During the presidential election cycle, American politics feeds on fomenting the public’s sense of dissatisfaction and highlighting problems that each candidate claims to be the answer for.
Unfortunately the public tends to buy into this doomsday rhetoric.
Every four years I have at least one or two friends who tell me “This is our final chance – this election will determine whether or not our nation even has a future.”
Various Christian end-times scenarios have contributed to the same pessimism about the future, so that it takes only a strange whether pattern or a report about a tragedy somewhere in the world to justify the pronouncement that “This surely proves we’re living in the end-times!”
Paul Johnson makes reading history feel like reading gossip.
I’d like to take this opportunity to recommend some good novels that have recently blessed me.
But first, a few words about my approach to reading in general.
As far as my reading habits are concerned, I’m a recovering pragmatist. That is, I used to choose which books to read based on a rational calculation of how they would benefit me, rather like someone whose eating habits are based entirely on calorie counting and health considerations. So instead of reading Paul Johnson’s enjoyable books in which history comes alive and almost feels a bit naughty (he makes history seem like gossip) I might read a boring monograph instead.
In Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows, he has a fascinating section on the difference between reading online and reading offline, which supplements some of the observations I made in my Touchstone article ‘Scripture in the Age of Google.’ The study Carr sites can be found here.
One of the things I said I would do with this new blog is to give my readers regular updates on what I’m reading. I’ll start the ball rolling by sharing something I was reading last night.
Last night I was reading Nicholas Carr’s 2008 book The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google. Having enjoyed his earlier book The Shallows, I thought it would be fun to read one of his earlier works. The Big Switch is particularly enjoyable because of all the fascinating comparisons and contrasts he makes between the rise of electrification in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and computing in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.