TBR – Forcing God’s Hand: Why Millions Pray for a Quick Rapture … and Destruction of Planet Earth by Grace Halsell

The book explores the danger posed by Christian fundamentalism – a doctrine that is sweeping America. Leaders of the doctrine proclaim that God wants – even demands – that Planet Earth be destroyed in our generation. Adherents to this doctrine are said to constitute the fastest growing movement in Christianity today. Fundamentalist Evangelicals believe there will be catastrophic events on earth, some occurring already, including the turmoil in the Middle East, culminating in the Battle of Armageddon in which Christ will triumph and begin ruling the earth. At this point, they believe, non-believers will be destroyed, good Christians saved and any remaining Jews converted to Christianity. By praying for their Rapture and the End of Time, might they Force the Hand of God — to bring it about?

The book also includes CBS 60 Minutes program, Zion’s Christian Soldiers and an interview with Jerry Falwell. Grace Halsell (1923-2000) served President Lyndon Johnson as his speech writer for three years. She covered both Korea and Vietnam as a journalist and wrote for newspapers in the U.S., South America, Europe, Russia, China, Japan and the Middle East. She wrote fourteen books among them the well-received Soul Sister, Prophecy and Politics: Militant Evangelists on the Road to Nuclear War, Journey to Jerusalem and The Illegals.

A great expose’ of the strange marriage of convenience between the U.S. Christian Right and Israel. Neither likes the other- but they use one another.

This book came out in 2002, but might give context to some of the GOP’s climate change denial. Perhaps they really don’t believe it’s climate change, but God’s wrath.

Books I’ll never read #9 – THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER by Theodora Goss

I just can’t with this book.

Kirkus says: “Goss….collects characters from titans of her genre and does a little reanimation of her own.”

If classics can stand on their own, let them stand without you building on top of them. Build yours up beside them; otherwise they’ll topple over, leaving us to shift through the rubble to rebuild our culture. And other metaphors here.


The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation

Born Again Minimalist

I was in graduate school when I first heard the term “millennial.” It was at a conference. The session was about how to serve millennial students, because they have different characteristics than the Generation X students that went before them. It was here that I first started hearing things like “millennials need to be recognized for participation,” “millennials feel they are special,” “millennials are sheltered,” “millennials are likely to have helicopter parents,” and more. Society as a whole loves to hate on the millennial generation (those born between 1980-1999), calling us “special snowflakes” and sarcastically referring to us as “social justice warriors,” calling us out for “being offended by everything” and, everybody’s favorite, pointing out how very entitled we are.

Here’s the secret: We’re not.

millennial late for work.jpg

The negative opinions directed at millennials are a perfect example, on an enormous societal scale, of cultural gaslighting.

What’s Gaslighting?

Glad you asked. I learned…

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BOOK REVIEW: Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century Edited by Travis Kurowski, Wayne Miller, and Kevin Prufer

A series of essays – most published originally somewhere else. A major theme of half of them is Amazon is the devil and crushing our voices. Especially Steve Wasserman’s essay (page 57) that  says “Amazon ought no longer to be permitted to behave like a parasite that hollows out its host. A serious Justice Department investigation is past due.” When, ironically, Amazon is giving diverse voices a megaphone that traditional publishing has never given them. The essays like that were laughable.

Not saying that Amazon isn’t a capitalist monster. I’m just saying that Amazon is a better monster to root for. *Searches for Godzilla GIF*

Also, there’s lots of criticism of the “white male gatekeeper” in the industry in these essays. Which I liked, but their points failed miserably. They keep pointing out the speck in the publishing eye while missing the log in their own. For example: Daniel Jose Older’s essay talks about the response to the need of diversity saying: “No one is demanding more tokens though. We’re talking about systematic upheaval.”

Systematic upheaval. Hm. Says the man who publishes within the system. Gets his essay published in a book ABOUT the system. Also, I thought he was a fantasy writer? Why is he in a book about Literary publishing? I have questions.

Older goes on to say: “Maybe the word hasn’t been invented yet — that thing beyond diversity.” But I’m here to say that word has been invented. A word that will bring about/has brought about “systematic upheaval.” That word is self-publishing. Getting rid of traditional publishing by the root (READ: Black Authors and Self-Publishing and Self-publishing offers hope for diverse authors shut out by traditional publishers).

I didn’t hear much about the James Patterson effect on publishing — the capitalist damage he’s done — or the slimy grey area of book packagers. Those issues weren’t addressed in this book (READ: Why Literature is no longer Art and The New Vanity Publishing: Traditional Publishing).

Moving on.

Jessa Crispin’s essay on ‘The Self-Hating Book Critic’ is very interesting in its spastic coverage, yet doesn’t land on any clear answers: “So I will keep at it, never quite getting it right.” I feel you, but try harder.

Her essay’s highlights:

“I want to tell them: this world is not for you, you are better without it. Outside the gates, not in. This world was in fact, in part, designed specifically to keep you out. It does not want you. It will not nourish you.

And just because you gain entry for one fleeting moment, do not think for a second that you haven’t stomped all over the even less desirables on your way in, don’t think the system has suddenly become tolerant… More interesting would be to exist outside the walls, and learn how to raid the city [traditional publishing literary critics] for whatever you need.

Literary critics have value. And yet sitting here I cannot come up with a single name of a critic who has played some sort of role in my life…I’m struggling here. And yet surely there have been some.

…There were books that got into my hands thanks to critics, and there were books I was able to think my way through thanks to some assistance.”

OK, but maybe you’re thinking about criticism all wrong. Too much from the perspective of the New York Times. Criticism/reviews, to me, are just a part of a conversation. Conversation always has meaning. For sure, though, the ultimate criticism of literature is just another book of literature — for doesn’t all literature build upon itself — respond to itself? Good literature should. It’s pretentious to think your “art” of reviewing is equal to writing another novel. It’s not. But it does have meaning.

The essay on “The View from a University Press” by Donna Shear had a good quote on authority I might use for my library instruction-ing:

“Notice that no mention is made of ‘peer-reviewed publication,’ or reference at all to being published by university presses, as there would be in other disciplines. This is because publication with a commercial or independent press is its own recognition of the value of the work. That work has beaten out thousands of others, risen from the slush pile, and has been rewarded with publication by a major or well-respected independent press. Essentially, this stands in for peer review. And after publication, reviews and sales act to further validate the success of the work.

So, yeah, this book. Interesting conversation, but one that clearly listening to “outside” voices.

TBR – The Last Gods of Indochine

Jacquie Mouhot and Paaku the Lotus-Born are divided by six centuries but linked by a common curse. In medieval Cambodia, Paaku is an orphan whose community believes he may be a reluctant incarnation of a god, causing sectarian turmoil for the kingdom’s leaders. Meanwhile, in 1921, Jacquie follows the footsteps of her grandfather, a famous explorer, to Indochina, where she becomes immersed in the tragedy of Paaku’s history: a story simultaneously unfolding in the intertwined present and past, a story in which she still has a vital role to play.

“Reluctant Incarnation…” Dude, I’ll do it if you don’t want to.

View on Amazon.

TBR – Children’s book: The Mouse and the Carpenter

A story in rhyme for young and old

About coexistence, rare to behold.

If a mouse and a carpenter can live together,

Without making a fuss –

Maybe there’s hope for all of us!

The book “The Mouse and the Carpenter“ tells the wonderful story of a mouse that goes out into the world and finds himself in a pickle with a carpenter, all up to the peaceful ending where they realize there is room for both a mouse and a man.

The book is accompanied by beautiful illustrations.

This is Shabtay Benny’s first book, which began in his old carpentry shop and seeks to enter the hearts of children.

Of mice and men, again.

View on Amazon.

TBR – The Year of Uh by Jud Widing

For the first time in their lives, nineteen year-old Nur De Dernberg and her younger sister Deirdre are leaving Seychelles, Africa. They’ve come to Boston for a year, but not to party with the college kids – they’re here to learn English. Nur, trapped by her inability to speak the language and her sister’s inability to speak in anything other than clipped wisecracks, finds herself in a strange country with nobody to talk to; she is dreadfully, existentially alone.

Until, that is, she goes to language class and meets Hyun-Woo. Despite sharing no common language, Nur feels something distinctly spark-like between them. Thus commences an awkward courtship…maybe? Is it a courtship? Does he feel for her the way she feels for him? Does he know how she feels? Then again, does she? Nur is beset by questions that would be easy to ask, if only she had the words. Those words are coming slowly, though, while her feelings for Hyun-Woo are thundering along at a more breakneck pace.

This sounds uhhhh-mazing.

View on Goodreads.

TBR – Clio – the Cat Who Loved to Eat by Helena Chashka

Clio, a mischievous cat who loved to eat, attached himself to the yard of the Bar-Giora family who lived in the village Nitzan.

Uri, the father as well as the children fell in love with the cat at first sight, whereas Rivka, the mother made it clear from the outset that she did not like cats. The members of the village were not very fond of Clio and were rather angry at her, because she was insolent and disrespectful.

The tale of Clio – The Cat That Loved to Eat, which happened (nearly) in real life, are told in song and poem form.

There is a gift inside this book: Clio’s coloring book

I, too, like to eat. I also like cats.

View on Amazon.