What I’m reading, first week of May 2007

Doc Holliday by John Myers Myers

This is the first book-length account of Holliday’s life. Written in 1955, it does not contain some recent discoveries that have impacted our understanding of the Old West, but it is entertaining and informative nonetheless. I like how the author writes in a scholarly fashion but at times uses slang from the Wild West days. It seems like everyone knew how to write well back then. I only recently became interested in Doc Holliday when I found out he was from Georgia and that his reputation wasn’t quite in line with his true character, although, I must admit, it often was. What I like about Doc is that once a person became his friend, he was loyal, almost to a fault and all he really expected in return was the same. Wyatt Earp once said that he never asked Doc to help him and his brothers, he just had a way of showing up when they needed him and stayed until the work was done.

Informal Logic: a Handbook for Critical Argument by Douglas N. Walton

Where else will you find gems like the three reasonable uses of the appeal to authority and six different forms of begging the question? I bought this book used several years ago when I still lived in Jacksonville and have read it several times, although I don’t think I realized how useful this book really is until recently.

Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion by Jay Heinrichs

This little book is a gem, a true rare find. I didn’t think people were writing books like this anymore. This book has wit and humor without sacrificing any content. The sidebars contain technical terms and quotes while the text is to the point and actually informative in a way that shows why this stuff matters. Heinrichs peppers each chapter with liberal anecdotes from his own life and how he uses rhetoric and logic to torment his children and wife (these stories alone are reason enough to read this book, and you can learn to do the same).

How to be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson

I like to talk about how lazy I am but anyone who knows me knows that I’m just not; I can’t sit still for five minutes. But I aspire to loaf and would love to be able to say that I at least possess the potential to be a shiftless lay-about because when I see others like this it seems like so much fun (as long as you aren’t worried about paying the bills, etc.) Apparently there is a magazine in Great Britain (called, appropriately enough, The Idler) devoted to the loafing lifestyle. I read this book and think of what could be.

A River Runs Through It by Norman MacLean

I have not seen the movie and do not wish to as I am afraid it might spoil the book for me. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been fishing in my life (although I should take it up because, as one man said, in the book listed previously, “Fishing is really an excuse for loafing as it has no purpose except as an excuse to be out in nature” or something to that effect) but when I read this book I felt like a fly-fisherman. I even found myself looking down with disdain on the “bait fishermen” in the book. This book is actually a novella (my edition is bound with some others stories which I have not read and do not intend to read) and it is worth the seven or eight dollars and the hundred or so pages just to read the last two paragraphs.

The Mortification of Sin by John Owen

I am teaching through this Puritan classic on Wednesday evenings at our church and it has fed my soul (as only the Puritans can do). There is a paperback edition, also by Banner of Truth, which is abridged by Richard Rushing and edited so that it is easier to read (it’s also 1/4th the cost of the hardcover).

About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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