Thursday, May 30, 2013

35. Go Down, Moses by William Faulkner

Swearing off Faulkner forever?

Ok, maybe Faulkner has finally won over my heart, but I have a sort of love/hate relationship with the guy (probably like his wife did). 

He is a very good crafter of words. Writers change the course of history, and he certainly should be applauded for just understanding the absolutely stupidity of slavery and of treating black people as less than human. How could a Christian think they could twist Scripture to treat people like chattel? I just don't get it, but Faulkner did.  My favorite Civil War historian, Shelby Foote, once said, "Faulkner, to me, was one of the great communicators of sensation." That is a perfect way to put it! His writing created sensation and made people think!  He was so ahead of his time, and that is what probably won him the Nobel Prize for Literature and two Pulitzers. Here is an excerpt of his Nobel acceptance speech:

 I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail. (Read or listen to speech HERE)
I wonder how he was so ahead of his time. Was it the influence of his "Mammy" to whom he dedicated Go Down, Moses?

As much as I respect his brilliance as a writer, he is so depressing and hopeless. The "Life's a bitch and then you die" philosophy of the American Modernist Movement (think Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald) is not really my cup of tea. Neither is Southern Gothic fiction. So, that is two strikes against him. Plus, his personal life was such a terrible mess (Think Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Stein again). What is it about these turn of the century American authors? Brilliant but messed up! 

There is an excellent video about him: HERE

This novel was better than As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury, and it is equal to Light in August (Remember when Oprah had you read three Faulkner's in the summer of 2005? I gave up after The Sound and Fury only to finally read Light in August last summer - and liked it! Do yourself a favor and start with LIA and the resources HERE.). All that said, this is probably my last Faulkner (We will pause for a moment of silence.).

Go Down, Moses is a series of interwoven stories about the descendants of Lucius Quintus Carothers McCaslin (1772 - 1837). There are many characters and this makes it confusing. I found this genealogy very helpful as I read:

McCaslin Genealogy  (I had to look up what "miscegenation" meant) was also quite helpful.

The title is based on the American negro spiritual:

When Israel was in Egypt's land: Let my people go,
Oppress'd so hard they could not stand, Let my People go.
Go down, Moses,
Way down in Egypt's land,
Tell old Pharaoh,
Let my people go.
In the song "Israel" represents the African-American slaves while "Egypt" and "Pharaoh" represent the slavemaster.

The Well Balance

Well-Adjusted Heart

I think the "adjustment" to our new work mentality is coming along nicely. I need to breathe through it. I have this balancing between being a wife and being a mother with George up in Hillsboro/Newberg and the boys down in Corvallis. Something happened yesterday that made me realize that I am needed as a mother. I know my two kid are both adults now, but they need processing and pampering as well as life training (for the housecleaning and cooking). They are doing so well, but a mother's work is never done.

Trying to also balance time with my friends my age too. I am more purposeful about initiating time with Kim, Teala, and Jean. So lovely to be with friends and balance it with ministry people (who are also my friends but at a different life stage!).

Well-Watered Soul

. . .from which all things flow! Nancy has been sending me pictures of the spring she sees on her runs for the past seven years. She says it never runs dry, and she always prays for me there. Praise God for prayer warriors in this life. 

I do feel well-watered. I love my time in the epistles. So practical and rich.  I almost done with 1 John this morning. 

I am behind in my "Walk for the World" praying though. I am being a bit goal oriented on the finish of the BBC. 

Well-Educated Mind

I am 97 pages away from saying goodbye to William Faulkner forever. I am so excited to be only 440 pages away from my Well-Educated Mind journey. Someday I will count up all the books I have read in the process. It has been great, but I do look forward to just reading any old book again!

Well-Tuned Strength

Because I have been a bit goal oriented on the more sedentary Mind and Soul Goals (and even HEART time with friends who would rather sit and eat and talk than walk), I am 1.4 pounds over. My goal this year is MAINTENANCE. So, I do not want to slip in this area. I have broken my rule about not writing if I am over. I need to really reevaluate this. I am a "J" (closure) personality type, but I know that most of the things I am passionate about (READING, STUDYING SCRIPTURE, WRITING, and PHOTOGRAPHY) are all SEDENTARY PASSIONS. My WELLNESS passion is outnumbered 4:1! 

Sitting has caused more back wonkiness too. So, as I write, I am realizing that I am going to abandon the goal until 1.4 is gone. That should be less than a week. I have to have my goals in balance. I can listen to my WELL-EDUCATE MIND books as I walk and walk with friends though! :)

So, I am off to walk with Kim for her break after drinking a healthy strawberry and banana smoothie (no sugar added)! 

BYE!!!! Will write more when 1.4 pounds down. I need to stick to what I started in ALL areas!!!! 

Great processing through this freewrite!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Deepening in The Library

Taking the time to thank You
In the middle of this day
For life, for rain, for library children
Making noise as I pray

A pandora's box of praise
Emanates from deep within
As I study your Word, I find
A deeper knowledge begins

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Call by George Herbert

THE CALL.      

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life :
Such a Way, as gives us breath :
Such a Truth, as ends all strife :
And such a Life, as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength :
Such a Light, as shows a feast :
Such a Feast, as mends in length :
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart :
Such a Joy, as none can move :
Such a Love, as none can part :
Such a Heart, as joyes in love.

Friday, May 24, 2013

34. Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard

I have seen quotes by Kierkegaard for years! So it was good to finally read him. Philosophy makes my head hurt a bit (not as much as it used to because I have trained myself to read it), but I enjoyed this. It is only 128 pages in full print form (I read it on the Kindle) so it isn't too painful! 

Here is a summary  by Dr. Bob Zunjic, instructor of  Philosophy 346: Existentialism at University of Rhode Island (emphasis in bold is mine):
General Title: Fear and Trembling
The book title echoes a phrase from the New Testament: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2,12). In alluding to these words of St. Paul, Kierkegaard indicates that religion in general and Christianity in particular are not a couch potato state of mind (convenient and comfortable relation toward the contents of faith). We need to ground ourselves in the uncertain and infinite transcendence. Already this gives rise to fear and trembling. But there is more to that. Since faith requires a total and constant engagement of individual's selfhood with regard to God's existence, this means that we believe truly only when we do not shun acts that understandably generate fear and trembling both as to their nature and consequences. 
To be sure, "fear and trembling" are not the source of faith, but they are its indispensable catalysts ("the oscillating balance wheel" as Kierkegaard puts it in his Journals). 
The rest of his superb analysis is here:
The SparkNotes summary is helpful (emphasis in bold is mine):
Writing under the pseudonym of "Johannes de Silentio," Kierkegaard discusses the story from the Bible, Genesis 22:1-18, of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac. For this deed, Abraham is normally acknowledged as the father of faith, but in this day and age, Johannes remarks, no one is content with faith. Everyone thinks that they can begin with faith and go further. 
In the "Exordium" and "Eulogy on Abraham," Johannes suggests how incomprehensible Abraham's faith is. Abraham didn't question God, didn't complain or weep, he didn't explain himself to anyone, he simply obeyed God's orders. The Exordium presents us with four alternative paths that Abraham could have taken, all of which might have rendered Abraham more understandable, but would make him something less than the father of faith. The eulogy asserts that there is no way we can understand Abraham, or what he did.
Johannes distinguishes between the tragic hero, who expresses the ethical, and the knight of faith, who expresses the religious. The tragic hero gives up everything in the movement of infinite resignation, and in so doing expresses the universal. The knight of faith also makes the movement of infinite resignation, but he makes another movement as well, the leap of faith, where he gets everything back by virtue of the absurd. While the tragic hero is universally admired and wept for, no one can understand the knight of faith. Johannes sets up three "problemata" to draw out this distinction. 
The first problema begins with the Hegelian assertion that the ethical is the universal, and that it is the telos [an ultimate object or aim] for everything outside itself. According to the ethical, what Abraham attempted was murder: his sacrifice cannot be understood in terms of the universal. Thus, he suggests, there must be a teleological [exhibiting or relating to design or purpose especially in nature] of the ethical. Abraham suspended his obligation to the universal to fulfill his higher duty to God. 
The second problema suggests that, contrary to Kantian ethics, there is an absolute duty to God. Abraham by-passed all his ethical obligations to perform what God asked of him directly. As a result, he was constantly tempted by the ethical, but held fast. 
The third problema provides hints as to why Abraham did not disclose his undertaking to anyone. Disclosure is associated with the universal and hiddenness with the single individual. Abraham acted as a single individual, isolated from the universal, and as such his actions could not be explained or disclosed. 
Johannes concludes by pointing out that faith requires passion, and passion is not something we can learn. We have to experience it ourselves, or else we do not understand it at all.
What is fun is that my pastor just preached a sermon series on Abraham, our Jesus Community just did a comparative Bible study with the Koran on Abraham, and I just wrote a post in Hebrews 6 for the Bible Book Club where Abraham is given as someone to imitate because "through faith and patience" he inherited what was promised him (Hebrews 6:12-19). After I finish this post, I will start writing on Hebrews 11, and Abraham is part of the "Hall of Fame of Faith" (11:8-12)! I love it when my world's collide. God's ways are always perfectly timed.

Friday 5:04 FifteenFreewrite


Bible Book Club: 18 chapters left!

Hebrews 11                                    (1)

1 Peter 1, 4-5 (+ intro)                    (3)
2 Peter 1 (+ short intro)                  (1)

1 John 1, 5 (+ intro)                        (2)
2 John (+ short intro)                      (1)

Revelation 1-2; 7-9; 14-16; 20-21  (10)

Invitation to the Classics: 718 pages left! 

1) The Temple                           (50)
2) Go Down, Moses                 (315)
3) Selected Essays/Johnson     (353)
I am a woman on a mission. So I had to post my latest progress. The tabs from Word didn't exactly transfer over, but that is OK.

I was having a dream that I was in Mexico on a hill and both our truck and Suburban were sliding down off of it, and I was trying to hold it up. So I forced myself to wake up to avoid a catastrophe. Prior to that, I had waited for a haircut only to find that the girl who usually cuts my hair was going on a date, and a substitute was sent, and i went into quite a tizzy because I liked the other girl, and the new girl was unproven for my thick, hard-to-cut hair. Thus why I fled to the hill only to encounter a much tougher problem with our vehicles. LOL!

I am up early because I tried to watch Atlas Shrugged II after Kathleen left at 9:30 pm, and I fell asleep within minutes (and did not brush my teeth - I think that is why I had those anxiety dreams because I kept on thinking that I must get up and brush my teeth, but I could not wake up.).

It is going to be a good day:

1) George is HOME! He doesn't have to go up to Hillsboro until Tuesday!
2) I have lunch with Teala at 11 a.m.! Contact with someone my age!
3) It is Memorial Day Weekend
4) I am up early to start writing, and my back feels a bit better!
5) I am out of skim milk so made my chai tea with 2% this morning! WOOHOO! Rich and creamy chai! 
6) I should finish Hebrews today!

I know I have the fifteen minute timer on, but I am ready to start time in God's Word for another day. Rich time lately. So good!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

He is Here Again

I must report another God sighting/feeling. I have been puttering this morning. Within minutes of starting work on Hebrews 6:13-20 (YES, still working on Hebrews 6), I got a HOLY SPIRIT ZINGER. So fun when God blesses time in His word.

Just want to report that for all the world to hear (or at least any crazy person who would even read my private blog)!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Self-Imposed Deadlines Be Damned

I only have another 1 1/2 hours until I have to pick George up from his workplace, and we go back to Corvallis. I had hoped to get through Hebrews 11 by this morning with just a little more to go on Hebrews 6, but I am at that "falling away" subject in 6:4-6, and I do not have any desire to just gloss it over. I could have just ground it out by my 5 pm deadline yesterday if I had pushed, but how can you gloss over such an important passage? It isn't about OUTPUT but about EXPERIENCING GOD in this whole exercise of the Bible Book Club.

So the thing is that I have slowed myself down. I have thrown out the deadline, and I am EXPERIENCING GOD in Hebrews 4:4-6. I am BLOWN AWAY at His presence with me as I sit at the Starbuck's facing the Hillsboro Costco this morning. He is real. I am not going to be able to explain Him away by reason or eloquently philosophize about Him like Soren Kierkegaard (reading him right now), but I am going to just communicate that He is real in the Starbuck's today, mark it on your calendar Sue Thompson!


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Straining Toward the Goal Update for Tuesday!

Bible Book Club: 18.5+ chapters (Portions of six books) left!

Hebrews 6:6-20; 10:19-11:39

1 Peter 1, 4-5
2 Peter 1 (shorter introduction since I will have done a background on Peter)

1 John 1, 5 (with introduction)
2 John (shorter introduction)

Revelation 1-2; 7-9; 14-16; 20-21

Invitation to the Classics: 786 pages left! 

1) The Temple (64 pages left)
2) Go Down, Moses (316 pages left)
3) Fear and Trembling (42 pages left)
4) Selected Essays of Johnson (364 pages)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Straining Toward the Goal Freewrite

I anticipated a morning up in Hillsboro with George, but he decided to go a bit later to just meet the founder of the company and come back. So, I wouldn't have a big chunk of time to write today if I did that. So, I stayed home and now have a free day other than making an entree for the final Perspectives course tonight and probably correcting Nessa and Leslie's final homework so they can have closure TONIGHT rather than next week! I am so proud of them for finishing this course. I see bright possibilities for their futures, and it was a privilege to correct for them even though it was during a MOST stressful time in our lives!

The transition is in mid-stream, and I am doing OK. I think a back and forth for me is appropriate, maybe one week up there with George and one week down here with the young men. I did like how we had extra time to relate last week. I want to make a point of having sit down, face-to-face dinners with them.  

I am SO close to two BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOALS (BHAGS). I have them mapped out over the summer, but I just want to BLITZ it and get through these goals quickly!!!

Bible Book Club: 21 1/2 chapters (Portions of six books) left!

Hebrews 4-6; 10:19-11:39

1 Peter 1, 4-5 (with introduction which always makes for a longer post time)
2 Peter 1 (shorter introduction since I will have done a background on Peter)

1 John 1, 5 (with introduction)
2 John (shorter introduction)

Revelation 1-2; 7-9; 14-16; 20-21

Invitation to the Classics: 792 pages left! 

1) The Temple (70 pages left)
2) Go Down, Moses (316 pages left)
3) Fear and Trembling (42 pages left)
4) Selected Essays of Johnson (364 pages)

33. A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections

From Wikipedia: 

Edwards wrote the Treatise to explain how true conversion to Christianity occurs. Edwards describes how emotion and intellect both play a role, but "converting grace" is what causes Christians to "awaken" to see that forgiveness is available to all who have faith that Jesus' sacrifice atones for all sins. This salvation is not possible through believers' imperfect good works which are simply evidence of faith, and only possible through Christ's sacrifice which is free to all. Edwards describes the importance of testing new faith and discerning whether it is legitimate. He lays out twelve tests of true conversion, including ways of measuring allegedly fruitful works. He basically concludes that the fruit of the Spirit are the religious affections, love being the chief affection, and that all other fruit (or Christian virtues) flow from this. "Love is the chief of the affections, and as it were the fountain of them." (p.76, Banner of Truth Edition). He further says "for it was not by men's having the gifts of the Spirit (referring to spiritual gifts), but by their having the virtues of the Spirit, that they were called spiritual." (p.127). This is how you can distinguish between carnal men and spiritual men. Carnal men do not produce the fruit of the Spirit, but spiritual men do. So it was with Christ. "All the virtues of the Lamb of God, His humility, patience, meekness, submission, obedience, love and compassion, are exhibited to our view in a manner the most tending to move our affections of any that can be imagined." (p.53)

I had a slow start with this book. I got it for free with Logos Vyrso and put it in their app, but I could never figure out where I left off (cannot figure out bookmarks). Then, I tried to read a free PDF, but I have the hardest time reading things on the computer. Then, I tried listening to a free audio version that was absolutely TERRIBLE. (I am not even going to give the link for it.)

I finally broke down and bought the 99 cent Amazon version. I had not done that before because I already had the LOGOS version, and the Amazon reviews said it had a lot of typos, but the typos were pretty infrequent and not distracting, and it was only 99 cents! I like the Kindle version because I can go back and forth between reading it on my Kindle OR my iPhone (and all the bookmarks sync) and listening to it. 

The principles are simple, and they line up with what I am writing about in the Bible Book Club as I work through the epistles: love and humility are most important and true religious affections manifest in outward behavior. I am in James right now, and this book punctuates that faith without works is dead!  He also makes a case that religious affections involve both reason and emotion.  He seems pretty anti-charismatic and very anti-Catholic, but that was common in that time in history)

I liked it, but I want to write a book that says:


(Three word book)

Then you can get all that Edwards said straight from God's heart to yours! 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Freewrite

Despite staying up very late last night (1:30 am), I was up by 6 am this morning. I have already listened to Religious Affections and made some tea and have James 4 out, ready to finish. The only thing I have today is a wedding at 1 pm, and I do not think we will stay long for the reception. I will split the day between James and finishing up reading my last five books of Invitation to the Classics:

1. The Temple (72 pages)
2. A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (52%)
3. Go Down, Moses (Chapter 2, 9.99 for Kindle is pricey and have library book)
4. Fear and Trembling (not started, broke down and put it on my Kindle)
5. Selected Essays from the "Rambler", "Adventurer" and "Idler" (still has not come in the mail)

I read Doctor Johnson's Prayers in about an hour last night, and it was a lovely way to fill my mind with great things before bedtime! He was a truly godly man. That is what I love about the ITC list: it is filled with much more edifying books than last year's list! 

All that said, I am ready to be done with other people's lists after over 10 years of reading. It is nice to begin and end with the Invitation to the Classics that I bought on October 16, 2002 and immediately started reading The Brother's Karamazov. So, I am going to shoot for being done with this list by that October 16 deadline which I think I will more than exceed as I have a summer of reading ahead of me and all the books in my sight (except the one in the mail).


I think the first book I want to read is Warren Wiersbe's biography, Be Myself, which I purchased more than a couple of years ago and have never gotten around to reading. It sits on my shelf asking to be read as I write for the Bible Book Club. He has helped me SO MUCH in this journey. What a "mentor from afar" he has been!

Well, speaking of Bible Book Club, I have 27 more posts left, and I am done with that. I think I can finish by the middle of July. Then, I will do my Jesse Tree posts and instructions for making the tree July - August and edit my Messiah Meditations in August - September! 

YAY! I am going to find CLOSURE on several things!!!!

32. Doctor Johnson's Prayers

This was recommended as one of the three books to read about Doctor Samuel Johnson. He was a very godly man and wrote out many prayers that were made into this little book. 

I always find it awkward to read other people's prayers though. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Freewrite Fifteen Follow up from Yesterday

I ended up having a fabulous day yesterday. It started out gloomy, like the rain that had descended upon the valley after many sunny days prior. Maybe it was the weather too that affected my mood, but I was pretty mopey until I decided to be PROACTIVE.

One thing I did was write a "feeling freewrite" that I did yesterday. I also wrote my FACED accountability group saying that I was down, and I did not want to turn to food to solve the problem. I also sent out a text for Nancy to pray for me!

It also helped that God providentially led me to James 1 instead of Hebrews 4 that was next in in line to be written. That was totally Him. I cut and pasted the Philips version to the addendum in my post. 

Then I set in motion the "Natural Ways to Increase Dopamine (Pleasure Center) and Serotonin (Impulse Control) Without Using Food to Elevate It." I called Kim so we could walk (SWEAT) and talk (BONDING) on hospital hill (BEAUTY + SUNLIGHT). It ended up being rainy so we talked in her office, but I walk up and back and got everything but the SUN, but it was LIGHT. So it counted. :) I also SMILED while I did it (as I am smiling now). That helped me so much. She validated my reality about some things. I also felt supported by Barb and Julie on the adjustment to George being gone. 

I set the table for a Dutch Baby dinner, and I was not afraid to ask question to draw my kids out. They are such INTROVERTS, but it was good to be able to BOND with the BABES and not have to compete with George (who usually drives the conversation). I know they think I ask too many questions, but I think it is important for their growth to talk more. :)

I also had a great time with Kathleen (BONDING) talking through "Many Aspire, Few Attain." She had actually read it and marked it all up with notes. There were some things she did not agree with, but overall, she really liked it.

I also just kept to my ROUTINE of writing, working at home, and walking around the block when I have a block (SWEAT and SUNSHINE). I also treated myself to a DVD (PLAY) while I folded laundry.

It lifted by mid-day.

On George's front, he had a GREAT full second day of work at TriQuint. He also had a GREAT talk with his mom last night, and he really sees  how valuable it is to be up there with her as she ages. We will all be OK, and I can definitely have full weeks where I am up there with him, and Paul can even come up with us some of those weeks. The only drawback is Michael cannot because he would have to bring all of his computer stuff and find an internet connection. That would be hard, but it isn't impossible, and we should think about that some of the time. We can probably do that during our two weeks in one of the apartments provided for us in the transition too. So that is good. 

This whole thing is going to work out just fine. I have God's peace. I just need to let go of the old and embrace the new, welcoming it as a friend rather than resenting it as an intruder on my life (Phillips version of James 1:2-4 from yesterday).


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Random Thought Freewrite 15 for a Wednesday Morning

8 am, and I have been awake since 5 am with very little to show for it. I am a bit down today, and I think I keep on trying to do things to pick myself up. Down is not a thing I have too often. But when I am down, the earthly person who helps me the most is George, and he has started his new job in Hillsboro. So, I do not begrudge that. He is love, love, loving it. I am so proud of him and so happy for him after five years of trudging along in jobs that really held no promise for future possibilities (although he loved every single one of them because he loves the people he works with so much) and decreasing pay.  He now has a job that he is THE only stat person, and he can create something there for other stat people too. So, I think it is a very good thing for him. It just means sacrifice for both of us, but I am up for the adventure even though it means not being able to process my "down" state with him. Usually, he would stumble out of bed at about 7 am and talk things through until he left for work.  I really like him. He truly is my best friend. Wish I could bottle what we have. Not trying to brag. It is just good, and I want it for everyone!

I am tempted by other things right now, but my fingers are sticking to these keys. Freewrites are cathartic. I was down last night, and I ate a whole pint of Haagen-Daaz. I have not done that in AGES! It was salted caramel. Never had that before. OH MY, it was good. I also talked to my best friend, Debbie. She is such a FAITHFUL woman of God! She told me what she was learning from Galatians. I like having people in my life who are in the Word. Many of the people we are around lately thrive more on feel and passion for God than disciplined time in the Word of God. I think we need a balance of both. I loved having Rachel and I studying Romans together. I think I will always need that kind of interactive study in my life. I love the Bible Book Club, but it is not discussing the results of our inductive study. My favorite study this year was when Rachel put the dye on my hair. and we discussed Romans 7 while it processed. She always comes SO PREPARED. That is so encouraging. I really want BOTH prayer and the Word, and sometimes I am weary when people do not want to study the Word and "just pray." I think we can do BOTH and even incorporate both of them in our life.  I think time in the Word leads us to pray more intelligently. Prayer as a response to the Word is my favorite way to pray anyway.

For Closure on TWO BHAGS: I have 28 more posts in the Bible Book Club, 76 more pages of Herbert's Temple, 317 pages of Go Down, Moses, 119 pages of A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, all of Herbert's Selected Essays, Prayer, and all of Fear and Trembling by Kierkegaard.  

I am now done with this freewrite 15 too! No proofreading.

Addition a couple hours later:
When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. (James 1:2-4)

My friend on Facebook said, "You have super endurance," and then I got to do James for Bible Book Club. I do not think I have much endurance today.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

31. The Temple by George Herbert

Here was a man who seemed to me to excel all the authors I had read in conveying the very quality of life as we live it from moment to moment, but the wretched fellow, instead of doing it all directly, insisted on mediating it through 
what I still would have called the "Christian mythology."  The upshot of it all could nearly be expressed, "Christians 
are wrong, but all the rest are bores."
-C. S. Lewis

One does not need to buy this book and can read The Temple HERE

by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
        Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
        From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
        If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
        Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
        I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
        "Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
        Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
        "My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
        So I did sit and eat.

Notice the way he wrote this with the BOLD!

MY words and thoughts do both express this notion, 
That LIFE hath with the sun a double motion. 
The first IS straight, and our diurnal friend : 
The other HID, and doth obliquely bend. 
One life is wrapt IN flesh, and tends to earth ; 
The other winds t'wards HIM whose happy birth 
Taught me to live here so THAT still one eye 
Should aim and shoot at that which IS on high— 
Quitting with daily labour all MY pleasure, 
To gain at harvest an eternal TREASURE. 

I loved these poems. They are not always the easy to understand, but they are well worth it! Two thumbs UP!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

30. Rasselas by Samuel Johnson

File:Rasselas 1004.jpg"Do not suffer life to stagnate; it will grow muddy for want of motion: commit yourself again to the current of the world."

In this enchanting fable (subtitled The Choice of Life), Rasselas and his retinue burrow their way out of the totalitarian paradise of the Happy Valley in search of that triad of eighteenth-century aspiration – life, liberty and happiness.According to that quirky authority, James Boswell, Johnson penned his only work of prose fiction in a handful of days to cover the cost of his mother’s funeral. The stylistic elegance of the book and its wide-ranging philosophical concerns give no hint of haste or superficiality. Among other still burning issues Johnson’s characters pursue questions of education, colonialism, the nature of the soul and even climate alteration. Johnson’s profoundest concern, however, is with the alternating attractions of solitude and social participation, seen not only as the ultimate life-choice but as the arena in which are played out the deepest fears of the individual: “Of the uncertainties of our present state, the most dreadful and alarming is the uncertain continuance of Reason.” (Summary by Martin Geeson at

Martin Geeson is also the wonderful Englishman who narrated this. He is awesome! 

29. My Foot is Too Big for the Glass Slipper

It is perfect to post this on Mother's Day! 

My curiosity was peaked when I saw her on an ABC News report. She is a former beach volleyball star, 6 feet 3 inches tall with a size 12 shoe. She is also a "what is, is" kind of person. So I could identify with her on more than one level. (I am an athlete, 6 feet 2 1/4 inches, weigh about the same, wear a size 13, and am a "what is, is" kind of person too.) I do not use the F-Bomb, ever, but she apologizes for that up front.

She talks about the realities of marriage and raising a young family. She caused a firestorm when she said the word "submit" in her book, “To truly be feminine means being soft, receptive, and — look out, here it comes — submissive.” I love it! She is so practical about life and doesn't think we can "have it all." So true!

She gets into diet and exercise and had some practical advice about all of that when I thought that the book was going to be mostly about her marriage to the famous surfer, Laird Hamilton. It was OK with me because I am into diet and exercise, and it is part of our emotional well-being as wives and mothers.

It is almost as if Gabrielle has looked at a message about women that I wrote in the late 1990's about the four "C's" (comparing leads to being crestfallen, competitive, or challenged). She writes a similar thing:
I learned early on never to measure myself against another teammate. There were always going to be girls who were bigger, stronger, and faster than I was, and girls whom I was bigger, stronger, and faster than. I realized I had to just do my thing, and work hard at what I knew I was good at. When I saw a chick that was a bada--, my goal was to acknowledge it without being threatened by her talent or her power . . .  

I think it's important for women to get that attitude going, where we can celebrate one another for what we excel in, without comparing or competing. It's ugly when we pull one another down, and it does nothing to improve the quality of our lives. And in the same way it's self-sabotage to envy people; you should strive not to feel smug when you're obviously better than the person next to you -- that's poisonous in it own way. 
I always remember the old saying, "comparison is the death of happiness."
Amen to my twin (minus the F-bombs), Gabby!

Friday, May 10, 2013

28. A Life of Johnson by James Boswell

Since this particular chapter in Invitation to the Classics involves reading Johnson's Selected Essays, Prayers, and Rasselas, I decided to opt for the greatly abridged version of this book by NAXOS audio rather than the full 1300+ page unabridged version. I did look at the unabridged in the library and followed along as I listened for a good chunk of it. 

I really enjoyed the narrator, Bill Hartman, with his deep Scottish brogue. Since my 2nd great grandparents immigrated from Scotland to Pennsylvania in 1864, it was special for me!

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) was THE man of literature in the mid-eighteenth-century England. He wrote moral essays, poetry and prayers (Johnson was a devout Anglican). He is probably most famously known for publishing a Dictionary of the English Language  or sometimes published as Johnson's Dictionary (1755) that stood as the authoritative dictionary until the Oxford English Dictionary came 150 years later.

Johnson would not have been SO well-known had it not been for the biography by James Boswell (1740-1795). Boswell sort of had a "man-crush" on  Johnson. I thought their first conversation was funny:

[Boswell:] "Mr. Johnson, I do indeed come from Scotland, but I cannot help it."
[Johnson:] "That, Sir, I find, is what a very great many of your countrymen cannot help."[3] 

We have Johnson to thank for the familiar "...hell is paved with good intentions," and "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." 

27. The Twilight of the Idols by Friedrich Nietzsche

I read Ecce Homo for my Well-Educated Mind list, and I could have never read Nietzsche again but for the Invitation to the Classics list (five more to go, and I am DONE with classics lists!).  

Actually, I found this work more accessible than Ecco Homo, but it is Nietzsche, and he is an arrogant, surly philosopher. He "sees himself as a preeminent interpreter to articulate the new meaning of the self, nature, society, and God" (Invitation to the Classics, p.300). I do not care for his ideas, but his works, especially this one, are like a bitter pill that needs to be swallowed if we are to understand this nineteenth-century philosopher's influence on twentieth-century thought. In this work, he attempts to destroy and expose the "idols" of Western thought and culture. He takes aim at everyone, especially Christianity. "Christianity, which despised the body, has been the greatest misfortune of humanity so far" (p.41).

Considering Nietzsche's beliefs about God and truth, we can easily wonder why a Christian would bother to read him. Quite simply, Twilight of the Idols is important for the Christian reader because of the powerful -- however partial -- nature of the truth that it does tell. It poses various questions: (1) If Nietzsche is in the business of breaking idols, does he not have at least something in common with the Judeo-Christian tradition? 
(2) In biblical history and the history of the Christian church, has it not been repeatedly necessary for prophetic voices to rise up to break the idols that falsely claim the allegiance of believers? For instance, in Twilight of the Idols Nietzsche criticizes the English Victorian novelist George Eliot for believing that once she gets "rid of the God," she can still "cling all the more firmly to Christian morality." A Christian critic of culture might well sympathize with Nietzsche's attack on the modern idolatry of the self. It is Nietzsche who says in this passage on Eliot that "Christianity is a system, a consistently thought out and complete view of things. If one breaks out of it . . . the belief in God, one thereby breaks the whole thing to pieces." Nietzsche argues that there are no moral sources within the self. "Christian morality is a command; . . . it possesses truth only if God is truth." (Invitation to the Classics, p. 302)

Funny because this is the part I listened to this morning, and that was about the only thing I agreed with in the whole book! LOL!

The whole time I listened to the Librivox recording, I thought to myself, "And how is that working for you Mr. Nietzsche?"  Not very well apparently. He went insane shortly after this book's publication (but some postulate that his madness was brought on by physical illness). I think he knew about Christianity as the son of a Lutheran pastor, but I do not think he really understood a relationship with God. I also wonder if he had "father issues" because that is often an indicator of a disconnect with God. The fact that he was "devoutly religious" in childhood made me mourn this man's life and death. I wonder where his soul is now?

Fun fact about one of his quotes: 

Cultural Impact

Nietzsche's original line, "From life's school of war: what does not kill me makes me stronger" has been referenced many times. G. Gordon Liddy, former assistant to President Richard Nixon, paraphrased it as "That which does not kill us makes us stronger". In that phrasing, it has appeared in many places including the opening of the film Conan the Barbarian(1982),[9]Kanye West's song Stronger (2007) and Kelly Clarkson's song Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) (2012).[10]

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


George says we have been here and there lately. I think he is right. Wednesdays always make me realize that I am still a very busy woman! I have many appointments this week and have a hard time writing.  If I do not get up SUPER early, it seems that the day gets away from me. Partly because George is here in the mornings now. This morning I had lots of juggling of schedules that ate away at my writing time.

 It seems I am going more to people rather than them coming to me lately. One appointment I have today is someone I do not know and out of my realm of influence, but someone else recommend I meet with her. So. I will this one time.

I wonder if one person would be open to going back to meeting HERE again rather than me going to campus. I thought we were going to meet every other week on  campus and the off weeks we would meet at night but unless I schedule it, she will not necessarily remember that. Jennifer did come to me this week and Leslie is also very game. I just have two meetings today. Next Wednesday night we need to do that, and I hope she just puts it in her calendar and remembers to come. I get so tired of having to follow up on every appointment I make to guarantee we are still "on". That gets exhausting at times. So, I will make an appointment for next Wednesday night. George will be gone and have the evening free.

Monday, May 06, 2013

26. Waiting for God by Simone Weil

Sheer and utter brilliance and beauty! The letters to the priest were OK, but her essay on "The Love of God and Affliction" took my breathe away.  The whole essay is HERE. It is well-worth your time to read it. Then you can say you read one of the great 20th century philosophers! 

"All that man vainly desires here below is perfectly realized in God. We have all those impossible desires within us as a mark of our destination, and they are good for us when we no longer hope to accomplish them." (p. 74)

Invitation to the Classics says, "Despite Weil's preoccupation with the political and social nightmare of the Spanish Civil War and World War II, she still . . . focused on a God who superseded the pain and chaos of this world" (p. 345). 

She was a French Jew from an agnostic home writing during World War II. She was definitely an unconventional believer, but she "gets God" and is often called a "saint for the churchless." She is definitely unconventional, but she is brilliant. I heartily recommend her!
God created through love and for love. God did not create anything except love itself, and the means to love. He created love in all its forms. He created beings capable of love from all possible distances. Because no other could do it, he himself went to the greatest possible distance, the infinite distance. This infinite distance between God and God, this supreme tearing apart, this agony beyond all others, this marvel of love is the crucifixion.
I read much of this book while waiting in the Burbank Airport for a flight to Portland. I wish I had bought the book. I did not write down all the wonderful quotes and cannot find many of them as I write this review. It would have been so much easier to underline, but I cannot deface a library book (as much as I was tempted). 

Waiting for God will waiting for a plane!
I especially like that she found that by reciting the devotional poetry of George Herbert, she could transcend the physical pain of her migraine headaches as she contemplated the Christian mysteries. I am right in the middle of reading Herbert's poetry!!! I love it when my worlds collide like that!

On one occasion she was reciting the poem "Love (3)": "Love bademe welcome, but my soul drew back/Guilty of dust and sin. . . ." In doing so she experienced an encounter so overwhelming in its otherness that she became convinced that "Christ came down and took possession of me . . . in this sudden possession of me by Christ, neither my senses nor my imagination had any part; I only felt in the midst of my suffering the presence of a love, like that which one can read in the smile of a beloved face." (Invitation to the Classics, p.346) 
I love how God comes to those who diligently seek Him. Beautiful book.

One more thing, she loved what fiction and art could do in our life, and I heartily agree:

This is something else which has the power to awaken us to the truth. It is the work of writers of genius. They give us, in the guise of fiction, something equivalent to the actual density of the real, that density which life offers us every day but which we are unable to grasp because we are amusing ourselves with lies. 
Art is the symbol of the two noblest human efforts: to construct and to refrain from destruction.
One more favorite quote (there are TOO many to write out in this blog post):

Random quotes I found on the web:

91% Through My Invitation to the Classics List!

  1. 1633 The Temple – Herbert (1/2 way through)
  2. 1746 A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections – Edwards (started)
  3. 1759 Essays and Rasselas – Johnson
  4. 1791 The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. – Boswell
  5. 1843 Fear and Trembling - Kierkegaard
  6. 1888 Twilight of the Idols - Nietzsche
  7. 1942 Go Down, Moses - Faulkner
I am so close to my goal, but the thought of one more Faulkner and one more Nietzche . . . well.  No! It doesn't depress me. I am a fighter. I am a finisher. I am going to go for it!!!

The other ones are hard to get through but in a good sort of way. Samuel Johnson is big one on everyone's radar. You do not realize how influential he was until you know his name. Then you hear him quoted and mentioned. Herbert and Edwards are spiritual, and I always love that. Keirkegaard is brilliant but tough. I love brilliance, even though it makes my brain hurt in the light of it.


Saturday, May 04, 2013

Fifteen Minute Free Saturday

I do not have anything in particular to unload. So I will just write until the harp on my iPhone says it has been fifteen minutes. 

I took a week off from Bible Book Club, and that was really great. We went away to California, attended Andrew and Karina's lovely wedding, saw Brian N., Jens and Deborah, Jerome and Terri M., my brother, sister-in-laws, and niece, Susanne, Dave and Lin Hunt, and Sonrise Center (formerly Fallbrook Presbyterian) people. We ate good food (In and Out and Kona Beach burgers!!!) and had great fellowship. I liked getting away from my keyboard to restart my life again after a very stressful March/April with all the job uncertainty/drama.

So, I am refreshed and reenergized for today. I have book club at 8 am, but I hope to get through 1 Timothy 6 before then. Just listened to it while doing other things.

"THE WELL" in one sentence for each area:

Heart - Three years in June since any "major" drama with crazy people because I politely decline to be around those kinds of people anymore.

Soul - I am getting toward the finish line of my 5 1/2 year Bible Book Club journey having been SO enriched in my soul.

Mind - I have seven books and four pages left in my Invitation to the Classics journey!

Strength - I am maintaining my 30 pound weight loss by regular accountability through "FACED" with Katrina and Rachel and had no major back pain in over a month!

I am not doing fifteen. I cannot wait to get to my time in 2 Timothy! BYE!

Tuesday Ten Minute Freewrite

I am going to go great guns for 10 minutes on this freewrite. I am meeting with a person (not sure if she wants direction - she just wanted ...