Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Outlive Your Life"

“Outlive Your Life” by Max Lucado

Published by Thomas Nelson

It is horrifyingly easy to insulate ourselves from the problems of those around us, and even easier to insulate ourselves from the global problems of poverty, hunger, disease. The early Church members did not insulate themselves; they cared for the sick, the hungry, the widowed, orphaned and elderly......and so should we. This message has been echoed by the Saints throughout the ages- St John Chrysostom said that for us to hoard what we have instead of sharing with those in need is as bad as stealing from those in dire need.

Max Lucado has written this book as a call to action, not just to sentiment. God wants passion and fervour, not experience and qualifications. God wants us to care about those in need , and then to do something about it.

During the Second World War, a young Briton named Nicholas Winton went to Prague to try to save Jewish children. He found British families willing to help and worked hard to raise funds, taking enormous personal risks to get Jewish children safely to Britain. As a result of his courage and determination, some 7000 descendants of those children live on.. .... he was simply an ordinary man who felt passionately about a cause and acted upon it, and made such a difference to so many lives!

The Protestant theology of atonement does not sit within Orthodox theology, but the call to action must certainly does, and I found this book valuable indeed. It has been read several times already, and repays prayerful study.

Disclosure of Material Connection:

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program.

I was not required to write a positive review.

The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Sad News

Dear friends,
Of your charity, please pray for Jeff, the husband of a dear friend, who died suddenly on the weekend, and for his wife Sue and all their family.....

Memory Eternal......
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Beethoven "Für Elise" Valentina Lisitsa Seoul Philharmonic

Sheer magic........
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Today's Word

nompion : one posessing more knowledge than the common people.

A Lancashire dialect word, defined in 1898 by Joseph Wright.
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Out Of The Mouths......

I had a short, sharp reality check the other day, and it took me totally by surprise.

DD3 and I had been shopping, visited the local book fair and had just stopped at a food shop to pick up a cheap snack for our lunch. I had one large tote bag (full) over my shoulder and was carrying three other bags full of books, DD3 was carrying another bag of books. We had just come out of the shop clutching our snacks in paper bags as well, and as we were walking down the street, there was a homeless person selling The Big Issue magazine. I usually make a point  of buying a magazine from these sellers, who are are doing their best to get themselves out of being homeless/vulnerably housed by selling magazines rather than begging.

The thought did cross my mind that I should buy one, but I dismissed it so very easily,  thinking about the fact I couldn't easily access my purse, I was tired, we only just had enough money to get the bus home anyway and I didn't relish the idea of walking home with all these bags of shopping. All feeble excuses so I would not have to put myself to any physical effort or financial loss.........

I walked on, continuing my conversation with DD3. After we had walked about ten yards down the street, she turned to me quietly and said:
"I've never ever known you not buy a Big Issue from a seller, Mum. Did you already buy a copy when you came up to town earlier in the week?"

Talk about out the mouths of babes and sucklings !  I looked at her and said honestly that I had thought about it briefly, but if we did buy a copy, we would have to walk home with all these bags (about 45 mins walk). She just looked at me and said that she was happy to walk home. I was so proud of her, and so woefully ashamed of my own selfishness, laziness and greed.

I unloaded all my shopping on the floor and she stood guard over our mini-mountain of bags so I could scramble for my purse and find the requisite amount of money for the magazine, and a small bit extra to give to the seller, as I normally do. The vendor greeted me warmly and was very grateful for my purchase. I returned, brandishing the magazine and saw DD3's face light up with pleasure. We picked up our bags and made our way home, tired but happy.

What made my heart sing was that my 12 year old daughter had compassion on that man, wanted us to help him and she was not afraid to respectfully tackle me for *not* helping. When my behaviour was not up to what she considered to be my normal standard, she reminded me about it, and that took courage on her part.
I am proud of her, and glad that she stood firm in her belief that we should help him, even if we did have to walk home with all those bags rather than riding the bus in comfort. I am keeping that copy of the magazine as a reminder to myself how easy it is to slip back into meanness, laziness and selfishness, rather than put myself out to help someone.

I'm glad it is Lent; I need the discipline and the reminders.
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Recently Read

Bluestockings  (Jane Robinson, pub 2009 by Viking) was a delightful and engrossing read about the first woman to storm the bastions of English Universities and fight for the right to get a degree. Fascinating, heartbreaking and quite frighteningwhere it describes the intense pressures put upon so many young women at that period.

Charity shop finds !  I love Star Trek , and another Andy McNab book is always welcome.

A second "new" Andy McNab is even more welcome...... and words fail me when it comes to Robin Jarvis' The Whitby Witches. First in a trilogy, and marketed for young teenage readers, I still find it riveting and terrifying, even though I must have read it at least twenty times in the last fifteen years. St Hilda plays a starring role in this tale of good versus evil. It makes the Harry Potter series seem tame by comparison.

Doom Hamster much preferred his Deptford Mice series, but I could never get into that series at all; it always interests me how greatly tastes can differ within a family of a voracious readers :-)

Two more charity shop finds; I am slowly collecting the whole Falco series by Lindsey Davies.

The Catholic Martyrs of Wales by T.P.Ellis, pub by Burns & Oates in 1933 was kindly obtained for me by the local library from the main Reserve stock.  One of the Catholic priest-martyrs was captured only a very few miles away from my home, and I wanted to read more about that very troubled period of history.

The Jane Austen Book Club is something I have been meaning to read for ages and never got round to buying it. It was also always out on loan at the Library, so when I saw it at my favourite thrift shop, I leapt at it. I am so glad I did :-)

An Intelligent Person's Guide to Judaism is a scholarly, insightful and thoughtful read. Of particular interest is the chapter on anti-semitism, its developement and possible causes.

DH bought this book. I have read it but not yet cooked anything from it; full reports when I do get round to making something, I promise !

Germania is another library book, by Simon Winder, pub 2010 by Picador. 
 It is his own idiosyncratic view of  German history and describes his own visits to Germany.  He obviously loves the country but  by his own admission speaks virtually no German, which I would find a considerable impediment to travelling extensively in a country.....
There are occasional flashes of brilliance, especially his descriptions of Bamberg and one section entitled "More competitive tomb-building", but on the whole I found it quite tedious. I certainly wouldn't bother buying it even from the charity shop.

Also read (on my e-reader):
Laurie King's magnificent O Jerusalem, Justice Hall, The Game and Locked Rooms.  I devoured them all with the utmost enjoyment and strongly recommend them.
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Sleeping Baby

 A recent photo of my sleeping baby :-)
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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Recently Read

Down Among The Dead Men was an absolutely fascinating if somewhat ghoulish insight into what goes on at a hospital mortuary, though I must admit that I could not stomach reading it whilst eating my lunch......I am glad I read it, but I don't think it would merit reading again. 

The Winter Of Our Disconnect is a very cleverly written book, outlining how the author and her teenaged children survived a whole winter (in Australia) without having electrical/electronic media in their home, interspersed with references to academic work showing what effects TV, iPod, games consoles and the like can have upon the socialisation and habits of children and adults alike. I really enjoyed it, even if I would have been given her fifteen year old son a right tongue-lashing if he had been a child of mine for saying "WTF" to me :-)
 Definitely one I will be buying, after borrowing it this time from the library.

Three Cups Of Tea was  heartbreakingly sad and incredibly inspiring in equal measure. I had never heard of it before, and it is one of the books which I am incredibly glad I have now managed to read. It paints a very vivid picture of life in the very remotest areas of Pakistan, and of Greg Mortenson's work to provide good schools for children in this harsh part of the world.

A Dying Light In Cordoba was an interesting read. I still find the author's Falco a very dry character to read, but the plots are clever and I have since managed to get a few more from the local charity shop, which I shall read in due course :-)

This book, The Sign Of The Cross,  is no better a read the second time round.

 How on earth someone can claim to be writing a book about travelling in Catholic Europe when his ignorance (as a disaffected Catholic) extends so far as to wonder whether Protestants use incense in services and then not even bother to find out and comment on it , defeats me. Far too much of the book details his rather bizarre psychotherapy relating to the death of a relative, and I cannot in conscience recommend this book to anyone. I am glad this was one I borrowed from the local library as I would have felt robbed having to pay even 50p for it in a charity shop. Yes, I did dislike it that much, and resent the waste of precious hours reading it....... I still can't fathom why I read it a second time - perhaps I could not believe that a publisher actually paid for this book......

I have also been reading  Laurie King's "Mary Russell" series of detective fiction on my e-reader, hence the lack of photographs of book covers !

If you  haven't already encountered Miss Mary Russell, I strongly advise you to make her acquaintance :-) 

What is there not to enjoy about a teenaged feminist Jewish girl with strong scholarly tendencies becoming an apprentice detective to the great Sherlock Holmes after he retires to keep bees on the Sussex Downs ?

 Lots of Jewish / Christian interest has been woven into the stories,  and so far I have absolutely loved reading:

The Beekeeper's Apprentice   { an excerpt available here}

A Monstrous Regiment of Women   {an excerpt available here}    
A Letter of Mary   {an excerpt available here}

The Moor  {an excerpt available here}

Enjoy !

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