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No new books for three months
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Emperor Constantine Online
Robin
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Post: #1
No new books for three months
What
For the next three months, only read books and articles that are at least a century old.

Why
- It’s an opportunity to learn from the classic books that have shaped man’s thinking for centuries or even millennia. By unplugging from modern thinking for a bit and listening to what our ancestors had to say, we can gain valuable perspective to take with us into modern times.
- There’s a lot less trash to filter through if you stick to books that are at least a century old. You’ve got books written by people in a traditional Christian worldview, the writings of the friendly pagans like Marcus Aurelius or Aristotle, and the writings of godless men like Neitzche who were at least more interesting than the godless people on today on twitter.
- Not reading current news articles is a huge stress reliever. If any major events happen in the next three months that actually require your attention, your friends will probably tell you.
- Obviously, there have been valuable books written in the last century, which is why this is just a three month challenge.

How
- Stick to books and articles that are at least a century old. For books written in foreign languages, like the Bible, preference should be given to older translations when possible. If you have trouble with old timey language, reading out loud will help immensely.
- Every time you finish a book, share what you learned from it in this thread.
- Obviously, you’ll have to make exceptions for technical manuals at work, the service books at church, etc. The challenge only applies to personal reading.

Suggested books
If you have no idea where to start, here’s some suggestions:
- The wisdom literature of the Old Testament: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job, Wisdom, and Sirach. Translations to consider include the King James, the Douay Rheims, and Brenton’s.
- Novels. Some authors to consider are Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and a plethora of others.
- Philosophy. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, The Sayings of Diogenes, Seneca’s Letters, etc.
- Politics. Hobbes’ Leviathan, Locke’s Second Treatise on Government, Macchiaveli’s The Prince, etc.
- Theology. The Apostolic Fathers, On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, etc.

I’m starting tomorrow; who wants to join?

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept, when we remembered Zion.
03-15-2020 10:25 PM
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ed pluribus unum Online
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Post: #2
RE: No new books for three months
Anyone who wants to dip their toes in this water could start with short stories by Joseph Conrad. He left to go to sea at a young age and travelled the world to its most exotic locales, at a time when the transition from sail to steam was still underway. His prose is very rich and reflects his experiences, all the more fascinating since English was not his mother tongue.

"Intellectuals are naturally attracted by the idea of a planned society, in the belief that they will be in charge of it" -Roger Scruton
(This post was last modified: 03-16-2020 02:16 AM by ed pluribus unum.)
03-16-2020 02:15 AM
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Post: #3
RE: No new books for three months
First book down: Ecclesiastes from the King James Bible. The main theme seems to be that what we do is irrelevant in an earthly sense. No matter how great you are, eventually everyone forgets. I wonder if Shelley was thinking of Ecclesiastes when he wrote "Ozymandias". Solomon explains that we have little control over what happens to us, and the wise thing to do is to follow God and enjoy the little things along the way.
A few things that stuck out at me:
- Money is mentioned several times as a useful tool. The New Testament seems to throw shade on wealth, and a book like Ecclesiastes gives a bit of context for St. Paul's statement that the love of money is the root of all evil. It's the worship of mammon that's wrong, not the wise use of your finances.
- The value of comradery is mentioned. That one hits close to home: I've spent the last several years living far from my fellow-believers, and I'm definitely worse off for it.
- Solomon found one wise man in a thousand, and no wise women at all. That's no surprise to anyone who posts here, but a fact that probably would send most modern Christians into a steaming fit of rage if they were to ever read the Bible.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept, when we remembered Zion.
03-17-2020 06:42 PM
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MichaelWitcoff Offline
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Post: #4
RE: No new books for three months
Chekhov’s short stories mostly involve Orthodoxy in some way, if you’re interested. It’s the background of most of the lives of his characters and they’re always doing Orthodox stuff as part of the stories.

Just picked up a Nabokov collection today that I look forward to starting. Except for Nathaniel Hawthorne, there are really no American writers that hold a candle to the Russians.

Jewish convert to Orthodox Christianity and best-selling author of "On The Masons And Their Lies."
(This post was last modified: 03-18-2020 12:21 AM by MichaelWitcoff.)
03-18-2020 12:19 AM
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Enigma Offline
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RE: No new books for three months
^ I would also highly recommend Gogol, who was very Orthodox and is probably the most influential Russian (technically Ukrainian) writer in Russia, other than Pushkin. "The Portrait" is one of my favorite short stories of his.

Michael, have you read Flannery O'Connor? Her works aren't over 100 years old but her writing is packed with Christian and moral themes and really packs a punch, in my opinion.

By the way, I think the thread is an interesting idea. Unfortunately, I have the bad habit of starting too many books at once, and I'm currently reading a couple that are not old enough, but maybe I'll give it a go once I'm finished with those.
(This post was last modified: 03-18-2020 05:02 AM by Enigma.)
03-18-2020 04:50 AM
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Robin
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Post: #6
RE: No new books for three months
Knocked out a Russian short story: Twenty-Six Men and a Girl by Maxim Gorky. A friend had to read it for literature class and told me I'd love it, which I did. Apparently her class thought it was misogynistic and depressing.

The story revolves around a group of underpaid Russian workers who take to idolatry, treating a woman as if she were their goddess. As you might expect, this was a poor decision.

The moral of the story, I'd venture to say, is to remember that humans will always eventually disappoint. We deserve no worship and should give each other no worship.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept, when we remembered Zion.
03-18-2020 07:33 PM
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MichaelWitcoff Offline
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Post: #7
RE: No new books for three months
Nice.

Haven’t read O’Connor but sounds like something I’d be into. Thus far Nabokov’s prose is a bit purple for my taste, but I’m going to keep reading this collection to see if I can find some gems in the mix.

Jewish convert to Orthodox Christianity and best-selling author of "On The Masons And Their Lies."
03-18-2020 10:06 PM
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Post: #8
RE: No new books for three months
(03-18-2020 10:06 PM)MichaelWitcoff Wrote:  Thus far Nabokov’s prose is a bit purple for my taste, but I’m going to keep reading this collection to see if I can find some gems in the mix.

I started Lolita at one point when I was a kid, largely because I'd been told not to read it. I was somewhat disturbed and never finished it or started anything else by Nabokov.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept, when we remembered Zion.
03-19-2020 07:11 PM
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Robin
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Post: #9
RE: No new books for three months
Another one down: Proverbs from the King James Bible

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," Solomon writes. As with Ecclesiastes, he reminds the reader that wisdom is found in following God's commandments. But in Proverbs, Solomon goes further in developing this theme. The central teaching, repeated throughout the book, is that wise men obey God and accept correction. Foolish men do whatever they feel like, convince themselves they're right, and refuse to be corrected. Proverbs seemed to be more practical and less philosophical than Ecclesiastes, giving specific advice on a wide range of subjects; finances, women, conversation, and more.

Things that stood out:
- It's sad that this is what went through my mind, but I was impressed by the amount of effort the adulteress puts into seducing the young man in chapter 7. Enticing him with kisses, expensive sheets, dirty talking... I'm lucky modern thots are so much lazier and less tempting.

- In chapter 17 and 18, Solomon stresses the importance of holding your tongue. I like the way Fr. Patrick Reardon has summarized this concept: "Never interrupt your silence unless it's for something better." It's advice I really ought to take to heart.

- Thanks to an article by the Anti-Gnostic a few months ago, I couldn't read Proverbs 30:21-23 without thinking of "A Servant When He Reigneth" by Rudyard Kipling.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept, when we remembered Zion.
03-22-2020 06:03 PM
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Post: #10
RE: No new books for three months
Finished up The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy by Fr. Adrian Fortescue. The son of an Anglican-turned-Roman Catholic convert priest, Adrian followed his father into the cloth. He traveled extensively, writing several books about Church history, liturgy, and apologetics along the way.

The Mass, published in 1912, is a detailed history of the Roman Mass, with frequent comparison to the Orthodox ritual which Fr. Adrian was also very familiar with. The level of scholarship in the book is impressive, as is Fr. Adrian's willingness to admit when he lacks information about various details.

The Roman Mass is unique compared to the other ancient rites of Christendom, with many things in a somewhat different order than that of the other liturgies. The book follows the history of these developments, offering explanations whenever possible. Some things, such as the possible insertion and later removal of the epiclesis, remain a mystery. Others, like the switch from recieving communion in the hands to recieving on the tongue, are a bit better documented.

He explains in very reasonable, non-controversial ways the reasons for the continued use of Latin, the switch to unleavened bread, and other Roman practices without attempting to dis the Orthodox or the uniate Churches in the process. He doesn't even bother to rant against Anglican liturgy which I would've expected given his family history.

The modern material I have previously read about the Tridentine Mass is written by those with an axe to grind - Novus Ordo types complaining about the denial of the chalice to the laity, or poorly educated trads claiming that vernacular worship is a Protestant heresy, or any number of other polemical attacks between the various factions of the Roman Church. Fr. Adrian's book, written decades before these controversies, is almost wholly without polemic: just a faithful priest writing about the liturgy he loved.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and learned a great deal.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept, when we remembered Zion.
03-24-2020 10:19 PM
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jebwallabingbong Offline
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Post: #11
RE: No new books for three months
Purely by coincidence I have been reading a lot of books over 100 years old by default during the past two years; I only strayed from the path to read some classic sci-fi novels by Philip K Dick and Robert Matheson, some novels by Graham Greene, one of the best English 20th century writers (who is often described as a Roman Catholic novelist) and I recently finished Nassim Taleb's "Black Swan". The timing seemed quite apt. So I am in.

I finished "War and Peace" last week. I had previously read "Anna Karenina", which was an excellent insight into the titular characters descent into deliriousness and I had also read "The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories", which is a very prescient meditation upon life, or rather, how futile it all seems when faced with an inevitable demise.

"War and Peace" goes above and beyond everything else of Tolstoy's I have read. There is already a brilliant thread on War and Peace here that summarizes most of my thoughts very succinctly: https://www.rooshvforum.com/archive/inde...56542.html

The thread is entirely correct; not once did I feel the length of the book. Tolstoy seemed to appreciate that, even without everyday distractions, a lot of people may have been put off by his works purely due to their length. So he splits each chapter down into circa. 4 pages at a time. Nothing feels rushed or forced; like the very best novels, the images are painted in your head and stay there. Tolstoy is regarded as one of the best character creators ever outside of Dickens; he is also one of the best novelists for conversation. Each and every character has a slightly different way of speaking, different tone, different inflection. Long passages of conversation are entirely necessary to the plot, no conversation ever covers the same ground.

The last 60 pages of my translation was Tolstoy's prescient dismantling of why the Patriotic War of 1812 came to be. He also sprinkles such tid-bits throughout the book, usually towards the end of the 5 books that make up the novel. It is as much a philosophical discussion as an account of the sentiments in Russia and France during the period. Whilst I cannot vouch for the historical accuracy overall, the fact that the novel holds up today as one of the very best novels ever written is vindicating. It is a truly brilliant novel, and one that deserves to be read by anyone who has an interest in history, literature, or just plain good storytelling.

For a translation, I would recommend the Maude Translation as it is very cheap and reads well. Unlike say Constance Garnett's Dostoevsky translations, the language has aged much better and the Maude's where very close personal friends of Tolstoy and where an authority when Tolstoy's works became publicized throughout the early 20th century.

I have moved onto Dostoevsky's "The Idiot", the Alma Classics version. So far, it is reading very well. I also have "Demons" and "The Brothers Karamazov" lined up for when I finish.
(This post was last modified: 03-26-2020 07:36 AM by jebwallabingbong.)
03-26-2020 07:35 AM
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Post: #12
RE: No new books for three months
I just got rid of my copy of War and Peace because it had sat on my shelf unread for a few years! And now I'd like to read it.

(03-26-2020 07:35 AM)jebwallabingbong Wrote:  I have moved onto Dostoevsky's "The Idiot", the Alma Classics version. So far, it is reading very well. I also have "Demons" and "The Brothers Karamazov" lined up for when I finish.

The Brothers Karamazov is one of the best books I've ever read. The characters and the story are as wild as pre-enlightenment mythology, but written as a novel. The best of both worlds.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept, when we remembered Zion.
03-28-2020 03:55 PM
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Post: #13
RE: No new books for three months
Read Strength, And How to Obtain It by Eugen Sandow, published in 1897. For those who don't know, Sandow is the father of modern bodybuilding, the guy depicted on the Mr. Olympia trophy. He was born in Germany, routinely lifted 300lbs overhead with one arm, did cocaine to help maintain his six-pack abs, was notoriously promiscuous, and died of syphillis.

I was expecting the book to contain an exercise routine, but it did not. Part one was basically a long add for his workout gear, and part two was an autobiography. Excited to learn the sordid details of his life firsthand, I dove right in. Ironically, the tales of of his drug use and polyamory were apparently not publishable at the time, but he was able to use the N-word with a hard r and claim in all seriousness that wrestling a lion didn't count as animal cruelty since he was unarmed when he did it.

The stories were entertaining, and the thing that stuck out at me the most was how much bodybuilding has changed. Modern competitors thrive on a level of asceticism rarely seen outside of a monastery. Life revolves absolute adherance to a strict diet and workout plan. Sandow, on the other hand, was barrelling through life dangling insolent hotel workers off the 16th story balcony, getting wasted on coctails, wrestling lions, hanging out with European nobility, and getting into bar fights. It seems modernity is determined to take the fun out of everything, even lifting weights.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and we wept, when we remembered Zion.
03-28-2020 04:01 PM
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