Saturday, June 2, 2012

What I'm reading

The other day, before Thyrza flew back to Maryland, we made her take a nap in what used to be J's bedroom.  It's what he affectionately called 'the prison cell' back then, because it's barely larger than one. And in order to house his rather extensive library bookshelves were built above his door and lining the walls. Thyrza gasped when she climbed onto the bed and looked up. "You have books in every room," she said.  I didn't say, "Not in the bathrooms," but I instantly thought it. We are overrun with books in this house. Completely overrun.

And since it's been a while since I posted a list of what I've just recently read (or have on my list), here's my rather eclectic list:

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.
Remarkable story. It took me a while to get into, but once I did, I was caught up--in the suffering and, yes, the redemption at the end. Louis Zamperini was quite a man--from Olympic athlete to prisoner of war, his story bisects history.

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Here in the African Wild by Laurence Anthony.
I LOVE elephants, and last week, E sent me a link to a story about the herd this man lived with. Instantly I wanted to read his book. Downloaded it to my Kindle that day, read it that night. Now I want to travel to Thule Thule game reserve in Zululand, South Africa. Of course.

House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid
The stately home is in Lebanon, Shadid was a well-respected journalist great-grandson of the original owners, and he took a year to rebuild the abandoned, beautiful home. It's a gorgeously, moving story, a sad story. Sadder too, knowing that he's the journalist who died this year of an asthma attack after sneaking into Syria. He had only three years to enjoy the house he'd rebuilt. I loved this book. His family, by the way, is Christian, in the largely Muslim nation of Lebanon--was for centuries. Some fascinating stuff about that, too.

The Way of Perfection by Saint Teresa of Avila. Now and then I am compelled to read works by some of the early saints. St. Teresa is one who always draws me. This highly readable book I'm just beginning but am loving. It's about prayer, written to the novices in her care. And to a novice of prayer myself, it's like sitting at the feet of an elder. Or a saint. It isn't only the latest and most contemporary of books that can teach us, of course. But we tend to look for the new anyway. Don't we?

The Passionate Intellect by Alistar McGrath. I'm a student. I know this. And engaging my intellect has always created a passion for Christ. I knew that before I understood that, I think. Though Christians talk about the heart, and though I believe the heart is foundational to faith, I live in my head a great deal, so this book has opened up something broad and spacious in me. I don't have to pretend that my brain doesn't matter. I don't have to simplify how I think. I remember telling a friend once that I wasn't interested in theology. I shudder to think how untrue that statement is, because, in fact, theology--the study of God--is what I'm MOST passionate about in life.

The Hunger Games Trilogy. Okay, I had to add this. I read these and couldn't put them down. I can't explain what was so addictive about them--besides everything! I read them with my daughters and we talked about them ad nauseum. Yes, I realize that there is no overt reference to God in these books and I understand that many, more conservative readers than me would find them offensive for that reason. But I do two things when I read. 1. I look for whatever is 'good and true and honorable and right' (as Philippians 4:8 says). To me, when good wins, when light overtakes darkness, I see such books as "God-haunted," no matter what the author intended. 2. I suspend judgment. That is, I plunder the Egyptians and do not expect the Egyptians to be anything but Egyptians. I do not expect the culture to be Christian. But God can use culture for His good.

So that's my list for tonight. There are most, of course. But that's about enough for now.

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