Saturday, April 26, 2014

Five Favorites: Books I Read in April + great online finds this week

a favorite image from the week

beautiful Passover Seder with dear friends

Five Favorites: my 2014 reading list

-- 1 --

11  A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013. 40 pages plus photocopies of the author's journal pages) 

The more I read about her, the more dear she becomes to me.  These earnest pages of prayer were recently discovered among Flannery O'Connor's papers in Georgia.  I thinks the impact might be similar to the response we gave to the posthumous words of the likes of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Hebrew King David - doubt, anxiety and fear are a normal part of a life shaped by love for God and others.  With Ms. O'Connor they also come with a love for writing:

"Dear God, I am so discouraged about my work. I have the feeling of discouragement that is. I realize I don't know what I realize. Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted."

-- 2 --

12  Staying Put: Making a Home In A Restless World by Scott Russell Sanders: (Beacon Press, Boston, 1993. 194 pages) 

I don't quite remember where I discovered this title, but I enjoy reading those who value the meaning of place. Sanders writes from the perspective of one who has lost and now found the peace of living in place with a family he loves, finding peace in rootedness.  While I enjoyed the book, I found myself wishing the author would occasionally take himself a bit less seriously.  

-- 3 --

13  The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden by Stanley Kunitz with Genine Lentine, photographs by Marnie Crawford Samuelson(W.W. Norton & Company, 2005. 142 pages, including full-color photographs)

April put me in a gardening mood. I spent more time reading about gardening than actually working in one, but we managed to get a small plot in the ground. At the time of this book's publication award-winning poet and master gardener Stanley Kunitz was planning his 100th birthday.  This book was lovingly conceived by those who admired his long years creating beauty in words and soil.  A lovely, relaxing read even though I occasionally felt sad for one so well-acquainted with beauty to seem so unfamiliar with it's true Source.

-- 4 --

14  St. Francis of Assisi by G.K. Chesterton(Image Books Doubleday, NY,NY. 1990. 158 pages)

Both Saint Francis and G.K. Chesterton are enigma to me -- in all of the most appealing ways.  The two -- one in his saintly excess, one in his saintly ascetic -- are perfectly suited literary journeymen.  Frankly, I can't follow all of Chesterton's turgid description but I soaked it all in with pleasure anyway.  As for the paradoxical monk, I'm glad to know him through the distance of centuries.  And hope to be just a tiny bit more like the best parts of his love for peace and the creaturely sacredness of our world.

-- 5 --

15  Adventure of Ascent: Field Notes from a Lifelong Journey by Luci Shaw (InterVarsity Press, 2014. 174 pages)

A warming Saturday morning read that, at times, felt more like a front-porch conversation with a woman in my grandmother's generation.  Luci Shaw is one of the writers I hope to emulate -- not in word only, but also in deed.  I'm glad she wrote this honest, yet hope-full, reflection on the act of aging toward inevitable death -- her adventure of ascent.  

A few favorite passages:
"Sometimes these changes feel volcanic and worrisome, as when my bladder doesn't heed my command to hang tight and I'm caught, embarrassingly, rushing for the nearest public bathroom in town and leaking along the way. Is this to be expected, and what am I to do about it? 
Oh, I know. Talk to my doctor about this or that prescription for "overactive bladder," a euphemism suggested to help one feel less mortified about bodily urgings: it's my bladder, not me, that needs help."
"Yet with Job, with Handel, I am learning to affirm, 'For though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God' (Job 19:26, as rendered in The Messiah).  I can hear the composer's tune in my mind. Is this what we can look forward to? No limited horizons, no more hearing loss, bloody noses, partisan politics, obstacles, canceled flights, stink of sweat, time limits, cracked bones, methane gas, sagging, underarm hair, global warming, wrinkles, aches, flue, yellowing teeth, floods, adipose tissue, tumors, tsunamis, cataracts, betrayals, myopia, hurricanes, irregular heartbeats, diverticuli, road rage, dementia, spider veins, erectile dysfunction, purple bruises, developmental defects, moles, anxieties, thinning hair, shame, delusions of grandeur, scars, lost socks, bald heads, unfulfilled dreams, longings for truth, oil spills, contracts, credit cards, debts, highway gridlock, meanness of spirit, discords, deserts, doubts, blizzards, deadlines... 

*Go to my Book Pile page to see my reading lists from previous years.*


Other good words online this week

      • Easter With Flannery O'Connor by George Weigel at First Things"O’Connor’s sense that ours is an age of nihilism—an age suffering from by a crabbed sourness about the mystery of being itself—makes her an especially apt apologist for today: not least because she also understood the evangelical sterility of the smiley-face, cheap-grace, balloons-and-banners Catholicism that would become rampant shortly after her death."

      • Let's Not Get the Hell Out of Here by Timothy George at First Things: "Within the framework of redemptive history, it is also a chance to tweak the beard of the Evil One and remind him that his kingdom has been rattled: He is un roi prĂ©tendu. Despite the devil’s worst doings, God still reigns, Christ is risen, love conquers, and hilarity happens."


      A book-filled weekend for us all, dear ones.

      For more Five Favorites, visit Moxie Wife!

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