Thursday, December 16, 2010

Recently Read

A very varied crop of books this time....

"La's Orchestra Saves the World" is a very gentle, feel-good book, which starts off  by being quite sad in places, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book as a whole.

"The Gunpowder Plot" by Lady Antonia Fraser is heart-rendingly sad.  She presents both sides of the eponymous plot, and outlines under what hardships the Catholics existed in Britain under King James.

Imagine :

When to even attend a secretly held Mass in private was a felony against the State, punishable by heavy fines and/or imprisonment.

You could not have your child baptised in the Rites of your Faith; all children had to be baptised in the local Anglican church by the Anglican minister. All marriages and funerals had to be carried out by Anglican priests in Anglican churches by law. On your deathbed, you would not be able to have the Last Rites freely; it would depend upon the bravery of local priests and Catholic layfolk who gave them shelter against the law, and once dead, you had to be buried in an Anglican churchyard.

Once a child reached 16, it was compulsory to attend the local Anglican church each and every Sunday, and mandatory to take Communion there at least twice a year, on pain of heavy fines and/or imprisonment.
Catholics were not allowed to become lawyers, to attend English universities and gain degrees, nor to vote in local elections. Catholics were not alllowed to serve as officers in the Army or the Navy, though they could act as cannon-fodder in the lower ranks. They were not allowed to act as executors of wills nor as guardians of minor children under 16. 

 In 1613, a Bill was introduced into the House of Commons which proposed that all Roman Catholics would be compelled to wear  distinguishing red hats or multi-coloured stockings so that they could be mocked ("hooted at"), though this measure was not passed.  Catholic priests and lay folk were captured, imprisoned, tortured and killed for their beliefs. Like so many religious conflicts, it was a sad and dreadful period in British history. How would we Orthodox have fared under such circumstances?
Lord have mercy on us all.

Love Over Scotland was a clever book, written from multiple third person viewpoints in short chapters; an engaging and sweet book, particularly those parts related by Bertie, a six year old child prodigy whose life is made a misery by his scheming and "hot-housing" mother and a more than slightly deranged Psychotherapist engaged by his mother to "treat" him.

"God's Reality Show" presents a premise where God hosts a reality show based on eleven key Old Testament characters: Eve, Noah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Deborah, Samson, Ruth, Saul & David. Funny, clever, and with a nice ending, both DD3 and I loved it.

Jennifer Worth's "In the Midst Of Life" is very well worth a read. An experienced nurse and midwife, she discusses the benefits and pitfalls of modern medicine at the end of life, and whether the medical desire to battle death has reached a position where people are dying in misery, agony and degrading conditions because they have been aggressively treated for illnesses that thirty years ago would have been accepted as invariably fatal and the sufferers nursed with compassion and love in their last hours rather than being left to die alone in hospital, linked up to monitors.

She presents a series of case studies which argue both for and against her claim, and it is a well-reasoned and thoughtful book, whether one agrees with her or not. I am currently reading it again for the second time, and am finding much food for thought.

Sobering reading, I know, but it is essential that we all think about what care we would wish for ourselves as we approach the end of our lives, and make sure that our loved ones are well aware of what we do and do not want done to us when we can no longer articulate these things for ourselves.
Share with friends using the share button below.


elizabeth said...

the book ' in the midst of life' sounds like a really good one... I miss not reading as much but other things are taking precedence ... but maybe over Christmas I will get some good reading in!

Ian Climacus said...

A wide selection of books; thank you for sharing. I have been reading some Alexander McCall Smith lately; I'll look out for "La's Orchestra..."

"In the Midst Of Life" sounds challenging to get through, but a worthwhile read. Tough questions/decisions indeed.