Review of Ralph 124c 41+

Ralph 124C 41+Ralph 124C 41+ by Hugo (foreword by Fletcher Pratt) Gernsback
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What was the first science fiction novel? Many would say Frankenstein: The 1818 Text. But a lot of readers today think of sci-fi as being related to envisioning a future with new, exotic technologies. And if that is indeed essential to sci-fi then this book is in fact the first ever sci-fi novel. Beginning in 1911 the book started being published as a series of short stories but the author eventually brought them all together in this one book. It does have fantastic technologies–personal space travel, agricultural wonders, floating cities, and even the conquering of death.

What really caught my attention was how some technologies suggested were so distant, while other things sounded passe. The flying cars are still a long way off. But a flying taxi still had a driver, something that is not outdated yet, but will probably be in a decade.

Ultimately the book is a romance. The clear templates for masculinity and femininity are not chauvinistic or sexist (I think–but I’m a guy) and this older vision of human relationality will appeal to more conservative readers while leaving younger readers mystified. The book still reflects the naive modern confidence in human reason born of the so-called ‘Enlightenment’. Two world wars have disabused us of the falsity that science solves all our problems or that education somehow makes people good–though these myths are at the heart of that other sci-fi fairytale world, Star Trek.

Anyone interested in the history of sci-fi should read this book. It is a great book for when you cannot focus on detailed plot twists or read for lengthy periods of time. (This is my nice way of saying take with you when you take your kid to the dentist or are waiting in line at the post office.)

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Barth on Jesus Christ

A Barth quote from “The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ” by Fleming Rutledge –

“To this day, as we look around us at the self-destructive tendencies in the world that destroy good and hopeful things — from broken levees to derelict housing projects to botched aid operations to failed nation-building — we see the Lord standing in the place where the fiascoes are happening, not only in the place of those victims who are made to suffer but also and most radically in the place of the delinquents, collaborators, transgressors, and perpetrators.”

Start reading this book for free:
http://a.co/6xxECz2

Entrevista con Duane Miller

Tuve el privilegio de ser entrevistado por Moisés Cornejo sobre mi experiencia y trabajo en el Medio Oriente para el blog de la catedral. Escúchalo (todo en español).

I had the privilege of being interviewed by Moises Cornejo about my background and work in the Middle East for the cathedral blog. Check it out (all in Spanish).

The Trinity in the Qur’an

Great quote here from “What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an” by James R. White –

“We simply must insist that if its author believed Christians hold to three gods, Allah, Mary, and evidently their offspring, Jesus, then the Qur’an is the result of human effort, is marked by ignorance and error, and so is not what Muslims claim it to be.”

Start reading this book for free: http://a.co/3SSrmSv

David Roseberry interviews me for LeaderWorks

I sat down with the Rev. Canon David Roseberry some time ago for this interview, which he titled “Are Muslims really coming to faith in Christ?”

For those of you who have followed my research on this topic, you know the answer is yes. We also talk about the role of Anglican Christianity in relation to converts from Islam to Christianity.

Do also check out David’s fine website, LeaderWorks. You will find it well worth your time.

Earth Abides by George Stewart: a review

Earth AbidesEarth Abides by George R. Stewart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have a PhD in divinity, have taught and published on the Roman and Ottoman Empires, and have conducted anthropological research throughout four continents. This book challenged me in all of these areas.

Let me first say that the book is not dated. There is a certain timelessness to it that the greatest books have–I think of The Lord of the Rings and Lord of the Flies. Indeed, I kept on going back to meta-metaphor of the hammer in Earth Abides in relation to Piggy’s glasses in Lord of the Flies.

But this book touched me on a deeper level: I am like Ish. I am the kind of person who is always asking. Or as one former girlfriend asked me a long time ago: don’t you ever stop thinking? Like Ish, I cannot.

This book is set apart from other ‘end of the world’ books, like Lucifer’s Hammer or The Stand, in that it extends decades beyond the apocalypse, which in this book is a plague which eliminates very close to 100% of humanity. While those other books focus on the preservation of technology, this book gets to the primordial question: is civilization better than primitivism? Does reason, and so science, and so applied science–technology–make life better? What is progress? Is it, in fact, good?

Enjoy the audio book version I listened to. It is narrated by Jonathan Davis and he does this masterfully. The language is refreshingly clean, so let your children listen too while you’re on a trek from, say, San Antonio (where I live) to Denver (where my dad lives).

I will, in closing, note that the main character’s name is Isherwood, but he is always called ‘Ish’. It is a Hebrew word. It means ‘man’.

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