Not as good as I was hoping it'd be. He has an open-theistic view of reality, and his view on scripture was a little too open, I thought, so these two...moreNot as good as I was hoping it'd be. He has an open-theistic view of reality, and his view on scripture was a little too open, I thought, so these two beliefs affect how he sees certain things. He could have gone a lot deeper too (perhaps his views also affected how deeply he saw/sees).
But I was still thankful for his attempt to see certain things about scientific knowledge (or theories) in light of God's word, especially in respect to the Trinity. (less)
I would give To Live a higher rating for the writing, for Yu Hua's ability to move the reader with his words, but the story itself, the narrative, as...moreI would give To Live a higher rating for the writing, for Yu Hua's ability to move the reader with his words, but the story itself, the narrative, as true to reality as it is, is also empty and, in the truest sense, unreal.
Like Yasunari Kawabata, Yu Hua evinces the realities of life without God, while trying to maintain that life can still be, somehow, worth living. Life for the sake of life.
But I don't know how life can be worth living without God? What does Fugui, the main character, have after all is done? Nothing but his resigned desire to live as long as he can.
Well, this is not quite true. Fugui, even as he does not know God as God is, still enjoys the love of God and God's goodness through ordinary means: the beauty in nature, the land's produce, friendship, the companionship of one of God's creatures (an ox), and etc.
But no God. No Maker. No Creator. No King. No Redeemer. No Savior. No Lord. No Messiah. No Jesus. No relationship with God the Father, who is love, and who has brought so much goodness into Fugui's life (even as Fugui has lost so much as well).
On the back cover of the book, one of the reviewers says that To Live is a Chinese Job. But I think not. The suffering is there, yes, but without God, there is no Job, without the real and vibrant relationship between Job and God, there is no Job, without the humbling and submission of Job to God, there is no Job. Only a shadow of the real deal.
The book of Job ends in hope, both with the return and increase in Job's wealth and family, but even more in the hope of life and reward Job has in the Living God. God, in the book of Job, is truly Job's Redeemer and Savior and King.
But in To Live there is no such hope for Fugui. Without God, without hope of something more true and more real, all that Fugui has is to eat, drink and try to be merry, and to live as long as he can. In times of plenty, this may seem to suffice, but when we are faced with dying and suffering, reality becomes too real for this. I need God and so does Fugui.
I'm sure the writing is better in Yasunari's Japanese than in the translation. But even with the disadvantages of translation, the power of Yasunari's...moreI'm sure the writing is better in Yasunari's Japanese than in the translation. But even with the disadvantages of translation, the power of Yasunari's writing filters through.
Which made it hard for me to read, because Yasunari knew how to evoke emotions and passions. And the main emotion, the main feeling brought out in his writing was the feeling of forsakenness, of emptiness, of loss (or of being lost). And I hate reading books that evoke this emotion and feeling. It's an awful feeling. Awful.
But I understand it. It seems to me, too, that Japanese story-telling has this feeling as a central tenet in many of its works. It is also common among Modern American writers, this sense of being bereft in a lonely cosmos.
As a Christian who has experienced the presence of God in Christ with me, this feeling (the feeling of aloneness, or of emptiness) always makes me sad and a little bit frightened (if I'm honest). Makes me especially feel sad for the characters in these stories, because I know these characters are as real as my friends, co-workers, and neighbors. And the feeling frightens me, because sometimes I forget about the good promises of God in Jesus and that God has done what He said He would do long ago, bring salvation to a lost and broken people.
I was yearning, the whole time, for Komako to learn about Jesus, and to be able to cast all her burdens upon Him so that she would find real peace, joy in the middle of suffering and sorrow, strength to endure, and the certain hope to live with life in a corrupted world. And to become pure and holy as Jesus is pure and holy, because this is where we can find our rest.
On the back it said an "unbiased" account. I kind of doubt that, because some of the language and some of the details he brings to light seem to be de...moreOn the back it said an "unbiased" account. I kind of doubt that, because some of the language and some of the details he brings to light seem to be decidedly pro-IRA. As someone who knows virtually nothing about the relations between Ireland and Britain and nothing about the IRA, it just seemed a little biased. But maybe I'm wrong.
Regardless, it was still an interesting read.(less)
I was kind of disappointed by this book. My expectations were higher (or perhaps just different).
The part of the book that really is good is the focus...moreI was kind of disappointed by this book. My expectations were higher (or perhaps just different).
The part of the book that really is good is the focus on the natural realm, on the amazing wonders of the part of creation we can experience with our senses and/or discover via mathematics. Really cool! And it makes one want to jump up and say, "Amen!" It is true! And it is beautiful! And it is good!
But Giberson is a scientist, trained in the method, raised in the jello of secular teaching, curdled in the words of brilliant, but falsifiable (yes, the wizards themselves) wizards of knowledge.
And I don't think he has come from out of the oven untouched.
(All I'm saying here is that I think he has been led to give up on some things he need not give up on and has embraced some things he shouldn't embrace, I'm just saying it in a, well, different way).
I'm not arguing for a less-informed Christianity, but I am arguing for a more faithful Christianity, more faithful to the word of God, which is everlasting, and less faithful to scientific models, which seem to be upturned every thousand years or more often (of course, one could argue, but I think somewhat less equally, because of the nature of the revelation, that certain theological viewpoints have been upturned, and etc., but the ground is different. The revelations are different in kind).
I do believe in a kind of progressive natural revelation, a kind of progressive building-up of human knowledge, but there are limits, massive limits, and I don't think Giberson has given enough weight to the limits of what we can know and how well we can know it through human reasoning (i.e. the scientific method).
Am I making sense? Arghh!
I think Giberson's take on creation is flawed, dramatically so, because he seems not to deal with the fall.
God said it was good. But the realm we live in is not that same realm. It was good, but then the writer of Genesis, who I'll presume was originally Moses, said that something happened, and Man fell, and creation became cursed, a curse was placed upon it by its Creator. And this has effected, to some degree and another, everything in creation. Moses seems to suggest there was a time when death was not. But Giberson seems to disagree (because of what modern science is saying).
So that was a disappointment for me, because I think that science should have no qualms with God's word or vice versa. But, in truth, what many scientists are doing these days is not scientific work as much as it is detective work. Chesterton said this a hundred years ago. And I think we need to keep that in mind, because if we don't we can turn science into our primary and absolute oracle, but Christians have to maintain God's word as their primary and absolute oracle even as we attempt to learn more about God's creation through natural revelation using our God-given powers of reasoning and fact-finding.
In any event, I don't think Giberson's view of creation is complete and I think it is flawed in that it seems to disregard the fall (Giberson's account goes beyond the 6 days of creation, both explicitly and implicitly). Note: I hear he's writing a book on Adam, so maybe I'll read that when it comes out.
I think if we are to believe in the incarnation and resurrection of God in Christ, then I think there's room for us to be more flexible and more amenable to how the created, explorable realm, came into being (but not as flexible in regards to, say, the fall and the curse). Science, after all, would tell us that man cannot be resurrected. Certainly, it wouldn't be able to explain the incarnation. Nor would it give us any reason why we would need a Saviour (the scientific method has no means to suggest a need for a Saviour, its scope is more limited, but often men try to lift the scientific method into the place of a Saviour and in so doing they betray their pink-polka-dot underwear).
Lastly, right at the end, Giberson basically says that love is the reason. Love is the purpose:
"Our religious and our scientific understandings of the world have at last converged on the importance of love. Perhaps we can now affirm that this is the purpose for which God called the Creation into existence and guided it into its present reality."
But that's not what the Bible says. The Bible says Jesus is the reason. God in Christ is the purpose. And God shows in Christ that He is love! Yes! But it also shows that He is holy and pure, righteous. He is just and merciful, He is lovely. So it's not love, it's Jesus! :)
Anyway, perhaps we could sum up my review of Giberson's book by saying that he needed to have a bit more of the Pastoral-theological view and a bit less of the scientific view to have a more, I believe, truthful and reality-ringing description of creation.
Nevertheless, I appreciate his desire to see our reality as it is, even if I think he is not seeing it as clearly as he could. I desire this too and I, too, struggle to know at times how to read scripture and especially in relation to what the world is saying, in which some things the world sees pretty clearly and other things not so much, so I still think the word has to be our starting and along-the-way and ending points.
And, for all my criticisms here, I am thankful he (Giberson) has a desire to follow Jesus, and that he believes in Him,
The Good: Kipling had a lively imagination and a nice feel for soothing writing.
The Bad: He was a man of his time, apparently, and seemed, from these...moreThe Good: Kipling had a lively imagination and a nice feel for soothing writing.
The Bad: He was a man of his time, apparently, and seemed, from these stories, to be somewhat ethnocentric (which is putting it graciously).
The Ugly: As a Christian, someone who tries to and does believe God's word as truth, it was difficult to appreciate Kipling's interweaving of Biblical stories/characters with pagan gods/goddesses/djinns and etc. I believe the Bible is True Myth, or the True Myth, but Kipling showed in these stories that he believed it was just another myth in the world's big pile of myths, which was unfortunate and made his stories less enjoyable for me.(less)
Okay, so part of the reason I rated it a 5 is because of the experience I had reading Yang's book.
I think in parts of the book the narrative seemed a...moreOkay, so part of the reason I rated it a 5 is because of the experience I had reading Yang's book.
I think in parts of the book the narrative seemed a little choppy, but the genre has something to do with that. If I hadn't made a close personal connection with the narrative I probably would've rated it a 4 (which is a huge difference, I know... sarcasm).
The drawing is awesome!!!!
And the Monkey King... is AWESOME!!!!
And the story of Jin Wang... is AWESOME!!!!
And then there was Tze-Yo-Tzuh... He is AWE-some! Emphasis on the "AWE," and it's old school definition (i.e. inspiring, overwhelming, full of glory).
As a Christian I enjoyed seeing parallels in Yang's book between the Monkey King's story and the story of Jesus (as well as Jin Wang's story with the Christian story):
1. The Monkey has a humble birth (from a rock, which is itself imagery for Jesus), is associated with light (again, Jesus is THE light), conquers the evil spirit which had haunted Flower-Fruit Mountain (i.e. the cross was the victory of God in Christ over sin and death and the accuser), and then the Monkey King sets up his kingdom and calls his followers from the four corners of the world (they "flocked to him," sheep are used in the Bible to represent the followers of God, since sheep are both needy and oftentimes dumb, I use "dumb" as a term of endearment, I consider myself a sheep)(which is, of course, symbolic of the good news going out and giving new life and light to those who once lived in darkness, and now entering into the Kingdom of God). Most of this is probably faithful to the classic Chinese tale of the Monkey King in Journey to the West???
2. Yang quotes/paraphrases parts of Psalm 139, which is an awesome Psalm.
3. Tze-Yo-Tzuh has many characteristics resembling the God of the Bible (I'm not talking about his pictorial representation in Yang's book, so please don't be foolish). Ex. Tze-Yo-Tzuh is said to be the One who is, and was, and will be.
5. Tze-Yo-Tzuh is also seen as the source of one's true identity. He sets us free. We find our true identity in the will of Tze-Yo-Tzuh. This fits with Jesus as being the One who sets us free and gives His followers life (thus, identity).
6. And, of course, the Nativity scene. With the Monkey King! I actually thought that was cool. (I totally disagree with syncretism as a Christian, but I'm actually not sure what Yang intended in that scene, whether he was melding and putting them together, or whether he was, symbolically, showing how Christianity, i.e. Jesus, calls people from "the four corners of the world," where there is no jew or gentile, but all who are in Christ, are one, brother and sister).
7. On my previous point, Christianity is not a "Western" religion. It, in fact, could now be argued that it is an "Eastern" religion, since many, if not most, of Christianity's followers are now from and/or living in the East (is Africa considered East or West, Idk...). But, above that, Christianity claims to be above culture, but also to enter into culture (this is that same claim for Jesus, being God He transcends, but by becoming man, He incarnates and comes down to His creation to proclaim His kingdom and call people from every nation to Him). So, the Bible, not Western-ism (or Eastern-ism for that matter), defines how Christians interact with the culture we are born into as well as the cultures we enter into.
In any case, this story is enjoyable for, really, anyone who appreciates good drawing and good stories.
It can be hard to know how to relate suffering and humor. And sometimes our hearts are just not soft or selfless enough to appr...moreThe drawing is awesome.
It can be hard to know how to relate suffering and humor. And sometimes our hearts are just not soft or selfless enough to appreciate the horror and pain of real suffering in our world, so I'm not sure how well Delisle did (because I'm not sure my heart is well enough to know).
But I did appreciate the concern he showed, in some of his drawings, for the suffering of many of the people in Burma (or who are now outside of Burma). And I appreciated his honesty, too, because he drew and revealed the unflattering things he said and/or thought during his time in Burma. And that was cool. He did not spare himself of personal guilt/embarrassment.
I also appreciated the humor in this book.
I do believe there is a place for humor in the realm of suffering, because I believe there is a place for humor in our world. I don't think Delisle always used his humor absolutely appropriately (i.e. I think, at times, it revealed his unwillingness or inability, to love un-constrainedly, to be willing to endure suffering for the sake of loving others), but for the most part I think it was a welcome and useful human-literary tool (humor).(less)
I don't think Naipaul's thesis is as accurate as he supposes (at least as he believed at the time he wrote the book...moreThe stories are really interesting.
I don't think Naipaul's thesis is as accurate as he supposes (at least as he believed at the time he wrote the book). But there is truth there, I think, too. I think the religions and cultural heritages pre-Islam were probably quite as bad in some ways as Naipaul believes Islam is. But I don't think he takes this into account as much as he should.
In any event, I believe Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead 2000 years ago, so I believe in one truth, one reality, and my interpretation is going to be very different from Naipaul's and different from those of many of his critics.
I.e. I believe all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we have all gone our own way. Every single one of us. This means that we need God's grace and this grace has come in and through His Son, who is God, through his dying for sins and His rising to new life. There is no room for self-righteousness in this truth, no room for self-honor, only room for God's grace and the righteousness based on God's sacrifice. (less)
Not going to go into how irretrievably fabulous DFW's writing is. But it is, irretrievable, sadly. And fabulous.
I do part ways with him on his worldvi...moreNot going to go into how irretrievably fabulous DFW's writing is. But it is, irretrievable, sadly. And fabulous.
I do part ways with him on his worldview and his inability to see Jesus Christ as very God and very man, so every time I read his writing my heart breaks, sometimes a little, and sometimes a lot.
Anyway, enough personal bio...
Here are my favorite essays from Both Flesh and Not:
1. Federer Both Flesh and Not 2. Democracy and Commerce at the U.S. Open 3. Twenty-Four Word Notes 4. Fictional Futures and the Conspicuously Young 5. The Best of the Prose Poem 6. Deciderization 2007 - A Special Report (even though DFW dwells too much on his post-modern view of reality, it still is a fun and stimulating read).(less)
This is better than her Holding onto Hope book in a couple ways:
1. This was written a few years after that first book, so I think she learned more thr...moreThis is better than her Holding onto Hope book in a couple ways:
1. This was written a few years after that first book, so I think she learned more through God's word and Spirit working in her heart, and that really came through and benefited my heart.
2. She addressed one of the issues, to some extent, she didn't address in the first book, which was the sovereignty of God in the middle of suffering. Well, she did address this in the first book, but she went farther in this book, which was really what I have been struggling with and she helped me to see God's goodness and His sovereignty in the same sphere. So helpful.
I do have to fault her, though, because she is spreading false rumors around about the Puritans. She miscons...moreReally awesome! (I think I'm on chapter 5)
I do have to fault her, though, because she is spreading false rumors around about the Puritans. She misconstrues Puritan beliefs. She says that Puritans believed if misfortune happened to someone this showed "divine disfavor." And that the Puritans believed that success and wealth were signs of divine favor (in this case, that you were of the elect, a true child of God). (These views are neither Puritan nor Biblical, least not of the Puritans I have read).
Her view of the Puritans has more in common with today's health and wealth gospel (or prosperity gospel) than it does with Puritan theology/belief.
(See John Owen, John Bunyan, Richard Sibbes, Jonathan Edwards, et. al.)
But I can't really fault her too bad, because I'm pretty certain she's never read anything by a Puritan, she has probably only read about Puritans.
And, anyway, the rest of the book is pretty cool. I love how she attempted/succeeded to actually perform or engage in the actual cultural practices that she witnessed. Now I'm gonna go read the rest of the book.
Update: 1/18/14, Finished
So the rest of the book was really good. I have quite a few Asian friends, and this little book helped me think about some of their cultural mores/values, so that was a nice benefit to reading this book. I think inter-generational living, for example, can be really good, although I would modify it, a bit.
I believe that when our parents are older and less able to take care of themselves, instead of putting them in a retirement home (or whatever) we should, as sons and/or daughters, take them into our homes and take care of them. I think there is much biblical support for this (beyond what Kolker was pointing out), so I really appreciated (and appreciate) aspects of inter-generational living.
The cuarentena, also, was a really cool cultural practice. And if I ever get married, well, my wife is going to get that kind of treatment, somehow, some way.
I think the social aspects of the cultural practices found in this book are what many, if not most, Americans are missing in their lives. America is a task-oriented, time-oriented, success-measuring society, and we would do well to adopt and/or adapt some of the practices narrated in this book.
Anyway, I really appreciated this book, because it helped me think more about the cultural milieu I grew up in as well as the cultural characteristics of many of my friends/co-workers.
I still would want Kolker to do some more reading up on the Puritans, specifically reading Puritans themselves, because though some of the ordinary Puritans may have behaved and thought the way Kolker says they behaved and thought, the real Puritans were much different (i.e. the ones who were the source, originators, of Puritanism).(less)