Well, I got sick of hearing about "GTD" and decided to read it. I like to be organized and productive and since my job has many different angles, it iWell, I got sick of hearing about "GTD" and decided to read it. I like to be organized and productive and since my job has many different angles, it is necessary. The book is good, but I'm not going to go full force on the method. It confirmed some things I already do ("the two minute rule") and offered good suggestions about how to process all the incoming information you receive.
But as with any method you end up adopting things you really don't need. So I recommend you read quickly, steal what you like, and ignore what already have mastered. It has given me some tools to be more organized and productive, so in the end it was worth reading....more
A quick, easy read that most Austen fans will enjoy. Nothing new here, but the arrangement of the material gives you a new perspective. I enjoyed howA quick, easy read that most Austen fans will enjoy. Nothing new here, but the arrangement of the material gives you a new perspective. I enjoyed how the author ties in Austen's letters with the stories....more
I've looked the other way from this book for quite some time, but now that I've sat down with it I found it immensely interesting. Ray has a good sensI've looked the other way from this book for quite some time, but now that I've sat down with it I found it immensely interesting. Ray has a good sense of humor and knows her Austen, so the combination is entertaining and enlightening. Much of it is a surface level look, but it can be a great reference. Her sections on daily life during Austen's time sheds some new light for me on parts of Austen's work. Well worth the time....more
This novel, "The Reader," by Bernhard Schlink, has an incredible premise. A young man, Michael, learns about love from an older woman, Hanna, in GermaThis novel, "The Reader," by Bernhard Schlink, has an incredible premise. A young man, Michael, learns about love from an older woman, Hanna, in Germany, not long after WW II. The relationship lasts for perhaps a year, and one of the most interesting aspects in the relationship is how he reads to the woman. It becomes a constant part of their relationship and creates a unique bond. The woman eventually leaves town so the young man can be a young man, but they come in contact again in the most unexpected way. As a law student Michael sits in on a trial of war criminals, and there is Hanna, accused of a horrible crime as a Nazi guard.
I'll avoid saying more in order to preserve the plot for readers, but clearly all the elements for a range of issues are in the author's hand. How frustrating to see it fumbled in the creation of two characters who seem to lack depth. Hanna's guarded appearance makes sense, since she has a past to hide and actions to live with. But Michael is a young student with a bright future, yet seems to float on the surface his entire life. His time in law school, his marriage, and his life after his divorce, are narrated by him as if he is an objective bystander. Nothing seems to touch him in life, except for a few paragraphs where he laments how his young daughter must feel after his divorce.
As the narrator, we have plenty of opportunity to get inside Michael's head, but it is his heart we are missing. As a result, the book misses the mark when it could have been great. Seeing some of these same issues taken up by a different writer would be interesting, but the hope to be challenged in our thinking is not to be found in this novel. Note that many established critics like the book, and it was named in the list of books for the year by both the New York Times and the L.A. Times. It was also made into a feature film, which I have not seen. If the film captures the emotion that Schlink misses, it could be powerful. ...more
I will add more later, but I was surprised at how captivating I found the slim volume. Kushner approaches the most challenging question with a commonI will add more later, but I was surprised at how captivating I found the slim volume. Kushner approaches the most challenging question with a common sense approach grounded in theology. I'm not quite ready to give up on an all-powerful God, but his basic ideas make a lot of sense. Plenty to ponder and worth rereading....more
Jerry Sittser has a remarkable gift for taking complex theology and applying it to everyday life. Many people are good at telling you how to live a ChJerry Sittser has a remarkable gift for taking complex theology and applying it to everyday life. Many people are good at telling you how to live a Christian life, but their theology may be weak. Sittser is a theologian, and he supports his points with numerous scripture references. In his book, The Will of God as a Way of Life: How to Make Every Decision with Peace and Confidence, the only thing not to like is the title. The subtitle makes it sound like a self-help book. While you will walk away with a new insight, this is no simple, "follow these three steps to better decisions" book.
Instead, Sittser dives head on into the theological issues surrounding the will of God. God's sovereignty, our free will, calling, and the role of suffering in our lives, all get ample attention.
But what grabs me the most is his opening conversation about God's will for our life. What do we mean we say "it is God's will?" And how about following God's will. What if we make the wrong decision and head down a different path? Sittser explores these questions, and provides an answer.
"As I struggled with the issue of discovering God's will, I came to a startling conclusion. The will of God concerns the present more than the future; it deals with our motives as well as our actions; it focuses on the little decisions we make every day even more than the big decision we make about the future. The only time we really have both to know and to do God's will is the present moment. We are to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. These are the basic responsibilities Jesus challenges us to pay attention to."
In other words, that job we are deciding on, that relationship we are struggling with, that question about our direction in life, are missing the point. Following God's will is reflected in how we live now, not in what the future holds for us. "We can, in good conscience, choose from among any number of reasonable alternatives and continue to do the will of God."
And just as how this no simple self-help book, Sittser encourages us to seek God's direction in scripture, but not as as how-to book. "The Bible does not tell us what to do in every situation. It establishes guidelines and principles, not a long list of rules. It sets the overall direction."
I should also note his strong work in the area of suffering and God's will. I reviewed his book, A Grace Revealed, which explores this topic in depth. He also deals with it in A Grace Disguised. Sittser's entire family was in the car when it was hit by a drunk driver, and he lost his mother, his wife, and a daughter, in an instant. He understands suffering.
He sees God's story in our lives as a story of redemption. Like reading a novel, the author knows the plot, but the characters are learning as they go. But here, the characters know the ending, and it is a good ending. "Sinfulness and tragedies and suffering and everything else never have the final word. God has the final word. The cross is irrefutable proof that God's hidden will, mysterious and unfathomable at times, is real and redemptive."
Sittser never dismisses suffering, but he recognizes our limited viewpoint. It is a humble viewpoint, and thus better focused on living God's will in the present, confident in the future. ...more
I know Berry is a hero to many and practically a demi-god where I work, but he completely lost me toward the end of the novel. As a Christian I like tI know Berry is a hero to many and practically a demi-god where I work, but he completely lost me toward the end of the novel. As a Christian I like the subtle working in of faith issues early in the novel, but the last section (15% of the book or so) just gets preachy, annoying, and predictable. While I'll agree with him on favoring small farms over industrialized farms, his version gives this "moral right will win" idea which is simply not the reality we see. Immoral industrialization of our food and farms will not stop if we think good intentions alone will overcome them. Yes, people suffer because of them. But the industry does not care, so what do we learn from this? Nothing. ...more
Some books seem to belong to youth and need to be reintroduced as we age. Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury were regular companions of mine in high schooSome books seem to belong to youth and need to be reintroduced as we age. Kurt Vonnegut and Ray Bradbury were regular companions of mine in high school, yet still hold my interest 30 years later. Alas, the same cannot be said for another companion, Nobel-prize winning writer Herman Hesse.
Rereading Steppenwolf after so many years, the main question I had was, how did I get through this in high school? At that time I read many of Hesse’s novels and was quiet infatuated with his outlook on life. Now, finding myself just slightly older than the protagonist, Harry Haller, aka, Steppenwolf, I just find him annoying. He is not unfamiliar; just the type of person I would not find myself sharing dinner with in a corner booth of the local cafe.
The novel centers around Haller in a manuscript written by him, but left behind in the room he rented. Whatever happens to Steppenwolf in the end, we are not sure. Personally, I’m not interested in a sequel. The Steppenwolf spends his days pondering the great mysteries of life and agonizing over how he does not fit into the society in which he, apparently, does not want to fit into anyway. He obsesses over himself and tries to be humble about how brilliant he is, but he clearly he feels above most other people.
Just when he decides that he can take no more and resolves to kill himself, he meets Hermine, a siren of pleasure who introduces him to other women, teaches him to dance, and shows him how to enjoy life. He suddenly finds himself becoming what he hates, but he enjoys it. In other words, he becomes a person of action, of life, rather than just thought, and he lives a more enjoyable existence. This highlights the dual nature of existence Hesse proposes; indeed, the multiple nature of existence. But in the Steppenwolf, the wolf of the Steppes, we find a man who is half human and half wolf. He can be gracious and social (human), while at the same time despising all society, including himself (wolf).
At this point I had hope for the book. Our annoying narrator begins to see the fool that he is. “The late Herr Haller, gifted writer, student of Mozart and Goethe, author of essays upon the metaphysics of art, upon genius and tragedy and humanity, the melancholy hermit in a cell encumbered with books, was given over bit by bit to self-criticism and at every point was found wanting.”
But no, Hesse then takes us off in a direction which quickly unravels the novel (and I’ll avoid details should you choose to read the novel).
A central theme which is toyed with throughout the novel and emerges more clearly at the end is the idea of laughing at life, including yourself. Haller, the people of eternity are telling him, takes life too seriously. He needs to laugh with the world and at the world, but as a participant and not an observer. Developed in a stronger fashion this could be a fascinating theme, but when Hesse fully introduces it toward the end, it sounds simply trite. He has created of story of too much darkness to simply say you need to laugh.
Many of the themes Hesse deals with seems outdated and sophomoric, but we must remember Hesse, a German, is writing this in between two world wars. Much of what we now see as tiring (e.g. mirrors looking into the soul, the lone individual against society) was more cutting edge at that time. Critics say this is his most autobiographical novel in that, like the narrator, he is coming off a bad marriage and did himself suddenly step out into society for a time. With more distance between himself and the writing, his other novels may hold up better after many years. I’m hesitant to try another one, but am open to recommendations.
So I put this in my classic listing since it comes from a Nobel-prize winning writer (maybe they liked that he left Germany and became a Swiss citizen) and many people, such as myself, have immersed themselves in his work at some point in their career. But a true classic transcends time, and I do not see this novel succeeding on that count....more
This youth oriented version of Alsan's larger work is excellent at providing a quick, clear overview of Islam. Not only will youth (high school) enjoyThis youth oriented version of Alsan's larger work is excellent at providing a quick, clear overview of Islam. Not only will youth (high school) enjoy it, but adults looking for a quick introduction will find it to be a good starting place. Alsan clearly intends this for a Western audience and in addition to the history, addresses jihad and women's rights in separate chapters....more