I am doing extended reading summaries on two terrific books on American history.
I am a Protestant of catholic (small c) and evangelical sensibilities. Even with potential disagreements in reading a book by Roman Catholic authors, I found myself in wide agreement.
A Mind at Peace is a short, thoughtful, accessible, and winsome book. The authors wear their learning lightly, but the reader is well aware that they have done their homework.
As the title suggests, this book is about helping us have a posture of peace. The authors do a good job of showing that technology is lethal to this kind of peace. Neither of the authors are Luddites, but they are keenly aware of the disastrous effects that constant access to computers and smart phones has wrought.
My only slight disagreement may reside with Blum and Hochschild’s more favorable take on Stoicism. They don’t say much about it, but my perception is that we may disagree some on whether some aspects of Stoicism can be of use to the Christian.
Four out of five stars
In his book, he relates an entertaining anecdote from the airline industry. A baggage handler broke a musician’s $3,000 guitar, and the musician spent nine months working through the airline’s labyrinthine phone system to no avail. Finally he wrote a song about it, put it on YouTube and got more than 1 million views. The airline’s stock price fell 10 percent, costing shareholders more than $180 million, roughly 60,000 times the value of the original guitar.
When I spoke at Wheaton College I paid a visit to the Wade collection. It houses collections from the libraries of C.S. Lewis and many others. I asked to see a few of the books that were in the library of C.S. Lewis. The curator made the decision, but to my delight she brought up a copy of one of my favorites: Paradise Lost by Milton. I could not believe how many notes Lewis made in the margins, all in his meticulous penmanship. Unfortunately, I was not allowed to take a picture.
The picture you see is a Latin text where you can see the written notes of Lewis at the bottom in both Latin and Greek.
Lesson learned: If a scholar like Lewis finds it helpful to write in books, what does that mean for the rest of us?!
Picture: HT Timothy Willard’s Instagram account
My own reflection on this important piece by Alan Jacobs:
For many years, I’ve tried to address the problem through teaching the Bible and theology. I still do so, but I am now convinced that though biblical/theological illiteracy is still a big problem with so-called evangelicals, historical ignorance is equally eating our lunch.