Recent Reads–Reviews

Deciding what to read when I actually find time to read always makes my life more difficult and complicated. Just walking into a library depresses me at times. So many books, so little time.

Here are brief reviews of what I’m consuming lately.

The Summons- John Grisham

After starting this book on the way home from our mini-vacation to Kentucky, I finally finished it last night. It was good. But not good in the sense that I could barely put it down, nor good in the sense that the ending left me with warm fuzzies. It was good because: 1) John Grisham authored it and he can make a boring story interesting. 2) He explored some worthy themes such as the destructive power of money and the human tendency toward evil among others.

The plot basically goes like this: Ray Atlee, a law professor, is summoned home by his ill father, a small-town judge, to discuss his estate. Ray discovers his father, known simply as the Judge, dead in his house. Before Ray’s drug addict brother arrives, he also discovers a couple million dollars in cash stashed away in the Judge’s study. The money is not mentioned in the will, so Ray takes it without saying anything to anybody, determined to find the source of the cash. Or so thinks. Most of the book follows him trying to hide the money, being chased by mysterious people, reliving painful childhood memories of his detatched father and embarrassment of a brother, losing sleep, and in general wrecking his life to protect his loot. Yes his loot. Ray eventually realizes his attatchment to the money and his increasing dishonesty and crookedness, but he never actually admits it to the point of doing something until some rather crazy events take place and he loses the money to…someone. Read for yourself to find out. In short it is a typical Grisham story of dishonesty, greed, painful memories, bitterness, and dysfunctional families. Very depressing. So much so that by the end I wanted to either hit a couple of the characters with a bat, throw the book, or cry for the sad plight of messed up humanity. It was worthwhile nonetheless.

Love Your God With All Your Mind- J.P. Moreland

I am currently about a quarter of the way through this book and enjoying it even though it takes concentration to navigate all the arguments and reasonings. I should just buckle down and finish it before starting anything else. Must…have…discipline.

Time Magazine

1. In an article by Joe Klein entitled “Kill Your Air Conditioner” I read that 4% of America’s energy use is used for air conditioning. Not too bad we think. Try this for size.

We used an estimated 4 quadrillion British thermal units on air-conditioning in 2006, which is more than the total energy usage of all but 21 countries.

He also brings into question the fact that most Americans keep their houses cooler during the summer than in the winter. I often wondered about that myself.

2. Michael Kinsley wrote the last page essay entitled “Oil Follies”. The blurb after the title pretty well gives away his position: “Forget speculators and the Saudis. When it comes to the price of oil, we have only ourselves to blame.” Not sure if I totally agree, but his position seems to be more logical than the one adopted by most of us ignorant blame shifters…and politicians. My slogan? Be efficient-ride a bike.  

3. This quote from a mini-article caught my attention.

On June 20, NASA scientists confirmed that it Phoenix Lander had detected proof of ice below Mars’ surface, a discovery that preserves the possibility that the planet is–or was once–capable of sustaining life.

Fine and good as far as I am concerned. I just have a few questions. How can some scientists cling to this tiny shred of evidence for intelligent life on the Red Planet while denying the overwhelming evidence for an Intelligent Designer of the Earth? I guess most people see what they want to see. For the record I am not anti-science and I applaud NASA’s work; however, I do get cynical about some modern “science”.

The Night the Bear Ate Goombaw– Patrick F. McManus

I am an admitted McManus fan. I have not read much of him for awhile, but this afternoon I indulged in a few of his tales. As usual, by about the second story, he dropped a bomb that sent me into a fit of stifled laughter. Stifled so as not to awake my napping mother on the sofa. Great fun!


Personal News Bulletin: Friday evening Drea and I attended a concert presented by the participants of Allegheny College’s annual band camp. I do not have much experience with band music, but I really enjoyed the concert. Both the conductor and guest conductor were retired conductors of The United States Marine Band.

I enjoyed the annual FBCS Benefit Auction yesterday. For me the day consisted of sleeping in, eating, and shooting the breeze. I did bid on a tire pump for my bike, but quit after it soared past its retail price. Yeah what a miser. Afterwards I successfully lost two straight rounds of putting against my brother Phil, his wife Laura, and her brother Ryan. Ryan smoked both rounds by huge margins, while I came in last on the first round and second on the second round. Not exactly a Tiger Woods performance but fun and relaxing nonetheless.

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