Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - January 2, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
Book Reviews Another collection of books in brief "P1 a n e t s and Life" by P. H. A. Sneath (Thames and Hndson, 216pp., $4.25, soft-back, distributed by Oxford). PACKED with information about the universe and life en the planet earth, this book could prove to be a useful reference - for a few years. Such Is the pace at which new knowledge la discovered that no book of this nature can be authoritative for long. Material on space travel and the possibilities of life on other planets makes the book of special interest in our time. The illustrations are beautiful and abundant. "Inconographs" by May Swenson (Scrlbners, 88pp., 9S.25, distributed by Sawders of Toronto)., rpHE type on the pages is ar-* ranged to give a visual impression of the content of the poems-hence the title to the collection. Some arrangements are more obvious than others. They all suggest that it is fun to try to give shape to thoughts. There are 56 poems in the collection dealing with all manner of things from objects to current events. "The Law of Delay" by C. Northcote Parkinson (Murray, 128pps., $5.95, distributed by Longman Canada Ltd.). COME of Parkinson's hu-^ morous probing of human institutions and behavior is exemplified in this collection of pieces but those who are familiar with his earlier writings may be disappointed. Not all of these essays attempt to be amusing. His proposal that university presidents take special training - even as military officers go to staff college - is a serious proposition and got a lot of attention when it was first made public. Likewise his conjecture that beards are favored i:\ times of uncertainty may be worth more consideration. The book is illustrated by Osbert Lancaster. "What's It Worths? And Where Yon Can Sell It" by Jerry Mack (Texbooks, P.O. Box 3862 San Angelo. Texas 76901, paperback. !)4pp, 83.95). 'THERE seems to be a col-lector's market for almost everything that has ever baen produced. A sampling of buyers for dozens of things is provided alphabetically - I assume it is only a sampling because stamp and coin dealers alone could fill the pages of this little book. Mr. Mack appears to be aware of this since he provides a list of publications for collectors. "Matgret's Boyhood Friend" by Georges Simenon (Harconrt Brace Jovanovich, f82pp, $5.75, distributed by lOngman Canada Ltd.) PROLIFIC writer Georges Simenon continues to turn out his product. Inspector Mai-gret solves the mystery of the murder of a woman who had five regular lovers - three of whom thought they were exclusive. The clues to the solution of the crime are dropped along the way, as most readers will discover when they have reached the end. "Scandal In The Assembly" by Morris L. West and Robert Francis (Morrow, 182pp., $5.95, distributed by George J. McLeod, Ltd.). �RITICISM of the Roman Catholic Church appears to be unquenchable. The attack in this book is directed toward the marriage and divorce laws of the church. These laws undoubtedly work hardship on some people but there is always the escape valve afforded through simply leaving the church. Real oppression comes only when the state has such laws. Thus the book is not likely to arouse much concern outside the membership of the Roman Catholic Church. West is a well-known novelist; Francis is a journalist. "Canada on Wheels: A Portfolio of Early Canadian Cars" by John Do Bondt (Obcron, 48pp., $5.95). 4 NTIQUE cars have a fasci-& nation all their own. This is especially so if they can be observed in operating condition. The next best thing to seeing a display of old cars is to have a book of pictures. A unique feature of tins portfolio is that it portrays the automobiles in the advertisements of the time. They run from 1904 to 1931 after which time Canadian cars ceased to have a distinctive identity. "Quick Canadian Facts: The Canadian Pocket Encyclopedia" edited by C. J. Harris (Quick Canadian Facts, 2011 Star Bldg., Toronto, lOuppi., 95 cents). rpHE twenty-sixth annual edition of this useful little reference book varies little from last year's version. Some ma- terial has been rearranged and the quick history of Canada has been carried forward to mid-1970. Some of the statistical material will not change until the next census data is available and it looks as though the selection of irrelevancies in the quick history will continue as long as C. J. Harris is the editor. "Amber, A Very Personal Cat" by Gladys Taber (Lip-plncott, 154 pages, $7.25, distributed by McClelland and Stewart Ltd.). AN Abyssinian cat named Amber is the subject of this book. A person has to like cats a great deal to set out to write a book about a specific one - only known for a year and a month at that! Lovers of cats would probably enjoy every word of this book as well as the 20 black and white photographs. "The Lives of Wasps and Bees" by Sir Christopher Andrew cs (Chatto and Wlndus, 204pp., $7.00, distributed by Clarke, Irwin and Company, Ltd.). 'THERE is more information about the various kinds of wasps and bees in this book than probably most readers want to possess. But the knowledge displayed by Sir Christopher Andrewes is impressive. He does not appear, however, to be aware of the fact that K. von Frisch's thesis that bees communicate by means of dances has been challenged by an American researcher. Although it is obvious from reading the book that wasps perform a useful function as predators of other insects there are not likely to be many picnickers who will feel more kindly disposed toward them. The book includes a ifumber of black and white photographs of the subjects. - "Time Without Clocks: How Nature Tells Time" by Dr. Albert PHtz and Roger VanBever (Grossct and Dun-lap, 128 pages, $4.95, distributed by George J. McLeod, Ltd.). 'PHE amazing responsive-ness of living things to the earth's relationships to sun and moon has long fascinated scientists. S'ome of the research into the mystery of how creatures "tell time," and the results so far obtained, is the subject of this book. Well illustrated, printed in large type, this is an interesting presentation of an intriguing part of nature. DOUG WALKER. In the bleak mid-winter -Photo by Wolter Kerb�r A reconstruction of theistic thought F "The Foundations of Belief" by Leslie Dewart (Herder and Herder, 526 pages, $1095). lEW, if any, books on theo-ology have ever caused the kind of stir that was produced by the publication of Bishop John Robinson's paperback, Honest to God. In that book, the inadequacies of traditional theological thought were faced and an attempt was made to restate the fundamentals of Christianity. Three years after the bishop's bomb, a Roman Catholic philosopher in Toronto, Leslie Dewart, made a further con- tribution to the discussion. Although his book, The Future of Belief, was hailed as "epochal," it failed to get much attention outside academic circles. In that book the author demonstrated that much of Christian theology is expressed in the Greek philosophical tradition which has now become largely meaningless. It is now necessary, he argued, to try to disengage the faith from that format so as to save it from distortion and unreality. Now Leslie Dewart has written a sequel, The Foundations of Belief, which is nearly two and a half times as long and at least that much more difficult to read. This is regrettable be- Incessant flashbacks "The Honeyman Festival", by Marian Engcl (The House of Anansi: 131pps., $2.50). 'THE main characters in this book are a huge house in an advanced state of disrepair and a huge woman in the final stages of pregnancy. Minn Burge, bulging with her fourth child, wanders around the house poking at the plaster and stamping out cockroaches, while through her head float memories of what she once i Jazz Artists "The Jaw Tradition" by Martin Williams (Oxford. 232pp., $7.25). JAZZ enthusiasts will appreciate this book with its thorough discussion of the performances of sixteen of the best and most influential artists in that field. I recognized the names of most of the musicians and some of the pieces they played but the analysis of how the music was performed was beyond my ken. It made me wish I had access to a collection of jazz recordings so that I could play the selections and listen for what Mr. Williams writes about. Since the book is not intended as a history of the jazz musicians the author cannot be faulted for the paucity of information he provides about the performers. But it is tantalizing to be told that someone had a tragic life - as in the case of singer Billie Holiday - and not know what made it tragic. Probably most readers of the book will know most of the things to which Mr. Williams merely alludes because only jazz fanciers are likely to read it. So it is not a serious ommission. The book concludes with twelve pages of discographical notes which will enhance it for the jazz lovers. DOUG WALKER. was and thoughts of what she had become. We've all done the same thing - examing our lives, letting random thoughts, questions, judgments come and go in our minds. Mrs. Engels has Minn drift through this kind of unstructured self-evaluation for 131 pages. This type of undirected, free-association thinking, while entertaining enough (although not necessarily useful) if the subject is oneself, can wear thin in a novel unless one identifies strongly with the heroine. This reviewer, despite a constant struggle all the way through to convince himself the plight of Minn Burge was really worth worrying about, came out at the end with that feeling one gets after emerging from a satisfying aesthetic experience. Not the kind of emotional wringing - out one gets from "King Lear", but close enough to be recognizable as the same type of response. Minn Burge's inner conflict (how does an ex-starlet cope with the reality of raising four kids in an old house while her husband is in Katmandu) is hardly the kind of thing to set one's pulse racing. But, like any heroine worth her salt, Minn is basically a human being. Her problems are universal and one doesn't have to be expecting his (her) fourth child in order to identify with her, at least to some extent. The style, consistent with the subject matter, can be difficult. Bits and pieces of old memories come and go swiftly and with little or no warning. The incessant flashbacks make it easy to become disoriented. And the long introspective passages can become boring. On the whole, a good book. Not a classic, but a worthwhile contribution to the growing body of Canati'.an literaiure. HERB JOHNSON. cause he has some important things to say. In a section of the book called The Reconstruction of Theistic Belief, he contends that it is a mistake-to ascribe being to God since it leads to attempting a "physical" concept. He writes, "It is not by chance that no one has ever seen God in himself: for God is not visible (or intelligible, or relatable to) in himself . . God's 'mysteriousness' is not an accident it is intrinsic to the essence of God." And further, "... God becomes evident to man as that which defines the direction of man's self-creation and as the ground of man's self-concept and self-projection . . . God has no reality outside human experience." Curiously, while Bishop Robinson relied heavily on the jthinking of Paul Tiilich, there is~~not-~a_6olitary reference to him in Leslie Dewart's book. This may be because he dealt with Tillich's concept of God as the ground of being in his earlier book- There he argued that Tillich's theology was insufficiently radical because "being" was held to be essential to the conceiving of reality. Perhaps the enterprise of trying to speak of God is hopeless. We may not be able to improve on the conclusion reached by St. Augustine: "there is in the mind no knowledge of God except the knowledge of how it does not know Him." Accordingly, he said, "it becomes our duty to envisage God, if we can and so far as we can as good without quality, great without quantity, creator without necessity, foremost with relations, comprehending all things but possessing no mode of existande, everywhere present but without location, eternal without subjection to time, capable of action without submitting to the charges of mutable things and of feeling with* out passion." Then he added, "Whoever thus thinks of God, although he is by no means able to discover Him, nevertheless takes such precautions as are possible against entertaining false notions regarding Him." Difficult as the task may bo, seeking the reconstruction of theistic thought has a compel-lingness about it. Bishop Robinson may have failed to reach adequate conclusions but he did write so that those not trained in theological and philosophical thought could read with some appreciation. Leslie Dewart's publisher would do a service to readers if a brief and popularized statement of his thinking could be brought out. DOUG WALKER. Cause for despair "Why Are We Still In Vietnam" edited by Sam Brown and Len Ackland (Random House, 144 pages, $6.95). PRESIDENT RICHARD M. Nixon entered the White House nearly two years ago with a mandate to end the Vietnam war. That war continues and, according to the writer of the first essay in this book, has now become Nixon's war. Jeffrey Record .believes that Mr. Nixon has no intention of ending the war - neither does George McT. Kahin who sees Vietnamization as simply another name for Pacification or military domination of the country. Four essays focus on South Vietnam's tragic state. They deal with the disillusionment the people have as a result of the kind of government in power; the erosion of the social fabric because of the impact of the Americans; the terrible loss of life due mainly to American fire-power; the destruction of the ecosystem. Two essays probe the effect of the war on American society. The social disruptions caused by war are very frightening and the possible future reaction of a defeated military corps is ominous. In an essay on the effect of the war on the Ameri- can economy, Professor Robert Eisner, argues that instead of stimulating the economy the war has had disastrous consequences and could mean ruin. Senator George McGovorn, noted critic of the war, has contributed an essay discussing the U.S'. Senate's opportunity to save face for Mr. Nixon and take responsibility for defeat. He, like others of the writers, does not buy the argument that withdrawal would lead to a bloodbath - the bloodbath has already taken Dlace and continues. One of the editors, Seyom Brown, has a concluding essay in which he argues that continuing the war is more costly than absorbing defeat. He proposes that the U.S. divest itself of a series of delusions such as that it has a special political-mentor function in Asia. This book should lead men to repent of the folly of such a war as that in Vietnam but it most likely won't - not men such as President Nixon anyway. Distressing as the contents of the book are, it is more distressing to realize the impotence of the arguments when pitted against the minds of the mighly. DOUG WALKER. Focus on the University University education for all? By I. J. Adct-Czlowiekowski, U. of L. TlffR. GOODALL'S fine article "What is iT1 a university education" (The HerBld, Dec, 9) has prompted me to make a few observations which do not challenge the validity of his views, but rather add some complementary considerations. The controversy about the aims and content of a university education is by no means a new one. It raged a century ago when Cardinal Newman wrote his mem* orable discourse "The Idea of a University" and again it came to the fore recently in the wake of a world-wide student rebellion. The venerable Cardinal demonstrated very convincingly the usefulness of a liberal education which aims at "the general culture of mind and is the best aid to professional and scientific study." Pursuing further his argument, Cardinal Newman contends that one of the greatest uses of a liberal education is the formation of "an acquired faculty of judgment, of clear-sightedness, of sagacity, of wisdom, of philosophical reach of mind and of intellectual self-possession." Mr. Goodall reaffirms this broad meaning of utility by which a liberal education benefits the society at large and I concur with him wholeheartedly. I also share the opinion, to my mind self-evident, that a high quality of university education is conducive to a country's welfare and essential to its culture. This is particularly true in our time characterized by extremely rapid advances in the field of science and applied technology. Where I, however, differ from Mr. Good-all is on the point of a free university education available to all who want it. While this postulate is likely to be popular because of its democratic tinge, I am not so sure whether it is realistic, or even desirable. A university education is by no means a free good. It costs the nation a large amount of money; according to the conservative estimates the current public expenditures on higher education in this country exceed $2 billion and they are likely to expand rapidly due to soaring enrolment and increasing expenditures per student. Vast resources in terms of capital goods, highly trained staff, costly equipment and great mental and physical efforts are nowadays being channelled into higher education. For this reason we ought to be sure that those whom we try to educate not only want education, but also have the ability and are capable of undertaking the necessary mental effort and moral discipline required for a successful completion of their studies. In this regard there is much to be desired; in many cases students come to the university poorly prepared and are reluctant to take "tough" courses which require much labor, painstaking attention and straight reasoning ability. The youngsters have a "right" to a university education solely on the strength of a proven thirst for knowledge and diligent work. If they lack these qualities of mind and character they ought to be discouraged from embarking upon a university career. In our degree-ridden society there is a tremendous pressure on the youngsters to go to college and obtain some kind of a degree, regardless of its value, as if a person were not worthy of r e s p e ct and deprived of an intrinsic quality, without having gone to college. Another aspect of higher education to which Mr. Goodall is alluding en passant is the "bread and butter" orientation of the government and their constituents. This to me is not a well-founded charge. For whereas a low utilitarianism in matters pertaining to education is certainly inappropriate some attempt at balancing the costs and benefits of a university education accruing to a society is indispensable. In olden times when the universities were financed from a private purse, by means of high fees and generous endowments and when the students were recruited mainly from the well-to-do classes of society, it was no business of the universities to concern themselves with these mundane matters. Nor did the government have to care about what disciplines the students engaged in. Today, however, this is no longer the case. The universities draw most of their financial support from the taxpayer's money, and therefore must be aware of their social responsibilities. They should at all times be mindful not to produce great multitudes of graduates in such worthy disciplines as sociology, anthropology, political science and psychology for whom the prospects of a useful employment are not exactly very bright. Some other countries Have already made a mistake in producing unemployable surpluses in the aforementioned areas and discovered to their dismay, that these young unemployed intellectuals were found in the forefront of the student rebellion. The shortage of suitable employment for graduates in humanities and in social science contributed in no small measure to the student unrest in western Europe. There is some indication of unemployment among the graduates in the U.S. and in Canada as well. Perhaps it is a temporary phenomenon due to an economic slump. But it may well be a harbinger of a structural unemployment among the educated whose services are no longer In strong demand, but who, because of exaggerated expectations of high income and rank are unwilling to accept low pay employment. The Voice Of One -By DR. FRANK S. MORLEY The house of life 17CUMENICS, economics, and ecology are three words deriving from the same Greek word for "house," "oikia." The church has talked about ecumenics until bored congregations have gone fast asleep. From time to time, beginning with the prophets of ancient Israel, the church has had much to say about economics, though in contemporary times its voice has been sadly muted. After all, big institutions require big money for support and one doesn't want to be offensive to the folk who pay the bills. Nevertheless the church can take much credit for the social concern in modern society for the poor, sick, unemployed, and aged. From pulpit and church conferences, in reports and pamphlets, the church has kept up a steady drum-beat on the theme of social justice. In the matter of ecology, unhappily, the church has not been similarly alert, informed, or emphatic. Perhaps that is because so many people today do not believe the first verse of Genesis - "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." The utterly incredible notion, so dear to the Communist philosophy, has taken its place, that is mechanical evolution. The world not only lost meaning and purpose, but also value. In mechanistic evolution no "Presence . . . disturbs me with the joy of elevated thoughts." In the smog of the sky and pollution of the waters, who could think that "the sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills and the plains,-are not these, O Soul, the vision of Him who reigns?" Reverence and mystery have no place in the world of mechanical evolution. When faith in the Divine Creator goes, then who believes in "a far-off divine event to which the whole creation moves?" But if religion is to say anything about anything, then it must have something to say about man's environment. Is it not a pity that the humane laws of Deuteronomy regarding protection of the soil do not prevail? The ancient Hebrews bad a high regard for this good earth which would never have permitted the fearful destruction of Vietnam. Nor would they have been content with our cosmetic approach to the environmental problem. Some of these predators, who have raped this good earth and ancbecked are fouling the water and vomiting smoke and car exhaust into the skies, escape without dire punishment. How can man combat the publio callousness, the vested interests of billions of dollars in factories and the petroleum complex, or even the ordinary housewife with her destructive detergents?1 Or what of the families who want not one but several huge cars in their garage to belch out nitrogen dioxide? Man's "oikos", man's house, is threatened with destruction, his vaunted civilization is destroying nature and life itself. When God looked upon creation, according to the Genesis story, He found it was "very good." What would he say of this technological age that we call "progress" which fouls the water and air, deadens the senses, and destroys the wild life? In "Since Silent Spring" Frank Graham shows how the worst nightmares of Rachel Carson are coming true. This profoundly moving book tells of the heroic struggle of Miss Carson against calumny and scoffing. It tells of further environmental disasters, of the massacre of birds in the air and fish in the rivers and of consequent effects on human beings. The tale is poignant and tragic. The documentation is incontrovertible, is beyond any doubt, proving that man, the great predator, is conniving at his self-destruction. It is said that one reason for the popularity of Zen Buddhism is the Western alienation from nature. The late D. T. Suzuki, famous interpreter of Zen Buddhism, held that man's spiritual problems were inseparable from his physical environment, that man had a oneness with nature, an identity with nature. This differs from the Hebrew, who saw man and God as both above nature. The Hebrews were not pantheists. Nevertheless Zen Buddhism has a salutary rebuke to the West which has deserted its Hebrew tradition and teaches us, as the Hebrews did, that there is more in nature than can be measured or exploited by modern technology.