Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 200s

239: The Culting of America by Ron Rhodes

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239.9: Rhodes, Ron. The Culting of America. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1994. 224 pp. ISBN 1-56507-186-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 230: Christianity and Christian theology
  • 239: Apologetics and polemics
  • 239.9: Polemics against other groups in postapostolic times

For more than 2,000 years, Christianity has been shaped and reshaped by both its believers and its leaders. Sometimes, change happens in reaction to other faiths and sometimes, that change comes from within. Much like the other major world religions, Christianity and Christians can be categorized and subcategorized based on how they interpret their holy text or texts. There are Baptists, Adventists, Calvinists, Jesuits, and so on. Ron Rhodes’s The Culting of America is a polemical look at differing new sects of religion and how they can either shape or threaten modern Christianity.

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212: The Proof of God by Larry Witham

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212: Witham, Larry. The Proof of God: The Debate that Shaped Modern Belief. New York: Atlas & Co., 2008. 195 pp. ISBN 978-0-9777433-6-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 210: Philosophy and theory of religion
  • 212: Existence, ways of knowing, and attributes of God

In the late 1070s CE, Anselm, a Benedictine monk at the abbey of Bec hit upon a wondrous proof of the existence of God. Being a monk, it was rather in his best interest to ensure that one could not think away God’s being, but the argument he devised has guided religious logic for nearly 1,000 years. The Ontological Argument, as it has since been named has influenced the writings of Ockham, Descartes, and Bertrand Russell. On the other side, Anselm has garnered Thomas Aquinas, Kant, and David Hume as detractors. Larry Witham’s The Proof of God is a chronicle of the life of Anselm, and how his work and politics shaped modern religion.

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273: Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe by Edward Peters

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273.6: Peters, Edward, ed. Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe: Documents in Translation. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1980. 307 pp. ISBN 0-8122-1103-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 270: History of Christianity
  • 273: Doctrinal controversies and heresies in general church history
  • 273.6: 6th to 16th centuries

Every person is a unique entity. Because there are billions of people, there are billions of individual perspectives and beliefs. This creates a problem for any organization whose lifeblood is that everybody thinks along the same lines. Almost from the beginning, Christianity has had its share of splinter groups, in-fighting, and outright civil wars. Edward Peters, in Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe, traces the path of Christian writers who focus their treatises on heretics, sects, and orthodoxy. From Tertullian to John of Brevicoxa, we get nearly one thousand years of church voices on those who seek to disagree.

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229: Reading Judas by Pagels and King

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229.8: Pagels, Elaine and Karen L. King. Reading Judas: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity. New York: Viking Penguin, 2007. 165 pp. ISBN 0-6700-3845-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 220: The Bible
  • 229: Apocrypha, pseudepigrapha, and other intertestamental works
  • 229.8: Pseudo gospels

In Christian history, Jesus Christ gathered twelve people to his side to be his apostles and spread his beliefs throughout the world. According to The Bible, Judas Iscariot accepts payment of thirty silver coins from the Sanhedrin priests and agrees to point out Jesus to the local authorities so that he can be captured and tried for purporting to be the Son of God. Judas’s betrayal results in the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection as depicted later in the Gospels. The traditional telling of this matter is done by the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—, but what if Judas himself got a say in the matter? In the 1970s, a papyrus codex was discovered near Beni Masah, Egypt which appears to be from Judas’s point of view. In Reading Judas, Elaine Pagels and Karen King tackle the new text to see if it can shed new light on old mythology.

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202: Armageddon Now by Jim and Barbara Willis

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202.3: Willis, Jim and Barbara Willis. Armageddon Now: The End of the World from A to Z. Canton, MI: Visible Ink Press, 2006. 426 pp. ISBN 1-57859-211-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 202: Doctrines
  • 202.3: Eschatology

While the Book of Revelation covers the intricate and symbolic end of the Christian world, Jim and Barbara Willis are interested in every possible postulated apocalypse. In Armageddon Now, they gather together (alphabetically) every conjectured end of the world. From the Abomination of Desolation to Zoroastrianism, they cover Armageddon from an interesting and removed perspective. All of these can’t possibly be true, but each one is given equal weight and description. There are even sections on catastrophic world collapse due to global warming, alien invasion, meteors, and even doomsday cults.

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254: Forbidden Fruit Creates Many Jams by Mary Katherine and David Compton

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254.4: Compton, Mary Katherine and David Compton. Forbidden Fruit Creates Many Jams: Roadside Church Signs Across America. New York: New American Library, 2001. 134 pp. ISBN 0-451-20406-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 250: Christian observances in daily life
  • 254: Parish administration
  • 254.4: Public relations and publicity

Mary and David Compton’s Forbidden Fruit Creates Many Jams is probably as simple a book as one can conceive. Go around, collect witty saying from church signs, and present them in a compact volume to be consumed quickly without much fluff. I literally cannot say much more about it. Some are funny, some fall flat, some are judgmental, and some are uninspired. There’s no real originality or synthesis here, just two hundred or so pieces of text from signs.

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228: A History of the End of the World by Jonathan Kirsch

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228: Kirsch, Jonathan. A History of the End of the World: How the Most Controversial Book in the Bible Changed the Course of Western Civilization. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. 256 pp. ISBN 978-0-0608-1698-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 220: The Bible
  • 228: Revelation (Apocalypse)

After vexillology (the study of flags and their designs) and ichthyology (the study of fishes), my third favorite “ology” is eschatology: the study of the end of times. It is simultaneously incredibly easy and infinitely impossible to posit what the future will hold, and even more so when talking about the end of the future. How will humanity live out its final days? Will we relocate to a new planet? Will we succumb to our own destructive forces? Or will a grand creator revisit their creation and judge those left on the last day? Jonathan Kirsch’s A History of the End of the World looks at the Biblical writing concerning the end of days and finds that a lot of the prophecies influenced culture, history, and even civilization itself.

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