With my work for The Parliament of the World's Religions, I have had numerous amazing experiences and relationships with people of other faiths and wiWith my work for The Parliament of the World's Religions, I have had numerous amazing experiences and relationships with people of other faiths and within the Interfaith Roundtable. This book and the Roundtable are some of the legacy from the work done for the hosting of the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics.
This is a lovely collection of the representative religions in this area. Every entry has an illustration to symbolize that religion and a brief summary of their beliefs. Besides being a teaching tool, having these diverse faiths bound together in this book symbolizes the beauty of interfaith work and discovering the commonalities and the unique tenets between each.
How does one make a Holocaust retelling palatable?
I'm not a fan of the graphic novel genre, but the street-wise, crude nature of the style serves toHow does one make a Holocaust retelling palatable?
I'm not a fan of the graphic novel genre, but the street-wise, crude nature of the style serves to emphasize the baseness and inhumanity of what occurred to this Jewish family in Nazi Germany. Simultaneously simplistic and sophisticated, it provides easy access for all readers while powerfully, and symbolically, adding depth and emotion.
The trickery is in the fictitious nature of anthropomorphized characters. The reader thinks that it will be more digestible because they are observing talking animals. But not even a child would be fooled into believing that this wasn't about an actual human family.
And this is what makes it powerful. Our conscious mind is able to readily entertain the concept of the atrocities on a fictitious level. In a cartoon form, we are taken in and will play the pretend game until suddenly we are surrounded by the story and cannot back away from the realization of its reality.
Palatable? Maybe. But so, so difficult to swallow. And painful to digest.
Note: The story ends abruptly and is continued in a sequel. You may want to have both accessible....more
I spent a great deal of time pouring over this collection of stories and essays and found myself attached to and comforted by this book as if it wereI spent a great deal of time pouring over this collection of stories and essays and found myself attached to and comforted by this book as if it were a dear, wise friend.
I marked up the pages. I noted powerful sections. I found myself constantly wanting to share and discuss this book. I bought two copies to give to friends. Then I bought three more to give as a thank you to keynote speakers at a workshop I had organized.
The intention of this book is the encouragement of social change locally, nationally, and internationally with the gentle reminder that meaningful work is often difficult and requires a push against the resisting status quo - but I found it just as impactful on an internal, personal level.
There are many contributors known to me (Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pablo Neruda, Alice Walker, Terry Tempest Williams, Maya Angelou, Bill Moyers, Desmond Tutu), but even those with whom I was unfamiliar proved to be welcome additions to my list of mentors.
Where many activist calls-to-action induce guilt or overwhelming feelings of inadequacy, this collection gently inspires and instructs. I enjoyed the ability to take a short chapter or two, digest its message and then let its ideas permeate my thoughts the rest of the day. The format itself is a reminder that we can be successful through small actions.
A few of the many favorites:
Paul Hawken's "You Are Brilliant and the Earth Is Hiring"
Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be a static, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television (p. 58).
The lovely story told in chapter 11, “Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye
Parker Palmer's amazingly beautiful descriptions of life as seasons in "There Is a Season":
Autumn is a season of great beauty, but also season of decline: the days grow shorter, the light is suffused, and summers abundance decays toward winter's death. Faced with this inevitable winter, what does nature do in autumn? She scatters the seeds that will bring new growth in the spring – and she scatters them with amazing abandon. ... But as I explore autumn's paradox of dying and seeding, I feel the power of metaphor. In the autumnal events of my own experience, I am easily fixated on surface appearances - on the decline of meaning, the decay of relationships, the death of a vocation. And yet, if I look more deeply, I may see the myriad possibilities being planted to bear fruit in some season yet to come (p. 153).
I adored Chapter 21, “Jesus and Alinsky” by Walter Wink, especially this interpretation of sections of the Sermon on the Mount:
When the court translators working in the hire of King James chose to translate antistenai as "resist not evil," they were doing something more than rendering Greek into English. They were translating nonviolent resistance into docility. The Greek word means more than simply to "stand against" or "resist." It means to resist violently, to revolt or rebel, to engage in an insurrection. Jesus did not tell his oppressed hearers not to resist evil. His entire ministry is at odds with such a preposterous idea. He is, rather, warning against responding to evil in kind by letting the oppressor set the terms of our opposition. (p.182)
..."If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Why the right cheek? How does one strike another on the right cheek anyway? Try it. A blow by the right fist in that right-handed world would land on the left cheek of the opponent. To strike the right cheek with the fist would require using the left hand, but in that society the left hand was used only for unclean tasks. As the Dead Sea Scrolls specify, even to gesture with the left hand at Qumran carried the penalty of ten days penance. The only way one could strike the right cheek with the right hand would be with the back of the hand. What we are dealing with here is unmistakably an insult, not a fistfight. The intention is not to injure but to humiliate, to put someone in his or her place. One normally did not strike a peer in this way, and if one did the fine was exorbitant. A back-hand slap was the normal way of admonishing inferiors. Masters back-handed slaves; husbands, wives; parents, children; men, women; Romans, Jews. ... Why then does Jesus counsel these already humiliated people to turn the other cheek? Because this action robs the oppressor of the power to humiliate them. The person who turned the other cheek is saying, in effect, "Try again. Your first blow failed to achieve its intended effect. I deny you the power to humiliate me. I am human being just like you. Your status (gender, race, age, wealth) does not alter that. You cannot demean me (pp. 183-184).”
I was reminded in Bill Moyer’s “The Progressive Story of America” about the component of the Constitution conservatives have tended to ignore – that of ‘promoting the general welfare’:
How are Americans to restore government to its job of promoting the general welfare?… It wasn't enough simply to curb the government's outreach. That would simply leave power in the hands of the great corporations whose existence was inseparable from growth and progress. The answer was to turn government into an active player in the economy at the very least enforcing fair play, and when necessary being the friend, the helper and the agent of the people at large in the contest against entrenched power (p. 260).”
But people simply helping one another couldn't move mountains of disadvantage. [Jane Addams] came to see that "private beneficience" wasn't enough. To bring justice to the poor would take more than soup kitchens and fundraising prayer meetings (p. 262).
This reminded me of a recent debate on the Utah House of Representative’s Floor regarding the expansion of Medicaid. One Representative spoke about the needs of her neighbor diagnosed with cancer and that taking her a casserole just wasn’t going to cut it.
I was touched by the entirety of Chapter 41, "Road to Redemption," by Billy Wayne Sinclair.
And this statement by Terry Tempest Williams, in light of current events within my own church, gave me pause:
What I do know, however, is that as a Mormon woman of the fifth generation of Latter-day Saints, I must question everything, even if it means losing my faith, even if it means becoming a member of a border tribe among my own people. Tolerating blind obedience in the name of patriotism or religion ultimately takes our lives (p. 435).
Finally, Chapter 54, "The Gruntwork of Peace," by Amos Oz was brilliant in its comparison of the peace talks between the Palestinians and the Jews with that of a disputing, but intimate, divorcing couple:
...we are more like a long-married couple in their divorce attorney's waiting room. They and we can joke together, shout, mock, accuse, interrupt, place a hand on a shoulder or waist, throw invective at each other, and once or twice in shed a tear (p .446).
I thought I could use this as an inticement to get my 12yo daughter to clean her room. I announced we would be listening to it togetherMaybe 2.5 stars
I thought I could use this as an inticement to get my 12yo daughter to clean her room. I announced we would be listening to it together as we worked together. She wasn't thrilled about either prospect, but I popped it into the player and proceeded any way.
I thought it was cute enough, but discovered, when she hushed me a few times, that she was enjoying it. However, when I asked if she wanted to keep listening after we finished cleaning, she was ambivalent.
I finished listening on my own, and tried to decide if the content was appropriate for her age. With several tough topics such as sex, divorce and dying, it might depend on the child (and the parent), but I think she probably would have been fine (and reading it WITH your early teen could open up some good discussion).
There was an intention to tug at the heart strings, but I didn't feel sincerely moved. I just didn't feel a real connection to any of these girls.
And the novelty of magic pants made me laugh in derision.
If rare rubies and diamonds were buried in a barrel of sewage would you reach through the depths and grasp them? Or would you shudder and recoil?
I'mIf rare rubies and diamonds were buried in a barrel of sewage would you reach through the depths and grasp them? Or would you shudder and recoil?
I'm not sure I would encourage this acquisition; just as I'm not sure I can recommend this book.
Still, I waded through the filth and found beautiful gems. (I just need to go take a shower now.)
I suppose Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude prepared me for this book. Once you understand Magical Realism, you have a greater appreciation for what is being accomplished, and this work of Salmon Rushdie's has a very similar feel to OHYOS (including warped sexual themes and oodles of misogyny).
Here are two early examples of his wonderful use of imagery (there were more throughout, but I became so engrossed at those times, that I forgot to note them:
Language upon a silver tongue affords enchantment enough.
There were so many chains winding around him that he could imagine, in the darkness, that he had somehow been encased in a larger body, the body of a man of iron.
However, despite some lovely moments, and some fascinating correlations of history that made me want to do more research, Rushdie failed to develop any of his characters. They were all hollow one and two dimensional figures. His style of prose was beautiful but also tediously repetitive and rambling.
The jewels of this novel are sublime, but how they would have sparkled with more editing and less detritus.
Note: He uses the F Bomb more than he uses punctuation. ...more
Despite hearing constant negativity surrounding this book... And, granted, this book isn't for everyone, but ... Oh! How I loved it! So. So.4.5 stars
Despite hearing constant negativity surrounding this book... And, granted, this book isn't for everyone, but ... Oh! How I loved it! So. So. So!
I listened to it on CD with the author as narrator, so perhaps having her voice and expression made the difference, but I found her ability to organize her thoughts (and the symbolism of the chapters and sections!), her descriptive imagery and use of metaphors, and her general attitude for living (purposefully living!) so lovely, so embracing.
I was so entranced with her attitude of grabbing life and making it what she wanted it to be. I was so moved by her expression of prayer and seeking after God's guidance in her life. I was so tickled with her ability to connect with those with whom she came in contact.
Half way into listening. I bought a used copy of the book so I could mark up all my favorite passages.
A few favorites:
“Where did you get the idea you aren't allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You're a constituent--you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So, put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me--it will at least be taken into consideration.” (I love that she had so many people 'sign' her petition!)
“This was my voice, but perfectly wise, calm and compassionate. This was what my voice would sound like if I’d only ever experienced love and certainty in my life. How can I describe the warmth of affection in that voice, as it gave me the answer that would forever seal my faith in the divine?”
“But the very fact that this world is so challenging is exactly why you sometimes must reach out of its jurisdiction for help, appealing to a higher authority in order to find your comfort.”
“Still, despite all this, traveling is the great true love of my life. I have always felt, ever since I was sixteen years old and first went to Russia with my saved-up babysitting money, that to travel is worth any cost or sacrifice. I am loyal and constant in my love for travel, as I have not always been loyal and constant in my other loves. I feel about travel the way a happy new mother feels about her impossible, colicky, restless, newborn baby--I just don't care what it puts me through. Because I adore it. Because it's mine. Because it looks exactly like me. It can barf all over me if it wants to--I just don't care.”
Listen to me. Someday you're gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You'll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing.”
“The search for contentment is, therefore, not merely a self-preserving and self-benefiting act, but also a generous gift to the world. You cease being an obstacle, not only to yourself but to anyone else. Only then are you free to serve and enjoy other people.”
My thoughts turn to something I read once, something the Zen Buddhists believe. They say that an oak tree is brought into creation by two forces at the same time. Obviously, there is the acorn from which it all begins, the seed which holds all the promise and potential, which grows into a tree. Everybody can see that. But only a few can recognize that there is anther force operating here as well-the future tree itself, which wants so badly to exist that it pulls the acorn into being, drawing the seedling forth with longing out of the void, guiding the evolution from nothingness to maturity. In this respect, say the Zens, it is the oak tree that creates the very acorn from which it was born.”
“Everyone makes their own path, and I must make mine. The Bhagavad Gita - and ancient Indian Yogic text - says that it is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life perfectly. So now I have started living my own life. Imperfect and clumsy as it may look, it is resembling me now, thoroughly. It is mine.”
Sometimes out hearts are broken so new light can get in.”
“I watched them, thinking that little girls who make their mothers live grow up to be such powerful women.”
“If I were going to have such a short visit on earth, I had to do everything possible to experience it now.”
“We’re miserable because we think that we are mere individuals, alone with our fears and flaws and resentments and mortality. We wrongly believe that our limited little egos constitute our whole entire nature. We have failed to recognize our deeper divine character.”
I've avoided this book for six years. Just the thought of entering into this family's pain and the minds of a horrible man and his innocent victim werI've avoided this book for six years. Just the thought of entering into this family's pain and the minds of a horrible man and his innocent victim were too much for me to bear. I watched it on the shelf and continually said, "no."
But we all gain strength with time and experience, and books wait for us until we are ready. And somehow, they find us at the proper time in our lives.
This one found me at the proper time.
The Lovely Bones is a lesson in paradoxical dichotomy. Even the title places two incompatible words next to each other. The story is heart-wrenching and lovely all at once. The characters are familiar yet distant.
With the lyrical intertwining of imagery and feelings, there is a subtle lesson that the delightful parts and the painful parts that make up our lives are all just components in the wonder of living: simple acts like watching dogs out in the yard, or bottles being built in ships, or gloves being passed on are just as poignant in our lives as monumental first kisses and making love, or jealousy, regret, disappointment, and death. Feeling and being are living. Even dying is living. ...more
In preparation for the Utah Shakespeare Fesitval, I read this play in conjunction with watching the PBS series The Hollow Crown. (My arguments for reaIn preparation for the Utah Shakespeare Fesitval, I read this play in conjunction with watching the PBS series The Hollow Crown. (My arguments for reading the play versus seeing the play and having it count as having read the work can be found here and are also tied up here.)
*** Dear William,
Your words are like melted butter on warm toast (wheat for me, please). They are rich and creamy; running over in drippy, oily sweetness; nourishing and incredibly comforting even when liberally spread. A nibble is as delicious as a mouthful.
Hungry for a Whole Loaf
While there is no complex plot here, the entertainment value comes through despite it being one of the "dry History Plays." This is due, in large part, to Falstaff, who is more than just a comic relief buffoon and has wonderful moments of complexity. But I found that I had taken a great liking to Prince Hal. He is no serious Hamlet, but this prodigal son knows he must rise to the occasion. Here is his soliloquy and a few other favorite excerpts:
I know you all, and will awhile uphold The unyoked humor of your idleness. Yet herein will I imitate the sun, Who doth permit the base contagious clouds To smother up his beauty from the world, That, when he please again to be himself, Being wanted, he may be more wondered at By breaking through the foul and ugly mist Of vapors that did seem to strangle him. If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work, But when they seldom come, they wished for come, And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents. So when this loose behavior I throw off And pay the debt I never promisèd, By how much better than my word I am, By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes; And, like bright metal on a sullen ground, My reformation, glitt'ring o'er my fault, Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes Than that which hath no foil to set it off. I’ll so offend to make offense a skill, Redeeming time when men think least I will. Act I, Scene II
Hal's eulogy over the less than dead body of Percy is both tender and chiding:
Ill-weaved ambition, how much art thou shrunk! When that this body did contain a spirit, A kingdom for it was too small a bound; But now two paces of the vilest earth Is room enough. Act V, Scene IV
And Falstaff's reply shows his pragmatic, though self-serving, credo:
Counterfeit! I lie; I am no counterfeit: to die, is to be a counterfeit; for he is but the counterfeit of a man who hath not the life of a man: but to counterfeit dying, when a man thereby liveth, is to be no counterfeit, but the true and perfect image of life indeed. The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part I have saved my life. Act V, Scene IV...more
Wonderfully fun. The Three's Company of the 16th Century, complete with misunderstanding, mistaken identity, swinging doors and a double dose of Mr. FWonderfully fun. The Three's Company of the 16th Century, complete with misunderstanding, mistaken identity, swinging doors and a double dose of Mr. Furley in the name of Dromio.
*The version performed at this year's Utah Shakespeare Fesitval, impeccably done, had an Old West spin to it, showing that The Bard's work transcends time and place....more
(I saw this play several years ago. In preparation for this year's Utah Shakespeare Festival performance, I decided to read it.)
The beauty of3.5 stars
(I saw this play several years ago. In preparation for this year's Utah Shakespeare Festival performance, I decided to read it.)
The beauty of Twelfth Night is that the story hangs on the desires of two women, Viola and Olivia, foils and mirrors of each other. The other characters just add seasoning to the play.
These are my favorite excerpts:
VIOLA 'Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on: Lady, you are the cruell'st she alive, If you will lead these graces to the grave And leave the world no copy. OLIVIA O, sir, I will not be so hard-hearted; I will give out divers schedules of my beauty: it shall be inventoried, and every particle and utensil labelled to my will: as, item, two lips, indifferent red; item, two grey eyes, with lids to them; item, one neck, one chin, and so forth. Were you sent hither to praise me? VIOLA I see you what you are, you are too proud; But, if you were the devil, you are fair. My lord and master loves you: O, such love Could be but recompensed, though you were crown'd The nonpareil of beauty! OLIVIA How does he love me? VIOLA With adorations, fertile tears, With groans that thunder love, with sighs of fire. OLIVIA Your lord does know my mind; I cannot love him: Yet I suppose him virtuous, know him noble, Of great estate, of fresh and stainless youth; In voices well divulged, free, learn'd and valiant; And in dimension and the shape of nature A gracious person: but yet I cannot love him; He might have took his answer long ago. Act I, Scene V
VIOLA I left no ring with her: what means this lady? Fortune forbid my outside have not charm'd her! She made good view of me; indeed, so much, That sure methought her eyes had lost her tongue, For she did speak in starts distractedly. She loves me, sure; the cunning of her passion Invites me in this churlish messenger. None of my lord's ring! why, he sent her none. I am the man: if it be so, as 'tis, Poor lady, she were better love a dream. Disguise, I see, thou art a wickedness, Wherein the pregnant enemy does much. How easy is it for the proper-false In women's waxen hearts to set their forms! Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we! For such as we are made of, such we be. How will this fadge? my master loves her dearly; And I, poor monster, fond as much on him; And she, mistaken, seems to dote on me. What will become of this? As I am man, My state is desperate for my master's love; As I am woman,--now alas the day!-- What thriftless sighs shall poor Olivia breathe! O time! thou must untangle this, not I; It is too hard a knot for me to untie! Act II, Scene II
VIOLA Too well what love women to men may owe: In faith, they are as true of heart as we. My father had a daughter loved a man, As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman, I should your lordship. DUKE ORSINO And what's her history? VIOLA A blank, my lord. She never told her love, But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought, And with a green and yellow melancholy She sat like patience on a monument, Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed? We men may say more, swear more: but indeed Our shows are more than will; for still we prove Much in our vows, but little in our love. Act II, Scene IV
VIOLA By innocence I swear, and by my youth I have one heart, one bosom and one truth, And that no woman has; nor never none Shall mistress be of it, save I alone. And so adieu, good madam: never more Will I my master's tears to you deplore. Act III, Scene I
DUKE ...I'll sacrifice the lamb that I do love, To spite a raven's heart within a dove. Act V, Scene I ...more