A young minister and his family are terrorized by Mr. Watts, the upstanding citizen in pew #7. Threatening letters and phone calls escalate into gunsh...moreA young minister and his family are terrorized by Mr. Watts, the upstanding citizen in pew #7. Threatening letters and phone calls escalate into gunshots and bombs, keeping the family on edge and in fear. Justice is served too late and too little.
Rebecca Nichols Alonzo is the minister's daughter, looking back as an adult on those hellish experiences that dominated her childhood. God's grace has kept her from bitterness and enabled her to forgive the ones who shattered her family and normalcy. She speaks informally and from the heart and ties the ribbon of forgiveness around the entire package.
I found this true testimony engaging, but the writing was a little amateurish. There were some "clunky" metaphors, and too many verbal embellishments for my taste. However, the warmth of the author's personality does shine through and she definitely has a worthwhile story to tell. I admire her resilience, her faith, and her willingness to share the message of forgiveness. This would be a great book to put in the hands of one who is wounded by life's unfairness, providing a picture of hope that prevails over destruction.(less)
It took me a long while to get through this book, not because it was difficult, but because some parts fully engaged my interests and some did not. Th...moreIt took me a long while to get through this book, not because it was difficult, but because some parts fully engaged my interests and some did not. There were so many characters and so many side stories that it did become a little burdensome at times. I found the political portions tedious, though I freely admit that my ignorance of Russian history put me at a handicap here. Levin's journey to faith and his endless ruminations on the meaning of life were alternately wearisome and exhilarating. The lovely but tortured Anna I found fascinating at first, but I grew to dislike her more and more as her character was fully developed. She and Levin were a study in contrasts. Both sought meaning in life, both were tortured and suicidal. But Levin was unselfish and Anna was a narcissist. I am glad that Tolstoy chose NOT to end the book with Anna's sad demise, but to write a section beyond that and to end with Levin's glad apprehension of faith. I like happy endings.
Some scenes were so vivid as to be etched firmly in memory. One was a deathbed scene, at which Levin sat with his brother. His emotion rendered him paralyzed, unable to offer any real help in time of need. But his new bride stepped in and rescued the moment, ministering to the brother's physical and emotional needs. Levin had discouraged her presence there at the deathbed, but in fact that was the moment at which the true nature of his helpmate was recognized. Kitty was infinitely beautiful in her role as nurse and encourager.
I was struck by how much this death scene mirrored another vivid scene, that of Kitty giving birth to Levin's firstborn son. Birth into this world, or into the next is not won without a mighty struggle and Tolstoy is a master at painting these moments on a canvas of paper and ink. The important life questions are addressed fully through out this epic novel. Character development is rich, inner ruminations minutely detailed, and the reader is brought fully into the struggles of even the minor players. I might have liked this story even better if slightly abridged, but am not sorry that i read it. It deserves its status as a classic.(less)
This book was a lifeline to me when I was a new Mama. I knew that I wanted to read the "best" books to my children, but had no idea where to start. I...moreThis book was a lifeline to me when I was a new Mama. I knew that I wanted to read the "best" books to my children, but had no idea where to start. I had my children late in life, and I could recall only a few classics from my own childhood. Gladys Hunt writes a compelling case for keeping a literature rich environment, and then gives wonderful book lists categorized by age. I have given this book away as a baby shower gift many times. It is invaluable for starting new moms on the path to reading with their children.
Written as a series of epistles, this witty little book drew me in immediately. A moderately successful young authoress is looking for fresh inspirati...moreWritten as a series of epistles, this witty little book drew me in immediately. A moderately successful young authoress is looking for fresh inspiration for her next book. Post WWII London is rather dreary and she is coming up empty. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from a man who traced her via an inscription inside a book that once belonged to her. Dawsey Adams was smitten by Charles Lamb's writings and wanted more. Could she help him? He lived on Guernsey Island and did not have access to large bookstores or libraries where he could read more.
This letter opened the door for Juliet Ashton to correspond not only with Dawsey, but also with his literary club. Homey, openhearted, and scarred from the war, the members of the Guernsey Literary Society all began to write to Juliet after she expressed an interest in collecting their stories. Literature had been the safeguard of their sanity during the war years and at the time of the German occupation of their island. Now the letter writing became a catharsis for them.
Eventually it was not enough to know these dear islanders from afar, and Juliet takes an extended visit to Guernsey to know them face-to-face and to compile their stories into a book. That visit will mark a pivot-point in Juliet's life and the book closes with a truly happy ending.
I loved the wit, the humor, the characterizations of the islanders---quirky and very human---and I also enjoyed the history that was woven deftly into the story. A memorable read and I heartily recommend it.(less)
The stories of the ancient Hebrews have enthralled generation after generation:their release from Egyptian bondage, the opening of the Red Sea, the da...moreThe stories of the ancient Hebrews have enthralled generation after generation:their release from Egyptian bondage, the opening of the Red Sea, the day the sun stood still, manna falling from heaven. These stories are known and loved by peoples of many nations. And those nations witnessed a modern day miracle in 1948, when the Jews, after being scattered and without a homeland for 2,000 years, were reestablished in Palestine and the nation Israel was reborn.
Golda Meir, Israel's fourth prime minister, lived through this thrilling chapter of Jewish history, indeed she played an integral part in it. Born to a Russian Jewish family, her earliest memory was one of fear triggered by the pogroms. She and her family were often hungry, until they immigrated to America when Golda was eight years old. As a teen she became a dedicated Zionist and began public speaking for the cause. As a newlywed, she and her husband fulfilled her dream by emigrating to what was then called Palestine.
This life story is engaging on many levels. We get a glimpse of life in the kibbutz--the back breaking work required in order to drain swamps, build roads, plant orchards, and create farms out of waste land. Some expected her to be "soft" because of her time in America but Golda was never afraid of hard work, in fact she thrived on it. There are no guidebooks for building a nation; it requires pioneer spirits and Golda embodied that.
She served in many governmental capacities during her long public service career, from the trade unions to foreign ministry, and ultimately prime minister. Each new post required tremendous dedication, international travel, diplomacy, and finding her way in uncharted territory. It also took a deep toll on her family life. Though she never divorced, she lived most of her life separated from her husband and she also suffered mental torture over the time spent away from her two children during their tender years.
One of the biggest challenges Golda faced early in Israel's history was how to quickly acclimate the multitudes of new immigrants into the culture, to bring them out of the temporary tent cities and get them settled. A socialist in her philosophy, programs were created to get the people into new settlements, provide them with modest housing, and put them to work. The groups of immigrants were not a homogeneous bunch, coming from many parts of Europe and speaking many languages. This created quite a challenge for them when they were required to work together, like a modern-day "tower of Babel" story.
I will briefly mention two chapters that I found fascinating, one sad and one happy. The sad chapter was about the time Golda served as minister to Moscow. At great risk to themselves, thousands of Russian Jews turned out to honor her--hungering to know about the new state of Israel and pining to identify themselves with their Jewish brethren. Their downtrodden state was depressing but their love of Golda inspiring. Many would make the trek to Israel in later years and would become citizens themselves.
The other chapter, the happy one, was about Africa. In the late 1950s, there were several African nations emerging with new liberty after shaking off foreign rule. In Golda's own words: "We went into Africa to teach, and what we taught was learned. No one regrets more bitterly than I that, for the time being the African nations--or many of them--have chosen to turn their backs on us. But what really matters is what we--and they-- accomplished together, what the thousands of Isreaeli experts in agriculture, hydrology, regional planning, public health, engineering, community services, medicine and scores of other fields actually did throughout Africa between 1958 and 1973, and what the thousands of Africans who trained in Israel during those years took home with them. Those benefits can never be lost, and those achievements should never be minimized." I found it thrilling that a nation still in its infancy would be so fully engaged in humanitarian efforts on behalf of others. Golda's delight in giving is palpable.
No less than four American presidents had dealings with Golda Meir, and I found her recounting of those dealings to be most interesting. Eisenhower was not particularly helpful. Kennedy was sympathetic and a good listener. LBJ was warm and genuine. But Nixon was the true friend to Golda Meir, the true friend to Israel especially during the Yom Kippur war when he ordered hundreds of planes and tons of supplies to be delivered, which enabled Israel to be spared from obliteration. The Yom Kippur war story is told with a tinge of sadness; it was a great grief to Golda that she was caught by surprise and the loss of many young lives pained her to her dying day.
I could almost feel Golda's tiredness by the end of the book; she was very old when she stepped down from public service. Her Grandmotherly figure endeared her to many and she epitomized the nation Israel in her lifetime and manages to end on a note of victory:"And now I have only one desire left: never to lose the feeling that it is I who am indebted for what has been given to me from the time that I first learned about Zionism in a small room in czarist Russia all the way through to my half century here, where I have seen my five grandchildren grow up as free Jews in a country that is their own. let no one anywhere have any doubts about this: Our children and our children's children will never settle for anything less."
Highly recommended. A thrilling slice of history!(less)
I am giving this book 5 stars solely because the author manages to be very convincing about the urgency of the message. I found the back-and-forth dia...moreI am giving this book 5 stars solely because the author manages to be very convincing about the urgency of the message. I found the back-and-forth dialogue a little wearying but still it was used effectively in driving home the point that America has been warned by God (on 9/11) and judgment hangs over us like the sword of Damocles. Cahn uses Isaiah 9:10 as the heart of his message, pertaining to the demise of ancient Israel's northern kingdom. The pattern of warning, defiance, destruction, and uprooting is chillingly similar to events that have transpired in America's recent history. I pray it is not too late for our country to experience another great spiritual awakening. This book is valuable for trumpeting the message to "return" to God and even if it doesn't make a significant impact on the nation it will certainly be an instrument to call astute individuals to repentance. There is a day of judgement and wisdom tells us not to delay dealing with either our personal OR our national sins. (less)
I heard this book being read aloud in installments via a local radio station, and I was surprised at how fresh and "alive" it was in spite of its anti...moreI heard this book being read aloud in installments via a local radio station, and I was surprised at how fresh and "alive" it was in spite of its antiquated language. Written as an allegory, you will recognize many of the characters --Pliable, Worldly Wise Man, Legality, Evangelist, etc.--as people you've met on your own life journey. The main character, Christian, departs from his native City of Destruction and journeys on toward the light of the Celestial City. He begins his journey carrying a heavy burden, which rolls off his back when he comes to the cross. He gets off the path once, trespassing on enemy ground and ends up enchained as a prisoner in the Castle of the Giant Despair. His release makes him more careful of the straight and narrow path, but doesn't make him impervious to other temptations and dangers such as Vanity Fair, imprudently falling asleep, getting tangled in the net of the Flatterer, a battle with Apollyon, etc. There is a lot of dialogue, fully packed with wisdom for those who read thoughtfully. But there is also quite a lot of action and it moves along fairly briskly once you get the "feel" of the old English. Of course there are many newer versions with updated English, but I think the original recipe is best. Great wisdom literature;I highly recommend this book.(less)
Oscar Wilde wrote great fairy tales. I like them even better than traditional fairy tales--quality literature and less dark than Grimm's. My hands-dow...moreOscar Wilde wrote great fairy tales. I like them even better than traditional fairy tales--quality literature and less dark than Grimm's. My hands-down favorite is "The Selfish Giant" and we read it every Easter season even though most of us are now grown up. I think grown ups appreciate a good fairy tale and perhaps need them even more than children do :) My favorite lines from "The Selfish Giant" are the final ones:
"Who hath dared to wound thee?" cried the Giant; "tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him."
"Nay!" answered the child; "but these are the wounds of Love."
"Who art thou?" said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.
And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, "You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise."
And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.(less)
Somehow, I've missed this book all my life, although of course I've known *about* it. The reading proved quite different from the (mis)conceptions I'd...moreSomehow, I've missed this book all my life, although of course I've known *about* it. The reading proved quite different from the (mis)conceptions I'd formed in my mind via hearsay. Today the term "Uncle Tom" is a term tinged with reproach and disrespect, while the literary character was worthy of the utmost respect. He was a slave who refused to sell out his soul no matter what dishonor and misuse was heaped upon him. Tom maintained dignity, self-control, and individuality in the face of brutal and heart wrenching treatment.
The famous author, Harriet Beecher Stowe, garnered every possible view of the slavery issue in all its various shades of opinion and then created a character to espouse each view. The characters were a compilation of public opinion, very believable and well-drawn. Besides the story of Uncle Tom, there were sub-plots that converged at the end and created a semi-happy ending; as happy an ending as could be created while depicting an onerous and evil slave culture.
Stowe's writing is painstakingly detailed, noting every creak of the rocking chair and every fine line on the face. Sometimes it is delightful but often I found it wordy and overly ornate, a product of her era I'm sure, and one that can be forgiven in exchange for the slice of history that is dished out. This is a historical element that no individual can afford to ignore or push to the recesses of the mind. The moral conscious is damaged by relegating this national sin issue to the dusty past. Slavery is alive and well in the world today and begs that we do not turn a blind eye to it.
Uncle Tom's Cabin is written from a thoroughly Christian perspective, interlaced constantly with scripture and Biblical allusions. The Christian was not only depicted, but thoroughly critiqued, as some misused the Holy writ in ignorance and some disregarded it in rebellion. The only one who LIVED it truly and fully was the martyr, Uncle Tom.
I was amazed at the depth of understanding that Stowe held for her martyr. She understood and accurately penned each and every emotional stage and inner battle that Tom endured. Those who have read stories of martyrs will find the story very accurate in its unfolding. At the same time, there is an element of triumph that fully elevates both the character and the reader. I recoiled at the injustice but rejoiced at the fortitude that the humble saint tenaciously refused to relinquish.
I'd give 41/2 stars, taking a little off for the over-embellished prose, but still this is a story that holds such a place in our nation's past that I think everyone should be familiar with it. It is an example of persuasive writing at its best. (less)