A bold take on Christianity, religious pluralism and the search for God.
McSwain (The Giving Myths, 2007) examines Christian faith with an unofficial Buddhist perspective. He sees the search for God as a death of the ego and a letting go of attachment. He is refreshingly against Christianity as the only path to God and opposed to the interdenominational politics and pettiness and backstabbing rampant in many churches. Rather, he looks to Jesus, as well as numerous other religious figures, for guidance along a path that he believes is not so much searching for God but clearing away illusions to realize that God is already found. His take is vaguely related to the biblical figure of Enoch, who appears only briefly in the Bible and this book—a fact that makes the title somewhat confusing. The book is a little unfocused, jumping from story to story and thought to thought. McSwain liberally sprinkles his prose with quotes and utilizes large block quotes from a wide array of spiritual and popular thinkers. While these quotes add context and support to the original content, they quickly become frustrating roadblocks to the flow of the text and cause the author to seem overeager to validate his argument. This is perhaps not without reason, as his argument stems from a brief, unprompted revelation that he experienced one day while sitting on the couch. It can be hard to understand how such a small, spontaneous moment could give birth to a systematic theology and its attendant practices, but McSwain grounds the ensuing book in a variety of religious traditions and a truly goodhearted intention to help people be closer to God. Given all the quotes and McSwain’s doctorate in ministry, he could better cite his sources, especially in regard to which translation of the Bible he is quoting. Overall, though, McSwain has no ulterior motives or self-aggrandizing sentiments, just an earnest wish to express his views and to share his ideas and experiences with others.
Christians tired of church politics and proponents of interfaith practices will draw inspiration from this well-intentioned text.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)