Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A few items/holiday happenings...

I have not had much to contribute here during Christmas vacation, and have been spending most of my time with family.  As far as research goes, I'm working on a book review of James Blythe's The Worldview and Thought of Tolomeo Fiadoni and in the process of writing a book chapter, again on Anglican/ecumenical issues.  I'm reading Alain Badiou's The Century for the first session of a course on Carl Schmitt that will be led by Eric Santner this winter quarter, and The Fellowship of the Ring for pleasure.  Most other reading has been articles/church documents for the book chapter.

I did make good on my previous post about independent bookstores, and visited Politics & Prose to get Christmas gifts for my brother and father (I visited Hole in the Wall Books but had no luck finding what I needed.  An accompanying two-year old sans nap also made browsing difficult).  I'll be heading to Second Story Books tomorrow, and would like to try to get to Capital Hill Books before we return to Chicago.  A final store worth noting for those in the D.C. area, One More Page should be opening any day now.  I ran across the new store by chance, and then found out that a family friend will be in charge of their acquisitions.  Best of luck for this new venture during a tough climate for booksellers.

  • The latest issue of Ecclesiastical Law Journal is out.  I've been able to read the articles by Sagovsky and Leahy, both originally presentations from the Eleventh Colloquium of Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Lawyers held this past April.  I'd recommend both strongly as overviews of the relevance of law for current ecumenical matters.  The content seems to be freely accessible for the moment, so download it while you can.
  • Contents for the latest and forthcoming issues of Theological Studies have been posted.  I haven't gotten to look at either one. 
  • Two questions:  1) Tricia and I recently got an ipod (hello, 21st century!) and I've been toying around with it.  Is anyone aware of a good app for scanning books/documents?  I've tried some free ones but they don't make very clear images.  2) Does anyone know where a full transcript of speeches from the PCPCU's 50th anniversary might be available?  I'm especially interested in Kurt Koch's address (Rowan Williams' address can be found here).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Every time you buy a book from an indie bookseller...

...an angel gets his wings.

For the holidays, when lots of books are being bought and given, I thought I'd write another post about resisting the temptation of buying from Amazon.com (see previous discussions here and here). 

The funny thing is that as much as academics tend to be more conscious of systemic problems related to the environment, global capitalism, discriminatory practices, etc., most of us don't seem to think of Amazon.com as equivalent to Walmart or speak out against its abusive practices.  Quite the opposite, we probably patronize Amazon more than anyone (I recall some introductory remarks at a lecture by Robert Pippin where he said that his young son described the job of a philosopher as, "sitting on the computer and ordering books from Amazon").  There's a sense, I think, that so long as we're in a veritable arms race to grow our libraries and books cost so much to begin with, we need to get our texts as cheaply as possible.  This creates a blind spot that prevents us from seeing what such practices do to the very book industry upon which our work depends.  In the one area where we really know our stuff... published texts... we fail to make a difference, even as we speak out about ethical and sustainable social practices in other areas further removed from our academic life. 

The arguments against Amazon have been repeated enough, and I won't get into them here.  You can look at the article, "The Trouble with Amazon" that I linked in a previous post.  A more recent article worth reading has been written by Onnesha Roychoudhuri for the Boston Review, "Books After Amazon".  Over time you should also check in to the new blog Against Amazon run by Jeff Waxman (of Hyde Park's own Seminary Co-op Bookstore and 57th St. Books).  As the subtitle describes, Against Amazon is "an online archive to educate consumers about the problems and politics of doing business with the beast."

While it would have been easier to avoid the temptation of Amazon during the holiday season if the hackers standing up for Wikileaks were successful in crashing its site, you can still choose to go elsewhere.  If you still need to buy a gift for someone, look up a local independent bookstore (I added a link to IndieBound over on the right sidebar a few weeks ago) and get something there.  As a New Year's resolution, readers of this blog who are themselves bloggers can start to do what I've always done here when linking books that I talk about... always link to the publisher rather than the Amazon.com page.  Write blog posts about local booksellers in order to share their existence with more people.  Buy at least a few of next semester's coursebooks from a local independent store (or order them online through an independent store if you don't have any locally).  Buy from publisher websites rather than Amazon.com if the book you need isn't available in the limited stock of a local store and can't be ordered by them.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Melchizedek article published...

My most recent article, "Melchizedek as Exemplar for Kingship in Twelfth-Century Political Thought", is now published in the latest issue of History of Political Thought.  Following is the abstract:
This article examines the use of Melchizedek as an exemplar for kingship in the twelfth century, considering interpretations offered in the Norman Anonymous, Bernard of Clairvaux’s de Consideratione and John of Salisbury’s Policraticus. While the Norman Anonymous provides a Christological and royalist reading of Melchizedek’s roles as king and priest, de Consideratione offers a more nuanced explanation of papal power without significant regard for disputes of secular and ecclesiastical liberties. The Policraticus, on the other hand, advances a theory of divinely elected, non-hereditary kingship on the basis of Melchizedek’s being ‘without genealogy’. The interpretation of the Policraticus stands in tension with a prominent rabbinic teaching that Melchizedek is identical to Shem, the son of Noah, and so possessive of a lineage that raises interesting (though not insurmountable) challenges for the non-hereditary kingship theory advanced in the Policraticus.
Please email me if I can help you by sending a PDF of the article.

UPDATE: [As far as I recall, Imprint Academic has not sent me any copyright agreement to sign for this paper.  I've decided to post the article on my academia.edu page so that it's publicly accessible unless I hear instructions otherwise from the publisher because of copyright restrictions of which I haven't yet been made aware.

Imprint Academic is a nice small publisher that has a strong focus on real print-and-paper literature, so I hesitate to short-circuit their good work via open access of this sort.  Part of the reason why I'm doing this is also because the website doesn't yet seem to have subscription-based access available even for universities that subscribe to HPT- or at least it has been intermittent.  If you'd like to support Imprint Academic, check whether your university library subscribes to HPT or another of their titles, and ask them to add the title if it's absent.]

Also published in this issue is an article by Vasileios Syros, "Linguistic Contextualism and Medieval Political Thought: Quentin Skinner on Marsilius of Padua".  I wrote my Melchizedek article for a seminar with Prof. Syros in 2009, and at the time Prof. Syros was working on this article.  I had the opportunity to read a draft and offer some thoughts on it, and he's kindly acknowledged me in the published version.