Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Library Loot ~ March 27 to April 2

Purple Hibiscus ~ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2004, fiction (Nigeria)
Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria.  They live in beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school.  They're completely shielded from the troubles of the world.  Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear.  Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home — a home that is silent and suffocating.  As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority.  Books cram the shelves, curry and nutmeg permeate the air, and their cousins’ laughter rings throughout the house.  When they return home, tensions within the family escalate, and Kambili must find the strength to keep her loved ones together.
All That Is Bitter and Sweet ~ by Ashley Judd with Maryanne Vollers, 2011, memoir
In 2002, award-winning film and stage actor Ashley Judd found her true calling:  as a humanitarian and voice for those suffering in neglected parts of the world.  After her first trip to the notorious brothels, slums, and hospices of southeast Asia, Ashley knew immediately that she wanted to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable.  During her travels, Ashley started to write diaries that detailed extraordinary stories of survival and resilience.  But along the way, she realized that she was struggling with her own emotional pain, stemming from childhood abandonment and abuse.  Seeking in-patient treatment in 2006 for the grief that had nearly killed her, Ashley found not only her own recovery and an enriched faith but the spiritual tools that energized and advanced her feminist social justice work.  In this deeply moving and unforgettable memoir, Ashley Judd describes her odyssey, from lost child to fiercely dedicated advocate, from anger and isolation to forgiveness and activism.  In telling it, she answers the ineffable question about the relationship between healing oneself and service to others.
The Jesus Sutras : Rediscovering the Lost Scrolls of Taoist Christianity ~ by Martin Palmer, 2001, religion
In 1907, explorers discovered a vast treasure trove of ancient scrolls, silk paintings, and artifacts dating from the 5th to 11th centuries A.D. in a long-sealed cave in a remote region of China.  Among them, written in Chinese, were scrolls that recounted a history of Jesus' life and teachings in beautiful Taoist concepts and imagery that were unknown in the West.  The origins of Christianity seem rooted in Western civilization, but an ancient, largely unknown branch of Christian belief evolved in the East.  Eminent theologian and Chinese scholar Martin Palmer provides the first popular history and translation of the sect's long-lost scriptures — all of them more than a thousand years old and comparable in significance to the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Interpreted by a team of expert linguists and scholars, these sacred texts present an inspiring use of Jesus' teachings and life within Eastern practices and meditations — and provide an extraordinary window into an intriguing, profoundly gentler, more spiritual Christianity than existed in Europe or Asia at the time, or, indeed, even today.

Palmer has devoted more than a decade to seeking the extant writings and other evidence of this lost religion.  His search was triggered by an encounter with an immense, mysterious carved (stele) stone from the 8th century that resides in a Chinese museum collection called the Forest of Stones.  The Chinese text on this stone commemorates the founding of a "religion of light" in China by a great Western teacher and features a unique cross that merges Taoist symbolism with the Christian cross.  The scrolls, the stone, and a strange map of the area around a hallowed temple (where Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching before disappearing forever) gave Palmer enough information to rediscover one of the earliest Christian monasteries.  At the site was an  8th century pagoda still intact, and within it, in 1998, Palmer and his team found more evidence, including statues, underground passageways, and artifacts, that helped them uncover and recreate the era and rituals of the Taoist Christians.

The Taoist Christians, who wrote the Jesus Sutras recognized equality of the sexes, preached against slavery, and practiced nonviolence toward all forms of life.  In particular, this tradition offered its followers a more hopeful vision of life on earth and after death than the dominant Eastern religions, teaching that Jesus had broken the wheel of karma and its consequent punishing, endless reincarnations.
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Marg @ The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages us to share titles of books we’ve checked out of the library.  Add your link any time during the week, and see what others got this week.


Kay said...

These sounds like some very interesting reads. I have never heard of them before.

Enjoy your loot!

Linda said...

Purple Hibiscus sounds good. Enjoy your loot!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Purple Hibiscus sounds very promising! And Ashley Juddd is someone that I have heard is doing good things.

Enjoy your books