Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Reading Envy 017: Homeric Radiation at Lake Inverness

In this episode we bring our pal Luke Burrage, who was recording past midnight in Berlin for Episode 017.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy Episode 017

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Books discussed:


The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark by Dennis Ronald MacDonald
what the world will look like when the water leaves us by Laura van den Berg
Ill Met in Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber
The Son of God in the Roman World by Michael Peppard
As They Were by M.F.K. Fisher

Other books and topics that came up along the way:
The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon
If I Die in a Combat Zone: Box Me Up and Ship Me Home by Tim O'Brien
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, the new audiobook
The "Bryan List" of post-modern literature (see comments on Reading Envy Episode 003)
SFF Audio Odyssey readalong (first of six episodes)
Engaging the Powers by Walter Wink
Find Me by Laura van den Berg
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
George Singleton, author
George Saunders, author
The Big Time by Fritz Leiber
The Persistence of Vision by John Varley
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Gladiator, the movie, which Jenny has never seen
Les Miserables, the movie, where Russell Crowe sings
Les Miserables, the 25th anniversary tv special

You can find Luke Burrage, international juggler and entertainer, on his website.  He is also known for the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, where he reviews every single science fiction book that he reads.

More stalking:
Jenny at GoodReads
Scott at GoodReads
Jenny on Twitter
Scott on Twitter
Scott on his blog


  1. Wow, where to begin? Jesus not a historic figure, but rather a fictional construct derived from Homer's Odyssey and the Roman Caesars? These are the sorts of fringe theories you often hear from Christianity's skeptics and naysayers. Rather than accept them at face value, I recommend doing some individual research on the subject of the historical Jesus. By all means, read the books Luke Burrage recommended, but do yourself the service of looking at other views on the issue as well.

    I recommend N.T Wright's The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is and Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ.

    Also, for a more rigorous and academic treatment of the subject, check out Wright's 3 part series Christian Origins and the Question of God.


    On the issue of holding the position that Jesus was not an actual historic figure and people being fired for saying so, that is what academic tenure is for. This protects professors who hold minority opinions from being unduly terminated for expressing them. With all due respect, it is my opinion that the reason you don't have many scholars saying Jesus is a fictional character is simply because it's a dubious statement that compromises the academic and professional credibility of those who hold to it, who are few in number.

    I hope my tone is not coming across as hostile or contentious, I do not wish to be disrespectful in any way. These are indeed interesting issues to raise, and this is a good time to investigate them, Happy Christmas everyone! :-)

    1. I didn't think the scholars Luke read were saying Jesus did or did not exist. I thought they were showing that the way the gospel of Mark was written followed the literary style and themes of the time, as a bridge to the people who would have been the first readers. I think Luke was interested in that connection from a historical-literary perspective, and I actually don't know what he believes specifically. I didn't have any interest in a theological debate on a reading podcast, but wow it's interesting the variety of books people bring to discuss.

      Did you notice my mention of Walter Wink? His books discussing "Jesus's third way'" are an intriguing perspective no matter your background.

      Thanks for listening so carefully and commenting!

    2. Wink's third way is new to me, and a very interesting perspective on the sermon on the mount. Those are some difficult teachings of Jesus to approach in practical terms, and I appreciate that Wink put so much thought into it. I marvel at the ability of scholars to deal in such weighty ideas as a regular process of their vocation. It can be mentally exhausting to even consider, then toss in multiple languages and historical context to boot, whew!

  2. Oh yes, sorry I forgot to recommend the Unbelievable? podcast out of the U.K. It's a fascinating show that brings together Christians and non-Christians of all sorts to discuss topics such as this. Unlike the foolishness you see on U.S. cable news networks, people have polite and considerate discussions about subjects they disagree about- crazy, I know. ;-)

    This particular episode raises the question "Did Jesus exist?"

  3. Hi Philip!

    Thanks for the podcast recommendation.

    I think the authors of both books believe that Jesus existed, but got the impression that Luke is skeptical. I, of course, do believe that Jesus existed, but also believe that context - who the gospel writers were writing for, and how they did it - is very interesting.

    I like Tolkien and Lewis on myth and Christianity. I think I fit in what Luke called "mythist"? I hope I got that right and understand. That myth contains shadows of Truth is no surprise to me.

    1. Well said regarding myths containing shadows of Truth, Scott. I also listen to this other podcast where they discuss stories and traces of "the One Reality" they find in them. ;-)

    2. You know, I think I've heard of that one, with the Patron Saint Flannery O'Connor?

    3. Someday, I'll give that one a listen! :D


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