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Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America Paperback – August 7, 2006
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Adapted from his series of articles for the New York Times comes these thoughtful essays on why we need these ancient laws -- and what happens when we abandon them. A Phish band groupie provides a springboard for a discussion of idolatry. A Long Island whiskey bar becomes a laboratory for understanding "You shall not bear false witness." Honoring the Sabbath, he shows through the observances of one busy family, may be the antidote to popular culture. The story of the havoc wreaked on one childs life vividly illustrates the reason for the commandment, "You shall not commit adultery." Throughout his essays, he deftly weaves his own experiences into the narrative, as well as references from Fyodor Dostoyevskys classic book on good and evil, The Brothers Karamazov.
Hedges believes that the commandments hold out to us the possibility of love -- and love means living for others. The commandments are guideposts that bring us back to the right path, he writes. They call us to sacrifice. Compellingly, he urges us to abandon the culture of self; to live "not by exalting our life but by being willing to lose it." --Cindy Crosby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This is not a "Christian" book, any more than Krzysztof Kieslowski's "The Decalogue" (its model) is a "Christian" television series. Kieslowski and his writing partner, Krzysztof Piesiewicz, a lawyer from whose experiences several of the episodes were taken, focused "The Decalogue" on the fictionalized lives of people entangled in ancient moral dilemmas in bleak 1980s Warsaw. Hedges takes the same tack with ten non-fictional vignettes from life in 21st century post-industrial America.
I find Hedges' writing almost unbearably intense; his moral authority clearly hard won. Even when I disagree with him, I have nothing but respect for his courage in refusing to look away. Here is a man who has obviously been deeply affected by what he has witnessed and experienced in life and is determined to learn---and teach---from it. That the teachings are very, very old only makes this book all the more worth reading, absorbing and passing on---whether you are a Christian or not.
The book is religious in that Hedges does have a religious background and that the book is discussing the Ten Commandments. However, this book is in a word, gritty. It takes some of the everyday things we see and puts them into context. We understand how these things have a bigger impact on us, but more importantly, we see how these transgressions have a huge impact on society.
The book is not a quick and easy read. It requires some focus and some reflection, but it is time well spent. The author urges us from the self to selflessness, so that we as a society can better get along in this ever increasingly complex world we live in.
I would highly recommend this book. Even if you find yourself feeling frustrated with the writer (which I was at times because I didn't follow or disagreed), this book will make you think about the world around us and our part in it.
The stories here are unadorned and close to the bone: among them, a Vietnam veteran who became an Episcopal priest, haunted for the rest of his life by "You shall not kill"; Hedges' own decision not to be ordained when he realized that his dreams of becoming a minister were "the idolatry of self, the worship not of God but of my virtue"; a deeply moving tribute to his father and parenthood: "We all carry...our link with the past, wanted or unwanted. We cannot wash it away. It is rather a matter of what we do with it, how we honor it, how we redeem the experience to protect and create life."
Interwoven is also a luminous reflection on the ruthless progress of time - past and future existing at once in the present - and the unbearable ache of life: for the more deeply we love, the more vulnerable we become to loss, but it is only in love and giving life to others that we find meaning.
This book is filled with tremendous compassion but also with unflinching and often disturbing insight into human nature. To read it honestly requires a kind of self-confrontation.
Hedges brings a remarkable life story and degree of passion to his story-telling about these most famous Ten Words--mystery, idols, lying, sabbath, family, murder, adultery, theft, envy, greed and, in an epilogue, love. As a pastor's kid, he grew up in rural upstate New York, where his father was a Presbyterian pastor. Five years at an elite boarding school, the loneliness of his childhood, left him with "a deep hostility to authority and a visceral distaste for the snobbery of the 'well-born.'" Six days after graduating from Colgate University he began a two year stint as a pastor in the violent ghetto of Roxbury in metro Boston, an experience so unsettling that it provoked him to leave the church and seminary. After a year in South America he completed his divinity degree at Harvard, though not without caustic opinions about liberal professors who romanticized the poor whom they had never met, and the lectures which he experienced as "intellectual shell games." In a prescient understatement his father remarked to him that he was "ordained to write," and so he did, as an award-winning war correspondent in some 50 countries over 20 years.
Hedges has not written an exegetical or even theological treatise about the 10 Commandments, but rather existential reflections on them rooted in first person life experiences.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Highly recommend this book and Chris Hedges to anybody - Left or Right politically. Republican or Democrat can always find common ground with Hedges. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Rabudman
Quality book in fine condition delivered in a timely way. Thanks.Published 7 months ago by thomas e.
This book was a real page-turner for me. Part memoir, part social critique, Hedges brings his unique perspective (seminarian turned war correspondent, turned dedicated husband,... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Mary Bull
Very interesting idea. Could be much better written. I'm reading it for a book club, so I'll soldier on.Published 16 months ago by P. Dean Robertson
it is a practical, deep commentary of the true meaning of the 10 commandments applied to modern struggles; it speaks of its importance to our daily lives as well as to politics,... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Maria C. Frescas
Everyone I talk to, thinks the world in general and Western Civilization specifically is going to hell in a hand basket. Read morePublished 18 months ago by F. Kline
This is a very depressing book. If you can handle that, you will be okay with the book. It is very informative. Chris Hedges is not an armchair author. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Jalleer
Great Book, reminds me of Anthony De Mello's teachings or even Joseph Campbell. Most times the hardest truths to face are at the same time the most obvious.Published 21 months ago by Roger D. Edwards