Saturday, December 15, 2007
~ The Safest Place on Earth, ch. 6
. . .
May we not . . . look for a blessing through obedience even to an erroneous system, and a guidance even by means of it out of it?
~ Apologia Pro Vita Sua, ch. 4
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Because I (like every other American) know at least one person with an eating disorder. And many more people who are either borderline or won't admit they have this problem.
Because this is an excellently written book that takes you inside the minds of people who struggle with eating disorders and helps you to understand where they are coming from.
Because this book sheds light on the full spectrum of each personality trait that is associated with eating disorders. As I read this book and placed myself in each spectrum, I saw how my own personality has led me down similar or contrasting paths to the men and women featured. In other words, I came to a better understanding of myself.
I wish Christians wrote books like this. Aimee Liu has carefully researched, sensitively interviewed, and evocatively described the issues and people connected with the concept of "recovering" from eating disorders. She has interpreted a range of behaviors to come up with a model for what constitutes reasonable human behavior. She has done this without the aid of the Bible or, according to her, any organized religion. Her starting point is all wrong, and yet her conclusions match up with the solution Christianity should be offering. With that caveat, I highly recommend Gaining to everyone.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
He's an urban curiosity--a poet of passers-by, a vendor of verse. With his manual typewriter outside a downtown Manhattan supermarket, William Chrome forges poems on the spot from bystanders' requests, sentiments and dares.
He also attended high school not far from where I live.
1=If you miss one of these, you're not missing anything
2=Enjoyably predictable Christie fare
3=Christie at her best
Death on the Nile warrants a 3--go read it, it's clever. And the featured detective is Hercule Poirot.
Monday, October 29, 2007
The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis: Out of the three books mentioned here, everyone should read this one. It is a collection of essays and talks. Lewis is brilliant, as always; he blends the head and the heart so well. There is a lot of variety in these essays, so you can just flip through the book and read whatever suits your fancy at the time.
Apologia Pro Vita Sua, John Henry Newman: The Penguin Classics edition has Millais' portrait of the author on the cover--a gentle-faced old man in cardinal's robes. I felt when reading this book that I was getting a glimpse of a beautiful soul. This is a very odd book. It's not a defense of Roman Catholicism or even of Newman's views; it's plainly and simply a defense of himself--this little old man saying querulously, "Stop persecuting me for becoming a Catholic!" And yet in that feeble old voice you hear the deep whisper of a truly brilliant intellect and devout heart. How I wish I lived in the days when higher education fielded men like Newman!
On the Road, Jack Kerouac: Feeling very openminded, I read this book (this year is the 50th anniversary of its publication). Kerouac was obviously a very talented writer, which is why I wish his writing were edited a lot more thoroughly. I mean, c'mon, I know he hated Hemingway, but he could have cut or refined half his verbage without losing his own distinctive voice. It's a very sad book (and very funny in spots). A bunch of guys drive around without shirts on, sleep with women in every town along the way, and look for their fathers. Dean Moriarty is a guy with no roots who, in his attempt to find meaning, fathers children all over the continent and leaves them to live rootless lives just like his. I can see why this book is considered the voice of a generation, but why do people consider that a good thing? It's tragic.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
~ That Hideous Strength, ch. 17
With C.S. Lewis's space trilogy, which I just finished, the story is quite different. I've loved C.S. Lewis's work ever since I heard The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a book on tape when I was three or four. But I've never really been into science fiction. I came to be rather embarassed that I had read many of Lewis's writings, including obscure poems, but not his space trilogy.
So then one day when I was visiting my family last year, I picked up That Hideous Strength just to sort of fill some time. I started reading it and really got into all the college politics and the workings of the N.I.C.E., and somehow realized that this was the last book in the trilogy. After that I convinced myself to start with the beginning of the trilogy so that I could eventually get to the N.I.C.E. again, in context. Every time I visited home after that I would work through the trilogy. I enjoyed it so much that by the time I reached the last few chapters, I tried to stretch them out over a few days because I didn't want the books to be over.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The Autoimmune Connection: Essential Information for Women on Diagnosis, Treatment, and Getting On With Your Life
I found chapter 1 to be the most useful, since it explains how autoimmune disorders work. The rest of the book is kind of freaky because it provides warning signs for various diseases, and if you're borderline hypochondriac like I am, you'll imagine you have all of them.
~ Murder with Mirrors, ch. 11
Friday, September 21, 2007
But this spring my roommates and I got hooked on the 1974 Pallisers miniseries. It was like a Victorian soap opera. We always wanted to know what would happen next, even though the makeup was hideous and the music sounded like an old phonograph and the drama all took place in drawing rooms or Parliament. That doesn't sound like a recommendation, but it just goes to show how transcendently good Trollope was as a writer.
So I picked up the first Palliser novel (there are six) and it was even better than the TV show. Trollope's novels are like beautiful jewelry. His writing is extraordinarily controlled and nuanced, like a delicate filligree setting, and his characters are like small, perfect precious stones (not sparkly ones, like emeralds and diamonds, but pearly ones like jade and opal). There are so many characters in these novels that the Oxford University Press edition actually provides a character index in the back of each volume. And yet each character is unique, and conceived in detail. Their actions are described and explained down to the smallest motive, and are almost always consistent with their personalities.
Then, each novel consists of not just a main plot but several subplots, and all the plots are pretty much the same. We have love stories, thwarted-love stories, social climbing, social falling, and politics (which should be boring, but is somehow absorbing in these tales). The subplots are the same and yet not the same, because each one is just a little different from all the other ones. I don't know how Trollope kept all these things straight. He must have been a wide-ranging observer of human beings.
He wrote a huge number of novels, I'm happy to say, which means I can read one a year for the rest of my life, or something like that.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
"Do you not regret our mountains and our prairies," said the poet; "our great waters and our green savannahs?"
~ The Duke's Children, ch. 7o
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Chapter titles include "Your DNA Matters," "Your Disappointments Matter," "Your Will Matters," and "Your Worship Matters." Each chapter is best read as a unit unto itself, offering good suggestions for transforming our attitudes about each facet of our being.
What I found confusing was fitting all the chapters into the weaver metaphor. As I sat down to write this review, I was going to tell you my solution to this problem, but I gave up instead. Not only is it difficult to figure out how the chapters fit together, but many of the illustrations don't seem to fit into the chapter arguments.
If you want to read it (and I'm not saying not to), check it out from the library or borrow it from someone. Actually, it might work well for a group Bible study, because then you could go down all the rabbit trails and the overall plan of the book wouldn't matter. How ironic, that a book about design fails the design test.
This is the only book I've read by Ravi Zachiarias. I've heard him speak and I was really impressed, so I'm hoping his other books are better. But like I said, there's still some good insight in this book.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
God recently drove the point home by requiring my car to need a new transmission. My symbol of independence is currently stranded at a shop in Purcellville, over an hour away. Do I want to save my funds for car repairs or for college? That's a no-brainer. So college is out for now.
Over the last year I've watched my plans for the future dwindle away to nothing. I used to think my life had no meaning if I had no vision or capacity for changing the world. Remember the lesson from Patrick Henry College--God wants to USE you!! In a MIGHTY WAY!!! Wanna know how God's used me? By not using me. He's tied my hands and cut off much of my connection to the wide, wide world. My focus has shrunk to this week, this day, sometimes only this minute. The people I touch in any meaningful way are the ones I can encourage, in some small fashion, as I encounter them in the daily round of cooking meals and going to church. Some days, life is bliss: reading, putting in a few hours of work, trying a new recipe, being with my family. Some days, the lack of distractions (going to work, buying clothes, hanging out with friends, envisioning a magnificent future) is agony.
Henri Nouwen writes about creating "space" for God in our lives. He shows how spiritual disciplines like solitude, prayer, and contemplation carve out empty spaces in our lives for God to fill. He sees these emptinesses as beautiful and gracious, contexts in which we can encounter God. And he is right. The maddening emptiness that I face has proved to be the opportunity for Him to hold my attention. He has directed my thoughts when, self-directed, they have merely whirled in confusion. When I have given up all hope for meaning, the meaning has come, and it consists of being in His presence.
Friday, June 15, 2007
I will not make the same mistakes that you did
I will not let myself
Cause my heart so much misery
I will not break the way you did,
You fell so hard
I've learned the hard way
To never let it get that far
Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don't get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afraid
I lose my way
And it's not too long before you point it out
I cannot cry
Because I know that's weakness in your eyes
I'm forced to fake
A smile, a laugh everyday of my life
My heart can't possibly break
When it wasn't even whole to start with
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Sunday, April 22, 2007
friends in town and
a reason to celebrate (a wedding with real champagne)
but somehow it took more energy than I had
leaving just enough, this morning, for me to take a shower and crawl back into bed.
Forget the plans to be the perfect hostess, the perfect friend.
On a better day I'd provide square meals and clever conversation,
but don't take it personally because
today I even failed God by skipping church.
Now, for most people today is a day for a drive in the country,
mowing the lawn, or taking a walk,
today, lying on the couch is about all I'm up to.
Through the open window I can see and hear
all the life that is going on without me.
The world is still spinning gently, the game still in play--
but I somehow got disqualified.
Today, my worst is the best I have to give.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Although I'm an eleven-point Orwellian, I determined in the wee hours of the morning (woke up, couldn't go back to sleep) that I'm a one-point Calvinist. The point I hold to is perseverance of the saints. Maybe Calvin got more sleep than I do.
Randomly, the concept of sensory processing is also on my radar screen. Try it, you'll like it.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
And if you are tempted to comment with some nasty statistics about how most people in the Middle Ages were actually poor downtrodden miserable souls, I beg you to refrain. I really find it hard to believe that they were any more miserable than us, flooded in fluorescent lighting and eating artificial colors and flavors.