Somebody... Tag Me!
Summer (now officially here) has been identified as that time of year when people catch up on reading those books they've been meaning to crack open... and hopefully, read. One of the current recreations in the Catholic blogosphere has been to cite one's own plans, then "tag" a short list of colleagues to do the same.
Apparently, life is making up for when I was a kid and kept being "it" for too long, 'cuz I haven't been "tagged" yet. Obviously, I'm gonna have to tag my d@#n self!
The first three on my list are Ratzinger books. Since this new pope has nary an unpublished thought, it's not that hard to find out where he's coming from.
1) My first is, as mentioned last week, The Spirit of the Liturgy
, by Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI (Ignatius). This work is inspired by the book by Romano Guardini: "My purpose here is to assist this renewal of understanding of the Liturgy. Its basic intentions coincide with what Guardini wanted to achieve. The only difference is that I have had to translate what Guardini did at the end of the First World War, in a totally different historical situation, into the context of our present-day questions, hopes and dangers. Like Guardini, I am not attempting to involve myself with scholarly discussion and research. I am simply offering an aid to the understanding of the faith and to the right way to give the faith its central form of expression in the Liturgy."
It helps that I'm participating in a discussion on the book in my parish.
2) Next is Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium
, an interview of Ratzinger conducted by the German journalist Peter Seewald (Ignatius). I'll most likely be "reading" the audiobook version produced by St Joseph Communications. This is a penetrating look at the man who would be Pope, interviewed a decade ago about his life, his world, his philosophy, spirituality, cosmology -- just getting into the man's head. Seewald was unchurched before the interview. He later converted. Go figure.
3) Finally on the Ratzinger partion of our list is Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today
(Ignatius). This is a primer on ecclesiology, the nature of the Church, interwoven with the reality of the Eucharist as its center. With respect to how the Church is constituted, he also provides some insights into possible future directions.
4) Moving out of the First Estate, we come to Designing with Web Standards
, by Jeffrey Zeldman (New Riders). He states his premise thus: "You code. And code. And code. You build only to rebuild. You focus on making your site compatible with almost every browser or wireless device ever put out there. Then along comes a new device or a new browser, and you start all over again."
He goes on to make the case for universal standards. Yeah, I know about that alright, having had to re-invent the wheel over the course of the past year by going from straight HTML to XHTML with attached cascading style sheets (CSS). I suppose when I return in the fall they'll have some more suprises for me. (Let me guess: XML, right?)
5) Deep Community: Adventures in the Modern Folk Underground
, by Scott Alarik (Black Wolf Press), is a collection of over a hundred interviews spanning a decade by this music critic for the Boston Globe
. I've been playing music for nearly forty years now. Keeping up on the adventures of those who image their inner muse for a living, I get in touch with a latent part of myself. Covers both traditionalist-revivalists and pioneers of new genre such as "Afro-Celtic." The well-established, the up-and-coming, and the obscure. Not just the artists themselves, but radio programmers, stage promoters, folklorists, and others who are part of the scene.
6) The "folk underground" in Cincinnati is one of the things I miss about that city. It's not as big as DC's, but it's more accessible, and to this day I remain in touch with kindred spirits there. That's why I look forward to the impending release of Old-time Music And Dance: Community And Folk Revival
, by John Bealle (Quarry Press). He narrates the history of the nearby Bloomington Old-Time Music and Dance Group, from its beginnings in 1972 to the present.
7) If the above can't hit the streets by summer's end, there's always a similar tale closer to my home away from home. Dancing Away An Anxious Mind: A Memoir About Overcoming Panic Disorder
, by Robert Rand, is an account of embracing the music and dance of Louisiana in suburban DC in the 1990s. This was before the action moved to Baltimore (well, most of it, anyway...), and a preliminary glance through its pages harkens memories of my misspent youth (otherwise known as my early post-marital phase). I was hoping to do a review of this work anyway.
8) Finally, there has to be at least one work of fiction. My choice is American Empire: Victorious Opposition
, by Harry Turtledove. It's one of those "what-if" scenarios, as a very different America stands at the verge of World War II; less than a century earlier, the South had won the Civil War. The story follows its characters in a Confederacy which resembles early Nazi Germany, with a "final solution" at the expense of those Blacks still remaining there. The USA has occupied part of Canada, France still has a King, and... well, stay tuned.