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Catching up on books – Politics and History

Political Numeracy by Michael Meyerson is an attempt to show the mathmatical underpinnings in the Constitution. A few of the examples hold true but most of them end up being things like illustrations of mathmatical principles in court decisions or other laws. That can still be interesting and most of the time it is, but it isn’t what the book really claims to be.

With God’s Politics – Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It by Jim Wallis I was hoping would clarify where religion falls in politics and it does that. It discusses how the right has been allowed to define religious issues to the very narrow scope of abortion and gay marriage while the left has tried to steer clear of any mention of god. The book then goes on to define many other things which are religious issues, like poverty and war, and advocates that the people who believe in that need to get involved and take back the religious discussions to turn it to those “liberal” issues. I agree that it needs to be turned away from what the right has defined as religious issues and I think some of that is happening in this current election cycle. I did have some trouble reading the book because it is so heavily focused on getting Christians involved in politics on the left side. It definitely wasn’t written with the non-Christian in mind and as a result it at times feels alienating and occasional references to Jews and Muslims don’t really help.

The Presidents: Every Leader from Washington to Bush edited by Michael Beschloss is a set of short biographies of every president we’ve so far had in this country. It even includes up to aroudn the 9-11 time frame on Bush so that one is more of a wait and see what he does and we know how that turned out. Reading history fro the perspective of the presidents is definitely different in some cases. Instead of covering what did happen it also can cover the issues and conflicts that president faced. I did find it interesting that even including recent elections the mudslinging of presidential elections hasn’t reached the heights it did in the 1800s.

Before reading Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick I can pretty safely say that all I knew about the pilgrims is that they came over on the Mayflower to avoid religious persecution and the indians helped them survive. In reality the history is full of peril and war and political intrigue! The compromises they had to make with their faith to survive, the changing relationship with the indians over the years, the relationship with other colonies established after Plymouth. Also in reading you start to get in impression of the start of the American character. Many thanks to Cathi for lending it to me for over a year before I got to it.

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