The Sparrow

December 3, 2013 at 10:50 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

the-sparrowTitle: The Sparrow

Author: Mary Doria Russell

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Genre: Literature/ Philosophical Fiction

Length: 431 pages

In 1996, 2019 must have seemed so far away.  Now, in 2013, while reading Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow I am struck with the oddity of dates in science fiction novels and the disadvantage of time.  Then again, Russell’s novel isn’t science fiction so much as philosophy and a study of human nature and peoples’ thoughts on God.

It is like 1984 that way, a study of the world as it is and always will be, not just one particular society.  And like 1984, The Sparrow is timeless.

More than God and philosophy and all those huge thoughts I’m supposed to have about the book – you know, the ones you discuss in Book Club and during literature courses in college – I was stunned by the humanity of it all.

Quotes about relationships like,

“The antagonism he sensed but could not understand.  And finally, ending at the beginning, the almost physical jolt of meeting her.  Not just an appreciation of her beauty or a plain glandular reaction but a sense of… knowing her already, somehow.”

Russell’s work is full of those moments.  Those gut reactions, nuances, and descriptions of sensations everyone has had at some point in their life – or if they haven’t, they will.   Those epic feelings of “knowing,” the ones people adore having in movie-like surrealism, but are completely caught off guard and unprepared when they happen.

Russell has written something uniquely philosophical and thought provoking, but amidst aliens and Christian theology, atheism, Judaism… in space travel and anthropology, I was caught off guard by the sensation of understanding these characters so completely that I felt like they were my own.  If not my own, a part of me… or maybe, just me.

I am riveted by the emotional anorexic.  I am captivated by the seduction of doing God’s purpose. I am amazed by their choices.

More than that, I wish I could write something like this – something so thoughtful.  But I suppose the reality of my life is that I am stubborn and obedient, curious and creative, but not thoughtful.  No, I am not that.

I seem to be lacking the thoughtfulness and critical thinking skills, the ability to really pursue enlightenment.  Instead, I find myself caught up in the safety and the dogma, and more than anything in the whole book, the innocent friendship between Sofia and DW – that was my favorite part.  How simple of me to read something so profound and I just want to bask in a cozy friendship.

 

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Intelligent Design: More Than a Bandwagon

February 3, 2010 at 10:05 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

A Review of Michael J. Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box

I thoroughly enjoyed Behe’s well-crafted and easy-to-understand argument against Darwinian “science.”  I found Biology fascinating when I was in school, and this has sparked some of that forgotten love for studying things under the microscope.  I would like more Darwinist groups to actually give this book the time it deserves rather than casting it aside because they think its a soap-box for Creationists.  Behe clearly states that he is NOT a Creationist at the beginning of the book – put your pride aside and see what he has to say about his research before you judge his viewpoint.

Purchase Behe Books Here

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Origins and Thoughts, and Original Thoughts

January 19, 2010 at 5:44 am (JARS, Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

My thoughts on Irving Stone’s The Origin so far… (I’m on Book Ten)

Irving Stone presents a very cheerful, almost carefree, narrative of Darwin’s life. Friendships are dwelt upon, discoveries are glorified, and opposition breezed over. Even the death of Charles and Emma’s third child is skipped over with a mere page and a half of detail.

Despite being an enjoyable novel, its astonishing how much humanity is lacking in the description – it has the feel of a 1950’s family sitcom, Leave It to Beaver meets the Darwin family in Victorian England.

I like Irving Stone’s version of things, however. It gives a detailed time line of publications and events. Its a good source to use as an introduction to the study of evolution: names, dates, and important essays, journals and other writings are handed to you chronologically on a silver platter so that you can jot them down and do additional research afterward.

The book is quite clever, actually, sidestepping every controversy and smiling noncommittally.

“They established a routine in which everyone fitted harmoniously,” (from book nine: the Whole Life) seems to be the theme of the book, rather than the development of the theory of evolution. It is full of lines like: “The Manuscript on Volcanic Islands moved along felicitously.” Even through his many illnesses and the death of his two daughters, Charles Darwin seems to have led a very charmed life.

I discussed all this with a member the physical JARS book club, and she pointed out something important that I failed to notice: this is exactly the way a man of the Victorian Age would want his biography written. The Victorian era was a time when the upper class mastered the art of smiling and pretending everything was fine, introducing what my friend described as “that very British attitude of ‘Get Over It and Move On.’ ”

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