Friday, November 30, 2018

What I Read and Watched in November

I made a dent in my Christian Book Challenge this month by finishing The Everlasting Man by Chesterton, but it wasn't easy to get through. Another tough book was Dickens' Oliver Twist. I didn't love it as much as some of his other titles.

Other books I read: By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder, A Year at Thrush Green by Miss Read, The Boomer Burden (non-fiction book on decluttering), half of Cardigan Bay by John Kerr (not worth finishing), and  A Christmas Journey by Anne Perry, which tried to deal with important themes like sin and redemption, but failed miserably. I also finished a book that my Bible study group has been reading, Queres Ser Curado? by Marcelo Aguiar.

Two nights a week we watch something from our regular rotation of DVDs (Madame Secretary, Perry Mason and Larkrise to Candleford), but we broke out of our routine to watch Henry V  - which wasn't really breaking out of our routine since we watch it once a year!


Friday, November 23, 2018

The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton

I've read over a dozen books by Chesterton, but The Everlasting Man was one of the toughest to get through. Written as a rebuttal to H.G. Wells An Outline of History, Chesterton wrote the book to refute the idea that man is merely a part of the animal kingdom and that Jesus Christ was just an influential teacher.

Unfortunately the first half on the development of man and religion is quite a slog. If you can hang on until the chapter on the incarnation, "God in the Cave," you will be richly rewarded with G.K.'s insights into the first Christmas. Some of it is simply astonishing. He talks of Christ's birth as a cataclysmic event of good against evil.

Unless we understand the presence of that Enemy, we shall not only miss the point of Christianity, but even miss the point of Christmas. Its unique note is the simultaneous striking of many notes: of humility, of gaiety, of gratitude, of mystical fear, but also of vigilance and drama. There is something defiant in it also; something that makes the abrupt bells at midnight sound like the great guns of a battle that has just been won.

I had heard that this book was instrumental to C.S. Lewis' conversion so I read it looking for clues as to influential passages. Certainly "The Riddle of the Gospel" contained ideas that Lewis would later make famous in his Mere Christianity.

In the chapter on "The Witness of Heretics," Chesterton defends unchangeable biblical truth. What the denouncer of dogma really means is not that dogma is bad, but rather that dogma is too good to be true. Dogma gives man too much freedom when it permits him to fall. Dogma gives even God too much freedom when it permits Him to die. To them it is like believing in fairyland to believe in such freedom as we enjoy. It is like believing in men with wings to entertain the fancy of men with wills.

I can't recommend this unequivocally because it is a lot of plain, hard work, but if you like Chesterton, this would be a worthwhile effort. (In the future I will probably re-read just the second half!)


Friday, November 16, 2018

New Releases of D.E. Stevenson on Kindle

I was happy to see that some new D.E. Stevenson titles will make their appearance this January. I've been wanting to read the Mrs. Tim books and see that three of the four are only $3.99 each. Sadly, the first one, Mrs. Tim of the Regiment, is still almost ten dollars.

Available Jan 7, 2019:
Mrs. Tim Carries On (Book #2)
Mrs. Tim Gets a Job (Book #3)
Mrs. Tim Flies Home (Book #4)
Spring Magic
Smouldering Fire

Older Titles:
Amberwell is still 99 cents. (free for Kindle Unlimited)
Anna and her Daughters is $3.99 (free for Kindle Unlimited)
Katherine Wentworth and Katherine's Marriage are also $3.99 each (free for Kindle Unlimited)
Sarah Morris Remembers was quite pricey when I first checked, but 99 cents a week later. It is free for Kindle Unlimited users.

The four Miss Buncle books (my favorites) are $10 each, but I read them for free via library

Any opinions on the Mrs. Tim books? I know some people really love them. I couldn't really tell from the downloaded sample if I would like them or not.

Happy light reading!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Katherine Wentworth by D.E. Stevenson

Sometimes a book comes along at just the right time and is pure pleasure. That's how I felt when I started reading Katherine Wentworth. The calm dignity of the protagonist, the stark beauty of the Scottish countryside, the stalwart friendship of Alec, and the gentle kindnesses of the minor characters all joined together to make a refreshing tonic for my tired heart. Underneath it all is a current of quiet happiness that I found irresistible.

Katherine is a widow raising three children. She's come through the heartache of losing her husband and has learned to be independent and self-sufficient. She is strong, yet insecure enough to be believable. When a new man comes into her life, however, she isn't the least bit interested in matrimony.

As I read, I was reminded of C.S. Lewis' assertion that we are most truly ourselves when we forget ourselves. The most likable characters in the novel are those who lack self-consciousness: the twins, Mrs. RacRam (the cook/housekeeper), the vicar and his wife, Katherine and Alec.The unpleasant people are those who are tied up in knots over their own happiness (or lack thereof).

It was rewarding to see how the sensible characters interacted with the difficult ones. One of the themes is the folly of riches as a means of happiness. Several Wentworth family members are suffering under the burden of wealth because they have nothing meaningful to do with their lives. Katherine, on the other hand, is struggling to raise the children on a limited budget, but finds joy in it.

In addition to the fine writing and good storytelling, I enjoyed the literary references from the Bible, King Lear, Robert Burn's, and Pilgrim's Progress. I enjoyed this book so much that I read the sequel,  Katherine's Marriage, in one gulp.


Friday, November 2, 2018

What I Read and Watched in October

I broke some kind of record this month (11 books) because I had an unusually large amount of time for reading (I got paid to sit in a classroom while students worked independently!) and because some of the books were ones I'd been reading slowly for many weeks and just happened to finish up at the same time.

Mere Christianity was by far the best title of the month, followed by Katherine Wentworth (review forthcoming) and On the Banks of Plum Creek.

Other titles: The Scarlet Pimpernel, True to You (CF), 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Learn by Heart, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Poems Every Catholic Should Know, Complete Works of Richard Crashaw (Vol. 1), and Where the Red Fern Grows.

I read just 2 1/2 Victorian novels for Victober: The Doctor's Family by Oliphant, The Bird's Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggins, and I'm half way through Oliver Twist.

My husband and I don't watch television so on free evenings we are enjoying our second time through the Larkrise to Candleford DVDs. We intersperse these with Season 2 of the old Perry Mason courtroom dramas. I watched an interesting movie on YouTube called "Summer Snow," about a family dealing with the death of their mother. It was less syrupy than most Christian films.