River Poetry

Posted in Reviews at 19:46 by RjZ

I just completed River Teeth by David James Duncan. It’s a collection of short stories, fictional and non-fictional which really ought to be called a collection of free verse poetry because, regardless of whether you relate to what Duncan writes about or not, you can’t help but be enamored with his beautiful prose.

I’m no fisherman, which is a constant theme for this Pacific Northwest writer well rooted next to the rivers of his home but his tales of rivers and the people who, like him, are bonded to them are well worth reading. In addition to being a fisherman, Duncan is a apparently Buddhist but in a way I too aspire to be. He doesn’t tell you what it means to see the world the way approximately 6% of the world sees it instead he shows you his or his characters actions and leaves you to see if it makes sense. His poetic writing makes the transformations that his characters face that much more compelling.

That link to adherents.com above also makes me want to point out that there are more atheists than Buddhists, or Jews or Scientologists for that matter. Just thought I’d point it out.


  1. Rachel Robson said,

    November 5, 2005 at 19:34

    Only if you count the category “nonreligious” as being comprised mainly of atheists. Since the site points out that half of the “nonreligious” category is theistic, but a-religious, it appears that your assumption is that virtually all of the remaining 8% are atheists per se. This is a stretch. The site does give a number of 750 million for global non-believers in god/s, but that number appears to include both self-described atheists and agnostics. Since the site also observes that very, very few people will volunteer that they’re atheists upon being asked an open-ended question about beliefs, I am skeptical in the extreme that more than half of the 750 million non-believers consider themselves atheists rather than agnostics.

    I mean, y’all are definitely beating Judaism, Sihkism, Scientology & such, but Buddhism? I don’t think your data are strong enough to make that case.

  2. RjZ said,

    November 6, 2005 at 0:45

    So the graph says that “half of this group is theistic but non-religious.” Yes, I conclude that the remaining half is atheistic. I mean if half are theistic then the other half are atheistic. This is a post in itself, but, how is an agnostic theistic? If I doubt the existence of god, then, I don’t believe in the existence of god, and, well, I am at least in some respect, an atheist. Yes, I know people don’t like to admit it, but what, I ask, is the difference? Are agnostics suddenly deists simply because they’re unwilling to commit to one side or the other? I think most religions wouldn’t have them–you can’t be Christian, for example and question whether Jesus is the savior!

    Mind you, I also think you’re arguing my side here. You point out that “very few people volunteer that they’re atheists.” By that I believe we can assume that atheism is under reported in such surveys which means maybe even more of these people are atheists than are willing to admit.

    Looks like we differ only in opinion on what it means to be in this swing group “agnostics” but I’ll concede that agnostic doesn’t necessarily mean atheist in all cases and change my comment to “atheists and agnostics.” My point isn’t really weakened by that concession.

    By the way, weren’t you shocked there weren’t more Buddhists?

  3. Rachel Robson said,

    November 6, 2005 at 20:48

    I’m basing my definition of “atheist” on the strong-atheist defintion you gave in a previous entry. I do not agree that that people who are unsure whether or not there god/s exist/s (i.e., agnostics) can automatically be classified as people who are certain there is/are no god/s. I further do not agree that you get to claim as “atheists” people who are uncertain enough of their ideas that they will not admit them to a pollster.

    I’m a liberal, and I think more Americans probably subscribe to liberal ideas than conservative ones. (Like appreciating the 40-hour week, minimum wage laws and whatnot, not to mention basic civil liberties like getting to watch “Deadwood” on HBO if you like, even if Sam Brownback thinks you shouldn’t.) Nonetheless, most Americans are loath to describe themselves as “liberals.” Thus, I do not get to claim that “most Americans are liberals” because that is not how those Americans would describe themselves. That may be because of the unfair demonization of the word “liberal” or whatever (I certainly think so!), but that’s the way it is.

    Anyway, I’ll accept your concession. :)

    I was shocked to learn there aren’t more Buddhists. Weird.

    Also, you write, “…you can’t be Christian, for example and question whether Jesus is the savior!”

    Just goes to show how little time you’ve spent around seminaries, or talking to priests. This just in: Robert Burns may not have believed that his girlfriend was, in fact, a flower.

    Nice chatting with you, as always.

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