Jack N. Fenner

For reasons unknown, you have wandered into Jack Fenner's home page. While you're welcome here, there's little that I have to say. My personal life is probably none of your business, and in any case isn't exactly the stuff of legends. Regarding my business life, for 15 years I was a computer geek working for several US defense contractors. In January 2000 I chucked all that and enrolled in the Master of Arts program at Eastern New Mexico University, hoping to one day become an archaeologist/computer geek (is there such a thing?).  After graduating with the MA, I tried to be a computer geek again, but couldn't make it stick.  So after about a year of being a regular grownup, I went back to being a student, in the anthropology PhD program at the University of Wyoming. I then came to Australia as a postdoc in the Department of Archaeology and Natural History at The Australian National University, and a combination of Aussie hospitality and lack of American archaeological opportunity has convinced me to stay. While you're here, I have a few recommendations which you might want to consider.

In my opinion, the Man of the Twentieth Century was Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Not because of his impact on the century; in fact, the century was in large part a dismal sequence of collective violence and individual moral collapse in direct opposition to Schweitzer's life and ethics.  Rather he is to be admired as a man who discovered, or perhaps revealed, an immensely ethical approach to life, and then lived it as well as a human is able.  I have posted an Albert Schweitzer web page with a collection of quotes and book reviews, as well as links to related pages.  I encourage you to visit it.

My other twentieth-century hero is Father Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk who lived in Gethsemani, Kentucky.  I have read only a few of his many writings, but am struck by his ability to communicate the joys and anguish of religious contemplation.  This is a man who made monks understandable to the twentieth century.  But more importantly, he draws upon the wisdom and insight of an established religious tradition (Catholicism) and uses it to further his contemplation and understanding of God, and then communicates this understanding within the traditional framework. In an era when the established religious institutions seem either impotent or dangerous, Merton demonstrates the value of their long history of religious thought and dialog. For those interested, I recommend starting with either his autobiographical The Seven Storey Mountain or his historical review of Trappists titled The Waters of Siloe, followed by his masterpiece of religious contemplation, New Seeds of Contemplation.

Finally, here in no particular order are some other books which are not to be missed:

For the record, my favorite movies are probably Joe Vs. The Volcano, Serenity, The Dish (a great Australian film) and Wag the Dog. And I like Mamma Mia! a lot, although I wouldn't admit to it in public.

Send me mail at: jnf@pcisys.net / revised May 2012