Sunday, 11 December 2011

Some interesting books

Now I'm back from my holiday I can report I didn't watch any films but I have been doing some reading and would commend these three for your consideration.

Into the Dark - Craig Detweiler

This is a wonderfully accessible and well written book that invites the reader to journey hopefully into the dark in the hope of finding out more about themselves, others and God. Although this is a PhD thesis and a substantial work of theology, it is nevertheless a good read! The fact that Detweiler draws on such a wealth of theological sources means that this book is earthed in a series of big ideas that underpin his developing arguments.

Detweiler discusses the notions of special (Scripture) and general (everything else) revelation as means by which God may reveal himself to his creation. Detweiler holds that films present channels that make manifest God in a multiplicity of ways - if only we have eyes to see. On the back of this, Detweiler develops the idea promoted by John Wesley of prevenient grace.

The book is worth its cover price alone for the analysis of Spirited Away which to the Western viewer is as delightful as it is baffling. Many other films come in for close scrutiny as idea after idea is unpacked. The book climaxes with a wonderful exploration of the LOTR trilogy.

Don't be put off this book by the fact that it is a doctoral thesis and a work of theology. It is firmly embedded in popular culture and easy to get on with. The title comes from a 'Death Cab for Cutie' song of the same title which picks up on the song's enquiring agnosticism and offers a leap of faith into the dark that will reward.

The Good the Bad and the Multiplex - Mark Kermode

The marmite man of cinema. If you like the good Doctor, you'll love this book. There is very little in it that is new but he goes into greater detail about why multiplexes are bad news, why we should lament the demise of the projectionist, why 3D is useless and why Americans cannot cope with subtitles.

It is written in his usual gushing style and is an easy read. He illustrates his points with lots of anecdotes and stories which open up his ideas with great insight and humour.

It does what it says on the tin - go for it.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Philosophy 
- Eric Bronson, William Irwin.

This is an amazing book - I've read most of it in a couple of days. The book features a series of essays from well informed academics and commentators that explore the world of Stieg Larsson and the characters and ideas that feature in his Millenium trilogy.

The book begins in ancient Greece with a good dose of Aristotle and takes us on a tour which includes a feminist reading of Lisbeth Salander, a debate on the ethics of revenge, an exploration of Larsson's research into Nazi and right-wing activity in Sweden and across Europe and the vital question - why does Kalle Blomkvist drink all that coffee?

This book really opens up the trilogy in an invigorating and stimulating way and helps to set its fictional context firmly in the real world. I've just received the expanded 4 disc blu-ray set for my birthday and now look forward to watching them with greater anticipation. I'm not so excited by the Hollywood version due out over the holiday season!

Back to watching movies as soon as I can.

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