Some brief thoughts on a few recently read books

I won’t be writing full posts on these books either because they’ve been available for a while or their focus isn’t quite aligned with this blog. But I think they’re worth mentioning as books that I read, enjoyed, was challenged by, and recommend.

The first is Slavoj Žižek’s 2008 repackaging of his 1989 classic The Sublime Object of Ideology. Admittedly, there were stretches were I was lost. Then there were stretches where Žižek’s engagement with the thought of figures like Marx, Freud, Hegel, and Lacan were enlightening. For a helpful overview, see Epoch Philosophy’s video on the book.

The second is Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism. I found Fisher’s critiques of the problems of capitalism agreeable but as with many books like this one, it seems as if solutions are harder to provide. Again, not a paid promotion, but Epoch Philosophy’s overview of Capitalist Realism is more helpful than anything I’d write here.

Finally, I read Kenneth P. Miller’s Texas vs. California: A History of Their Struggle for the Future of America. It’s a wonderful book. I devoured it in a few days. Miller sees Texas and California as sibling rivals. He shows how Texas and California weren’t always on the polar opposite side of things but also how they evolved to be. The book goes back and forth, juxtaposing the two states’ origins, people, economies, and cultures before exploring how Texas turned deep red and California deep blue. The second half of the book contrasts their “rival models” on everything from taxes, labor, energy, the environment to poverty and other social issues. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a proud Californian who happens to live in Texas. I’ll always feel this way. But there were points where I can see how the Texas model is right for Texas (e.g. taxes) or at least understand why Texas approaches things as they do (e.g. energy). There were moments when I thought California could learn from Texas (e.g. affordable housing). But overall, I came away homesick for California mostly when reading about social issues where my values are far more Californian than Texan regarding things like embracing LGBTQIA+ peoples, welcoming immigrants, and promoting a woman’s right to her bodily autonomy (a.k.a. pro-choice), etc.

Vaccine effectiveness, California’s water crisis, and American individualism

A few news stories/podcasts that caught my attention this week:

Timeline: Religion in California

I’ve been thinking about religion in my home state. I’ve noticed there’s not much by way of a broad overview of the religious history of the state, so I’ve been collecting resources. Here’s a timeline and a few links that I’ve gathered thus far:

Timeline: Religion in California

1767-1784: Junipero Serra in Spanish California

1769-1821: Spanish Colonial Period

1769: Founding of Mission San Diego de Alcalá (SD)

1776: Founding of Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores) (SF)

1849: The ‘Gold Rush’ begins

Sept. 9, 1850: California Statehood

1851: Temple Israel founded in Stockton (longest continuous Jewish community)

1852: Tin How (Tianhou) Temple founded in San Francisco (oldest Daoist temple?).

1857: Sze-Yap Temple founded in San Francisco (first Buddhist temple) (SF)

Oct. 9, 1890-Sep. 27, 1944: Aimee Semple McPherson (LA)

1889: Temple Beth Sholom founded in San Leandro (oldest standing synagogue)

1900: The ‘Old Temple’ founded in San Francisco (first Hindu temple) (SF)

Apr. 9, 1906-1915: The Azusa Street Revival (LA)

Apr. 18, 1906: 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Oct. 24, 1912: Gurdwara Sahib Stockton founded in Stockton (first Sikh temple)

March 31, 1927-April 23rd, 1993: Caesar Chavez

1947: Founding of Fuller Theological Seminary

1949: Billy Graham’s Los Angeles Crusade

1952: Islamic Center of Southern California established (oldest mosque in California?)

1962: Graduate Theological Union (GTU) founded in Berkeley 

1964: The Council on Religion and the Homosexual (i.e. beginning of the California Gay Rights Movement) (SF) 

1965: Founding of the John Coltrane Church (N.L. Baham III,The Coltrane Church) (SF)

July, 1965: Jim Jones moves The Peoples Temple to Redwood Valley, CA 

Apr. 30, 1966: Founding of the Church of Satan by Anton LaVey (SF)

1968: The ‘Gold Base’ headquarters for the Church of Scientology founded in San Jacinto (LA)

February 15, 1968: Caesar Chavez begins his 25-day water-only fast in Delano

1970: Jim Jones and The Peoples Temple open buildings in San Francisco and Los Angeles (SF) (LA)

March, 1997: Heaven’s Gate suicide (Heaven’s Gate’s website) (SD)

May 21st, 2011: Harold Camping’s predicted day for the return of Christ

Online Resources:


California Pluralism Project

USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture

Clifton L. Holland’s ‘An Overview of Religion in Los Angeles from 1850 to 1930′


Eldon G. Ernst, ‘The Emergence of California in American Religious Historiography’


Theology and California: Theological Reflections on California’s Culture


Boom: A Journal of California