More books

The holidays are largely over, everyone has their presents, and I can finally relax a bit and catch up on reading and gaming.

I finished Wayne Booth’s The Rhetoric of Rhetoric and Bart Erhman’s Lost Christianities this week. Concerning Booth, this is the second “The Rhetoric Of…” book of his that I’ve read other than Fiction (Irony is waiting on the shelf). I found Rhetoric decidedly more cranky than the much older and solid Fiction. Booth was clearly upset by Bush’s election and I detected a sense that he felt the field that he had helped revitalize had either lost traction or had not gained much ground outside of academia. We still have three major definitions of rhetoric – classical rhetoric, academic all-encompassing-of-communication rhetoric, and bad/political rhetoric – instead of a society based on his “listening- rhetoric,” and I got the same vibe from him as I did from David Mulroy on grammar – a wistful shaking of the head.

Erhman, on the other hand, does not display wistfulness, and merely writes in his highly accessible way. Lost Christianities served as kind of a refresher to the rhetoric of the NT course I took a year ago, and it summarizes a lot of the canonization process in a efficient manner. The chapter on Secret Mark is particularly sharp, especially because he does not see fit to bother about declaring Morton a hoax openly – the evidence speaks volumes (the cliffhanger ending of the thing is enough for me, c’mon, people). I also noticed that he does not talk about Q much, which is odd, as the book concentrates on early Christianity, of which Q is supposed to represent. Perhaps he is hedging on Q? He only mentions it in one chapter. Very interesting. I’ll have to read more of his stuff.

Medieval Total War 2 has been a joy lately. I won the long campaign with England and again with the Holy Roman Empire; now I’m trying with the Moors. The Moors don’t have much in the way of heavy cavalry, alas, but so far that hasn’t been a problem. I’ve taken all of Spain, most of France, massacred the Milanese and sacked Rome in 30 turns; a new Pope keeps cropping up in the countryside, though. I kill him every turn but those stubborn infidels keep electing another one and giving him a tiny bodyguard. I wonder what will happen after I’ve taken all of Italy – will new Popes keep appearing? Strange.

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