YOU & A BIKE & THE OPEN ROAD
A funny, sweet, and surprisingly inspiring sketch diary of a 58-day solo bike ride across the southern U.S.
TIGERS ON THE TENTH DAY
Most of these short stories are about brief brutal encounters. Clear and concise, but nothing here made much sense to me. Like when you're in a new town and walking past an entrance to an alley, and way down at the other end two people are repeatedly kicking another person curled on the ground, and when they see you seeing them everyone scatters.
THE ISLAMIC JESUS
Several years ago two of my students - Oğuzhan and Fatih, I think? - recommended Akyol's ISLAM WITHOUT EXTREMES: A MUSLIM CASE FOR LIBERTY to me. I enjoyed it and learned a lot from it. Thanks guys. I think he even came and spoke at the university I was working for at the time, and I really regret not going. So I was thrilled to hear that he was writing a book about JESUS, and this book did not disappoint at all. I was quite excited about the ideas in here the whole time I was reading it, and kept trying to engage people in conversation about it, but as a response I mostly got polite mild interest and condescending amusement. "Wow, you seem to really be learning a lot about this kind of stuff, Ty." Sorry, sorry, don't mind me, just go back to talking about parking garages and podcasts and your trash bill.
Akyol is a Muslim who is fascinated by the New Testament, particularly the gospels and the book of James, the latter of which he finds to be remarkably similar to the teachings of the Quran. In order to better understand this connection, he started to research early Christianity and the history of the Bible and ended up writing this book. Essentially he's saying that much of the conflict in early Christianity between James and Paul was based on differing understandings of who Jesus was. Within Christianity Paul's ideas about Jesus won and silenced its dissenters, but James' perspective on Jesus - a more Jewish view - survived on the margins in various "heresies" and eventually was preserved in Islam. As someone who has put a lot of thought and conversation and prayer and light research into understanding views of Jesus in these three religions, his ideas confirmed and connected and clarified a lot of my own thoughts and experiences.
I've been steeped in Christianity my whole life and have been learning about Islam for at least a decade. For me it's so fun to look for God and sometimes find God, and to think about God and Jesus, and it's equally arrogant and absurd to claim full or final understanding of their nature or identity or the relationship between them. "The east and the west belong to God: wherever you look, there his face is." That's not all I have to say, but it's where I want to start from.
other books I read this month: