"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Books

Another month has come and gone. Thanksgiving last week was great!  I love that the weather has been on the warm side.

Here are the books I finished reading this month.  The last one I finished just about an hour ago. I wasn't sure if I'd finish it or not, but I did! 

Hope you all are doing well!

Lipstick Jihad
by  Azadeh Moaveni   -- I remembered seeing this review by Muslimah Media Watch back when I used to follow that blog, so when I saw this book in the library,I decided to read it. It's a memoir of a lady who grew up in California and later went to Iran where she found she was too American for some.  Here is an interview you may find interesting.; see previous post for excerpts from this book that I found interesting

The Miracle of Freedom: 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World by Chris and Ted Stewart -- I found this on the new book shelf at my local library and found it rather interesting. The authors claim freedom is not the norm and have chosen 7 historical events that they say were major "what if" moments.  Their choices range from Jerusalem not being destroyed by Assyria to the Mongols and Muslim armies not getting farther into western Europe to the Battle for Britain to the conversion of Constantine.  I enjoyed the history that I learned from this book.

Looking for Lovedu: Days and Nights in Africa
by Ann Jones -- another interesting traveling story this one focusing on the author's mission to find Lovedu and the queen who rules her people. Along the way, the reader is informed of problems with the vehicle, border crossings, corrupt officials, cranky co-travelers as well as the depths of mud, mud and more mud in Zaire!  Quite a good book. I really enjoy learning more about other areas of the world through these types of books!

Islam and Democracy: Fear of the Modern World by Fatima Mernissi -- Overall I think I liked this book although some things perplexed me.  This was written soon after the first Gulf War so it was a bit strange reading about Iraq and the Arab world's reaction back then having now gone through this other war concerning Iraq that we are trying to get out of none too soon!  The author scolded the West, the Arabs, the men. She gave me much to consider and at times I wasn't sure if she were writing tongue-in-cheek or if she were serious.  I had more than this to share, but I will refrain. But since I shared this bit on Facebook, I'll just leave it here.

"The supremacy of the West is not so much due to its military hardware as to the fact that its military bases are laboratories and its troops are brains, armies of researchers and engineers. ... The arms industry provides an enormous number of jobs in other sectors, such as electronics and communications. ... The West creates its power through military research, which forces underdeveloped countries to become passive consumers. The weakness of the Arab nations stems from the fact that they buy weapons instead of choosing to do their own research. .. The Arab states prefer to import finished technological products, especially arms, rather than train a powerful corps of scientists, which would risk destabilizing their authority from within."  -- (pgs. 43, 50)

The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel -- "A Journalist Investigates Current Attacks on the Identity of Christ" - actually the book is a bit old (published in 2007) so it's not current current, but I appreciated it just the same.  The author talked to experts about such things as other ancient documents being found that are just as credible as the four gospels, Christianity borrowing from pagan teachings and myths, the resurrection, the Church tampering with the texts and so forth. See my earlier post for more on this book

The Rapture Exposed by Barbara R. Rossing provides "The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation" as the author picks apart the theology of dispensationalists and those believing the End Times arrive with an escape plans for all true Christians and a blood bath and utter destruction for planet Earth.  The author makes her case by talking quite a bit about the Left Behind series and the dangerous way it shapes American thinking about the rest of the world and foreign policy.  She ultimately believes in the saving power of the "wonder working blood of the Lamb" which left me remembering Paul's words about overcoming evil with good.  She tells us the true message of Revelation is that God is with us through all life's tribulations and that was personified as Jesus - God in the flesh come down to dwell among humans to be with them through storms and life's trials. 

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant -- this book is like a Jewish Midrash with Dinah, the daughter of Jacob (Israel) telling her story of growing up with four mothers and eleven brothers (she never knew Benjamin in this book until much later).  I remember when Amber posted on this book ages ago and recently when someone else mentioned it,I remembered to look for it that day at the library. (It just so happened I was headed there to get new books!  For the record, Amber, at the library I went to, they had this book in Christian Fiction...haha.) 

Dudes of War by Benjamin Tupper -- curious about what soldiers do when they aren't out on a combat mission?  This book has short chapters featuring people such as Shrapnel, The Greek, Lancelot, Deathwish, Casanova,  Mr. OCD and so forth as the author tells about his experiences in Afghanistan. Read how the digital age has made it possible for our soldiers to enjoy women when there are very few women around (Afghanistan is not like Vietnam with prostitutes waiting for our soldiers' attentions; the author admits how he develops a "foot fetish" of sorts looking for pretty nail polish and high heels in a country where women are completely covered), how the soldiers compete for having the best gear, how alcohol is technically forbidden to them there, yet it's often available anyway. He briefly discusses blogging, humanitarian assistance (in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans), loving the Hazara (which made the Pashtun interpreters angry), PTSD, religion and so forth.

"The soldier does not operate in a black-and-white world, so to romanticize or demonize both miss the target.  The soldier is the fusion of Christ and Judas, the wolf and the sheep, and the aggressor and the victim. We are capable of altruism and moral failure at any given moment on any given day.   Soldiers recognize this fact perhaps better than anyone, but that doesn't mean they agree on what constitutes altruism and moral failures.  Soldiers who serve in the same army, under the same flag, and in the same uniform, will interpret their actions and justifications in starkly different ways."  (pg. 105)

Eclipse of the Sunnis by Deborah Amos -- see previous post for more information on Iraq refugees in neighboring countries

Also I found this of interest:

"Without waging war, Iran had skillfully expanded its political influence in places that before 2003 had been under Arab sway, including Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.  The Arabs - above all the Sunni powers - had lost ground everywhere. Even the radical Sunni movements, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, were increasingly dependent on Tehran. Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah were furious about Iran's growing reach into the Arab heartland but what could they do about it? The American invasion that had removed Iraq from the balance-of-power equations on the Sunni side had tilted the region towards Tehran. The Sunni powers shuddered to think of living under the embrace of Shiite mullahs with nuclear arms."   (pg. 178)

Sandstorms: Days and Nights in Arabia by Peter Theroux -- see previous post about Saudi Arabia in the 1980s for excerpts from this book

Fortunate Sons by Liel Leibovitz and Matthew Miller -- see previous post

Interesting fact: After the building of the Transcontinental Railroad groups of Chinese men dug in the Sierra Nevada. They "would come on pilgrimages to search for the graves of their fellow workers. Beneath simple wooden stakes lay bodies buried with wax-sealed bottles holding pieces of cloth inscribed with the deceased's name and native village.  These remains, thus discovered, would be exhumed and shipped back to China; in all, twenty thousand pounds of bones would make this final journey."  (pg. 102)

Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman -- Faced with a struggling marriage and a trial separation, the author heads to Mexico to live among indigenous people. Rita wasn't content to stay in the touristy spots, but went to the villages where not many - if any - foreigners travel.  She connects with people this way in Mexico and Nicaragua, later travels to Israel hoping to find some connection with "her" people (fellow Jews).  Her travels take her to the Galapagos Islands and Indonesia where she spends parts of 8 years living in Bali and traveling to the Indonesian side of New Guinea.  She also talks about her life in New Zealand, Thailand and the United States. Unlike most of the travel books I've read this year where people talked with natives for short times, this book was different in that the author often lived with native people for weeks, months or years at a time. It was a great way for me to learn more about Balinese culture and other parts of the world.  Learn more about Rita at her website.

The Early Arrival of Dreams by Rosemary Mahoney tells the story of an American woman who lived in China for a year as an English teacher back in the 1980s. It was good reading her impressions of the Chinese people, cities, food, university and so forth. Also I enjoyed reading how they interacted with her.

Naked in Baghdad by Anne Garrels -- This book is about "the Iraq war as seen by NPR's correspondent" and it includes a few months before the war started and the couple of months after. At first I was a bit bored thinking I'd heard most of this before, but I grew to really enjoy the book as the author shared about what happened on the ground once the war started, the people's reactions and such things.  Interesting tidbit:  Russian was useful to her as a second language since she didn't know Arabic and many of the Iraqis she met didn't know English.  I liked that she tried to verify which civilian neighborhoods the US bombs hit and which other reported stories were true (or not).  I was saddened to read how the US troops didn't stop the looting (except for the oil ministry *ahem*) saying they were not a police force.  Yet they had just destroyed things and left the looters to wreak havoc.  The author said the bombs were really accurate for the most part, but the ground war once the troops came to Baghdad showed how ill prepared our military was for the pandemonium of a people recently freed. She said many Iraqis feared themselves and I see why after reading of the looting plus seeing how things have turned out the last several years with the sectarian fighting.  I enjoyed the reporting on how the Iraqi people reacted to Saddam's statue coming down. 


Wafa said...

Cold or not, these posts drag me out of my cave, lol

These two books capture my heart already and will join the long list of wishlist:
-Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman

-Dudes of War by Benjamin Tupper

thanks a lot for the post my dear :)

Susanne said...

Hah! It's always good to see you out of your cave, dear! :D

Suroor said...

Interesting list!

Rebekka @ Becky's Kaleidoscope said...

I know I'm insanely let (the past month has been insane for me), but I really enjoyed your list as always :)