Monday, December 28, 2009

Watchmen

Watchmen Watchmen by Alan Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first comic book/graphic novel I've read (not sure if they're even separate genres). Talk about complex psychological characters... It was definitely a lot smarter read than I thought. I've never thought of giving much credit to the comic book genre, but it can definitely conjure up some pretty complex plots and moral dilemmas.

This was a little bloodier than I imagined, the language was fairly heavy, I was mainly irked at the frequency of the use of God's name in vain (in a book that pretty much was set in a place where God did not exist, probably juxtaposed to emphasize the absence of God), and a few sexual escapades, mostly occurring off-page. The human race is made to be inherently savage, almost nobody able to stand up for good.

Good and evil were too convoluted, though Rorschach, who seems to be the most morally strict (though somewhat deranged - though probably excusable considering the world he lived in), seems to be the one person you end up caring for the most and ends up getting blasted for wanting to do what is right (again, without any higher moral law to ascribe to, could it possibly be right?). Can good and evil be as black and white as a Rorschach test? To those who are morally inane, probably not, but being worthy of divine enlightenment, I do believe it is possible.

This definitely won't be my last comic read. I think I might take a stab at The Dark Knight next. Any other recommendations?

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Friday, December 25, 2009

The Return of the Prodigal Son

The Return of the Prodigal Son The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing insight on the parable of the Prodigal son. His doctrinal interpretation transcend any religious barriers. One of the 12 Apostles (Jeffrey Holland) referenced this book in his talk a few years back on the topic of the other (referring to the elder son) prodigal son.

His overall conclusion is that our ultimate goal in this life is not only to make our way back to the Father, but to become like Him.

"...I was prepared to accept that not only the younger son, but also the elder son would reveal to me an important aspect of my spiritual journey. For a long time the father remained 'the other,' the one who would receive me, forgive me, offer me a home, and give me peace and joy. The father was the place to return to, the goal of my journey, the final resting place. It was only gradually and often quite painfully that I came to realize that my spiritual journey would never be complete as long as the father remained an outsider...

"What I am called to make true is that whether I am the younger or the elder son, I am the son of my compassionate Father. I am an heir. No one says it more clearly than Paul when he writes: 'The Spirit himself joins with our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God. And if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, provided that we share his sufferings, so as to share his glory' [Romans 8:16-17]. Indeed, as son and heir I am to become successor. I am destined to step into my Father's place and offer to others the same compassion that he has offered me. The return to the Father is ultimately the challenge to become the Father."

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Moral Fiction

On Moral Fiction (A Harper Torchbook- TB 5069) On Moral Fiction by John Champlin Gardner Jr.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great book. I've been working on a movie review blog that comments on the moral value of movies, and Gardner's book has added a lot of value to my critical analysis process. The first part of the book was most valuable to what I needed, subtitled, "Premises on Art and Morality."

He says that all art should to some extent promote good. A few quotes from his book,
"If art destroys good, mistaking it for evil, then that art is false, an error; it requires denunciation."

"To Plato it seemed that if a poet showed a good man performing a bad act, the poet's effect was corruption of the audience's morals. Aristotle agreed with Plato's notion that some things are moral and others not; agreed, too, that art should be moral; and went on to correct Plato's error. It's the total effect of an action that's moral or immoral."

"True art...clarifies life, establishes models of human action, casts nets toward the future, carefully judges our right and wrong directions, celebrates and mourns. It does not rant. It does not sneer or giggle in the face of death, it invents prayers and weapons. It designs visions worth trying to make fact."

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Day No Pigs Would Die

A Day No Pigs Would Die A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great story. Definitely a tear jerker, very similar type of story as To Kill a Mockingbird or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with exception that it was not really a commentary on the ills of society. It was an introspective story sharing themes of hard work, a loving and trusting father/son relationship, owning up to your responsibilities. It's a quick read, so go for it.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Farenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the first part of the book better than the second half. The second part of the book was more of the philosophical ponderings of the action that took place at the beginning. I didn't think this book was so much about censorship as it was about the importance of standing up for what is right. Censorship (e.g., burning books) just happened to be what so many people failed to prevent from happening. There's also quite a commentary on the evils of the mass media and how television is damaging because it give the viewer no time to think or imagine, but forces emotions and thoughts. I'm glad I listened to it on audio tape, because I may have had a hard time finishing it.

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