Friday, January 25, 2008


The Turks Today by Andrew Mango
Mango follows up his biography of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, with this excellent review of the history of Turkey since Ataturk's death on October 10, 1938. He covers the political developments, the origins of the Cypress, Armenian, Greek, and especially Kurdish conflicts, as well as a good description of each region of the country (its history and current situation) with a chapter dedicated to Istanbul and another to Ankara. I found myself in a very different place in terms of understanding Turkey after having read the book. I also enjoyed taking many of his quotes and asking my classmates if they were accurate. I found that for the most part my classmates acnowledged that he described things accurately.

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for literature (the first Turk to do so, I think). I thought I should read one of his books given that I am trying to learn about Turkish culture. My Name is Red is set during Ottoman times in the 16th century, if I remember correctly. The book is set among the Sultan's artists who are composing a special and controversial book for the sultan. Europeans have started painting portraits which is the height of blasphemy to the Muslim Ottomans who think that man should never be the center and that all paintings should be from Allah's perspective. However, the Sultan wants a portrait of himself in the book. With anger and jealousy flaring a murder has taken place. The reader has knows that one of the central characters has done it but does not know who until the very end of the book. We follow the main character, Black, as he tries to solve the murder and marry the woman he loves. The story is a bit depressing and rather crude/lude, but overall I did like it and feel that I understand more about this place in which we are now living.

Overcoming Hurts & Anger by Dr. Dwight Carlson
I have known Dr. Carlson since 1993 when we were together (in a group) on a trip to Kazakstan, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. He and his wife are precious people and they have encouraged Laurie and I tremendously in our walks with Jesus. Dr. Carlson's life is as much a testimony as any book he could write, but, nevertheless, his books are excellent. This book is aptly titled as he discusses different ways we are hurt and how, when it is not dealt with/healed, it often expresses itself in anger. He covers the many faces of anger (not just the stereotypical angry outburst) and discusses how to "overcome" it as the title indicates. I have copied below the blurb from
Overcoming Hurts & Anger (300,000 in print) has been helping people deal with the hurt feelings and angry responses that wreak havoc in many relationships. In this thoroughly revised and expanded edition of his bestselling book, Dwight Carlson presents balanced, biblical insight for openly and honestly dealing with powerful emotions that everyone experiences at one time or another.

The Q'uran
I try to read this one time each year. Living among Muslims it seemed an important thing to do when I orginally decided to do it. I found that reading through the whole book was helpful in coming to a better understanding of the many things said on all sides in the current craziness involving Islam and the West from conservative Christians, to radical Muslims, from liberal, "tolerant" people to liberal western Muslims, as well as from our neighbors in the three Muslim-majority countries in which we have lived. I prefer not to write anything regarding my thoughts on what the Koran says as they could be so easily misconstrued, although I am happy to talk about it in person with anyone who would like.
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