Lewis catalogues sin in ways most useful. Instead of making broad strokes and chastizing humanity for its grossest sins, he sweeps out the corners of...moreLewis catalogues sin in ways most useful. Instead of making broad strokes and chastizing humanity for its grossest sins, he sweeps out the corners of the human soul, identifying those oh, so subtle forms of transgression. Over and over again, he points out how phenomena that appear as virtue to the casual observer are often rife with vice. The main message is probably along these lines: be careful of doing the right thing for an utterly horrid reason. Lewis makes it painfully clear how we can easily rot our souls while going through the motions of living a Chrisitian life. A thoughtful read. Take your time going through this one. I tried to read it quickly for book club, and I didn't get it finished in time. (less)
I think this book is an amazing testament to the human spirit, but I am deeply disturbed that many people use it to blame victims for not rising about...moreI think this book is an amazing testament to the human spirit, but I am deeply disturbed that many people use it to blame victims for not rising about their suffering that is often caused by systematic violence (unjust policies, systematic racism and sexism, racial profiling that restricts civil rights, etc.) I am sure Frankl would be appalled at how people of priviledge sometimes read it and tell people who suffer to "get a good attitude" like that guy in the concentration camp who refused to let the Nazis rain on his parade. (less)
I really liked the account in the introduction. The theoretical / theological discussions left me cold. If I had read this in my twenties, I would hav...moreI really liked the account in the introduction. The theoretical / theological discussions left me cold. If I had read this in my twenties, I would have been more engaged. I am more interested in history and fiction than theory these days.(less)
A great variety of essays in the buddhist tradition. I especially enjoyed three of these essays: one about a complex relationship the author had with...moreA great variety of essays in the buddhist tradition. I especially enjoyed three of these essays: one about a complex relationship the author had with his ex wife; one written by a health care worker about the impermanence of the body; and one that included snippets from several authors on the topic of suffering. Very insightful and well written. (less)
Most people only read the first two and last chapter of this book (the chapters written in prose), preferring to skip the chapters written in poetry....moreMost people only read the first two and last chapter of this book (the chapters written in prose), preferring to skip the chapters written in poetry. Doing so leaves the reader with a false impression of this book. The poetry chapters contain Job's questions, rants, and pleadings with his four "friends" and with God over the question: what is the meaning of suffering? Every possible meaning is entertained but without satisfying Job--until God himself speaks out of a whirlwind, showing Job that God's ways are mighty and incomprehensible to human kind. The book is a great marriage of theology and poetry. Even though we are not given an answer to the question of suffering, there is some comfort in the beauty of the language and the feeling of suffering that Job expresses. At some point, we all wrestle with this question, and there is comfort in knowing that we are not alone as we shake our fist towards the sky.(less)
Murphy incorporates a lot of narratives -- her own and others -- as she uses a Buddhist framework to respond to a variety of life's challenges. A gent...moreMurphy incorporates a lot of narratives -- her own and others -- as she uses a Buddhist framework to respond to a variety of life's challenges. A gentle book with great depth. (less)
A book about various life stages. I jumped to the late adult stages, and now up up front, reading about early adolescence. He uses nature, primitive p...moreA book about various life stages. I jumped to the late adult stages, and now up up front, reading about early adolescence. He uses nature, primitive peoples, sociology, archetype theory, his own experience and interviews. A lot of anthropology as well. So this book basically is Jung meets Muir meets Meade.
Here are the life stages the form the core of his book:
Stage 1. Early Childhood: The Innocent in the Nest Stage 2. Middle Childhood: The Explorer in the Garden Stage 3. Early Adolescence: The Thespian at the Oasis Stage 4. Late Adolescence: The Wanderer in the Cocoon Stage 5. Early Adulthood: The Apprentice at the Wellspring Stage 6. Late Adulthood: The Artisan in the Wild Orchard Stage 7. Early Elderhood: The Master in the Grove of Elders Stage 8. Late Elderhood: The Sage in the Mountain Cave
After reading several books penned by Lewis, I was surprised to find a book that was chaotic and conflicted--but after finishing it, I wonder why I ex...moreAfter reading several books penned by Lewis, I was surprised to find a book that was chaotic and conflicted--but after finishing it, I wonder why I expected anything other than that? Never having lost a member of my immediate family, I don't have the point of reference. Even Madeleine L'Engle (who wrote the foreward) mentions that she had two different experiences reading the book since she read it before he husband died and then again after the fact.
Lewis created this book as a series of journals recorded after his wife Joy died from cancer. Although the emotions are raw, they are a bit coded since Lewis is an academic, a theologian. It takes some concentration to unravel the emotion behind the questions he poses about the complex relationship among himself, Joy and God.
In this book we find a man who is not just sad but confused and angry. His writing, consequently, is a bit more chaotic and full of conflict than any other work I've read by him.
Not only does he struggle with understanding God's purpose for taking Joy, he struggles with redefining his relationship with his wife after she dies. He talks about not just losing her body, but her mind and her spirit. Actually, he writes about how he's yearning to connect with her mind, her body and her spirit in her new state. He tries to solidify his memories of her and finds that a difficult process. He's very articulate about the relationship between memory and reality.
This is a powerful book but challenging in a couple ways: it's a bit abstract, given his academic manner; and it's chaotic, but I suspect that makes it more honest. (less)
I had never heard of this title until it was selected for discussion in February by another member of a local book club. It's much like Blindside, but...moreI had never heard of this title until it was selected for discussion in February by another member of a local book club. It's much like Blindside, but which a much stronger religious dimension. After I finished it, I actually prayed for 30 minutes, asking how I can be a better instrument for powerful change in the world.
The book describes the relationship among three people: An art dealer named Ron Hall, his God-fearing wife Debbie, and a very humble man named Denver. The Halls volunteer at a homeless shelter once a week, serving food to a variety of homeless people in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metro area. One person they meet is Denver, a man who has accumulated years of hardship: three decades work as a sharecropper, one decade as a prison inmate, a survivor of a brutal racially motivated assault, and a number of years sleeping on city grates. But don't think that all the change is Denver's. Ron goes through a transformation himself, thanks to his wife's passion for serving others and Denver's sensitivity to the spiritual realm.
I will confess that I had trouble getting hooked. The first third of the book establishes Ron's and Denver's lives before they meet each other, and I grew impatient with all the biographical detail. I knew that they were going to meet, and I wanted to get to that part. Once that happened, I did slow down and savor the details more. I also recognize that this book is part hagiography in its depiction of Debbie. Once you read the book, you will see why that was a tempting route to take for the authors.
I wondered why this book was shelved in the religion section when I bought it at a used bookstore, but now that I've read it I can see that the book serves as a testimony of the authors of the power of God in their lives. Whether you are a believer or not, the story is one of hope and change worth an afternoon's time. Even if readers discredit anything attributed to a spiritual realm, they are still left with the objective observation that both Ron and Denver are tranformed for the better as a consequence of their friendship (as set in motion by Debbie). Good things clearly happen; readers can dispute the source of the cause but would be hard pressed to dispute the significance of hte results. (less)
This is a short story written by Henry Van Dyke (b. 1852 d. 1933), who was educated at Princeton in theology and English literature. Readers may be mo...moreThis is a short story written by Henry Van Dyke (b. 1852 d. 1933), who was educated at Princeton in theology and English literature. Readers may be more familiar with his short story "The Other Wise Man" (originally published in Harpers Monthly in 1892, published independently in 1896), which has been made into a movie starring Martin Sheen.
"The Mansion" (1911) is clearly from the Victorian era in its sentences style (complex syntax and elevated diction), in its heavy-handed morality, and in its theme of inviting those at the top of a fairly strict class system needing a lesson in spirituality. All three of these features place "The Mansion" in the same category as Dickens' works, particularly A Christmas Carol. Van Dyke writes a little allegory of a wealthy, deliberate pillar of society who has total control over his own life including his own morality. After a tense conversation with is son, a young adult trying to find his own way somewhere between being care free and being a caretaker, the father has a dream/vision that encourages him to take a closer look at the manner of his charity work.
Basically, this story is an expansion of the scripture Matthew 6:2, "Therefore when thou doest [thine] alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward." It would be difficult for anyone under 14 to read directly because the language and style is so dated, but parents can paraphrase for the younger set. Much of the overwrought language is devoted to a description of the wealthy man's earthly mansion. For this reason, this story may be communicated more effectively in a film version because set and props would get that chore out of the way so that viewers can focus more on the relationship between the father and son and on the matters of the soul that are the true focus, sometimes buried under all the ornate language. (less)
I taught selections from this epic in my world literature class. The foundationa epic of India, the Ramayana serves as a referent point for many conte...moreI taught selections from this epic in my world literature class. The foundationa epic of India, the Ramayana serves as a referent point for many contemporary Indian works of fiction and film. I once had a student from Bangladesh drag me around campus to explain to his classmates why Sita was his ideal of womanhood. It's got a lot of great features of epic literature: the fallen hero, the true friend, fights with various monsters and demons, and inner struggles as well. Much can be said about the trials of Sita, some of it disturbing by modern ideals of women's rights. A must read for anyone interested in world literature. I suggest starting with an adaptation or even previewing it by looking at a comic book or a movie adaptation since it is very long and detailed. (less)
I've only read the selections of this work as included in the Norton Anthology of World Literature, so I should really wait until I read the whole wor...moreI've only read the selections of this work as included in the Norton Anthology of World Literature, so I should really wait until I read the whole work before reviewing. But what if I suffer some tragedy before I get around to doing that? Be here now.
This work is set during a civil war where members of a royal family stand on both sides of the conflict, ready to fight. Here we have a war hero, Arjuna, struggling to determing his duty (dharma). His teacher is Krishna (one of the incarnations of Vishnu, who is one of the three central Hindu dieties: Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva).
This text gave me some understanding of dharma (duty, role, assignment, fate) of the caste system of karma and of reincarnation. Again, I suggest that first-time readers look at a summary / critique before jumping in. It's long, complex, and alludes to principles of history, culture and theology that may not be fully present in the text itself. (less)
Charles Tindell, as a chaplain at a multi-level care facility, relays stories about dozens of residents. He stands as a witness to the range of human...moreCharles Tindell, as a chaplain at a multi-level care facility, relays stories about dozens of residents. He stands as a witness to the range of human experience he observes in his work place. He describes people with a rich view into their humanity -- their hopes, dreams, unique qualities, loves, fears and insights. The tone of the book is warm, informal, and earnest. This is a good book for people who have no experience with older adults. Tindell does a great job of shattering stereotypes by showing how older adults share some of the universals of the human experience while at the same time having their own particular struggles of their age and circumstance. Even though he doesn't talk about himself, his writing makes it clear that Tindell is a warm, caring and intelligent person. (less)