Archives For Halden Doerge


Halden Doerge reflects on
Slavoj Zizek’s new book Violence 


“I’m currently reading Slavoj Žižek’s latest book, Violence: Six Sideways Reflections. The book it vintage Žižek, going off on somewhat related tangents frequently that are always thought-provoking and often entertaining. What is helpful about the book is the way in which it rightly complexifies talk of violence and peace. Žižek delineates three forms that violence takes, one which we are familiar with, and two which tend to happen below the surface of our perceptions about society. The first form of violence that Žižek describes is what we commonly think of as violence: the event of one person perpetrating harm on another. This Žižek calls “subjective violence.” It is clear and visible and it is always perpetrated by a guilty subject. The central thing to note about how we perceive this form of violence is that it is always an interruption into a prior background of tranquility and peace. First things are in a state of peace and then that peace is disrupted by an act of violence.  … ”


Read the full review: 

Slavoj Žižek.

Paperback. Picador. 2008.
Buy now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $11 ] [ Amazon ]

Books and Culture reviews
Kathleen Norris’s newest book
Acedia and Me.

If Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett had waited a few years to perform their chart-topping hit so that they could first read Kathleen Norris’ new book Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life, they might have described more insightfully the “half-past twelve” tedium they were escaping for a “five-o’clock somewhere” drink. And country music aficionados like me might have understood better why we seek diversions from the daily tasks that seem so mind-numbingly routine.

Ever since Norris first encountered the word acedia in early monastic writings twenty years ago, she has been mulling it over, wiping the dust off this forgotten concept. In the book that grew out of that preoccupation, she examines her life—and her marriage in particular—in order to illustrate acedia’s characteristics, dangers, and cures, contemplating the many facets of this vice with the help of monks, psychologists, philosophers, poets, novelists, and pharmacologists.  …”

Read the full review:

Acedia and Me.
Kathleen Norris.
Hardcover. Riverhead. 2008.
Buy now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $21] [ Amazon ]
Neal Stephenson’s newest novel

“A telling moment comes early in Anathem, Neal Stephenson’s latest mind-bogglingly ambitious epic saga. On the planet Arbre, mathematicians and philosophers have been segregated from the rest of humanity for a very, very long time. They live in “concents” — an intentional conflation of the words “concentration camp” and “convent.” As the story begins to unfold, our hero, Fraa Erasmus, is giving an outsider a tour of the concent’s main attraction, a magnificent clock that depends on the sun for daily synchronization.

In practiced tour guide patter, Erasmus casually observes: “But even during a nuclear winter, when it can be cloudy for a hundred years, the clock doesn’t get too far out of whack.”

The concent’s residents organize their lives according to a time scheme in which not just seasons, but nuclear winters, come and go. Outside the concent’s walls, the rest of humanity goes about its business like so many fast-food- and video-game-obsessed mayflies.


Read the full review:

Neal Stephenson.

Hardcover. Wm. Morrow. 2008.
Buy now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $24 ] [ Amazon ]


The 7th anniversary of 9/11 offers us the opportunity to reflect on all the chaos that has ensued.  Toward that end, Halden Doerge has recently reviewed Vinoth Ramachandra’s book Subverting Global Myths: Theology and the Public Issues Shaping Our World(Indeed, many of the “global myths” discussed in this book contributed both to the events of 9/11 and to the US response…) 

“… Ramachandra’s book represents the best of Christian social criticism. A profound understanding of Christian theology and the global realities that are shaping our world. Ramachandra is neither an alarmist, an ideologue, or a sectarian. Rather, he is simply a Christian who is willing to do the hard work of engaging in thick description and careful critique of the dangerous myths which shape the current global order. His book should be commended to all of us interested in forming a Christian way of understanding and being in the contemporary world of culture and power. “

Read the full review:

Subverting Global Myths:
Theology and the Public Issues Shaping Our World

Vinoth Ramachandra.
Hardcover. IVPress. 2008.
Buy now from: [ Doulos Christou Books $18] [ Amazon ]