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On Reading.

December 6, 2007

I’m reading through Sam Harris’ The End of Faith:  Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.  It is my second attempt, in fact I went so far as restarting from the beginning.  He has a knack for cutting through the fogginess of the problems that exist in the United States’ sociopolitical atmosphere with a beacon of sharp reason.

For instance, in the most recent chapter he gave sound evidence to question our stances as a nation on:  marijuana, sodomy laws, stem cell research, and homosexuality.

What about the harmful effects of marijuana?  See the legal status and more pronounced harmful effects of alcohol, for which I personally can attest.

What about the ‘sinful’ destruction of the potential human life in a blastocyst?  See the point at which stem cells are harvested and the incapability of determining if the collection of 150 cells can ‘feel’ pain or if the cells can feel anything at all without a developed nervous system.

What about the sodomy laws making same-sex and opposite-sex sodomy and oral sex illegal?  See the victimless nature of the act.  Who is in fact being harmed?  Who are we protecting with such laws?  Surely adults can discern between the act of consensual sex between another group of adults and violent, forcible sex between yet another pairing.  Surely adults enjoying one another in their privacy have the right to do so.

It’s an enjoyable read and I think it’s reinvigorating me to do what I was so enthusiastic about not so long ago… going back to school.

I’m finding more often that I find reading more stimulating and satisfying than most films I’ve watched recently.  It does come with its host of problems though.  Like struggling with focus, strain on an out-of-shape mind, the cold reality of facing your own inadequacies with your level of literacy on a regular basis versus your age, finding that ‘sweet spot’ of attentiveness v. interest v. time, and battling with my own personal energetic, random nature.  This ignores the ‘others’ factor, i.e. people other than yourself vying for usage of your time whether it be mutually beneficial or not.

But I think all my reading has done me a lot of good.  I’m probably going to read Fahrenheit 451 next for a little brain-breather.  To keep my energy up for reading I’ve found it beneficial to mix it up, and not hold myself to a strict schedule or expectations… if my hearts not in it, by all means I should not read.  Mixing a healthy dose of ‘scholarly’ texts with ‘entertainment’ texts has proved to help me survive even some of my more disastrous roadblocks on my path to a life of reading.

~Joel

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