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Profile for L. Severson > Reviews


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L. Severson "amurderone" RSS Feed (IL, USA)

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The Resurrection of Rey Pescador
The Resurrection of Rey Pescador
by Alfred Cedeno
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.65
28 used & new from $5.15

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Hat Tip to Don Quixote, July 19, 2014
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The Resurrection of Rey Pescador charts the rise and fall of a poetic genius. Pescador is a world famous poet in a world starved for beauty. Humanity has been outfitted with robotic hearts which promise the end of death. But the mechanization of the organ has also stunted the emotions. Pescador's poetry provides his audience with a view into a more fragile and more beautiful world fraught with the specter of death and infused with beauty at each turn. Pescador gains and loses the adoration of the world in his quest for love. A Faustian bargain propels him on a quixotic journey just as insane as that of Cervantes Knight of the Sad Face.

The book is framed as a letter from Pescador's jealous cousin, David Rosario to Rey's true love. David loves the same woman but he is a priest. David's desires for what he cannot have, love, lilac whiskey, suicide, contrast with Rey's ability to have anything except a world in which he can be loved a by a woman with a real heart.

Cedono's prose takes several queues from Don Quixote. The format of the letter is episodic, most of the events are fantastic, beyond belief and yet completely real for the hero, and a host of characters from David, to LJ Brovault to Pescador's pet monkey play the role of diligent Sancho Panza following his master and incurring misfortune and heartache as a result.

The tragedy of the story also has a resemblance to Cervantes' masterpiece. Both hero's are men in the wrong era. Don Quixote is a man devoted to a vocation that has no place in a world where firepower and not the strength of a man's arm and the purity of his devotion win the day. His madness is that he stands as a reminder of what has been lost for better or worse as history has progressed. Pescador provides a similar message prophetically. As the last man with a heart of flesh is is an absurdity and a reminder of the weakness of a previous age. But his very existence exemplifies the loss of soul and emotion when fear and death are "defeated".

This is a worthwhile book for any reader. But I would strongly recommend it for a high school audience. Cedeno is a High School teacher and intentionally or not he has written a book that will appeal to many of the dreams and angsts of this age group.

Church in Crisis: The Gay Controversy and the Anglican Communion
Church in Crisis: The Gay Controversy and the Anglican Communion
by Oliver O'Donovan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.60
32 used & new from $6.88

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Metered Optimism, August 26, 2013
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O'Donovan will be frustrating if you are looking for someone to give a final verdict on Christianity and Homosexuality. Instead he offers that tradition is neither the final arbitrator on all decisions nor something we can just dismiss. He reproves anyone who feels they have an irrevocable answer on this when The Anglican Communion as a whole has not achieved consensus. His optimism that such a consensus can be reached is the most winsome quality of the book.

Afterlives of the Saints
Afterlives of the Saints
by Colin Dickey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.34
39 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lessons on How to Be Human, November 20, 2012
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A couple years ago I hosted a small group at my house with some friends. We decided to study a classic Christian text called The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks which has organized short stories and sayings from monks by topic such as Greed, Pride, Lust, etc. At the beginning of each group we'd struggle to articulate how utterly backwards we found these holy desert fathers. Their stories seem to advocate extreme, dangerous even, forms of Christian asceticism that no good pastor would recommend. So should we treat this book which is treasured by the church? Were we being exposed to how weak and pathetic our American Christianity had become? Or was there another purpose in reading these stories?

In retrospect, it would have served us all well to have read Colin Dickey's Afterlives of the Saints as a primer. Dickey frames the saints as something to be wondered at. Their example should not inspire us to follow them. But it will certainly shock us into evaluating our lives with new urgency. Dickey writes, "The saints...are there to show us how to be human being by showing what we could never be."

For Dickey, reflection upon the saints is an act of memento mori (remember your death). Classically memento mori is represented in art by a man or woman contemplating a human skull. Dickey writes, "The tradition of memento mori is self-reflexive: One is meant to meditate not on the death of the skull's owner but on one's own death--the skull before the viewer is always and only the viewer's skull." This is the posture we have before the saints. The death they provide is their own, often self-inflicted, destruction of their desires and bodies. But the focus always slips away from them and back to us.

the stories of the saints aren't complicated by human desires and ambitions. Much like a human skull is cleaned and dried in the sun for months before it can be used in memento mori, the saints are given to us petrified, purified by hagiography (writing abut the lives of saints). Dickey tells us that "in hagiography, the story is written to tell us not the facts about that person's life but rather how that person's life exemplifies the glory of God. The true protagonist is always just offstage, in His heaven."

The saints stand before us apocalyptically. They reveal their mysteries by "push[ing] what it means to be human to the breaking point, and then beyond." For Dickey the saints magnify the mysteries of faith:

what has repeatedly struck me is how far [the saints] seem to deviate from what most of us understand to be orthodoxy -- there are saints who murder, saints who gouged out their own eyes and hold them out for inspection, saints who minister to the petty and the bizarre and the maligned. Put another way, the history of these saints helps enlarge our concept of faith.
Dickey follows the stories of the saints long beyond their death and inspects how they have haunted us through the centuries. In some cases, like the connection Dickey makes between St. Jerome and Borge's "Library of Babel", the haunting is autobiographical. More often the haunting is historical as Dickey shows in Flaubert's obsession with St. Anthony. (The story of Flaubert reading his 500 page bio-epic of St. Anthony to his friends over four days only to have them say he should burn the whole thing and never mention it again is laugh-out-loud funny.) Dickey's account of St. George (of dragon slaying fame) as a saint who has been adopted by both Christians and Muslims exemplifies the enlarging work that the saints provide. That St. George was once a part of Medieval propaganda encouraging Christian Crusaders has done nothing to temper his popularity with Muslims.

Like the man meditating upon a human skull, what we gain from the saints is not a easily digestible axiom about how to live 'good' lives but a moral gravity that grounds our feet for spiritual pilgrimage. Dickey tells us, "It is easy enough to say that one believes or doesn't believe in the saints. It is harder to say how one believes, or how one comes to no longer believe, in a saint." Here we finally return to The Desert Fathers. The fathers speak to us from an age where martyrdom was desired but not available. So they inflicted a martyrdom of asceticism upon themselves. This shocking example reminds us that it is not if but how we believe in God that is the hardest question in the life of faith.

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The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
by Alan Jacobs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.89
66 used & new from $7.35

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How Then Should We Read, October 12, 2012
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I recently purchased and read Alan Jacobs` book titled The Pleasure of Reading in an Age of Distraction. I was immediately rewarded when in the first section of the book Jacobs took canonical reading lists to task for turning reading into a task to be completed a certain way, with certain rules and certain materials. Read for whim, Jacobs advised.

Jacobs does acknowledge a hierarchy in literature. He won't give you a reading list to work through. But he also doesn't like the idea that a reader might consign themselves to penny dreadfuls.


Because reading is not just entertainment. The activity of reading requires attention. You can't sit down and turn on a book while you space out. You have to engage the book by turning the pages, even if those pages are now electronic. Your imagination has to fire to life and display images and situations.

Attention or attentiveness is a muscle that grows as it is used. Jacobs tells us that we exercise this muscle not out of obligation but pleasure:

This is why attentiveness is worth cultivating; not just because it is good for you or can help you "organize your world," but because such raptness is deeply satisfying."

Jacobs notes that

"Our educational models have traditionally valued what [N. Katherine Hayles] calls "deep attention," while todays students are proficient in mobile, flexible, fast-twitch "hyper attention." Deep attention she identifies as..."characterized by concentrating on a single object for long period...ignoring outside stimuli while so engaged, preferring a single information stream and having a high tolerance for long focus times."

Jacobs understands that the modern world needs, demands, and very effectively persuades, us to cultivate "hyper attention". He cites the story of a Rhode scholar who boasts in the dearth of his literary exploits. There is no hand-ringing or shed tears. No call to arms to defend the virgin bride of literary attentiveness against the lecherous hordes of the impending Armageddon of hyper attention that is surely already in our midst, Facebook, twitter, and iPhones, their insidious weapons of mass destruction.

Not every person is a reader. That is ok. Most of the world is going to survive if they never read a single "classic". Lots of people will gain immense satisfaction from reading popular novels. Some people will fall deeply in love with reading. They will get so caught up in the beauty of language and the tension of the plot and the tragedy of the character than they will forget about sleep, food, and friend. It might start with any book. But they will get more and more hungry for an author who is able to strike the central cord of the human experience. This is what the classics truly are. Not must-read list to show off your smarts. No, a much-loved list. A list in open revision as new readers join the community that spans generations. You might never love Dickens. But they never loved Cormac McCarthy. That is ok.

Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization (Que Biz-Tech)
Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization (Que Biz-Tech)
by Olivier Blanchard
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.21
121 used & new from $1.94

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a lot of fluff. Get ready to learn something., March 14, 2011
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I am kind of a book snob. When it comes it reading "business" books I expect a lot of dramatic stories which are loosely related to the topic and a few insightful nuggets of information. Let's be honest, most books for the business audience could barely fill out a good blog post.

"Social Media ROI" scores high on providing good actionable content and information for anyone who is trying to build a social media program. It is a one stop shop. You get information on how to evaluate your organization's current social media abilities. You learn how to sell this program to others in your company. You'll even learn about the metrics you should follow and how to create a good reporting system.

The reason I am withholding a star is that I wanted to hear a deeper discussion around the concrete ROI that Social Media can provide for business. I mean any business. If you are in retail, manufacturing, CPG, or sister verticals the discussion around ROI will be helpful. If you are not in these verticals it will be less applicable. And if you are in B2B like I am it probably wont scratch your itch.

That being said, I enjoyed reading this book. There are obviously years of experience behind the information that is shared. And let's be honest you can't cover everything in one book. I would love to see follow up materials perhaps in blog format that attempt to tackle the question around Social Media ROI in a B2B context.

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)
The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)
by Timothy Ferriss
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.41
253 used & new from $8.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, February 23, 2010
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Tim has some great ideas in here. I'm not sure that everyone can optimize the way that he and others have. But even if you still go into the office there are great time saving tips. well worth the read.

No Title Available

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Works but...., August 22, 2007
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The product works. That is the nice part. I was a little upset at Samsung for not using a normal headphone jack so it was nice to find an adapter. The down side is that the plastic covering around the male connection broke within hours of getting it. It still works. It just looks cheap and ratty.

No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says, November 9, 2006
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IT's a USB hub. All I ask is that it works. It does.

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