Tuesday, June 30, 2020

What I Read and Watched in June

One of my bookstagram friends wrote that she is re-reading old favorites because she doesn't have the cognitive energy to tackle anything new. I keep hearing about the lethargy caused by the Covid crisis and agree that my capacity to read deeply and then to write out my thoughts has been much harder in recent months. Blogging has taken a serious hit.

I managed to get through three novels in June: L.M. Montgomery's Emily Climbs, Mary Stewart's suspenseful Madam, Will You Talk? (during which I had to take in deep gulps of air at the end of each chapter because I had forgotten to breathe), and Dorothy Sayers' Murder Must Advertise. The non-fiction I completed was Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren, and Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology (for an upcoming class.) I also listened to the short book, Where is God in a Coronavirus World? by John C. Lennox.

I watched 3 episodes of PBS' The Great American Read and don't think I'll finish it. Harrison Ford's newest movie, The Call of the Wild, was okay, but I could never emotionally connect with the CGI animals. The murder mystery, A Bundle of Trouble was pleasant, but unremarkable - except for the fact that it was the first Hallmark movie I've seen with a transgender character.

My most surprising reading was from an online Catholic periodical called Crisis Magazine. I don't know who sent me my first free issue, but I was quickly hooked by the exceptional writing and politically conservative perspective. I am not Catholic so I skip the articles about Catholic doctrine and polity, but the other articles on culture and politics have helped to clarify my thinking. Two of my favorites were "And Then They Came for J.K. Rowling," and "Domesticity is Not Slavery."


Friday, June 12, 2020

Walking Faithfully with God by Kay Arthur

Do the kings and kingdoms of the Old Testament run together in your mind? If so, you are not alone. Sure, everybody know about David and Solomon, but after the kingdom was divided, forty more (mostly villainous) rulers reigned in Judah and Israel. How in the world do we keep them straight? The book Walking Faithfully with God is a great place to start.

The beauty of the inductive Bible study method is that it forces you to slow down and pay attention. This book requires you to patiently note down character traits of the major kings. It requires highlighting, reading, and re-reading. After studying a chapter in I or II Kings, you jump over to the corresponding chapter in II Chronicles to get a more complete picture of that king's life. It is VERY thorough.

Even though this was my fourth time through this book, I was still constantly amazed at the wickedness of the various kings. Though they are persistently sinful, God is persistently merciful in sending prophets to warn them to repent. After a series of discouragingly evil kings, suddenly there is a man who loves God with all his heart to remind you that God can raise up men of God under the most adverse circumstances.

The book is full of helpful maps and charts and at the end of each week there are insightful life lessons as well as discussion questions to help you dig deeper. I have been doing inductive Bible study for fifteen years, and this is far and away my favorite study. I'm always a little sad when I finish any inductive study because of the rich, fruitful hours I've spent in God's word. I hated to see this book come to an end.


Friday, June 5, 2020

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery

Emily of New Moon was a lovely surprise in a month when I've been suffering from reading doldrums.

The book was written in 1923 and tells the story of newly-orphaned Emily Starr who must move in with unfriendly relatives. (The Murrays had rejected her mother when she eloped with Emily's father.) In book one of the trilogy, she learns to love her new home and to grow into a brave and thoughtful young woman.

Where do I start to sing her praises? Emily has a perfect mixture of pluck and insecurity that make her endearing. She pours out her heart in long, poignant letters to her deceased father that are mixed with honest questions about life's hardships and observations about the people around her. Some of her observations made me laugh out

Emily has the gift of wonder. It had always seemed to Emily, ever since she could remember, that she was very, very near to a world of wonderful beauty. Between it and herself hung only a thin curtain; she could never draw the curtain aside - but sometimes, just for a moment, a wind fluttered it and then it was if she caught a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond - only a glimpse - and heard a note of unearthly music..... And always, when the flash came to her, Emily felt that life was a wonderful, mysterious thing of persistent beauty.

The book is chock-full beautiful descriptions: Winter came with its beautiful bare-limbed trees, and soft pearl-grey skies that were slashed with rifts of gold in the afternoon, and cleared to a jewelled pageantry of stars over the wide white hills and valleys of New Moon. Or the description of the tin man, whose wagon is covered with pans that flash back the sunlight so dazzingly that Old Kelly seemed the beaming sun of a little planetary system all his own.

Add to that all the delicious literary references to the Bible, Pilgrim's Progress, Shakespeare, Jane Eyre, Wordworth, Dante and Thackeray. Throw in dear, odd cousin Jimmy, Father Cassidy and a cast of other unique, but special friends PLUS an long unsolved mystery, and you've got a full plate of bookish delights. Very highly recommended.