The tragic and fascinating history of the Oxford English Dictionary. How an insane American and a British philologist ended up working together creati...moreThe tragic and fascinating history of the Oxford English Dictionary. How an insane American and a British philologist ended up working together creating the dictionary.(less)
A friend, while discussing National Moth Week with me, remembered and recommended this book. The information about moths in the book is a wonderful me...moreA friend, while discussing National Moth Week with me, remembered and recommended this book. The information about moths in the book is a wonderful metaphor for the main character, Elnora, and the novel gives a clear description of the practices of naturalists in the early 20th century, but it is not why you should read this book.
This is a combination of "Little Women" and "Anne of Green Gables": a nostalgic look at life in the last century, with its clear social rules, that triggers a longing within you to be a neighbor and friend of the central characters. I am sure that the world has been simplified in "A Girl of the Limberlost," but it does not matter. I was engrossed and involved with the cares, choices and problems of the people. The ending was not satisfactory for me. It was a happy ending, but came too soon. I would gladly have read the entire life history of Elnora and still have wished for more. I do recognize that this book will most likely be considered a girls' book. I give you no apologies for that. The women are strong and morally upright.
I have now purchased all of Stratton-Porter's books that are available for Kindle. I chose facsimiles of the original editions. There is a free Kindle edition of "A Girl of the Limberlost." There is also a 99¢ edition that has all of the available Stratton-Porter books. Go to amazon.com now and start clicking.(less)
I am not usually a fan of books with talking animals (I've never read Watership Down). However, the theme that I saw unfolding in The Starling God com...moreI am not usually a fan of books with talking animals (I've never read Watership Down). However, the theme that I saw unfolding in The Starling God compelled me to continue reading.
The Starling God is a fable and it tells of the evolution of Christian thought. There are birds who blindly believe in the theology of the birds, birds who quietly question the belief of damnation and divine punishment for their sins, and even birds who anticipate the coming of the Messiah. This Messiah does come — in the form of a special starling, SL'an. This young starling is trained by doves before being handed over to the starling flock for training from SL'an's own kind. SL'an is observant and questioning, and even questions his own role as the Starling God. After a coming of age quest, SL'an realizes he is not a Messiah. He is a bird with the ability to show other birds a more fulfilling way of life; a better way to view the world about them. In effect, SL'an gave birds a new paradigm for a world in which good creatures may do bad things.
There are very obvious parallels to the life of Christ here. But there came a time in the book when I thought that Sousa had lost this ancient narrative and was striking out on her own, in a different direction. The story stopped following the ancient tale of the life of Christ. I was not sure what Sousa's point was going to be. Was this going to be an atheist or an anti-Christian (both very popular points of view lately) polemic? My curiosity is why I continued to read.
Suddenly, as I read what SL'an saw and learned on his quest, as I watched him gather his disciples, I realized that I had heard these same controversial ideas of SL'an in the writings of Marcus Borg, a liberal Protestant theologian. Was Christ the Messiah? What was Christ's goal in establishing the Christian church? Borg says that Christ established The Way: a new way of living and viewing the world; a new paradigm that eschews the angry and punitive New Testament God that we know. The Way is inclusive, forgiving and gentle. The Church was not meant to be the organized, hierarchical entity that has disenfranchised and judged, thus repelling, people.
We never learn whether SL'an was crucified for his teachings. We are hopeful that in our era he will be safe to find more disciples to help spread The Way. He certainly has the means to keep himself safe: his wings. But Jesus had his feet and could have escaped his fate. Why didn't he?
If you are curious (and are not faint hearted), read Borg's work. I continue to return to his writings regularly because I simply cannot digest all there is. The Starling God is a marvelous, painstakingly crafted, exposure to the ideas and consequences of The Church and The Way. Humans need fables to digest very difficult ideas. This is the fable for The Way. (less)
This book is a treasure. Woolfson intermingles journal-type observations of nature in Aberdeen, Scotland with longer essays on species and musings abo...moreThis book is a treasure. Woolfson intermingles journal-type observations of nature in Aberdeen, Scotland with longer essays on species and musings about them. The book is all about cycles: weeks in seasons, in years, in calendars, in the Jewish calendar, and our lives within those cycles. I spent a lot of time, in my Kindle edition, noting other authors and publications that I want to read in the future. Since I focus on northern New England flora and fauna, I was hesitant to read this. But her observations and information are as apropos to my life here as life in Scotland.
I will be referencing this book greatly in the future. It must have taken Woolfson a long time to research and reference all of the topics she covers. She is well read and wise. Her writing style took me a while to get used to, but I did and ended up not being able to put this book down. I highly recommend it.(less)
Further explorations for a beginning naturalist, and more great pages to share with my students. We can use one essay a week, in season, and get to kn...moreFurther explorations for a beginning naturalist, and more great pages to share with my students. We can use one essay a week, in season, and get to know the topics, make new connections and further our curiosity about other things that we see. The seasons in this volume are broken into "half-seasons," as I call them like First Frost and Indian Summer, Late Fall to Christmas. The essays cover things inside our homes: Christmas cactus and cluster flies are two essays. Each season also covers either a constellation that should be familiar to all of us (like Cassiopeia) or familiar phenomena (like shooting stars). This is a wonderful continuation of The Beginning Naturalist. Every family should have a copy for their children and every school needs a copy for their students.(less)
I have to thank Tanya for sort of shaming me into reading this book. She has mentioned in the past how important it was to her. I have heard of the bo...moreI have to thank Tanya for sort of shaming me into reading this book. She has mentioned in the past how important it was to her. I have heard of the book many times in my life. So I read it and I loved it. I can't stop thinking of the characters and the roles they played. I think about the author and how he constructed the book and the books upon which he modeled his construction.
I will have to re-read the Odyssey and the Aeneid. Adams created in me a yearning to experience those old tales again. I may even look into Joseph Campbell's mythology writings (I have put that off for at least a decade).
I'm wondering now if I should read The Wind in the Willows. (less)