“No other country houses so many gorgeous frauds and imbeciles as the United States, and in consequence no other country is so amusing. Thus my patriotism is impeccable, though perhaps not orthodox. I love my country as a small boy loves the circus.”
H.L. Mencken as Quoted in Writers to Read: Nine Names that Belong on Your Shelf by Douglas Wilson
I don’t remember being this engrossed in a book for some time. This has been a good year with a number of wonderful reads, but this one is special. And I don’t even agree with lots of it!
Here is my review: John Kaag is a philosopher, but don’t let that scare you away from his writing, at least not with this book.
American Philosophy: a Love Story is remarkable twin tour of a long abandoned library and the human heart. Kaag is a candid diagnostician of his own interior life with all its complexities and contradictions.
I’ve been reading some of Kaag’s interlocutors for some time, especially Ralph Waldo Emerson. As a Christian, I disagree with much of what Emerson wrote, but he makes me wrestle with important issues in ways that make me a better Christian…at least a better thinking Christian.
Kaag is vulnerable about his own personal struggles and path to happiness. Like Emerson, I don’t agree with Kaag’s philosophy of life, but reading about his pilgrimage to greater sanity was fascinating and time well spent.
This is a brilliantly conceived and exceedingly satisfying read. If scholars like Kaag wrote more books like this one there would be a whole lot more interest in philosophy!
I think a wonderful movie could be made from this book…at least a well-crafted documentary.
From Richard Hays:
“The Bible is just not a collection of little verses or tidbits of wisdom. When we’re reading the Gospel of Luke, for example, we’re reading a text that has a narrative shape to it. To see what’s going on in the text, you have to read the thing whole and see how the parts relate to the whole.
And the same thing applies not only to individual gospels but also, analogously, to the Bible as a whole. It has a deep and subtle narrative unity—not because unity has been superimposed by ecclesial fiat or by some clever editorial design, but because the diverse biblical witnesses bear common witness to God’s grace-filled action in the story of Israel. The emergence of the biblical writings themselves, in their complexity and diversity, is itself part of God’s mysterious “authorial” action. That’s why I believe that the Old Testament and the New have an underlying narrative unity that can be discerned only in retrospect, when we read the whole thing together.”
Actually, I refer to the similar ways their detractors speak of both candidates. And the detractors I have in mind are us Christians. By the way, I will not be voting for either, but I digress.
It is amazing to me how many Christians say if Hillary/Trump becomes president, x, y, and z terrible things WILL happen. Perhaps. But who knows the future except God, plus the history of revivals reminds us that God can do wonderful things in very dark times.
So fellow Christians here’s my message: Stop acting as if you KNOW the future. You don’t, and if you did, you might be very surprised what will occur.