I find the title, taken directly from the link, a rather subjective notion—that questions about technology involve a phobia. Nonetheless, the books listed fit the description; they take their ideas about advanced technology to their logical and terrifying conclusions.
The biography, Eric Hoffer: An American Odyssey (1967) by Calvin Tomkins is, first of all, brief. The biography part is only sixty-eight pages long, including the introduction by CBS commentator, Eric Severeid. The balance of the book includes many of Hoffer’s aphorisms and photographs of him. A burly man, Hoffer, born July 25, 1902 died on May 21, 1983, writing eleven books during his lifetime. Two other books about Hoffer exist: One called Hoffer’s America by James D Koerner and the other Eric Hoffer by James Thomas Baker, both of which are difficult to find, but then the Tomkins book was difficult to locate. Given the content of his writing—his deep understanding of fanaticism, mass movements, and “change,” it’s a wonder that there hasn’t been a resurgence in interest in his work—it’s as applicable today as it was when he was popular in the ’60s.
The following are ten random thoughts, which tells the reader a little about how my mind sometimes works—randomly:
East of Eden, by John Steinbeck (1902-1968), published 1952
I have read a good deal of Steinbeck’s work but years ago. Grapes of Wrath (1939) was his most famous and it won a Pulitzer prize. Others—Tortilla Flat, Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, Travels with Charley, The Winter of Our Discontent—were all enjoyable but certainly Grapes of Wrath, more than any other, displayed his writing skills and his thinking. In it he portrayed poverty, pain and gloominess yet with a powerful optimism toward life.
Authors warning: Although I post what I do with the hope that people read them, you may not want to read this story. If you’re not all interested in what goes on inside a modern progressive Protestant church, or you are simply tired of thinking about the health care debate, then I suggest you read a good book. Pick up an Elmore Leonard mystery, or if you want something heavier, try philosopher Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. Or better yet, buy a thriller, like The Target, from a new author, Bill Bowen, who blogs at Right in San Francisco…because my short story will not reward you with pleasant thoughts. It may even tick you off.
I wrote this in November 2009, angry and disappointed at my church. It’s marinated for a year, and while I’ve edited it, I did not soften it. The story is pure fiction, not because the event as described (with alterations and pseudonyms) never occurred—it did and I was there—but because Mrs. Agnes Tanner, the protagonist in the story, does not exist. Therefore, no such conversations took place. If she does exist, somewhere out there in the great progressive mainline Protestant churches of America, I have my doubts that she has a voice. More accurately, in my entire life, I have never heard her speak. But then neither have I.
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (1926-), published in 1960
I know more than one person who considers To Kill a Mockingbird their favorite book. My friend Bob cherishes his first edition and speaks glowingly of the time when the author signed his copy. Ms. Lee, who grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, was a young child during the famous Scottsboro, Alabama Case (nine black men were accused of raping two white women). This apparently had a significant influence on her as she wrote the book in the late 1950’s. It was published at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and two years later was made into an Academy Award winning film with Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.
The Problem of Pain, by C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) published 1940
Lewis wanted to write this book anonymously because he felt he was too much an amateur and a layman to cover such a theologically difficult subject. He was convinced otherwise, which was a good thing. We can thus put it into context with his other works as well as the man himself, certainly no “amateur.” I read this once, noticing its rich complexity, so I immediately read it again and wrote what I thought were the highlights, chapter by chapter. Unfortunately, it’s lengthy.