The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville. Short novel set in a Paris stalked by monsters made of surrealist art come to life where rebels fight the Nazi occupation. Felt a bit slight compared with his more intense other books, mostly an exercise in how to shoehorn in favourite artworks. Fairly enjoyable but not one of his best.
What I'm Reading 2
Paul: A Biography by Tom Wright, who is apparently one of the the great interpreters of Saint Paul. Wright's also enthusiastic about his subject and draws a vivid and appealing picture of the charismatic, argumentative driven man who did more than anyone else to spread that religion.
People today write doctoral dissertations and business books about how successful companies and not-for-profit organizations being. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundered there is someone like Paul hammering away from the start, getting things off the ground, confronting local authorities, raising money, persuading co-workers about what needs to be done, never losing the vision. Someone who will take the bull by the horns. Someone who will go on and on insisting on what do to and how to do it until it happens.In some ways I think this might be underplaying him a bit. Off-hand I can't think of any non-aristocrat in the ancient world who had as much long-term impact as Paul. I think he must have had some kind of incredible charisma far beyond any regular organiser.
With all this there is something disarming about Paul's vulnerable side, which explains why, despite his relentless and in-your-face energy, people loved him, wanted to work with him, wept when he left... His honesty shines out... You know he will do everything for you... He will never ask anyone to face anything he hasn't faed up to himself, including horrible hardship.
Wright covers what we know of Paul's life well. Unfortunately nobody knows what happened to him at the end, though as he was last seen heading towards Rome a couple of years before Nero's persecutions it doesn't look too good.
I'm not really able to judge the theology. Wright says.
It has become fashionable in modern times to imagine that the early Christians saw the coming judgment as the literal "end of the world", the collapse and destruction of the planet and perhaps the entire cosmos as we know it... what sounds to us like "end-of-the-world" language is used to denote and refer to things that we might call major world events, the sudden rise and fall of ruling powers and the like, and to invest those events with their inner, God-related significance...So in Wright's view, the apparently apocalyptic language denotes a spiritual and political transformation being brought about in the present moment by Jesus.
Actually we do the very same thing, speaking of a political "earthquake" or an election producing a "landslide".
Others seem to disagree about this and I can't really judge the theology myself.
Overall though, a good book, worth reading if you're interested in Paul or his times.
What I'm Watching
Saw Isle of Dogs at home. Wes Anderson animated movie about a boy trying to find his dog after all dogs are exiled to Trash Island.
I enjoyed this a lot: cute but does have some bite, especially with the grimness of Trash Island. Won't show it to the kid, I think it's it's too scary and too wordy for a five year old, but fine for adults and older kids.
Politics. Thomas Piketty: To love Europe is to change it. European Spring (big PDF). Peter Oborne: Jeremy Corbyn and the truth about Tom Bower's book. Andrew Yang's presidential campaign includes basic income.
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