Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kara's February Reading

Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller

Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner

Two spiritual autobiographies that made me think. The first is by a man who ended up a Christian, in spite of early experiences of Fundamentalism gone bad. He challenged my ideas of what evangelism and friendship with non-Christians should look like. This must be the sort of book Kafka was talking about: "I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn't shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place?" (read the rest of the quote here)

I loved Girl Meets God. In it, Lauren Winner tells of her conversion from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity. She brings home to me the truth that following Christ costs something. I appreciated how her story is neither glib nor saccharine, and how she doesn't gloss over the many intellectual struggles she had along the way. I hope to read more from this author--Mudhouse Sabbath next, I think.

For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

I've been vaguely familiar with aspects of Charlotte Mason's education theory for some time now. Things like reading aloud, narration, and nature study. But I've wanted to learn more. So I was happy to find this introduction to her thought on our shelves. I found myself arguing with the book as I read, and even after finishing I don't really understand the ideas behind the method.

In spite of this, I did glean some helpful things. I appreciate the admonition to parents to not act like they have all the answers, and to make sure that the children know that their parents are under authority, too. Of particular interest to me was the idea that I can help children now, even if I don't have any of my own. Being willing to listen, perhaps reading aloud to a child in the neighbourhood.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

I was deeply disappointed in this book. After seeing and liking the movie, I expected a book that revelled in the delights of chocolate while exploring themes of prejudice, friendship and hypocrisy in religion. Well, I got the themes. But not much chocolate. Which is almost infuriating, considering the book's title! I was left feeling a bit depressed and confused. I couldn't identify with any of the characters at any meaningful level. Who was I supposed to feel for? The snooty, prejudiced townspeople? The rootless chocolatier who dabbles in witchcraft? The fanatical priest with a hidden past? The story seems to be saying that life is better when we throw away prejudice, help those in need, and do what we like (never mind what society thinks). Maybe there's some element of truth buried somewhere in there. But when I reached the end of the book, I was thinking of the emptiness and futility of life without Christ.

The Flying Inn by G.K. Chesterton

Great for someone who already likes Chesterton, but not for anyone else. Too episodic. He's not really much of a novelist. Lots of speeches, poetry and story all mixed up together.

The "Song of Right and Wrong" is often quoted at our house.

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