. Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch (Donald J. Sobol)

Friday, January 26, 2007

My Space

Not sure why, but I have a My Space page, now. I've actually had it for a while, but it didn't seem important enough to mention. However, if you'd like to check it out, you can do so by clicking the title of this post, above.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Happy 200th Birthday, General Lee

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of a man who (it should not be so difficult to say) is certainly one of the greatest Americans in history: General Robert Edward Lee. It is only difficult because our culture does not understand honour and righteousness as well as it once did. Lee was a man of almost unbelievable honour and integrity. After the war, he did, as one biography put it, more than any other American to heal the divisions between North and South.

We celebrated with our children by watching Ron Maxwell’s fine film, Gods and Generals. Focussing attention on three battles in the first two years of the War Between the States—First Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, the movie portrays the greatest military partnership of all times, that of General Lee with his ‘right arm,’ commander of the second corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, General Thomas Jonathan ‘Stonewall’ Jackson.

There are many fine moments in the film, including a heart-wrenching battle before the stone wall at Fredericksburg between two Irish regiments: one Northern, one Southern. ‘Don’t they know we’re fighting for our freedom?’ cries a Southern Irish officer, incredulous that his old countrymen could be fighting for the Yankees. ‘Didn’t they learn anything at the hands of the English?’ ‘These Irish Rebels are our countrymen,’ shouts the Northern Irish officer, even as he urges his men on in their hopeless charge. But one of the most telling moments in the film is also just before the battle of Fredericksburg, when Colonel Joshua Chamberlain of the Twentieth Maine (later to earn lasting glory for his heroic defence of Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg), speaks to his men before the battle, just as the vanguard of the Union forces are crossing the Rappahannock river into Virginia. Maxwell puts into Chamberlain’s mouth the words of Marcus Lucanas, Roman poet, chronicling the military crossing of the Rubicon (an act unlawful under Roman law) by Julius Caesar. I say it is telling, because at the same moment as this speech, the Union Army of the Potomac is also crossing a river, and invading their own country. Notice the italics, which are my own, and ask your self whether Maxwell’s intention as a screenwriter and as a director could be clearer:

In the Roman civil war, Julius Caesar knew he had to march on Rome itself, which no legion was permitted to do. Marcus Lucanus left us a chronicle of what happened. ‘How swiftly Caesar had surmounted the icy Alps, and in his mind conceived immense upheavals, coming war. When he reached the little Rubicon, clearly through the murky night appeared a mighty image of his country in distress; grief in her face, her white hair streaming from her tower-crowned head. With tresses torn and shoulders bare, she stood before him and sighing, said: “Where further do you march? Where do you take my standards, warriors? If lawfully you come, if as citizens, this far only is allowed.” Trembling struck his limbs, and weakness checked his progress, holding his feet at the river's edge. At last he speaks. “Oh, thunderer, surveying great Rome's walls from the Tarpeian rock. Oh, Phrygian, house gods of Lulus, clan and mysteries of Quirinus, who was carried off to heaven. Oh, Jupiter of Latium, seated in lofty Alba and hearths of Vesta. Oh, Rome, equal to the highest deity, favor my plans. Not with impious weapons do I pursue you. Here am I, Caesar, conqueror of land and sea, your own soldier everywhere, now too if I am permitted. The man who makes me your enemy, it is he will be the guilty one.” He broke the barriers of war and through the swollen river swiftly took his standards. When Caesar crossed the flood and reached the opposite bank from Hesperia 's forbidden fields, he took his stand and said: “Here, I abandoned peace and desecrated law. Fortune, it is you I follow. Farewell to treaties. From now on, war is our judge.”

Hail Caesar. We who are about to die salute you.'

Maxwell compares Lincoln’s armies to Caesar, unlawfully inciting war against his own countrymen, and feeble pleas of patriotism (‘O Rome, equal to the highest deity…the man who makes me your enemy, it is he will be the guilty one’) his only excuse. He tells us that the North, ‘abandoned peace and desecrated law,’ and said ‘farewell to treaties…from now on, war is our judge.’ Implicitly, the South is the 'mighty image of his country in distress,’ pleading for peace. In the movie, Southerners, like Jackson, quote Scripture, while Northerners, like Chamberlain, quote pagan (albeit beautiful) poetry. The meaning is clear enough, and the sympathies of filmmaker Maxwell (blessings upon him), equally clear (though certainly he would also sympathise with many of the fine soldiers—like Chamberlain and General Winfield Hancock, for instance— in the Union forces as well). It is a fine movie, and a fine way to celebrate the birth of one of our great national and Southern heroes, Robert E. Lee.

The War Between the States was one of the saddest, most glorious, beautiful, horrifying, tragic, noble moments in our country’s history. We are fools if we ignore its stories, or its lessons. Let this day be a reminder to us of our own history, and especially of the nobility of this great and good man.