Saturday, March 19, 2011

from the book pile, 2011: T.S. Eliot, James F. White, Jan Karon, Image Journal, No. 68

I'm wondering how long I'll be able to keep up my current method of reading: about 8 books at a time, one or two chapters at a time, rotating through methodically. It's not quite as enjoyable as just falling into an interesting book, but it does seem to keep me more honest to my commitments with them. Otherwise I'm a kind of rainy-day friend showing up on some title's doorstep for a few days until my heart wanders to someone else, leaving a trail of half-read books throughout the house.

Like I said, we'll see how long this method lasts. For now: Enjoy!


The Waste Land and Other Poems [WASTE LAND & -OS DUE/029]8. The Waste Land and Other Poems
Author: T.S. Eliot
Genre: Poetry
Published: Barnes & Nobles Classics, New York (2005)

General Impression: I'm a dunce. Really. I barely understood a thing I read, other than the extensive notes provided by the merciful publishers. However, I was pretty clear about Eliot's view of life; more sarcastic than witty, in my opinion. I'd like to think that, in part, my idiocy puts me in the same camp as the rest of the literary world that Eliot turned upside-down with his trailblazing poetry. Yep, I'm pretty sure that's it.

In this season of my life, I'm quite in tune with the tones and rhythms of disillusionment. In this way, I didn't need to understand much in order to totally get Mr. Eliot.

Favorite Part About Reading Eliot Out Loud: If nothing else, I had a lot of fun reviving my rusty French while reading out loud lines like this one from Lune De Miel: A l'aise entre deux draps, chez deux centaines de punaises (translated: At ease between two sheets, in the home of two hundred bedbugs.)


The Sacraments in Protestant Practice and Faith9.  The Sacraments in Protestant Practice and Faith

Author: James F. White
Genre: Non-fiction, doctrine
Published: Abingdon Press (1999)

General Impression:  While this was a book I chose to read for continuing education rather than for pleasure, I did find myself occasionally caught up in the drama of history.  Occasionally.

Otherwise, James F. White manages to author a book rich in church history and doctrinal distinction without leaving a layman like me in the proverbial dust.  

Favorite New Piece of Sacrament Triva:  Did you know that the impetus for the creation and production of grape juice happened in the Church?  Seems that sacrament and American temperance had a clash in the mid-nineteenth century so prohibition won.
"In 1869, a pious Methodist dentist, Thomas Welch, invented a means of pasteurizing grape juice so as to prevent fermentation. This coincided with the first great feminist crusade, that of temperance, which meant total abstention from alcohol. Beginning in 1876, Methodists Disciplines recommended and then mandated the use of 'pure unfermented juice of the grape at the eucharist. Such a prohibition lasted until 1988. Many other American churches also switched to grape juice and many continue to use it today. In the thirteenth century, Bishop Durandus had accepted the use of fresh pressed (i.e., unfermented) grape juice as valid. Alcoholic Catholic priestss can receive permission to use it today. Perhaps these points can be resolved with the advent of nonalcoholic wines."
Well, there you have it.  May it be so...


Home to Holly Springs (Father Tim, Book 1) 10.  Home to Holly Springs
AuthorJan Karon
PublishedViking Penguin (2007)

General Impression:  Simply for the pleasure of reading a good story, I picked this book up at the local Penguin publisher's warehouse sale this past autumn.  All of the women in my extended family enjoyed Jan Karon's Mitford Series and so I joined the fan club a few years back.

Home... is the kind of book every fan club wants, a kind of encore peek into what the happily ever after of the characters' lives looks like.  In this case, Father Tim Kavanaugh, now happily a husband and father, takes a road trip to his childhood home.  (That would be Holly Springs for you just tuning in.)  A mysterious message arrives in the mail, enticing him to take the journey back after a thirty-eight year absence.  

We get all the simple joys of reading any road trip story, plus the peek into the childhood joys, pains, traumas, insecurities, unanswered questions, and homey comforts that made our beloved character the man he is today.  And, yes, there's a surprise to be discovered along the way that does, indeed, change all that Father Tim thought he knew about himself and his parents.  

Like I said, it's a simple -- but good -- story.  I won't spoil the surprise here.

An Excerpt:  For a simple story, this scene was especially profound...
"Remember when I used to ask you to take your head rag off?"
Her sudden smile was balm to him. "You was th' aggravatin'est little weasel," she said.
"I'm going to aggravate you some more.  Would you let me see what's under there?  Maybe the Holy Grail we've all been scrambling around to find."
She reached up at once and slid the scarf off and bowed her head to him. 
Two long, ropy scars intersected at the top of her head to form a perfect cross.
"Dear God," he said, stunned.

AuthorAlice De Wolf Pardee
GenreNon-fiction, memoir
PublishedVail-Ballou Press, Inc., Binghamton, NY (1959)

General Impression:  My own mother is the Queen of Used Book Sales.  It is perhaps why one of my love languages is old books.  Instead of a $2.59 birthday card from the drug store, she purchased this little vintage library discard for me.   Of course the birthday check tucked into the old card-stock library sleeve on the cover page was a sweet bonus.  Adding to the total charm of the package, this book was printed in one of our own hometown printing presses that Brian's grandmother worked at in her youth.  Back when town's had their own printing presses.  Sigh.

Just a pleasurable 103-page bedtime reading journey.  Even so, the author tracks pretty big shifts in time -- describing her transition from mother of three to grandmother of five in a few short years.  The finale of the story is the summer vacation with all sixteen family members come home for summer vacation for an entire month.

Sound a bit familiar?  I began to wonder if, perhaps, my  mother was trying to tell me something?


Image : Journal of the Arts & Religion12Image Journal, No. 68 (winter 2010 - 2011)
Author: Edited by Gregory Wolfe
Genre: Poetry
Published: Center for Reglious Humanism, Seattle Pacific University

General Impression: I'm not sure if it's cheating to include a journal in my reading list for the year?  Anyone?  I figure it's 118 pages of short story, poetry, articles and reviews and that should count for something.

The contributors in this issue include Terence Davies, Judith Rock, Priscilla Gilman, Charles Turner and Kate Daniels.  The artwork this issue, from the Filipono artist Emmanuel Garibay, was especially captivating.  I found Emmaus to kind of throw my notions of the Biblical account out of whack long enough to help me see something new about myself and my Christ.  That may forever be one of the greatest gifts any artist can give another human being.

Favorite Poem In This Issue: "Another Idiot Psalm: We Say Flight" by Scott Cairns

We say flight of the imagination,
but stand ankle-deep in silt. We say deep
life of the mind, but seal the stone to keep
the tomb untouched, O Stillness. Nearly all
we find to say we speak for the most part
unawares, what little bit we think to say
unmoved, O Great Enormity Unmoved.

Brief thaw turned ragged March extending, O
Lost Cause, into yet another ragged April, so.
Brief shoots of new green trampled underfoot
by sleet, and lo, accumulating weather, moot,
sore-clipped -- spring flowers tattered with the cold.

Lord, we say, have mercy on us, by which 
each idiot more nearly  means to plead,
O Silent One Unspeaking, save me.

To subscribe to the Image Journal, click here.
To enjoy their excellent blog, Good Letters,  click here.

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