23 December 2007

What I have been reading...

So, after waiting interminable to elaborate on the Lewis quote, I am finally back. I should probably start with the "What I've Been Reading" list:

Recently Finished
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling was fun and entertaining. I happen to think that Rowling is a good writer and as an adult I enjoy her stories. I still have reservations of serving them up unaccompanied by thoughtful conversation to children. As a child I absorbed undiscerningly and with relish everything that I read. Rowling has a little too much philosophical relativity in her writings to let them be passively absorbed; but I don't understand the hysteria, unless it is the whole magic thing. Besides, this book does offer up one of the best Rowling quotes ever: page 329--"Ginny!" said Mr. Weasley flabbergasted. "Haven't I taught you anything? What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain?"

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J K Rowling see above commentary... but I would add that, while the fumbling and malicious adults who don't want to see the truth or follow it may be realistic, Rowling undermines adult authority/trustworthiness with so many of your grown-up characters that it should definitely be followed up with some discussion about integrity and loving adults.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson all I can say is, Erik Larson is amazing! This thoroughly researched true story about the World's Fair in Chicago and the serial killer H H Holmes is fascinating. It has more drama and thrill than some of the best crime novels and it is ALL true! I love reading non-fiction, but few are as excellent page-turners as this one. Besides, it is about Chicago, the city that I love:-)

The Art of Loving God by St Francis de Sales this is the book that prompted the quote by C S Lewis. I will be writing on this further.

En Route to the Epilogue

The Next Christendom by Philip Jenkins was loaned to me by a friend from church. I saw it on his bookcase and it really was intriguing. Looking at Christianity in the global south, Jenkins discusses the fundamentalist bent of this form of Christianity and the likelihood of major clashes between Christians and Muslims as both religions grow in Africa and Asia, as well as Latin America. Not quite the page turner that Larson was, but equally interesting. I highly appreciate Jenkins emphasis on the long-standing history of Christianity in the global south and the fallacy of "imperial Christianity." Jenkins approaches this subject as a historian, rather than a religious proponent, which adds some impartiality.

The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen is a return engagement for me. I received this book for Christmas the year I was 18 and I have read it at least two times before. This book, while not directly applicable to the C S Lewis quote, because it is not an entirely old book; but it is focused on an older spirituality. Henri Nouwen takes the spirituality of the Desert Fathers of the 4th/5th century and applies it to modern ministry. The focus is on solitude, silence and prayer... a great prep for my retreat in January.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling having already seen the movie, I have an idea of what is going to happen, but it is still fun to read. When am I going to have time to read 700 page books besides Christmas break?

Coming Soon

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis this will also be a return engagement for me. I have had a copy of this book for 10-15 yrs but I have never read the entire thing. After de Sales I thought another Christ centered icon from an established tradition would be a good balance to all the more modern reading that crosses my path.

The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer would be one of the more modern reads on my list. Last time I read this one I was 19 and en route to meeting my self-proclaimed nihilistic intellectual uncle. It was amazingly applicable then and I am pretty sure it will be again, surrounded as I am by intelligent people who by-and-large have little use for God or Christianity.

The Freedom Writers Diary by the Freedom Writers and Erin Gruell I watched the film almost 5 times this past week as a treat for my students and I really want to read the book. This is quite inspiring, especially considering the situation that I am in right now.

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