Saturday, November 28, 2009

Catching up in Austin

It's always intensely interesting to see what's on the plates of the Austin families. Here is an incomplete catalog.

Clone Wars.
This is an animated series from the creator of Star Wars that picks up the story-line between episodes two and three of the film series. Aidan is a big fan of the series, and has a costume of Captain Cody, the clone partner of Anikin Starwalker. We watched an episode yesterday. The political issues in the made-up galaxy are very important and obvious features. (I find that Wikipedia has a big article on the Clone Wars, and that brings me a bit more up to date.) There is a lot of stylized violence, but mainly robots die and not people, at least not up close. In addition the main humans are Jedi Knights who have marvelous powers and seem to avoid serious injury. War is a necessity or, at least, an inevitability, and there is competition among the protagonists for who can make the most "kills" and be the bravest warriors. The animation is attractive and clever and very much like the animation in the current video games. I can understand why Aidan finds it so interesting.

In the First Circle.
Walter, a huge Solzhenitsyn fan, brought this new, unexpurgated version of The First Circle to my attention. I read the first version 40 years ago! Now it's out again in this complete version. I'm adding it to my wish list. (Amazingly, Amazon sells it for $13.) In discussing this with Walter, he mentioned Solzhenitsyn's Harvard address, and it reminds me that I need to go back and read it again.

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. Speaking of Russia, both Walter and Macon spoke to me about the podcasts that introduced them in vivid detail to the battles on the Eastern Front during WWII. I had not heard of Dan Carlin or his websites, Hardcore History and Common Sense, until Walter and Macon mentioned them. I want to explore those sites. My exposure to the Eastern Front was most recently through Keegan's The Second World War and, years ago and in much less detail, Liddell Hart's The History of the Second World War. Between those two, I would definitely go with Keegan, but I mean no disrespect to Liddell Hart. I don't know what single volume history is the one now to read on WWII. UPDATE: When Walter and I were at a Barnes & Noble store, we looked at the bibliography in Keegan's book to see what he recommends to read concerning the Eastern Front. His recommendations are Erikson's, The Road to Stalingrad and The Road to Berlin, which are volume one and two, respectively, of his Stalin's War with Germany.

Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. I think we are realizing at our church that we have lost our way somewhat on the matter of evangelism. There is such a thing as getting too comfortable, and that probably applies to us. But Van spoke to the congregation about refocusing on this matter last Sunday, and so I asked Macon what he would suggest as an initial resource for our Sunday School Class. It was Packer's little book, and he had one to loan me. I had never read it, and I have found the first two chapters challenging and enjoyable to read.

Austin Rifle Club.
Macon and I went pistol shooting at the crack of dawn yesterday at this wonderful facility outside of Austin. He had his Springfield Armory XD 45 and borrowed for me a Colt 1911 from a friend (a vintage, service weapon that his friend's father had owned). It was obvious that Macon has had some good training. Handling semi-automatics is not very familiar to me, but I enjoyed it. Macon collected the spent brass, against the day when he might get into reloading.

Studying the Book of Romans. Macon and Walter lead a Sunday School class at their church and have been co-teaching Romans, taking it slow and easy. Their texts are mainly three: Barth's Epistle to the Romans, Stott's The Message to the Romans: God's Good News to the World; and N.T. Wright's Paul for Everyone: Romans Part One. Carol and I are looking forward to attending their class tomorrow morning.

Dealing with Vegan Parents/In-Laws
. Both families are doing really well with Carol, Mary, and me, and our odd eating preferences. We got through the Thanksgiving feast at Morgan's house in great style. There were plenty of non-meat dishes, and Kellsey had baked a vegan loaf with a cashew sauce that was tasty. Yesterday Carol baked a pumpkin loaf and fixed us all for supper a "quick" spinach/chick-pea/something else dish with brown rice that has become a standard at our house. Morgan had a tasty salad. Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal.

Today is Felicity's birthday!
Wow! Ten years old! We get to think a little more about what a blessing she is to all of us today.

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