Thursday, 13 October 2016

Of the making of books there is no end

I was asked to share the titles of some of the books I referred to over Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur - for those unable to take a note on Yom Tov!

The Hidden Pleasures of Life - Theodore Zeldin
I came across the idea of Fort and Port here. It’s also a wonderful argument for the value of encountering other people.

The Sabbath and Moral Grandeur & Spiritual Audacity - Abraham Joshua Heschel
The Sabbath is the first book I would recommend to anyone wanting to know the point of any of the Jewish stuff. The attempts to articulate the purpose of a human life shared at Yizkor are taken from the last two chapters of Moral Grandeur.

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives - David Eagleman
This made an appearance in my Yizkor sermon and at the Q&A. It’s a series of imaginings of the afterlife, fabulously thought-provoking and warmly recommended.

- me
Ahem. Well it came up several times in the Q&A, specifically the chapters on the military ethics of the IDF, the nature of God in a world of suffering experiences of the supernatural.

A Rumour of Angels - Peter Berger
To my embarrassment I mis-remembered the author of this on Yom Kippur. It's a sort of sociology of religion for intelligent people. I haven't read it for well over a decade, but it made a significant impression.

Sacred Trash - Adina Hoffman & Peter Cole
I mentioned this book in the Q&A. It’s a history of the discovery of the Cairo Geniza, telling both the tale of its contents and its discovery. It’s a beautifully written book which will give so much understanding of Jewish history.

Ben Gurion: A Political Life - Shimon Peres
I referred to this on Shabbat Shuvah; fascinating not only for the insight into the founding father of the modern state of Israel, but also into the life of its author, so recently deceased.

Home Deus - Yuval Noah Harari
Part of this I love. Everything he has to say about religion, however (and it’s a lot of the book) is unrecognisable to me as some who has spent a bit of time trying to understand the subject. (That’s a polite way of saying I think it’s nonsense, a point I expand on here).

And on the subject of books, I’m newly published. I am part of a cycle of presenters on Radio 2’s Pause for Thought series and one of my scripts was selected for inclusion in a collection of contributions due to be published later this month. More information here.

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