Book Review Tuesday

Bird Sense:  What It’s Like to Be a Bird byTim Birkhead

birdsense

Ever been called a “bird brain”? Well, after reading Bird Sense:  What It’s Like to Be a Bird by Tim Birkhead, you might take this as a compliment rather than a criticism.  Writing with a deft sense of humor, this British author dedicates individual chapters to the senses of seeing, hearing, touch, taste, smell, magnetic sense, and emotions. At times, the writing may be a bit technical for nonscientists or amateur ornithologists, but the variety of species mentioned and the facts discussed are fascinating.

For example, did you know that an owl’s asymmetrical ears contribute to its keen sense of hearing or that a Kiwi can smell earthworms through 15 cm of soil?  (Remember, these types of facts may prove useful should you ever become a contestant on “Who wants to be a millionaire?”.) The illustrations by Katrina van Grouw are also fetching, but a note of caution: What It’s Like to Be a Bird may not be appropriate dinner time reading. Learning about contact wearing robins is one thing, but some of the dissection sequences quite another. A final takeaway is the overall sense of the remarkableness of these relatively small feathered creatures. One cannot help but recall Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:29-30: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

The library call number for this item is QL698.B57 2012.

-Becky Paulson, Acquisitions Librarian

Footnote: This review is dedicated to the family parakeets Pickles (the three ounce bully!) and his sidekick Petunia

Book Review Tuesday: Special Collection Exhibit

Palmer, Walter C., M.D.  Life and letters of Leonidas L. Hamline, D.D., late one of the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church. . . .  New York:  Published by Carlton & Porter, 200 Mulberry-Street, 1866.

A month in which we have been reminded that the papacy, at least (if not, as in Methodism, the episcopacy), is an office, not an order, seems a good month to remember “Elder” Leonidas Lent Hamline (1797-1865), important for many reasons other than his precedent-setting resignation, not least his articulation of the principle that General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church had the constitutional authority to suspend a  bishop for slaveholding; the contribution he made to the foundation of Hamline University; and the support he gave to the Holiness revival led by Phoebe Worrall Palmer (1807-1874). This copy of the 1866 Life by Phoebe’s husband Walter (1804-1883) was given to the father of German-American Methodism, William Nast (1807-1899), by Leonidas P. Hamline, a son of the former bishop. It was given to Seattle Pacific by Dr. William Kostlevy.

Steve Perisho,Theology and Philosophy Librarian

Book Review Tuesday

Curious about how the Internet has changed how we view facts, knowledge, and expert opinion?

Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts aren’t the Facts, Experts and Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room by David Weinberger is an interesting and accessible optimist’s view of how the Internet has changed our understanding of information.  David Weinberger highlights new knowledge gathering concepts such as “crowd sourcing” research, appealing to “citizen-experts,” and the benefits and risks in allowing everyone an equal voice in the conversation.  Weinberger acknowledges that this last attribute can be both populist and unsettling when trying to determine an expert opinion on a topic.

Weinberger takes the time to place these new knowledge concepts within historical context.  I appreciated Weinberger’s explanation of the concept of long form thought.  In the past, when communicating with colleagues was more difficult and print media limited the ability to correct mistakes or offer clarification on a topic, experts tended to write long form arguments.  This is where one would try to think of all the arguments that could be made against one’s theory and offer a clarification or rebuttal to this imagined argument.  Weinberger offers Darwin’s On the Origin of Species as an example of this, saying, “Darwin spends a full six out of fifteen chapters addressing objections he imagines his readers may have” (p. 94).  I also enjoyed the section where Weinberger admits, and explicates his reasoning for, writing a long form argument – this book – about web form knowledge.  While I am not sure I agree with the cover flap’s claim that “this groundbreaking book shakes the foundations of our concept of knowledge,” the context that Weinberger put around how information “works” in the digital age is well worth reading.

The library call number for this item is HM851.W4297 2011.

-Carrie Fry, Electronic Services/Systems Librarian, Librarian for Health Sciences

The two Books of homilies (copy dated 1676)

Steve Perisho, Theology and Philosophy Librarian, and curator of the Library’s Emmanuel Room, talks about a rare find in the Wesleyan, Wesleyan Holiness, and Free Methodist Collection and recounts the history surrounding this unique item. Lee Staman did the initial research into the Senkler family.

When the thirty-five-year-old Anglican priest John Wesley, six months or so after having felt his heart “strangely warmed”, 1 “began more narrowly to inquire into . . . the doctrine of the Church of England” 2, he turned to the Edwardian Book of homilies, and before the year was out had published a twelve-page condensation of three of them entitled The doctrine of salvation, faith, and good works (1738) 3. This “went through [twenty] editions in his lifetime and was a staple . . . [of] Methodist instruction.” 4 “The book which, next to the Holy Scripture, was of the greatest use to [the earliest ‘Methodists’] in settling their judgment as to the grand point of justification by faith,” he noted (looking back almost fifty years later in 1787), “was the Book of Homilies.5

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Notes:

  1. John Wesley, ed. Albert C. Outler (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980 [1964]), 66.
  2. Journal II, 101, as quoted in John Wesley, ed. Outler, 121.
  3. 13th ed., 1797:  http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00000069/00001.
  4. John Wesley, ed. Outler, 66, as corrected in Doctrinal and controversial treatises I, ed. Randy L. Maddox, vol. 12 of The works of John Wesley =The bicentennial edition of the works of John Wesley, ed. Randy L. Maddox (Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 2012), 29.
  5. Sermon 107, “On God’s vineyard.” Sermons III, 71-114, ed. Albert C. Outler, vol. 3 of The works of John Wesley =The bicentennial edition of the works of John Wesley, ed. Albert C. Outler (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1986), 505.  See also Michael Pasquarello, “Evangelizing England:  the importance of the Book of homilies for the popular preaching of Hugh Latimer & John Wesley,” Asbury theological journal 59, nos. 1-2 (Spring/Fall 2004):  151-159.

February Reading List

Want to catch up on your reading list of works by and about African Americans in honor of Black History month? Drop by the SPU library and take a look at the book display adjacent to the Circulation Desk to preview some of our relevant items.

Book display organized by Stephanie Rubesh, Access Services

New books you might want to add to your list of must-reads include:

I have a dream, by Martin Luther King, Jr.Kadir Nelson
An illustrated edition of Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.

 

Life upon these shores : looking at African American history, 1513-2008 by Henry Louis Gates
African American involvement in American history, society, politics, and culture.

 

Unspoken : a story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
A wordless picture book.

 

For more items, including ebooks, owned by our library and related to African American literature, culture, and history, click here to view a WorldCat list.