Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Book Review: Red Mars

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson 
1993 Nebula Award Winner for Best Novel

Hold on for a second while I catch my breath.


Okay, thanks. Well, I finally arrived at the end of Red Mars and has it ever been a journey. I can't even remember when I started the book, but I know I've been reading it for a long time. Reading Red Mars has been, really, quite an exhausting effort. The book is long, heavy and slow, but also rich with character, sociology and science (real science). Usually, when I actually picked up the book and read it I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but I never felt like reading it when I wasn't. Because of this, I spent a great deal of time reading other books while I crawled through this one.

Robinson's work has been called "literary science fiction" and it's easy to see why, he deals well with the issue.  In many ways, modern science fiction has a lot of similarities to Victorian literature, and Robinson embodies this to the fullest in its obsession with detail, its desire to portray a whole society, and its interest in the effect of environment on the individual and vice versa. Indeed, Robinson's long and detailed descriptions of the Martian landscape reminded me very much of George Elliot's description of the English countryside in The Mill on the Floss.

There was a long stretch of time where I wasn't sure if I liked this book. The pace is plodding and most of the characters are not very likable. Also, this piece is hard science fiction in the truest sense of the term and can get bogged down in technical details (there's even a section where Robinson has a chart showing the Martian calendar). Still, on the whole his portrayal of the science is effective and not boring, and it helps to ground the story. Also, the above-mentioned descriptions of Mars really help to make the setting come alive, and really portray the wonder and the alien nature of the planet. While Robinson takes a long time to get things moving, this allow him to make a convincing portrait of a human society developing on Mars, and the ultimate payoff is worth it (unlike, for example, the payoff in Dune). 

Still, the book is not perfect and I really wish there were more characters I liked. Perhaps it's a weakness of mine, but I really have trouble with fiction that lacks people I can admire (this was the problem I had with the new Battlestar Galactica). I'm also not a fan of the fact that the only Christian character in the book is a particularly nasty person, and it is too some extent stated that this is because of her beliefs. Of course, bad Christian beliefs can lead to nasty people, and the belief that this is the cause of her nastiness is in the mind of someone with a bias, so the writer is not necessarily portraying this as cold hard fact. Particularly painful was the discussion early on in which the Christian character and an atheist have an argument about the merits of faith and the Christian's retort is a pathetic straw man. I also have a distaste for the sexual morality of the characters. Of course, many people have this kind of morality, but, as I've said before, I tire of it being the norm in all of the fiction I like.

Ultimately, Red Mars is a very solid book and a worthwhile read for those who like science and sociology, and who have an unusual amount of patience.

Book Review: The Spirit of the Disciplines

The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard is one of the towering geniuses in modern day theology, and his recovery of the importance of discipleship in the Christian faith is of monumental importance to the modern church. The Spirit of the Disciplines outlines Willard's argument for the importance of disciplines in spiritual formation and is an absolute must read for those serious about becoming Christ-like.

Willard's book is a clear, well-reasoned discussion of the Christian hope, the importance of the disciplines to that hope, followed with analysis of the nature and purpose of the major historical disciplines. This is not, however, an outline of the actual practice of the disciplines, for that Willard recommends the reading of Richard Foster's Celebration of the Disciplines.

I actually read most of the book some time ago, but because of starting school I had not finished the last few chapters and it's actually the last two chapters constitute some of the few flaws in this work, though for their placement rather than their content. The last chapter considers the power structures of this world, and I think it should have been part of the introduction to the book, while the second to last chapter concerns poverty and feels like it should be an appendix to the book, as it doesn't really flow with the main discussion.

Finally, while I do agree with Willard about the immense importance of the disciplines, I think he gives a bit too much credit to what they can accomplish. That is to say, while I think the disciplines are of immense importance in creating follows of Christ who live their lives in the presence of the Kingdom, he seems to imply that implementing them would by itself actually bring about the full and final ushering in of God's Kingdom and the return of Christ. I actually doubt that this is what Willard himself believes, but it is what comes across in the final chapter of the book.

So, while I've been saying this about a lot of books lately, I recommend that every Christian serious about their faith should read and understand this book.

Politics: The Problem with Liberalism

A common criticism of conservatives is that they are paternalists, trying to make the world in their image by the sheer force of government power. Really though, it's far more often so-called-liberalism that brings about bigger government and reduction of freedoms in search of a dreamed of Utopia. One needs look no further than hate speech laws to see a vivid example of this.

Of course, in recent years conservatives have taken to trying to do the same thing. This whole business makes me angry. It makes me angry because I believe in liberty and it makes me angry because it doesn't work. We cannot make people moral by sheer force of law, morality is a matter of will. We cannot make utopia in a world as broken as the one we live in. We must strive for a better world, but with a realistic hope. The bloody utopian experiments of the last century should have shown us this. Ultimately, when we try and increase the powers of government to wield it for good, those powers end up in the hands of evil men (or corporation) who take advantage of the new power to increase oppression and injustice in this world.

The purpose of law, fundamentally, is to create a scaffold for society. Laws are moral, but they should consist of the bare bones necessary for maintaining order and civility. Laws, in other words, hold back anarchy just enough so that men can be moral and still survive.

Liturgy: Introduction to the Calendar

I grew up in the Assemblies of God church, a charismatic denomination within the evangelical protestant tradition. While I have never agreed with all of AoG theology, I value it as a genuine expression of faith in Christ.

My own journey, however, has taken me in a different direction, as I have in recent years found myself enamored of the forms of worship and spiritual development embodied in the Anglican Church. Among these expressions is the high church concept of a Liturgical or Church Calendar, which structures the years and months around a rhythm of faith. These include seasons of faith (the most famous of which being Lent) as well as numerous feast days celebrating important events and people in the history of the Christian faith. Used properly, the Liturgical Calendar is a wonderful way of focusing the mind on important areas of faith and creating a pattern of discipline towards spiritual formation.

As I explore Anglican worship, I hope to share with you what I learn along the way. As part of this, I plan to post up reflections on the Liturgical Calendar as the seasons and interesting feast days come along.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Film Review: The Happening

I didn't plan to see this movie. Don't get me wrong, I'm actually a pretty big fan of M. Night Shyamalan, but general bad reviews, a spoiler and the lameness of Lady in the Water pushed me away from it. But, you know what they say about the best laid plans... my friend and I were house sitting for one of his neighbors last week, and The Happening was on TV. My friend watched it, so I watched it, and I'm sad to say it was as bad, or worse, than I'd heard. I should note that I didn't see the entire movie, I missed a good junk of the beginning, but I can't imagine that it would add much to the film. I just have a few things to say about this film:

> Shymalan seems to be trying to do with his menace what Alfred Hitchcock did with birds in The Birds, but despite what he may think, he's no Hitchcock.
> The makers of this movie don't understand evolution... or science for that matter
> The plot of this movie is stupid, and the script terrible
> Zooey Deschanel is cute

That is all.

Misc: Octoseussmobile Celebrity

The Octoseussmobile is now a celebrity. It appeared recently on an episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, staring alongside Megan Fox. The weird bike billed on the show as a "conference bike", and you can check it out here on Hulu (it appears at about 9:15). Enjoy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book Review: Christianity Beyond Belief

Christianity Beyond Belief: Following Jesus For the Sake of Others by Todd Hunter

We’ve all heard the message, it says that we’re sinners separated from God, in desperate need of grace. Thankfully, Jesus came and died and through Him we can have forgiveness and go to heaven when we die, if only we accept him into our hearts. Questions hang in the air, however, why do we stay here? Why the incarnation? What are we saved for? The answer, really, is that this is an anemic view of the gospel (so too, really, is the so called “Social Gospel,” but for other reasons). It is these questions, and a deeper view of the gospel, that are addressed in Todd Hunter’s Christianity Beyond Belief: Following Jesus for the Sake of Others.

Fundamentally, what Todd develops is a theology of coming to orthodoxy as a result of a life lived in an environment of spiritual formation. Throughout the work, Todd draws heavily on the work of Dallas Willard and N.T. Wright, which naturally sets the theology on very solid ground. He advocates, as any good Christian theology should, the making of disciples who live their lives for the sake of others and thereby usher in the presence of God’s Kingdom in the here and now.

Todd also understands the importance of imagination and story in the shaping our lives, and he emphasizes the importance of understanding the true story of the gospel if we are to really live the lives Christ calls us to live. This understanding, coupled with a deep awareness of the love and grace of God, means that Todd firmly avoids the pitfalls of guilt-ridden legalism that believers all too often fall into, but still maintains that there is something more to Christianity than mere intellectual agreement to right doctrine. As he himself has said, “Anything you can do with guilt, you can do better without it.”

There were a few places were Todd’s theology seemed to come uncomfortably close to that of the emergent church. Really, that’s only natural as part of what he’s seeking to do is to address the needs of the postmodern generation, which is the same thing the emergent church has sought to do. I think, however, that Todd does it better, because he meets the postmodern where it is, but he does it without losing the anchoring of tradition and orthodoxy.

If I had one complaint about the book, it would be the prevalent use of The Message paraphrase of scripture. I respect Eugene Peterson and the intention behind The Message, but as a writer I find the loss of poetry in that version frustration. This is, however, only and aesthetic complaint and it in no way dampens the important of the message of this book.

Ultimately, Christianity Beyond Belief is a fantastic book that paints a clear, graceful picture of the Gospel and the vibrant promise of life promised by Christ. I recommend that Christians pick up this book and soak in Todd’s expression of the vision of the Gospel. Also, at the risk of repeating myself too much, if you’re in the Orange County area and looking for a church, I strongly suggest you check out Holy Trinity, the church Todd Hunter is launching in Costa mesa at the end of September.

Film Review: District 9

Because of the awesome road trip I went on in August, I’m a little late getting to see this movie, so most people will already have heard plenty about it by now. Because of this, my review will be brief. Essentially, District 9 is a story about alien refugees who have been forced into in a ghetto in Johannesburg, South Africa, where they are subject to deplorable conditions and vicious racism (obvious message is obvious… and rather late). The aliens are about to be relocated to a new ghetto, and the main character has been tasked with heading up this operation. Things, of course, don’t go according to plan and something terrible happens to the character that places him into a pivotal role in events that could change everything.

District 9 is a pretty good science fiction movie that seeks to portray the horrors of racism, mercenary corporations and weapons dealers. The plot and setting are interesting and the film is well directed, unfortunately I had trouble enjoying a lot of the movie because the main character is a spineless prick. Furthermore, the film also degenerates into a rather typical action climax. I can’t say more regarding the character and finale without spoiling the end, but the way things work out did much to redeem the movie in my eyes.

A friend of mine told me that the aliens in this film were well portrayed as truly alien, but I didn’t really see this. To me they still seemed like humans who happened to look different (and who have an odd addiction, but that’s an old trick and not particularly inspired).

If you like science fiction and haven’t seen this movie yet, you should probably check it out, but I’d wait till it comes out on DVD. Also, be warned that there’s quite a bit of harsh language and gore throughout.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Life/Theology: Todd Hunter and Holy Trinity

Through the Holy Trinity Website I found this article. It's titled "The Accidental Anglican" and is about Todd Hunter's journey and his vision for Holy Trinity and Churches for the Sake of Others. I can emphasize enough how excited I am about what he's doing, and how powerful this movement and the people involved in it are. Again, if you're in the Orange County area and are looking for a church home, I strongly suggest you check out Holy Trinity.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Theology: Greed

Earlier, I posted on my Facebook a link to this blog post, and I shortly afterward received a message from a friend calling the contact of that blog as "junk". Now, let me first say that this friend of mine is an amazing Christian who has devoted his life to genuine service of God and others, but I don't agree that the above article is junk. Certainly, I don't agree with everything said therein (Bankers certainly shouldn't be shunned, for one), but I think it has a lot of points.

My friend suggested that I read Milton Friedman (which I'll hopefully have time to do some day). Since I respect this friend, I looked up Friedman and found the following video:

I fully, completely, totally agree with one thing Milton Friedman says - this world runs on greed.

This world runs on greed.

This world.

"And do not be conformed to this world..."(Romans 12:2)

Blog: Welcome

Welcome one and all to my new blog, and thank you for your readership.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review: On Christian Doctrine

On Christian Doctrine by St. Augustine of Hippo

On Christian Doctrine is the first work of Augustine’s I’ve ever finished. The reading group I’m in read the first two sections as a launching point for our discussion of myth and symbol, and I decided to finish the whole thing. The book is essentially a primer on how to read the Bible and then, in the fourth section, how to present the knowledge attained therein.

All in all, On Christian Doctrine is a very solid, though basic, examination of symbol, hermeneutics and eloquence. I like Augustine’s principle exegetical rule (partially, I must confess, because I’ve thought of a similar thing myself) which states that the interpretation of scripture should always be one that leads to the love of God and/or others since Jesus said “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Mathew 22: 37-40).

However, I found myself occasionally annoyed and distracted when Augustine chose to voice his opinions on sexuality (it is only for procreation in his mind) and am indeed not a fan of his general asceticism. Mind you, I do believe there is a place for ascetic practices (I’m a fan of Dallas Willard after all) but I think they are always for training. It seems to me that Augustine believes in asceticism because of some platonic aversion to creation, but I could be wrong.

I also found the last section difficult at times because it relied very heavily on Greco-Roman theory about rhetoric, and thus frequently used terms with which I am not familiar. Of course, were I wanting to do a more in depth study of that section, I could easily do some reading on that theory, and it’s certainly not a fault of the book itself. In essence though, Augustine says that eloquence is good, but wisdom is better. If you can have both, than do, but if you have to choose, choose wisdom.

All in all, this book is a good introduction to the reading of scripture and those interested in the thoughts of the church fathers should pick it up.

Life: Ordination

This Wednesday was the ordination Todd Hunter, David Loomis and Silas Tak Yin Ng to the position of bishop in the Anglican Mission in the Americas. The AMIA is a dioceses under the leadership of Rwanda, and is a missionary organization of Africa to the Americas. I attended the ordination at the invitation of my friend Paul, who is working with Todd in the launching of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, the first in a series of two hundred churches Todd hopes to start in the next five years. This is the story of that ordination, which took place in the First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena.

We filed into the church, the worship group singing praise courses as we entered. Paul and I found a seat and began to talk with each other as we waited for the service to start. Then, from the back of the church, a resonating voice read the scripture and we all stood. The voice declared “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him (Hab. 2:20). You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)”. As the scripture finished, the organ began to play, and with solemnity and beauty the bishops and priests processed into the sanctuary, the cross going before them.

The procession and hymns completed, the congregation declared the confession of sins and received the absolution, and then the service turned to worship in praise choruses. It was simultaneously one of the strangest and one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time, as the dozen or more present bishops, decked in their full vestments, swayed and clapped to the modern worship music.

After the worship, we declared the Apostles’ Creed. I found this a little strange, since that creed is singular and is usually used in personal devotion, while the Nicene Creed is usually used for corporate declarations of faith. Still, the creed a wonderful summary of the Christian faith.

Following the creed were more prayers, the reading of scripture, a song of response and then the sermon came, and up to the pulpit stepped Rick Warren. He gave a message to the soon-to-be-ordained bishops on their responsibilities as leaders in the church, and the temptations they might fall into. It was a good, well spoken message, but what I really loved was what this service represented. Here you had the ordination of Americans to the bishopric in America, under the leadership of Africa, meeting in an Evangelical church and being spoken to by a non-denominational pastor. The service itself involved the worship of the protestant church, and the liturgy of the Anglican. As the pastor of the Nazarene church we met in said when he came up, “… the Nazarene church was founded by a rebellious Methodist, and the Methodist church was founded by a rebellious Anglican, so thank you for letting your rebellious grandchildren host you… for letting us truly be the Kingdom of God.”

After the sermon the candidates were examined by the Rwandan archbishop, consecrated and given new bibles, and we then gathered in for the passing of the peace, the offertory and finally the Lord’s Supper. After this, we sang the hymn of procession into the World.

I’m very excited about what Todd Hunter is doing with Holy Trinity, you can find out more about it on his website, on the Holy Trinity site, and on the site of Churches for the Sake of Others. Todd is an amazing teacher, and has a good understanding of the importance of spiritual development and the presence of the Kingdom in our lives, and I think something powerful is happening through AMIA, Holy Trinity and C4SO. If you’re looking for church and you live in the Orange County area, I highly recommend you check out Holy Trinity. The launching service of Holy Trinity is going to be on 9:00am September 27th at Rock Harbor (more info here). And even if you’re not looking for a church, or you’re out of the area, please pray for the work that is being done.

Thank you all, and have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Theology: Amen

From my favorite liberal blogger, Fred Clark:

It's a well-established fact that vampires can't abide crosses. There seems to be some confusion, however, as to why this is so.Vampire-cross I should note here, before we go on, that I believe in vampire stories. I don't mean that I believe these stories are "literally" true -- they're not that kind of story. But I believe they are true stories -- stories by which we tell ourselves true things so that we do not forget them.Vampire stories tell us, for example, than any of us can have great power if only we are willing to prey on others. Feed off the blood of others and great power will be yours. This is demonstrably true. It's how the pyramids were built. And Standard Oil.The stories also tell us that there's a downside to this predatory choice. You become a creature of the night, unable to stand in the light of day.And crosses will confound you.Some mistakenly think that this is because the cross is a holy symbol, imbued with religious power. But this is wrong. The symbol, like the thing itself, is powerless. And that's the point. That is why vampires can't tolerate it.Most vampires don't believe in the cross, but that hardly matters. It's the idea of the thing that gives them fits. The cross confronts vampires with their opposite -- with the rejection of power and its single-minded pursuit. It suggests that no one is to be treated as prey -- not even an enemy. The idea of the cross, in other words, suggests that vampires have it wrong, that they have it backwards, in fact, and that those others they regard as prey are actually, somehow, winning.This notion is incomprehensible for vampires. The one thing they're certain of, the thing that drives them and tells them who they are and how the world works and that they've got it all figured out is that the key to immortality is in choosing to be the predator rather than the prey. The idea that this might be wrong is so befuddling, so contradictory to everything they have chosen to be that it forces them to recoil. They can't get past it.It has become fashionable in modern vampire stories to portray these monsters as unaffected or somehow immune to the cross. Don't you believe it. This confusion arose due to the ridiculous, contradictorily cruciform objects being bandied about these days as "crosses." A filigreed gold or bejeweled cross refutes itself, denying its own representation of powerlessness. Likewise the oxymoronic martial crosses -- a problem since at least the time of Constantine -- that attempt to present themselves as sanctified symbols of power. Crosses like that aren't the least bit disturbing to a vampire -- they merely proclaim vampirism by other means. Vampires have been known, in fact, to have such crosses emblazoned on flags, or even to have tattoos of them etched into their undead flesh.So the apparent immunity of modern vampires to such crosses isn't what it seems. Sacrificial powerlessness still confounds them, but that idea is no longer quite so effectively signified by this particular symbol.

That, by the way, is also the key to Revelation, or so I believe.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Book Review: Fear and Trembling

Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard

Abraham is the greatest, says Kierkegaard, and “the highest passion in a human being is faith”(Kierkegaard 144). This is wrong. Christ is greatest, and though faith, hope and love endure, “the greatest of these is love”(1 Corinthians 13:13). For this reason, I find Kierkegaard’s method in Fear and Trembling for building a Christian ethic utterly puzzling. Kierkegaard starts from the wrong place, taking signs that point towards Christ and love and making them the point. Fear and Trembling is an interesting book in many ways, but it certainly will not, as my friend promised, completely alter my understanding of morality.

I do not pretend that I fully understand Fear and Trembling. Much of what Kierkegaard has to say is put into Hegelian terms, and since I’ve never read Hegel this makes understanding difficult. I can gather from context the general terms of what is being said, but I ultimately feel like I’ve come away with an outline of what Kierkegaard said, and not the full depth of it. Furthermore, Kierkegaard also relies on Hegelian conclusions, and uses them as givens in his argument. Unfortunately, since I don’t know Hegel’s arguments, these premises are hardly givens to me. Like I said though, to my thinking he starts from the wrong place so thoroughly that his conclusions cannot help but miss the mark.

What I do understand of Kierkegaard I find immensely disturbing. The highest life, that of faith, is one of dread, horror and isolation. What is more, the Knight of Faith (as Kierkegaard calls him) must do whatever God asks of him without testing to see if it really is God asking, without seeking the wisdom of others, and without any reference at all to universal morality. The man of faith then, in Kierkegaard’s terms, is the monster my atheist friends think him to be.

I should say, however, that I am not completely disdainful of Fear and Trembling. Kierkegaard starts the book with several retellings of the story of Abraham and Isaac, subtly altering the story in ways that thereby change the meaning. This part of the book is enjoyable, and he does the same with various stories and myths throughout the book.

Ultimately, any student of philosophy should read this book because it is of such massive importance historically. Kierkegaard in many ways fathered the existential movement, and he certainly gave birth to Christian existentialism. This was one of the reasons that I read the book, because as much as I disagree with existentialism, I find it intriguing. Also, I have a friend who is a firm Christian existentialist, and I’d really like to understand where his ideas come from. Thankfully, I think I’m one step closer to that point now.

Book Review: Children of the Mind

Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card

When I finished Card’s excellent book Speaker for the Dead, I was looking forward to reading Children of the Mind more than Xenocide. The reason for this, is that Card introduced in Speaker a monastic order called the Children of the Mind of Christ . They intrigued me, and I assumed that Children of the Mind would be about them. It’s not. What it is about is all the weird, cheap and stupid ideas introduced at the end of the last book. These ideas are not very interesting, they allow for all kinds of dues ex machina moments and simultaneously create countless plot holes.What is more, these ideas don't really fit in the universe established in the first two books, making the reader feel cheated.

Children of the Mind is far from being the worst book ever, but it’s definitely the worst of Card’s books I’ve read. The book was, more than anything else, entirely uninspiring, and oftentimes rather boring. Most of the characters I really cared about were pushed to the side, and the plot drags on in melodramatic concern for an issue you know from the start is going to be resolved. It’s also incredibly annoying that one of the two major dilemmas of the book was already resolved in the last one, and Card simply chose to ignore that fact.

The one side plot I found interesting was one involving the search for and interaction with a new alien race. What Card did best in his first two books was making his aliens truly alien and interesting (actually, another one of the problems with Xenocide and Children of the Mind both is that they spend too much time in the minds of the aliens, to the point where they really become less alien and less interesting). Unfortunately, this search is something that he leaves hanging at the end of this book, though he’s promised another one to resolve it and I’ll probably end up reading it when it comes.

Ultimately, Children of the Mind rather crashes and burns and, combined with Xenocide, makes for a disappointing follow up to two excellent novels. Xenocide might be worth reading for the characters, but there’s really no reason to read Children of the Mind. If you take my advice, you’ll skip this book.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Theology: The Measure of Christian Law, Part 2

About an hour ago I posted up some meditations on the nature of Christian law, after which I set down to reading more of St. Augustine's On Christian Doctrine. A little while ago I came upon this:

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought. If, on the other hand, a man draws a meaning from them that may be used for the building up of love, even though he does not happen upon the precise meaning which the author whom he reads intended to express in that place, his error is not pernicious, and he is wholly clear from the charge of deception. (On Christian Doctrine, Book One, Chapter 36)

I think that's a very good way to put it, and the fact that Augustine that says it gives it a little more weight.

Theology: The Measure of Christian Law

A brief meditation on scripture:

Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. (Mathew 22: 37-40, emphasis added)

This then, is the measure of Christian law – when you read the commands of scriptures, ask yourself if what you think they are saying aligns with this. Does your interpretation concern loving God or your neighbor? If not, then you’re probably reading it wrong.

Book Review: Xenocide

Xenocide by Orson Scott Card

Xenocide is… odd. I am not, really, fully certain of what I think of the book. As anyone who’s read my reviews knows, I loved Ender’s Game and thought Speaker for the Dead was even better. Naturally, despite the fact that I’d heard it was not as good, I picked up the next book in the series and it is, frankly, rather average. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the book, it had an interesting enough plot and still concerned the lives of characters that I had come to care about over the course of the first two books, but nothing about it made it stand above the crowd.

Of course, none of this would have made Xenocide odd, it is certain events later in the story, building off some weird mix of string theory and Mormonism described earlier in the book, that lead to the incredible strangeness of the book. Orson Scott Card is himself a Mormon, and he has every right to create a universe consistent with his beliefs, I would do the same, but this nevertheless makes the story take some very weird turns. Unfortunately, I can’t really talk about these events without major spoilers, so I’ll just leave it at that.

If you’re a fan of Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, I’d recommend picking this up just to follow the stories of the characters from those books, but be prepared for some bizarre events later in the story.