Chad Comello

libraries, culture, typewriters

Category: Religion (page 2 of 4)

DDC 270-279: Persecution junction

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 270 Christian church history
  • 271 Religious orders in church history
  • 272 Persecutions in church history
  • 273 Heresies in church history
  • 274 Christian church in Europe
  • 275 Christian church in Asia
  • 276 Christian church in Africa
  • 277 Christian church in North America
  • 278 Christian church in South America
  • 279 Christian church in other areas

As with any honest historical assessment, this section’s books take on the good, the bad, and the ugly of Christianity’s past. 272 Persecutions could fill up an entire library. But many forget that though the Catholic Church has been responsible for some pretty heinous persecution over the years, the Christian church in general were also persecuted themselves for a long time. And even though Western Christianity (and religion in general) is fairly protected from persecution, there are places in the Middle East and Asia where being a Christian can get you killed. That’s what makes books like The Irresistible Revolution (see below)—which call for radical, countercultural living—get real real fast. In whatever time or place, people who really take their faith to heart will face the consequences of it, good and bad. And that makes one hell of a story.

The Dew3:

The Irresistible Revolution: Living as An Ordinary Radical
By Shane Claiborne
Dewey: 277.3
Random Sentence: “I’m not sure the Christian Gospel always draws a crowd.”

The Habit: A History of the Clothing of Catholic Nuns
By Elizabeth Kuhns
Dewey: 271.9
Random Sentence: “Walking was to be accomplished in a calm, demure manner–hurrying was discouraged.”

The Grand Inquisitor’s Manual: A History of Terror in the Name of God
By Jonathan Kirsch
Dewey: 272.2
Random Sentence: “The old authoritarian impulse was still fully alive.”

DDC 260-269: Fred Phelps would hate this

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 260 Christian social theology
  • 261 Social theology
  • 262 Ecclesiology
  • 263 Times, places of religious observance
  • 264 Public worship
  • 265 Sacraments, other rites & acts
  • 266 Missions
  • 267 Associations for religious work
  • 268 Religious education
  • 269 Spiritual renewal

Is Christianity cool? Starting with this section through the next few, a lot of the books would give you some proof in the affirmative and in the negative. Obvious examples include the first book featured below, which explicitly asks that question, but also the books that don’t overtly make a claim yet by merely existing make a case.

Sadly, much of what people see on cable news is the worst of so-called Christian social theology, propagated for clicks and viewers but not based in the day-to-day reality of living out the biggest religion on earth. If you love history or tradition, there is a lot of interesting stuff to explore in Christianity’s past that conveniently also has 0% to do with Westboro Baptist.

The Dew3:

Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide
By Brett McCracken
Dewey: 261.1
Random Sentence: “For some pastors, this means they include references to Paris Hilton and The Hills in their sermons.”

On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century
By Jorge Bergoglio
Dewey: 261.83
Random Sentence: “Christianity condemns both Communism and wild capitalism with the same vigor.”

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity
By Keri Wyatt Kent
Dewey: 263.2
Random Sentence: “In play, we shed the shackles of schedule, efficiency, even purpose.”

DDC 250-259: Parish Administration: The Movie

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 250 Christian orders & local church
  • 251 Preaching (Homiletics)
  • 252 Texts of sermons
  • 253 Pastoral office (Pastoral theology)
  • 254 Parish government & administration
  • 255 Religious congregations & orders
  • 256 No longer used—formerly Religious societies
  • 257 No longer used—formerly Parochial schools, libraries, etc.
  • 258 No longer used—formerly Parochial medicine
  • 259 Activities of the local church

Are you ready for the explosive, blockbuster, wham-bang awesomeness that is 254 Parish government & administration? Can’t wait for a movie to be made out of books in that section. Meanwhile, I was surprised to find a lot of interesting material here. It ranged (as is evident below) from silly to sincere, with some strange mixed in too. I think it’s very important for any subculture to be able to make fun of itself, and there’s a good amount of evidence for that within Christianity, whether by current or former adherents. Of course, as a old religion it has its more rigid types, but we all need to laugh, especially when things are funny. Sounds obvious, but it’s easy to get trapped in the thinking that all sacred things must also be serious and earnest. Sometimes serious things are funny.

The Dew3:

Nuns Having Fun
By Maureen Kelly
Dewey: 255.9
Random Sentence: “Protect us, O Lord, for we are upright women–at least for now.”

Church Signs Across America
By Steve Paulson
Dewey: 254.4
Random Sentence: “A good angle to approach any problem is the ‘try’-angle.”

Strength to Love
By Martin Luther King
Dewey: 252
Random Sentence: “We can master fear through one of the supreme virtues known to man: courage.”

DDC 240-249: Ain’t your mama’s Christian writing

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 240 Christian moral & devotional theology
  • 241 Moral theology
  • 242 Devotional literature
  • 243 Evangelistic writings for individuals
  • 244 No longer used—formerly Religious fiction
  • 245 No longer used—formerly Hymnology
  • 246 Use of art in Christianity
  • 247 Church furnishings & articles
  • 248 Christian experience, practice, life
  • 249 Christian observances in family life

The thing I like about sections like this is how it surprises. Even though (or perhaps because) I grew up in the Christian world and am very familiar with its tropes, biases, and tendencies, I love when I find new things—perspectives that challenge conventional wisdom or allow for greater nuance and a rich, learning experience.

Anne Lamott (featured below) is a good example of this: though she is a Christian writer, she could hardly be more unconventional or irreverent in her approach and writing style. People who have either struggled with religiously oriented literature or written it off entirely would be pleasantly surprised by writers like her who, as the saying goes, ain’t your mama’s Christian writer. This is just one example of how Dewey, and really libraries in general, can surprise you if you take the time to browse and let serendipity be your guide.

The Dew3:

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will
By Kevin DeYoung
Dewey: 248.4
Random Sentence: “Wisdom sounds good but how does it work?”

Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith
By Anne Lamott
Dewey: 248.4
Random Sentence: “I was an out-of-control alcoholic then–but in a good way, I had thought.”

Sin Bravely: A Joyful Alternative to A Purpose-Driven Life
By Mark Ellingsen
Dewey: 248.4
Random Sentence: “Such a diminution of sin is what the American public wants.”

DDC 230-239: Fresh loaves and fishes

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 230 Christian theology
  • 231 God
  • 232 Jesus Christ & his family
  • 233 Humankind
  • 234 Salvation (Soteriology) & grace
  • 235 Spiritual beings
  • 236 Eschatology
  • 237 No longer used—formerly Future state
  • 238 Creeds & catechisms
  • 239 Apologetics & polemics

Probably because, not in spite of, Christianity’s hitherto cultural/religious hegemony in the United States specifically, it has inspired a lot of writing. Some good, some terrible, and some I’m not quite sure about. Reading Jesus (below), for example, seems to bring a new approach to the Gospels, which are arguably the most published and referenced texts in world history. At weddings, funerals, and many events in between we hear many of the same verses quoted as inspiration and encouragement, or as argument or counterargument. It’s easy to cherry-pick and plug in a verse for an occasion, but how often does it go beyond that? There’s a lot to consider if we want to get past the tired, old interpretations of religious orthodoxy, so as someone reared in the Christian world I appreciate those who try to look at Jesus and his teachings in fresh ways.

The Dew3:

Disappointment With God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud
By Philip Yancey
Dewey: 231.7
Random Sentence: “Richard does not know Mother Theresa, but he does know me.”

Reading Jesus: A Writer’s Encounter With the Gospels
By Mary Gordon
Dewey: 232
Random Sentence: “The darkness of my grandmother’s bedroom.”

The Great Divorce
By C.S. Lewis
Dewey: 236.2
Random Sentence: “‘Whisht, now!’ said my Teacher suddenly.”

DDC 220-229: Blessed is Samuel L. Jackson

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 220 Bible
  • 221 Old Testament
  • 222 Historical books of Old Testament
  • 223 Poetic books of Old Testament
  • 224 Prophetic books of Old Testament
  • 225 New Testament
  • 226 Gospels & Acts
  • 227 Epistles
  • 228 Revelation (Apocalypse)
  • 229 Apocrypha & pseudepigrapha

Regardless of how accurate it is in a given situation, deploying “Old Testament” as an intensifying adjective/adverb–i.e. “It’s about to get Old Testament up in here”–is one of my favorite things. To me in implies a righteous fury or a majestic/violent power that descends from above in order to make a plain scenario a whole lot less plain.

I guess what I mean to say is that “Old Testament” seems like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction: wide-eyed, vindictive, and not at all safe for work.

Whether it’s a fight scene in a movie or an argument with a friend, the metaphorical and rhetorical power of the Old Testament is a lot more interesting than people (religious and secular) give it credit for. Those who saw the Darren Aronofsky film Noah will understand this, as that well-worn Old Testament tale got an authentically Old Testament retelling that both does justice to the text and brings that aforementioned righteous fury to the filmmaking and the story.

What were we talking about again? Oh yeah… It is pretty evident by now that the 200s have a strong predilection toward Christianity. This is probably a remnant of the original Dewey classification of the mid-to-late 19th century, which was born in a much more faith-infused time than ours. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, since Christianity is often woefully misunderstood (or not understood at all) by its critics but also by its proponents. That’s certainly the case, too, for other major religions, so I guess the moral here is: Learn!

The Dew3:

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible
By A.J. Jacobs
Dewey: 220
Random Sentence: “The floor is exactly like a Seattle mosh pit circa 1992.”

The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible, 1611-2011
By Melvyn Bragg
Dewey: 220.52
Random Sentence: “Gravity was God’s other face.”

Water from the Well: Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah
By Anne Richardson Roiphe
Dewey: 221.922082
Random Sentence: “She must have been wrapped in regret.”

DDC 210-219: Are you there, God? It’s Melvil

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 211 Concepts of God
  • 212 Existence, attributes of God
  • 213 Creation
  • 214 Theodicy
  • 215 Science & religion
  • 216 No longer used—formerly Evil
  • 217 No longer used—formerly Prayer
  • 218 Humankind
  • 219 No longer used—formerly Analogies

Once again we’ve got a number of winning Ghosts of Dewey Past. Perhaps it’s fitting that formerly evil is in the section about God. Whether by divine intervention, miracle, or the fortuitous maneuverings of an OCLC employee, Dewey #216 is no longer the damnable hellscape of sin and evil it once was, and I for one am thankful. I was pleasantly surprised to find a quite varied field of God-related books: some that argue for the existence of God, others that aren’t so sure, and some that make a federal case out of their certitude either way. Personally, I’m more interested in the former than the latter. Doubt, like any tool, serves an important purpose in its right context, so leaving some room for it, I think, is a healthy way to look at the world.

But what do I know anyway?

The Dew3:

Einstein’s God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit
By Krista Tippett
Dewey: 215
Random Sentence: “But ‘wonder’ for St. Augustine was a religious experience that drove back to a creator.”

Divinity of Doubt: The God Question
By Vincent Bugliosi
Dewey: 211.7
Random Sentence: “I’ve said that I don’t believe Jesus was insane.”

Galileo Goes to Jail: And Other Myths About Science and Religion
Edited by Ronald Numbers
Dewey: 215
Random Sentence: “As Stark sees it, chimneys and pianos, and all the more so chemistry and physics, owe their existence to Catholics and Protestants.”

DDC 200-209: The R Word

A Teach Me How To Dewey production

This Is How We Dewey:

  • 200 Religion
  • 201 Religious mythology, general classes of religion, interreligious relations and attitudes, social theology
  • 202 Doctrines
  • 203 Public worship and other practices
  • 204 Religious experience, life, practice
  • 205 Religious ethics
  • 206 Leaders and organization
  • 207 Missions and religious education
  • 208 Sources
  • 209 Sects and reform movements

Y’all ready for this? It’s about to get contentious up in here. Religion has been and always will be a hot topic to tackle no matter where you’re from or what you believe. But the first ten-spots of the 200s is a nice way to ease into such a gargantuan topic, as it covers religion in the broadest way possible. Hence, a book about religion in Star Trek sitting comfortably near another about zen and mysticism by a Trappist monk. There’s a lot to enjoy and delve into in this section, and it’s diverse enough to appeal to many interests. That won’t necessarily be the case moving forward, so I hope you’re prepared for some spice…

The Dew3:

Religions of Star Trek
By Ross Shepard Kraemer
Dewey: 200
Random Sentence: “Is the Q Continuum Star Trek’s answer to the Force?”

Mystics and Zen Masters
By Thomas Merton
Dewey: 204.2
Random Sentence: “This pilgrimage, let us repeat it, does not end at the monastery gate.”

The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion
By Herman Wouk
Dewey: 201.65
Random Sentence: “What Dick Feynman needs is a swift kick in the arse.”

In Heavenly Peace

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

Paul beckons us to present with thanksgiving our requests to God. But he doesn’t say that by doing that those requests will be granted. The only thing Paul says we’re going to get for sure is the peace that comes from trusting that one’s desires are being heard. At that moment, whether they are eventually fulfilled isn’t the point.

And why is this holy peace called upon to guard our hearts and minds in the first place? We need only look back at the beginning of the passage. The anxiety Paul refers to, and that we all feel, is often the impetus for praying at all (at least for me). I worry, therefore I pray. Paul, and the savior he speaks on behalf of, knows that prayer contains multitudes more uses than that, but I think he gives us a pass here. He knows how hard it is to send requests to the stars without knowing if or when you’ll hear back.

Job hunters can sympathize well. When I click “Submit” on a job application, I have surrendered control over that process and am now at the mercy of someone else’s divine judgment. I worry my application for a job I’d be great at won’t even make it out of the résumé-infested swamp of the hiring manager’s inbox. I worry I’ll never stop hearing an assembly line of “no”s. I worry I’ll never get a great job again, that I’m doomed to endless days as a grocery store clerk or professional SimplyHired stalker.

But this peace offered by the Comforter is tailor-made for worriers of all kinds. No matter what compels someone to pray, God has the same reply: Message received. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back.

Gives new meaning to “sleep in heavenly peace.”

The God Of Freedom

Andrew Sullivan highlighted this post by a woman named Rachael, the daughter of Matt Slick, the founder of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM). Rachael is now an atheist, largely in response to what (at least according to her post) was a spiritually abusive upbringing at the hands of her fundamentalist father.

To sum up: For a long time, Rachael was the “perfect” Christian child. She memorized Bible verses, passionately debated esoteric theological principles, and even “spouted off” religious arguments in college philosophy classes. She was so certain of her beliefs and took solace in the strength of her intellectual prowess. But soon the arguments she would make turned into questions of her own. The one that particularly stood out: “If God was absolutely moral, and if the nature of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ surpassed space, time, and existence, then why were some things a sin in the Old Testament but not a sin in the New Testament?” She concluded that there wasn’t an answer for this:

Everyone had always explained this problem away using the principle that Jesus’ sacrifice meant we wouldn’t have to follow those ancient laws. 
But that wasn’t an answer. In fact, by the very nature of the problem, there was no possible answer that would align with Christianity.
 [Emphasis hers.]

She felt a “vast chasm” opening up in her identity, hearing a voice that said The Bible is not infallible. If it’s not infallible, you’ve been basing your life’s beliefs on the oral traditions of a Middle Eastern tribe. The Bible lied to you. “

I was no longer a Christian,” she said.

I recount her story here because I think it’s important to see how Rachael has jumped from one religious extreme to another without considering that there’s a middle ground. I’m blessed to have been reared in a positive, spiritually loving Christian home, so I can only imagine how difficult it was for Rachael to have endured such a destructive and rigid environment, and then to have her long-held and cherished assumptions smashed. In that context, I can understand why she has swung so strongly to the opposite end of the spiritual spectrum.

But I don’t think Rachael ever understood the crux of Christianity. She certainly understood it intellectually (or at least her father’s version of it), but by being so thoroughly fixated on the word of the law she seems to have ignored its spirit and its embodiment in Jesus. Reason was her idol, her “summum bonum identity” that was so easily destroyed when it came under attack.

But she has a new idol now. When asked whether she would have traded her childhood for another, Rachael said she wouldn’t:

Without that childhood, I wouldn’t understand what freedom truly is — freedom from a life centered around obedience and submission, freedom to think anything, freedom from guilt and shame, freedom from the perpetual heavy obligation to keep every thought pure. Nothing I’ve ever encountered in my life has been so breathtakingly beautiful. 

Freedom is my God now, and I love this one a thousand times more than I ever loved the last one.

This is ridiculous. Again: she has an understandably emotional aversion to the concepts of obedience, purity, and God. To her, obedience equals blindly following orders; purity equals punishing oneself for one’s humanity; and God equals a distant deity. But God is not the one who has lied about these things, and worshipping freedom is just as destructive as worshipping religion. Lord knows we Americans love to worship the god of freedom, but that also means we’re enslaved to it. We must have our guns, sugary drinks, money, land, power, sex, and so many other desirable but worthless things. We’re so subject to our whims and selfish desires that anyone trying to fight against them — a politician, pastor, or Jesus himself — is shouted down and has the Constitution thrown in his face.

I believe in freedom just as I believe in beauty, love, grace, joy, and many other blessed things in this world, but I don’t want to be enslaved to them. Only when used in tandem with obedience to their creator can they be fully realized. Since she barely mentioned Jesus in her article, I’m guessing this is why Rachael has such a perverted view of Christianity. Good things alone will never satisfy without the will to obedience towards Jesus. This true obedience — not the abusive, authoritarian kind of obedience so many erstwhile Christians like Rachael have unfortunately endured — gives us the freedom to rely upon something bigger than our fractured selves.

Despite becoming an atheist (and kind of a smug one at that), Rachael is no less religious than when she was a kid. Now, instead of worshipping words, she’s worshipping the god of her own volition. That probably feels better for her than what she had before, but it’s just as misguided.

Older posts Newer posts

© 2018 Chad Comello

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑