It's hard to ignore lessons from a concentration camp survivor. I'd take Frankl over Elie Wiesel any day though. His crazy mix of existentialism and CIt's hard to ignore lessons from a concentration camp survivor. I'd take Frankl over Elie Wiesel any day though. His crazy mix of existentialism and Christianity is actually not crazy at all...makes a lot of sense and makes you want everyone to have a reason to live that's as good as yours is....more
Maybe it was the moment in life when I read this, but some of Miller's imagery and stories really made me see the same ole gospel in a totally new ligMaybe it was the moment in life when I read this, but some of Miller's imagery and stories really made me see the same ole gospel in a totally new light. Others have said they liked this book less than more well-known works by Miller, but I thought it was the most spiritually challenging I've read of his....more
Well-written, engaging, digs deep. One of my top race-related books, period. I would recommend it for Mission Year curriculum if it weren't for the cuWell-written, engaging, digs deep. One of my top race-related books, period. I would recommend it for Mission Year curriculum if it weren't for the current political battle. It's neat to hear Obama's voice before and outside of the need to be politically correct. The section on organizing in Chicago is especially Mission Year-esque. Politics aside, I have a deep respect for Obama, and I loved this book....more
Reading this book was like meeting a new friend. As is typical for me, I was skeptical at first. I knew Laura had recommended it as a good read, but aReading this book was like meeting a new friend. As is typical for me, I was skeptical at first. I knew Laura had recommended it as a good read, but as I breezed through the first few chapters, I found myself forming judgments. Basically, this Shauna girl's life was way too much like mine. SHE wasn't like me, but her life was. She grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, which is its own unique branch of the Bible belt. Her family vacations in a spot that is exactly like Caye Caulker, Belize, where I studied abroad. She studied abroad, too. And she worked at a Christian summer camp. And the list goes on. And then Laura reminded me that Shauna is the daughter of Bill Hybels, the pastor of Willow Creek Church. This made me even more inclined to dislike the book, but some force - maybe the readability of her writing or curiosity about our shared experience - drove me to read on.
Bit by bit, I grew to love the book. Shauna had a lot to say to me, and this was just the moment I needed to hear it. By the end, she had me bawling. I guess in the end it wasn't really her...it was the Holy Spirit speaking through her. But what a lovely vessel her words were! And what a telling testament to her writing, which she sees as both her greatest struggle and her greatest gift. So here's a sampling...way to generous a helping, but it was a library book so I had to copy down whole pages of wisdom that I didn't want to be without. I should probably commit them to memory – that's how much they meant to me...
About Random Stuff:
-"I practice believing that, bottom line, God loves me as-is, even if I never get my act together...I imagine God puts his hand on my head, on my heart, on my savage insecurities, and as he does it, he thinks thankful thoughts about me." (39)
-”I don't want to be building my bank account or my abs or my dream house when I could be dancing with Aaron at the beach bar on New Year's Eve, when I could be making crackers and cheese for dinner because we were on the boat till way after the shops closed, sunburnt and sandy and windblown, and happier there and together than anywhere else with anyone else.” (46)
-”I felt like my body was inaccurate in its representation of me, and that made me furious with it.” (63)
-”During a time when I had nothing to give but venom and tears, when I monopolized conversations and entertained the same conspiracy theories over and over again, this small circle of people were the words and fragrance and presence of God in unmistakable ways.” (105)
-[quoting a friend of hers:] “Everything is interim. Every season that I thought was stable and would be just how it was for a long time ended up being a preparation or a path to the next thing. When you decide to be on this journey with God, everything is interim.” (206)
-”I am thankful, I realized in those moments, thankful for the breaking of things that needed to be broken, that couldn't have been broken in any other way, thankful for the severing that allowed me to fall all the way down to the center of my fear and look it in the face, thankful for being set free from something I didn't even know I was enslaved to.” (212)
About Writing and Art:
-”For me, to write is an act of rebellion, an uprising against that part of me that needs to be responsible, helpful, adaptive...to do something sheerly out of a deep love for the act itself feels foreign and vaguely scandalous. It feels, I'm realizing, selfish. But little by little, when I start where I'm stuck, over and over, getting stuck and unstuck, something cracks through, and life reveals itself to me like a scroll unfurling, and I write about it. I struggle against myself, and I write about it. I don't figure out the solution in any tidy way, and I don't have a sharp and clever revelation, but bit by bit, writing is starting to worm its way into the dailiness of my life and is creating a home there. It is becoming less of a strange and distant dream and more and more of the actual way I live.” (78)
-”Writing for me feels like getting naked in public. It feels like falling to the bottom of a well and finding lots of creepy crawly things down there with you. It feels like opening up a box of snakes. It feels kooky and scary and out of control. It makes me upset sometimes, because it makes me honest.” (134)
-”Writing is my best chance at happiness, and it is the riskiest thing I can do. But that's how life is. The riskiest things always yield the best, most beautiful things.” (136)
-[I would have typed this whole chapter if I could:] "This is what I would have said [if I had stayed after the concert to talk to the band:]: Thank you. Thank you, and keep going. Please keep writing songs. Please keep believing in music, because we do, and we need it, and specifically, we need yours. We need the sounds and words and rhythms of hope and longing and beauty. We need the drums and the strings and the haunting twist of your voice. We need the poetry of your lyrics and the spirit and force of your sounds. We're desperate for great music, and there's so much out there, but never, ever enough. We're desperate for great storytellers, great painters, great dancers, great cooks, because art does something nothing else does [...:]
[a couple of awesome paragraphs about what art does:]
I know life is busy and hard, and that there's a crushing pressure to just settle down and get a real job and khaki pants and a haircut. But don't. Please don't. Please keep believing that life can be better, brighter, broader, because of the art that you make. Please keep demonstrating the courage that it takes to swim upstream in a world that prefers putting away for retirement to putting pen to paper, that chooses practicality over poetry, that values you more for going to the gym than going to the deepest places in your soul. Please keep making art for people like me, people who need the magic and imagination and honesty of great art to make the day-to-day world a little more bearable.
And if, for whatever reason, you've stopped - stopped believing in your voice, stopped fighting to find the time - start today. I bought a mug for my friend, from the Paper Source in Chicago, and the mug says, "Do something creative every day." Do that. Do something creative every day, even if you work in a cubicle, even if you have a newborn, even if someone told you a long time ago that you're not an artist, or you can't sing, or you have nothing to say. Those people are bad people, and liars, and we hope they develop adult-onset acne really bad. Everyone has something to say. Everyone. Because everyone, every person was made by God, in the image of God. If he is a creator, and in fact he is, then we are creators, and no one, not a bad seventh-grade English teacher or a harsh critic or a jealous competitor, can take that away from you [...:]
So to all the secret writers, late-night painters, would-be singers, lapsed and scared artists of every stripe, dig out your paintbrush, or your flute, or your dancing shoes. Pull out your camera or your computer or your pottery wheel. Today, tonight, after the kids are in bed or when your homework is done, or instead of one more video game or magazine, create something, anything. Pick up a needle and thread and stitch together something particular and honest and beautiful, because we need it. I need it.
Thank you, and keep going."(227-230)
-[I'm giving away the end, but this is so good!:] “What if, all at once, all the shabby, tired, used-up bodies and minds started to wriggle and pop, like they've been dropped into a deep-fryer, sizzling and dancing, transformed into motion? And something that has been deadened and distracted by the tension and noise of this world comes to life anew, wakes up and wiggles like a fritter in a frying pan, anointed, and taught to dance. Because we were made for motion, for arching up toward God with all the energy and passion of a thunderstorm, lightning slicing through a sleepy world to remind us that we serve a fast-dancing God, a God who set this world whirling and crashing through space so that we could live from our toes and drum out the pulse of a billion veins carrying lifeblood to a billion hearts, temples to a God that got his hands dirty making us from dust. Let's get dirty, in his name. Let's sizzle and pop in his name. Let's dance and shimmer and scrawl out our stories across the sky, like he taught us to. Let's echo his words, and let our lives speak those words: it is good.” (235)...more
Fabulous! Everyone should read it! Makes you kinda sad that you can't have much of a garden if you're living in a highrise urban condo, but definitelyFabulous! Everyone should read it! Makes you kinda sad that you can't have much of a garden if you're living in a highrise urban condo, but definitely helps you connect to the food you're eating and inspires you to ingest those things which are most healthy and delicious!...more
I got this from the library not realizing that it was non-fiction and a sort of autobiographical collage (kind of like a blog beI love Kurt Vonnegut!!
I got this from the library not realizing that it was non-fiction and a sort of autobiographical collage (kind of like a blog before they existed). So it wasn't a tight, neat, clever story like Cat's Cradle, but I couldn't help totally loving this guy's writing, and much of his perspective on the world.
Some theological highlights:
-"I don't think anybody ever dreaded hell as much as most of us dread the contempt of our fellowmen. Under our new and heartfelt moral code, we might be able to horrify would-be evildoers with just that: the contempt of their fellowmen. For that contempt to be effective, though, we would need cohesive communities, which are about as common as bald eagles these days."
-"The nuclear family doesn't provide nearly enough companionship."
-"Be warned: if you allow yourself to see dignity in someone, you have doomed yourself to wanting to understand and help whoever it is."
-"It seems to me that the most universal revolutionary wish now or ever is a wish for heaven, a wish by a human being to be honored by angels for something other than beauty or usefulness."
For someone who calls himself at various times an atheist, a Unitarian,a skeptical Free Thinker, and a Christ-loving agnostic, Vonnegut is pretty spot-on with much that I love in Christianity. He named his book "Palm Sunday" and finished it with a sermon. He quotes Bertrand Russell and Jesus in the same breath. And it's a really, really refreshing breath that I find myself never able to get enough of....more
Scarily dated, for being only 10 years old! Made me want to move back to New England. Made me want to blog (ie, test my skills at writing a humor coluScarily dated, for being only 10 years old! Made me want to move back to New England. Made me want to blog (ie, test my skills at writing a humor column). A fun read!...more
Not quite the adventure story of Three Cups of Tea, but amazing nonetheless. I had to try not to be jealous that he seems to be truly living his dreamNot quite the adventure story of Three Cups of Tea, but amazing nonetheless. I had to try not to be jealous that he seems to be truly living his dream everyday. And of course the flip side of jealousy is awe and inspiration, and Greg Mortenson is certainly someone who has a lot to teach me. He looks fear straight in the face and then plows right through it to accomplish what is right and true and just....more
Ridiculously amazing! Read it through once super fast, reread my favorite parts, and then skimmed the whole thing to write down all the ways I wantedRidiculously amazing! Read it through once super fast, reread my favorite parts, and then skimmed the whole thing to write down all the ways I wanted to change my life!...more
Not sure what to think...it's well-written and still makes me hungry to hike the PCT, but he doesn't have that much in common with me and has a weirdNot sure what to think...it's well-written and still makes me hungry to hike the PCT, but he doesn't have that much in common with me and has a weird mental breakdown after the trail. I'm tempted to say I could do better - both hiking-wise and book-wise - but I don't want to jinx myself!...more