In pondering the significance of the Umpqua Community college tragedy, one of a seemingly unbroken string of mass killings to shake the nation since the shocking Columbine massacre 16 years ago, the first and perhaps most distasteful truth we have to acknowledge is that this shooting will not change anything. I’m sorry to be so blunt. I’m sorry if this sounds defeatist. But any honest assessment of the politics and the culture of firearms in America must come to the simple and inescapable conclusion that thanks to our nation’s out-sized love of firearms, at this very moment somewhere in the Midwest a mother is preparing dinner for a daughter who won’t live to see her 21st birthday, somewhere down South a father and son are restoring an old car that will be completed by just one of them under a somber cloud of loss, somewhere in New England a young couple are planning for a future life together in a world that has a place set aside for only one of them, and this is a scene that is being replayed hundreds, if not thousands of times this very moment all across our country.
Title: “The Martian”
Author: Andy Weir
Blurb: “After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.”
Review: “I don’t really read that much, but after reading The Martian I’m beginning to think that maybe I should pick up reading as a hobby.”
Customers Also Bought: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”
Footnote: Yes, yes, explorers, adventure, the New Frontier. Speaking of which, the European (and European-descended) track record with various forms of colonization ain’t exactly encouraging.
The Martian [Amazon]
Title: “The Battle Plan for Prayer: From Basic Training to Targeted Strategies”
Authors: Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick
Blurb: “Prayer can accomplish what a willing God can accomplish. It should be your first plan of attack in all of life’s battles, not your last resort.”
Review: “Written in the format of a true battle plan, the book is divided into seven sections. Enlistment, Basic Training, Conditioning, Strategies, Targets, Ammunition and Reinforcements.”
Customers Also Bought: “Prayers for Victory in Spiritual Warfare”
Footnote: We want to read that awesome Bible where Jesus hung out with mercenaries instead of fishermen.
The Battle Plan for Prayer [Amazon]
Boehner says he is leaving “for the good of the institution.”
How is letting the mental patients take over “good” for the “institution?”
Title: “Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People”
Author: Nadia Bolz-Weber
Blurb: “Tattooed, angry and profane, this former standup comic turned pastor stubbornly, sometimes hilariously, resists the God she feels called to serve. But God keeps showing up in the least likely of people — a church-loving agnostic, a drag queen, a felonious Bishop and a gun-toting member of the NRA.”
About the Author: “Nadia Bolz-Weber is the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado.”
Review: “I personally think the tattooed, foul-mouthed, Harley-riding pastor fad is tiresome.”
Customers Also Bought: “Preparing for Baptism in the Episcopal Church”
Footnote: Even the Christians are cool in Colorado.
Accidental Saints [Amazon]
Title: “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload”
Author: Daniel J. Levitin
Blurb: “Levitin turns his attention to an issue that affects everyone in the digital age: organization. It’s the reason that some people are more adept than others at managing today’s hyper flow of data. The Organized Mind explains the science behind their success and — with chapters targeted specifically to business readers — shows how all of us can make small but crucial changes to regain mastery over our lives.”
Review: “At times Levitin may appear longwinded in his narrative.”
Customers Also Bought: “Lewis N. Clark Travel Laundry Soap 10 pack”
Footnote: One effective solution is to wait for half the Republican candidates to drop out before paying attention.
The Organized Mind [Amazon]
Title: “Exceptional: Why the World Needs a Powerful America”
Authors: Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney
Blurb: “The Cheneys reveal the damage done by President Obama’s policies and demonstrate how his unwillingness to defend and protect American power has weakened the nation and diminished the ability of future presidents to defend us.”
Review: “It also explains how U.S. strength promotes peace, and what U.S. leadership has accomplished, from World War 2 through the Age of Terror.”
Customers Also Bought: “Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey” by Carly Fiorina
Footnote: Seventy years of U.S. leadership in the Middle East speaks for itself.