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D. Roth (Bellevue, WA United States)

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Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist
Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist
by Dan Barker
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 21.40

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read, Feb. 16 2004
An interesting read. Dan Barker and I both changed from fundamentalist Christian to atheist within a few months of each other in 1983. We both did so for the same reason: the Christian doctrines didn't make sense and we couldn't compartmentalize intellect from religious belief. I was 20 when I loosed those ties. Barker was 34 and had spent almost 20 years in the ministry.
Maybe that's why, unlike Barker, I don't care to proselytize the believer. I didn't have as much invested. If one hasn't figured it out for himself after well into adulthood, he is unlikely to do so. Also, religion gives many people comfort, and I'm not sure I'd want to be responsible to taking that from them. At the same time, I recognize the danger of Christianity run amok:
"I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."-- George Bush
In general, I believe religion to be kind of like a mental virus that mankind will always suffer. You can look at it like herpes. There are the common and less bothersome forms like herpes simplex I (Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians) and the more annoying herpes II (fundamentalists). Fortunately, unlike with herpes, some people seem to be able to completely rid religion from their system.
But Barker seems intent on persuading the devout. The fervor he once had for converting people to Christianity has changed to a fervor to persuade people to leave the faith. While some of Barker's arguments are strong, I find others weak. I feel confident I could successfully defend the Christian position against some of his arguments (especially against some of the "biblical contradictions" he claims exist). If they are unconvincing to me as an unbeliever, they have little chance to persuade the devout. And all it takes is one or two unconvincing arguments and the believer will dismiss the whole book (they probably would anyway, but why make it easy?). But others seem strong, such as the illogic of an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God. Ultimately, for me, it simply required too much mental gymnastics to believe the Christian story. I enjoyed reading Barker's book as it made me revisit many of the intellectual battlefields I lived in 20+ years ago. And it made me appreciate the intellectual freedom I enjoy from having won the war against religion.

Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide
Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide
by Hal Higdon
Edition: Paperback
52 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Principles based on anecdotal evidence, Jan. 2 2004
This book has 221 pages. I think the useful information could be condensed down to 20 pages or so. This book makes heavy use of the anecdote pattern. Chapters begin with little stories about elite athletes and experienced runners from which general principles of running are drawn. The problem is that the stories are incomplete and entirely anecdotal. Elite athletes and experienced runners don't need this book and the principles that apply to them don't apply to middle-aged people who truly are beginners. The book doesn't address the subjects of weight and size (very important in long distance running), and it only addresses age at a very superficial level. The good things in this book are: the focus on staying injury free; the incorporation of easy running and rest days into your training schedule; some sample training schedules; some diet advice; and some seemingly useful information about race logistics toward the end. On the negative side, a lot of space is devoted to fluffy stories; evidence to support advice is almost entirely anecdotal; there is practically no advice on runner injuries and how that affects your schedule; and no talk about weight/age; Put simply, this book contains a lot of anecdotal, unscientific, irrelevant, happy, feel-good fluff. The training schedules may work for you, but if they don't you will not have gained enough knowledge from this book to understand how to adapt them to fit your needs.

Remembering The Kana Hiragana & Katakana
Remembering The Kana Hiragana & Katakana
by Heisig Morsbach & Kurebayashi
Edition: Paperback
22 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't fit my learning style, April 17 2003
I agree with soreloser's assessment. Heisig tries to help you remember the hiragana by providing mnemonic devices (rhymes and visual images). They are hit and miss IMO. I tired of Heisig's method pretty quickly; it became as much work to remember Heisig's mnemonic devices as it was simply to buckle down and memorize the hiragana. His images began to feel like clutter in my brain. I got a copy of "Let's Learn Hiragana" by Yasuko K. Hiragana at the local library and find it much more suitable to my learning style.

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