Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Luke 7:36 to end

We read Luke 7 tonight at the potluck and it was awesome.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Out of the Salt Shaker and Into the World - Chapters 3 through 5

So, I have a bit of catching up to do. I got some reading done on Sunday at the Hamer-Wilson's house, after putting Jonah to bed. It was interesting, actually, I was sitting in an armchair in Jill and Jono's living room, and there beside me on Jill's desk was her copy of the same book. I'm always intrigued by books as gifts, because, well, the fact that somebody wants you to read and enjoy something makes you look at if differently. Luckily, I'm quite enjoying this book, so it's not like I'm bored lifeless and feeling pressured to slog on with my readings.


Chapter 3:
This chapter starts with Pippert's story about Lois, a girl whom she met while doing university ministry. In a few pages, Lois goes from living with her boyfriend and spiritually seeking to becoming a Christian, moving out of her boyfriend's apartment and sort of refocusing and redirecting everything. What strikes me about this passage is Lois' bravery. I mean, I don't really think I'd be bold enough to make such a drastic change in my life. That's awesome. It reminds me of this idea from C.S. Lewis:
We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the centre: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision.
I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but ther rescue consists in being put back on the right road. A sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.
-The Great Divorce, Preface.

I find the idea of me having to make things right myself and you having to make things right yourself intriguing. I realize the actions of Lois, and others like her, were accomplished by the strengh (and grace) of God, but....while God makes it possible to retrace your steps, you are responsible for picking up your own legs and marching back along the path. (?) Just thinking out loud here...

Chapter 4
I love, love, love Pippert's amplification of the story of the prodigal son! (p. 58-60) Basically, she imagines the return party in the son's honour through the eyes of a neighbour. The neighbour sticks his nosy head into the house to see what all the ruckus is about and sees this guy dressed in robes and jewelry and he gets all excited, thinking they must be entertaining a prince. When the robed, bejewlled figure turns around, however, the neighbour is horrified to see a filthy, gaunt, unshaven, and sickly (she's got me picturing crack-addict, STD-infected, sight for sore eyes) guy...and can't fathom why the father is so happy to be serving this sewer rat as a guest of honour.

That description brings the Parable of the Prodigal Son to life for me. I love that story to begin with, really drives home the idea of forgiveness.

Chapter 5
"Jesus called his disciples to be different... He identified, yes, but he was never identical with the world. My fear today is that we may enjoy talking of the Christian's pharisaic problem while we ignore the call to be different. We must never try to escape from the truth that there is a fundamental difference between Christians and non-Christians. If we ignore or minimize this differernce, we will be of little use to God or the world." (p. 76-77)
--Enough said.

I also love the little tidbits of trivia about the Pharisees that are included in various places throughout the book. (The 'Battered and Bruised'--or something like that--Pharisees who used to run into walls...? The dart game they used to play, throwing a dart through a scroll, having somebody read the word at the point in the scroll where the dart had struck and then trying to recite the verse from that point, by memory.... Craziness.)

I've also got a question about Blue Like Jazz that relates to this book, but I can't find my copy. (I think I lent it to Kristi.) Pippert used to do work at Reed College. Isn't that where Don Miller was? (I thought Don Miller said there were no Christians on campus....)

Oprah's Ambitious Summer Reading List.

So, Oprah announced yesterday that her summer book club reading will be a three-pack of books by William Faulkner. Darn that Oprah; she makes me want to like her.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

A Glimpse of Jesus - Chapter 1

This book is written for somebody who knows the substance of the Bible. It's definitely wonderful in its own way, however. And there are beautifully articulated passages like this one:

Brennan Manning on Healthy Guilt:
When God introduces creative tension into our lives by calling us to break camp, abandon the security and comfort of the status quo, and embark in perilous freedom on a new exodus, our insecurity and procrastination may focus only on the darker implications of the challenge and plunge us anew into unhealthy guilt. Stubbornly to stand still when the Lord is clearly challenging us to growth is hard-geartedness, infidelity, and connotes a dangerous lack of trust.

But to start trekking across the desert impulsively without the guidance of the cloud and the fire is reckless folly. When God's call is not clarified and the inner voice remains indistinct, our restlessness and interior disquiet may be signalling a new exodus into greater openness, vulnerability, and compassion, a deeper purity of heart, a transformed mind and spirit.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Bachelor Bro's Part Two (The End)

This is such a heartwarming little book. I sat in Major's Hill Park tonight and read its conclusion. Hector and Virgil (the brothers) are my buddies now....I groaned at the irony of the fact that there is a greasy thumbprint on the muffin recipe page that's included in the book...especially after Virgil's comments on how much he likes finding little surprises in used books. (Me too. I actually like buying the books with scrawls in the margin!)

So, anyways, this book is going to the downstairs table in my apartment, with hopes that one of my roommates will befriend it for a little while. It's good stuff.

Possibly the best quote of the book:
I love the phrase 'learning by heart,' especially when it is applied to poetry, because it seems such a perfect description of the process of memorizing words that have been carefully chosen and weighed and handled. The heart, I think, which is the home of all things rhythmic, is where learned poems go to live.

Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast - Part 1

I picked this book up at a garage sale this weekend. Best 50 cents I've spent in a while. I was thrilled to find it in a box of junk because this book had been recommended to me by a fellow Frontier College Volunteer. I'll second his recommendation.

Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast is an hilarious compilation of a 1993 CBC radio series by Bill Richardson. It's also a thin little volume, weighing in at around 150 pages. Combine that with the fact that it's a fast read, and you've got yourself not only a mood boster, but an ego booster too! (Think: "I read a book in only 3 days!")

The premise of the book is that these twin brothers own a B and B in BC and market themselves as a sort of "literary retreat," where guests can get away from it all and get lost in those pieces of lit they've always intended to read. (Sounds like heaven to me....) Anyways, the book is set up as a sort of Guest Book, signed by various guests who have visited the B and B. The guests' stories are interspersed with musings by the two brothers and cute lists of things like the top books vistors bring on their getaways, etc.

I've been talking this book up with everyone I see. It's one of those feel-good, mass appeal kind of numbers, which makes sense, since it was originally written for radio. The word plays are fabulous and, again, because of its radio roots, this would be a great book to read aloud, if there are actually groups of geeks like me out there who are into that sort of thing.

"When a Nametag Becomes a Label" by David Kenney.

This is an article posted today on Relevant.

I can't help, but be reminded of an Alanis Morissette song that I brought for "show and tell" at small group last week. (Still working on decoding this one, so I'd love to hear your comments....) The lyrics are below, in their entirety, with the (obvious) line that triggered the (also obvious) connection....

"Joining You"

dear dar(lin') your mom (my friend) left a message on my machine she was frantic
saying you were talking crazy that you wanted to do away with yourself
I guess she thought i'd be a perfect resort because we've had
this inexplicable connection since our youth and yes they're in shock
they are panicked you and your chronic them and their drama
you this embarrassment us in the middle of this delusion
if we were our bodies
if we were our futures
if we were our defenses i'd be joining you
if we were our culture
if we were our leaders
if we were our denials i'd be joining you
I remember vividly a day years ago we were camping you knew more than you thought you should know
you said "I don't want ever to be brainwashed" and you were mindboggling you were intense
you were uncomfortable in your own skin you were thirsty but mostly you were beautiful
if we were our nametags
if we were our rejections
if we were our outcomes i'd be joining you
if we were our indignities
if we were our successes
if we were our emotions i'd be joining you
you and I we're like 4 year olds we want to know why and how come about everything
we want to reveal ourselves at will and speak our minds and never talk small and be intuitive
and question mightily and find god my tortured beacon
we need to find like-minded companions
if we were their condemnations
if we were their projections
if we were our paranoias i'd be joining you
if we were our incomes
if we were our obsession
if we were our afflictions i'd be joining you
we need reflection we need a really good memory feel free to call me a little more often

Out of the Salt Shaker and Into the World - Chapter 2

Jesus commands us to go and then preach, not to preach and then leave. (p. 30, paragraph 3)
--> Yes, he does. People are people, not projects, so let's treat them all that way.

Under the heading "Jesus the Exasperating" there are some insightful comments about a passage that we were discussing just tonight in a group study (Luke 4:13-30). The puzzling question was: Why does Jesus give this people such an earful while they're sitting there, stunned about his teaching? Pippert's answer: Jesus is calling them to look honestly at something within themselves that they're trying to avoid, and that gets them all pissy.

Also, at the bottom of pg. 38, there's the reminder of the problem with the "safe" (but ultimately dangerous!) school of thought that Jesus was a good teacher, but not the Son of God. Referencing C.S. Lewis and John Stott's similar comments on the point, Pippert reiterates that this view collapes in upon itself: how can Jesus be a good teacher if the fundamental thing that he's teaching is a bunch of hooey?

Out of the Salt Shaker and Into the World - Chapter 1

The first book to bless this blog is Rebecca Manley Pippert's Out of the Salt Shaker & Into the World. This book was a gift from our IVCF staffworker, Jill and it was a welcome gift, because it was already on my list of books to read this summer. It's nice when things work out that way. :)

Anyways, some thoughts on Chapter 1 of this book (which, so far, gets 5 stars for its timeliness):

A quote from p. 22, bottom:
Our problem in evangelism is not that we don't have enough information--it is that we don't have enough to be ourselves.
-->Okay, so this quote, naked of the context in which it has been presented, is probably a bit dangerous. But I'm sticking it here because I'm perplexed about the idea of how to be "myself" while following somebody else's model...(ie. Pippert has a whole book here of 'how to' present your faith without pissing off or shutting out the world, and while it's admittedly less formulaic than most, there's still a model for evangelism being offered forth.) I'm sure I'll come back to this point as my reading progresses.

A quote from p. 26, para. 1:
It's odd. If you are sensitive enough to realize that you could offend someone, then offending others is probably not your problem.
--> Good point, Ms. Pippert.
--> I am definitely guilty of biting my tongue for fear of offending rather than speaking my mind, or even standing up for truth. Now, by "standing up," I don't mean shoving everyone else's viewpoints and arguments into the ground, until I'm literally the only one left standing...I just mean having a little backbone in appropriate situations. Sometimes, being "nice" is just easier.

So, there's a happy start. Hopefully it's enough to generate some thoughtful, insightful comments from the other 5 recipients of Jill's awesome gift...and maybe even from the gift-giver herself. :)

Blogging In.

It's official. Yet another blog has begun. This one is a bit special, though. It's a bit of an experiment. I've decided I'd like to blog what I'm reading, probably more for my personal benefit than anyone else's. However, I think one of my favourite part about books/reading in general is the community that grows up around a piece of writing. When people begin to "unpack" a work, play with it, challenge it, savour it, and share it...well, that's when good literature comes to life.

So...what am I reading? Stick around and see....