Thursday, December 26, 2013

Did I meet the goal I forgot had I set for myself?

At the end of last year, Ross Douthat (just how do you say his last name anyway?) challenged us to

1) take out a subscription for (and read in its entirety) a magazine that holds the opposite political position that you do (so, liberals should take up National Review, conservatives The Nation, etc);  
2) read the writings of someone who lives in a different geographic setting that you do (urbanites, check out the rural-minded Front Porch Republic; middle Americans, why not read the New York Times?);  
3) read the fringes--libertarians, Evangelical social Christians, communitarians, etc.

So, how have I measured up?

1) fail, utterly. While I have spent significant time reading books (selections listed below) and articles written by those with whom I disagree, that is exactly what Douthat said doesn't count. I have not subscribed to any opposite-me periodical and read it in its entirety. And now that I'm in reduced financial circumstances, this one may have to be a wash. The score: 0-1
2) win, technically. This one may be a bit unfair, since when I lived in DC (in the early part of this year), I was a fairly devoted follower of Front Porch Republic and a handful of other rural-focused publications. And now that I'm in middle-America, it's fairly easy just to keep up with the on-the-coast publications that I had followed living in DC. So while I've obeyed the letter of this suggestion, I can't claim to have followed its spirit. Fortunately, I'm not a legalist, so I'm going to call the score at this point 1-1. 
3) I think in the strictest sense of the term, I've got to call this a tie--and that because I am one of those people on the "fringes", so I can't count the reading it's fairly natural for me to read anyway. But then again, I am reading in this category. So: a tie.   
Which leaves me at 1-1-1. Possibly, this is the best I could have hoped for in a year as busy as 2013 has been...

The books I read this year with which I disagree (politically, and culled from my Goodreads list):

The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America by Bill Bryson
Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age by Steven Johnson (Review TBA)
What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael Sandel
Thinking the Twentieth Century by Tony Judt
Civilisation: A Personal View by Kenneth Clark
The Founders' Key: The Divine and Natural Connection between the Declaration and the Constitution, and what we risk by Losing it by Larry Arnn (Review TBA)

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