Monday, March 26, 2012

Just Checking In...

Didn't want you all to think I'd given up...but after "To Kill A Mockingbird" it was really hard to concentrate on anything else. (How do you pick a book to follow up Harper Lee's magic?)

 I've been reading a couple of books that were not on my list to help me "get back into the groove."

I finished a great book by Sally Clarkson that really helped to refresh my "mission" as a mother.  She has such a sweet, accepting outlook on motherhood that reminds me that there should be no expectations of perfection in my role as the temporary protector, nurturer, and guide to these incredible "little people" that God has lent to me.  And, I feel so validated in her reflection on what I'm actually trying to accomplish raise intelligent, thoughtful, loving, responsible, Godly children that I will one day send out into the world to continue the cycle.  That in itself sounds nearly impossible for one person to do, and I have always complained that there was no "manual" for parents to follow to help in raising children.  Mrs. Clarkson gently reminded me that there is indeed a book full of all we need to know to raise great kids laid out in 66 easy to read chapters...the Bible!  Excellent book! (Of course I mean "The Mission of Motherhood" AND the Bible!!)

The other book I'm reading (and relishing) is Robert K. Massie's "Peter The Great", an 800+ page tome that I dove into after a great lecture on Russian history.  HAD to know more! 

This one will take me a I can officially start back on my list and...

on to Book #13..."Their Eyes Were Watching God."   I've been told I will need Cliffnotes for this book, but I'm going to give it a try without and see what happens!

Onward and Forward!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book #12

Shakespeare’s works are obviously timeless and magical…but according to Christopher Moore’s book , Fool,  they’re completely and wretchedly romanticized!

Take King Lear for example.

I’ll leave it to you to refresh your memory of the plot of King Lear, a dark story of betrayals, murder plots, unruly children…”and ghosts. There’s always a bloody ghost!”  Now imagine that the one who really survives and gets the girl isn’t who you’d expect…

When you read Moore’s take on things, from the perspective of the king’s jester, the world seems just a tad…different.  Raunchy is a word that keeps coming to mind.  Though the verbage is definitely 13th century, for some reason it doesn’t seem to be arranged as… artistically??…as the famous play we read in school.  In fact, I’m sure uttering more than three sentences of this book out loud would get you expelled.

All that to say, the premise of the story is actually quite smart! To take a famous work like King Lear and completely rearrange the viewpoint to such a lesser character…well, of course its raunchy, racy, sexy, rude,  crude, and dirty (are you catching my drift here?)  Life for the court fool was far from romantic! And for poor “Pocket”, the jester of such a King as Lear, there were matters of life and death at stake.

I am serious when I say that this book isn’t for the lighthearted or easily offended! (This isn’t even close to Monty Python!)  In all honesty, I only finished it because I couldn’t imagine how it all played out…and while the author’s idea was witty and well-done – he isn’t one I’ll be looking to read more of. I'm sure Mr. Moore could care less...most of the people that have reviewed this book say that it and the others Moore wrote are amazing, brilliant, and ridiculously funny if you check here

Despite the fact that I’m apparently more of a “Pollyanna” than I thought so far it’s been really interesting to see what others are reading! J

Onward and Forward to Book #13

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book #11

What could I possibly write about “To Kill a Mockingbird” that hasn’t already been said?
I closed the book after the last page and took emotional inventory:
“I feel the will and the strength to do and be good, like I was raised to be, completely revived.
I feel a renewed hope in mankind that overshadows the disgust I so often feel.
I feel not the least bit of shame for outright crying when Scout said, “Hey, Boo,” while shedding her own blurry tears.”
My life has been permanently altered.
I might need a few days to get into Book #12…
Onward and Forward!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Book #10

Now this was a true tome.
I had honestly never heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer before this book was suggested to me.  Now, I could probably tell you anything you want to know, from his childhood to his untimely death at the hands of the Third Reich only days before their surrender.  (That's how well written this biography is.) This man, this “pastor, martyr, prophet, spy” was a man before his time and another casualty of a horrendous violation of humanity.  His quest to bring the church to the proper place in the minds and hearts of his fellow Germans, one could argue even the world, was truly inspiring.
The author does an incredible job of making Bonhoeffer someone you feel you actually knew, and, as a Christian, proved he was someone that truly understood what the Church should stand for.  After this book, I think his image of Christianity has still yet to be realized, which is, sadly enough, part of what he died for.
This book is a 624 page biography (it’s synopsis is here) that goes into incredible detail about not only Bonhoeffer, but of many of the leaders of the church of Germany at the time, its history, German history…it’s mind boggling, really, the amount of information that the author, Eric Metaxas, squeezes into this book!
For that reason, I do not recommend this to anyone that isn’t specifically interested in the time period, this man, or a new perspective of a war of atrocities that touched places and institutions that many would not necessarily think of.  It's a hefty undertaking for someone just looking for Christian inspiration.

I learned so much that I hadn’t known about the infiltration of the Nazi terror into its own German churches; more proof of the chaos in the minds of the German people who did not recognize the threat to their own religion until it was too late, and obviously Hitler’s delusions of grandeur and insanity. Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw it all coming from the very beginning and was desperate to stop it...and paid the ultimate price for his efforts, as many did during that time.

Onward and Forward to Book #11

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book #9

There is a line in this book that resonated so deeply in my soul that I had to put the book down and walk away for a minute.  I stared out of the window at the grass, the waving trees…my eyes welled with tears and I kept murmuring, “I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.” as I squeezed them tightly shut. 

One of the main characters in the book had re-discovered part of our past - “our past” meaning humanity’s - a part that no one liked to talk about because it was “too terrible”, “too despicable”, “too horrible” to discuss…the deportation in France by the French Vichy Police of over 8,000 Jews – more than 4,000 of them were children.  These children, already mourning the very recent deaths of their fathers (earlier sent away to the gas chambers,) were ripped from the arms of their mothers who were then, right in front of their little eyes, carted away to be gassed at Auschwitz. The children followed only days later.  Very few children escaped.  None of the adults survived.

Most of France seemed to chose to pretend it didn’t happen, or chose to forget that it did, which I think is worse.  The rest of the world supposedly just never knew.

That makes me sound a little odd, I know…crying over something I took no part in or that happened so long ago, so far away...but then again, I’ve never tried to hide my emotional side.  My children know long before they look that silent tears flow down my cheeks while we watch moving stories or read well crafted books. 

They know that a good historical documentary will bring just as many tears as fiction, if not more.
I remember reading about this particular event, not while learning about World War II in early schooling, but just very recently in a well-taught college class.  I remember being incensed, and embarrassed at humanity…and angry that it had been swept “under the rug.” There have been many such events that I’ve recently learned about in the annals of human history.

“Sorry for not knowing.  Sorry for being forty-five years old and not knowing.” p.192

I’ve always puzzled over people who choose not to learn more about an historical event, or refuse to watch the news, because it’s “too horrible.”  (If you are one of those people reading this, please note that I said I puzzled over this, I did not say that I judge you.)  Personally, I feel its almost a sense of duty to pass along this knowlege to as many people as possible; that it's a lie to keep the truth about who we are as human beings - what we're capable of doing to each other - a secret.  It completely dishonors the people who struggled, died...survived...that's unbearable to me for some reason.

Perhaps I am too passionate about my History studies.  Like the main character in the book, I too feel a physical change after discovery of horrors that have occurred in our past.  There have been so many, so many are still happening that so many people are not aware of. 

Perhaps I would be a happier person to not know…

…read this book, and let me know what you think.

*Please note that there is so much more to this book than just the historical part I've mentioned.  Here is a complete synopsis.  I just always seem to gravitate to the history...wonder why!? :) 
Thanks for the recommendation, Nancy.  I've obviously had my head in the history books for too long to not have found this book  earlier! I can’t honestly say that it was life-changing because it brought forth, just more strongly, feelings I’ve already had.  But it definitely impacted my soul the way a really good book should.

Onward and Forward to Book #10!