Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ reading horizons

Have you ever taken one of those "tests" that purport to tell you where to live or which dog you should have or whatever?  I did one that supposedly answers the question:  What career were you actually meant for?  I should be a WRITER, according to this:
"You have an unmatched skill for creating vast worlds both through facts and pure imagination.  Your mind is full of creativity, artistry, and expression.  Your heart gracefully guides your hands as you work to bring what is truly your spirit to life.   You were truly meant to guide the world with your words."
That means writing this blog (and maybe letters and emails?) is what I truly should be doing.  Hurray for me, since that's what I enjoy.

I got a fortune cookie the other day, which said, "You will soon receive a letter from a loved one."  Okay, WHO will that loved one be?  Are you planning to write soon?

Seen on Colleen's blog:  "I started a new exercise routine.  Every day I do diddley squats."  Colleen, you should try a few exercises I've practiced:  jumping to conclusions, skipping lunch, running my mouth, pushing my luck, dodging responsibility, stretching the truth, exercising discretion, grasping at straws, and jogging my memory.  I never was any good at social climbing, though.

Reading Horizons

I bought a couple of new books this week.  When I took a neighbor to Barnes & Noble to get her annual "dog calendar" because she doesn't have a car, I couldn't pass up the book I'd wanted when I was at that store previously.  A couple of my neighbors follow the Baha'i Faith, one of the 50 religions explained in this book. I want to know more about Baha'i.



30-Second Religion: The 50 Most Thought-Provoking Religious Beliefs, Each Explained in Half a Minute ~ edited by Russell Re Manning, 2011
"Central to Baha'ism is a conviction of the essential unity of all religious faiths, reflecting its emphasis on celebrating humanity and seeking world peace" (p. 76).

I bought the other book when I went with my friend Betty to hear a reading by the author at Left Bank Books.

Bad Feminist ~ by Roxane Gay, 2014, essays
A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay.  The author takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today.  The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.  This book is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.
Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Five ~ five things that are new in my life

Mary Beth brings us today's Friday Five:
"So, no matter what the weather’s doing where you live, this time of year brings the beginning of school for most people.  Unless you are in year round school, or homeschooling, or something else.  Many folks I know say the beginning of school makes them feel like a new beginning, even if they are not in school themselves or have kids there.  In fact, I did a little math at the beginning of the week and determined that, based on my career in higher education and when I entered first grade, I am entering the 44th Grade this year.  So, for beginnings:  Tell us five things that are new in your life, or that you would LIKE to have be new in your life.  If that doesn’t work, how about things that you are ready to shed ... to make room for new things?  Opening your hands to release, to see what God might put into them?  So, go!"
Five things that are new in my life:

1.  New home
In June, I moved to St. Louis from my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  It's been a great adventure so far, as I settle into my new home and ... (ta-da!) ... make new friends!
2.  New friends
Evelyn, Betty, Sheila, Judy, Tomoko, Nancy, and Marilyn eat at my table at our "senior living" apartments.  I've attended all sorts of activities so I'd get to know my new neighbors in the building.  I've taken road trips with them and gone to all three "birthday bashes" in the three months I've lived here.  And I've participated in resident council meetings.  We didn't have anything like that where I used to live.  These people are very active and involved, and I'm loving it!
3.  New study buddies
My way of continuing to learn and "be in school" is to gather a group of my new friends — and one old friend — into a book discussion and "teach" each other.  We are currently studying Brian McLaren's 2014 book We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation,Reorientation, and Activation.
4.  New stole
Because I'm in St. Louis and live only six or eight miles from Ferguson, I learned on the 20th of a call for clergy in vestments to gather in solidarity for prayer and witness.  Local and statewide clergy would march to the county's Justice Center for a brief demonstration and prayer, and then the group would "caravan to Ferguson and consecrate the area with prayer and oil" so that our presence, prayers, and prophetic witness would make a difference.  Oops!  I just moved.  I had kept one stole when I retired, a tapestry stole showing children of the world, but which box was it in?  I got the invitation the day of the gathering and I didn't have time to search through boxes, so I went out and bought a new stole.  It's tapestry, similar in color to the one of the children that I have, somewhere, not yet unpacked.  And I did get it in time to march with the others, wearing my new clergy stole.
5.  New church
When I moved into my new home, in a new state, hundreds of miles from my last church, I set out to find a new church home.  University United Methodist Church is only two and a half miles from home, has a clergywoman as new to St. Louis as I am, and (as an added plus) both she and her husband graduated from Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta -- just as I did.  He teaches at Eden Seminary.  The Rev. Diane Kenaston is wearing the white robe and stole in the top photo, and her husband Adam Ployd is the bearded man behind her.  I was there, but only my left hand made it into the photo.  I was just to the left of the picture, beside the man wearing the white shirt.

It's getting dark

Learning to Walk in the Dark ~ by Barbara Brown Taylor, 2014, spirituality
"Come inside now, it's getting dark."  That is my mother speaking, saying the same thing she said every night when she looked out the kitchen window and saw that the sun was going down.  It did not matter whether the window was in Kansas, Ohio, Alabama, or Georgia.  Dark was dark, and she wanted her children inside.  It must have cost her a lot to call us, since it meant that the quiet house would soon be filled with the noise of three small, loud girls, but she did it anyway.  She loved us enough to let us play outside until the cicadas cranked up and bats started swooping through the sky; then she loved us enough to call us inside so that nothing bad would happen to us in the dark.
That's one look at a beginning in this book, the beginning of the Introduction.  Here's the beginning of the first chapter.  One a view of childhood, the other a view of her life as an adult.
It is late August.  I am lying in my yard on a blow-up mattress waiting for Friday to become Friday night, which is how I know people are wrong when they say, "It's as clear as the difference between night and day."  That might be true at noon or midnight, but here at the liquid edge between day and night, the difference is so unclear that there are many words for it:  sundown, twilight, nightfall, dusk.
On September 26, 2013, less than a year ago, my friend Donna and I drove from Chattanooga to Atlanta to hear Barbara Brown Taylor's lecture at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on the edge of the campus at Emory University.  She talked about this book, coming out a few weeks later.  I've been in the process of moving this year, so I'm only just now getting around to reading it.



Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Library Loot ~ August 27 to September 2

"Ain't But a Place" : An Anthology of African American Writings about St. Louis ~ edited by Gerald Early, 1998
Gerald Early writes in the introduction to this book:  "An impressive amount of artistic energy is generated in St. Louis, and the source of a good deal of that energy is its African American citizenry."  Although the majority of writers and entertainers left St. Louis "to engage their muse and quarrel with American culture from another location," the experience gained from the St. Louis region has remained prominent in the expressions.  This collection captures voices that comprise the African American experience in St. Louis over the past two hundred years. It includes a variety of genres and the words of such notables as freed slaves and abolitionists William Wells Brown and Lucy Delaney; sports greats Bob Gibson, Henry Armstrong, and Jackie Joyner Kersee; entertainers Dick Gregory, Miles Davis, Chuck Berry, and Tina Turner; and writers Eddy Harris, Ntozake Shange, Quincy Troupe, and Eugene Redmond.
The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America's Future ~ by Jonathan Cahn, 2011
Is it possible...
That there exists an ancient mystery that holds the secret of America's future?
That this mystery lies behind everything from 9/11 to the collapse of the global economy?
That ancient harbingers of judgment are now manifesting in America?
That God is sending America a prophetic message of what is yet to come?
Before its end as a nation, there appeared in ancient Israel nine specific warnings and omens of national destruction.  These same nine Harbingers are now manifesting in America with profound ramifications for America’s future and end-time prophecy.  Hidden in an ancient biblical prophecy from Isaiah, the mysteries revealed in The Harbinger are so precise that they foretell recent American events down to the exact days — the 3,000-year-old mystery that revealed the exact date of the stock market collapse of 2008 — the ancient prophecy that was proclaimed from the floor of the US Senate and then came true — and more.  The revelations are so specific that even the most hardened skeptic will find it hard to put down.  Though it sounds like the plot of a Hollywood thriller – it's real.  The prophetic mysteries are factual but revealed through a riveting narrative the reader will find hard to put down.  The book opens with the appearance of a man burdened with a message he has received from a mysterious figure called The Prophet.  The Prophet has given him nine seals, each containing a message about America's future.  As he tells of his encounters with the Prophet, from a skyscraper in New York City, to a rural mountaintop, to Capitol Hill, to Ground Zero, the mystery behind each seal is revealed.  As the story unfolds, each revelation becomes another piece in a larger and larger puzzle, the ramifications of which are, even now, altering the course of America and the world.
This summary that I found online makes it sound "real," but "appearance of a man" makes it sound like a novel, which is what I thought it was when I put it on hold at the library.  We shall see.

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to name books we checked out of the library.  Click here to see what others got this week.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Beginning ~ with laughter

Have you ever seen a picture of Jesus laughing?  Probably not, because we have inherited a distorted form of Christianity created by the Roman Church in the fourth century, which focuses exclusively on Jesus the "man of sorrows."  The image that has dominated our culture is that of a man being tortured to death on a cross.  But the original Christians didn't see Jesus as an historical man who "suffered for our sins."  They viewed Jesus as the mythical hero of a symbolic teaching story, which represents the spiritual journey leading to the experience of awakening they called "gnosis," or "knowing."
If you've never seen such a picture before (I've seen others, as well), now you've seen this one.  The picture above has nothing to do with this book, except that it's the reason I picked up the book in the first place.  I own a copy of this laughing Jesus, framed and everything.  So when I saw a book entitled The Laughing Jesus, of course I had to buy it.  My next confession is that the paragraph above is not the first in the book, but the second paragraph, following this quote from the Nag Hammadi Codex (*** as noted at the bottom of this post).
Wake up!  Rouse yourself from the collective coma you mistake for "real life."  See through the illusion of separateness and recognize that we are all essentially one.  Although we appear to be isolated individuals, in reality there is one awareness dreaming itself to be everyone and everything.  This is our shared essential nature.  The simple secret to enjoying this dream we call "life" is to wake up to oneness.  Because, knowing you are one with all, you will find yourself in love with all.  You will fall in love with living.  This is the message of the original Christians, who symbolised this awakened state with the enigmatic figure of "the laughing Jesus."
The Laughing Jesus: Religious Lies and Gnostic Wisdom ~ by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, 2005
What if the Old Testament is a work of fiction, Jesus never existed, and Muhammad was a mobster?  What if the Bible and the Qur'an are works of political propaganda created by Taliban-like fundamentalists to justify the sort of religious violence we are witnessing in the world today?  What if there is a big idea that could free us from the us-versus-them world created by religion and make it possible for us to truly love our neighbors — and even our enemies?  What if it is possible to awaken to a profound state of oneness and love, which the Gnostic Christians symbolized by the enigmatic figure of the laughing Jesus?
Maybe this book will help me discover for myself why the gnostic Jesus laughs.
_________________________

*** See The Apocalypse of Peter, NHC (The Nag Hammadi Codex), The Second Treatise of the Great Seth, NHC, Robinson J. M., The Nag Hammadi Library (HarperCollins paperback 1978), 377, 365.
_________________________


Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TWOsday ~ Tao Te Ching and Te-Tao Ching

On TWOsdays, I plan to share TWO things, which will most probably always be books.  But the two things could possibly be two ideas or two of anything.  Today, it's TWO books.

Te-Tao Ching: A New Translation Based on the Recently Discovered Ma-wang-tui Texts ~ by Lao Tzu, translated by Robert G. Henricks, 1989
Lao-tzu's Te-Tao Ching has been treasured for thousands of years for its poetic statement of life's most profound and elusive truths.  This new translation, based on the 1973 discovery of two copies of the manuscript more than five centuries older than any others known, corrects many defects of the later versions.  In his extensive commentary, Professor Henricks reevaluates traditional interpretations.
The Tao Te Ching: A New Translation with Commentary ~ by Ellen M. Chen, 1989
This incisive, illuminating translation of the Tao Te Ching treats these sacred writings as religious philosophy having as their central message the value of peace.  Refreshing and challenging, this is a landmark work for all those investigating Eastern religion and philosophy.
A couple of years ago, I bought myself five books for my birthday, and three of them were different translations of the Tao Te Ching.  When I needed to refer to one of the poems (chapters) of the Tao Te Ching the other day, I couldn't find a copy, even though I own 12 or 13 or 14 versions.  They must still be in boxes, not yet out on my bookshelves.  So today I bought these two (above), which are not among the translations I already have.  I'm excited to have them, and this evening I have already been reading the commentaries and notes by these translators.

Oh, some of you are wondering why I'd want ONE copy of this book, much less more than a dozen — plus two more today?  Okay, that's fair.  First, I taught religions of the world at Chattanooga State as an adjunct for about a decade.  (Adjunct means I taught one or two classes a semester while holding another job.  In other words, I wasn't a full-time professor.)  Second, I've been interested all my life in why people are drawn to life's numinous aspects.  (Synonyms of "numinous" are "spiritual, religious, divine, holy, sacred, mysterious, otherworldly, unearthly, transcendent.")  As I read or browsed through the sacred texts of various religions, I became fascinated by the thoughts of Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching.  Third, although I love Stephen Mitchell's translation, my favorite (so far) is probably Ursula K. Le Guin's take on this classic.  With these two new-to-me translations, I can continue to explore ancient Chinese thought about "the Tao" — which simply means "the Way."

(Umm, no, I can't tell you why one of these reverses Tao Te Ching and makes it Te-Tao Ching.  I'll have to read the book to find out.)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Friday, August 15, 2014

Beginning ~ how men gained control

When God Was a Woman ~ by Merlin Stone, 1976
"How did it actually happen?  How did men initially gain the control that now allows them to regulate the world in matters as vastly diverse as deciding which wars will be fought when to what time dinner should be served?"
From the dust jacket:
Here, archaeologically documented, is the story of the religion of the Goddess.  Known by many names — Astarte, Isis, Ishtar, among others — she reigned supreme in the Near and Middle East.  Beyond being worshipped for fertility, she was revered as the wise creator and the one source of universal order.  Under her, women's roles differed markedly from those in patriarchal Judeo-Christian cultures.  Women bought and sold property and traded in the marketplace, and the inheritance of title and property was passed from mother to daughter.  How did the change come about?  By documenting the wholesale rewriting of myth and religious dogmas, Merlin Stone details a most ancient conspiracy:  the patriarchal reimaging of the Goddess as a wanton, depraved figure. This is the portrait that laid the foundation for one of culture's greatest shams — the legend of Adam and fallen Eve.
In my quest to understand religions (I taught Religions of the World as an adjunct at Chattanooga State), this book may answer questions about why things were once so different.  This seems to be exploring the same sort of thing I read about in these books:


Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Library Loot ~ August 13-19

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker ~ by Jennifer Chiaverini, 2013, fiction (Washington, DC)
A friendship blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite.  Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.  In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal “modiste,” responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son, and then her husband to the assassination that stunned the nation and the world.

Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt.  She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House.  Upon its publication, Keckley’s memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley’s story has languished in the archives.  In this impeccably researched, engrossing novel, Chiaverini brings history to life in rich, moving style.
Learning to Walk in the Dark ~ by Barbara Brown Taylor, 2014, spirituality
Taylor provides readers a way to find spirituality in those times when we don’t have all the answers.  She has become increasingly uncomfortable with our tendency to associate all that is good with lightness and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness.  Doesn’t God work in the nighttime as well?  She asks us to put aside our fears and anxieties and to explore all that God has to teach us “in the dark.”  She argues that we need to move away from our “solar spirituality” and ease our way into appreciating “lunar spirituality” (since, like the moon, our experience of the light waxes and wanes).  Through darkness we find courage, we understand the world in new ways, and we feel God’s presence around us, guiding us through things seen and unseen.  Often, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most.
Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? : The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell ~ by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, children's
In the 1830s, when a brave and curious girl named Elizabeth Blackwell was growing up, women were supposed to be wives and mothers.  Some women could be teachers or seamstresses, but career options were few.  Certainly no women were doctors.  But Elizabeth refused to accept the common beliefs that women weren’t smart enough to be doctors, or that they were too weak for such hard work.  And she would not take no for an answer.  Although she faced much opposition, she worked hard and finally — when she graduated from medical school and went on to have a brilliant career — proved her detractors wrong.  This inspiring story of the first female doctor shows how one strong-willed woman opened the doors for all the female doctors to come.  An NPR Best Book of 2013.
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to name books we checked out of the library.  Click here to see what others got this week.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Happiness balloons

During a seminar for 500 people, the facilitator got the people involved in a group activity.  He asked each person to write their name on a balloon with a marker.  The 500 balloons were collected and put in another room, and the participants were given five minutes to find the balloon with their name on it.  As they searched frantically for their own names, they collided with one other, pushed others around, and created utter chaos.  At the end of the five minutes, no one had found their own balloon.  No one.  The new instructions were for each person to randomly collect a balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it.  Within minutes everyone had their own balloon.  This happens in our lives.  We look frantically for happiness, not knowing where it is.  Yet our happiness lies in the happiness of other people.  Give them their happiness, and you will find your own happiness.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ voting and reading

I voted this week, thus making me a full-fledged Missourian, I suppose.  No, not "today," kitty cat.  I voted on Tuesday.

Early yesterday morning, like at 6:30am, I opened the blinds to discover my world had shrunk.  Fog blocked my usual view of tall office buildings about a mile southeast of me, and I saw only as far as where my street curved left into the dense trees about a block away.  Would I fall off the edge of the world if I drove a tenth of a mile?  The thought made me smile.

BOOKS

Books keep arriving at my house.  Friday I went to the apartment of a new friend to talk and came home with the 622-page Volume One of A Course in Miracles.  I'll skim it before returning it, but there's no way I have time to read this book right now.  I'd rather finish reading St. Louis: Yesterday and Today by Betty Burnett, or When Children Ask About God by Harold S. Kushner, or The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, or Rich in Love by Josephine Humphreys, the paperback novel I found in one of the boxes I unpacked this week.

Whole: A Call to Unity in Our Fragmented World ~ by Sharon Watkins, 2014
In her hope-filled new book, Sharon Watkins, the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and moderator-elect of the National Council of Churches, shares her vision of how the good news of Jesus calls American Christians to unite around justice, mercy, and openness in the 21st century.
Sharon Watkins is the one who "preached to the President" at the National Prayer Service on January 21, 2009, on the day following the first inauguration of Barack Obama.  Donna, my friend who lives two floors below me in my apartment building, brought this book to dinner one evening.  She had received it in the mail earlier in the day, had already zipped through the whole thing, and knew I'd want to read it.  So far, I've read only the first of the six chapters.

FAMILY

My youngest grandchild started high school on the day my oldest great-grandchild started kindergarten.  One of my daughters pointed out that they both had an over-one-shoulder ponytail, and they were both happy to start school.

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Beginning ~ with a family betrayal

Rich in Love ~ by Josephine Humphreys, 1987, fiction
On an afternoon two years ago my life veered from its day-in day-out course and became for a short while the kind of life than can be told as a story — that is, one in which events appear to have meaning.  Before, there had been nothing worth telling the world.  We had our irregularities; but every family has something or other out of whack.  We had my mother's absent-mindedness, my sister's abnormal beauty, my father's innocence; and I was not without oddities of my own.  We were characters, my friend Wayne said.  But nothing about us was story material.

Until the day, May 10, when one of us betrayed the rest and set off a series of events worth telling.
From the back cover:
At the age of seventeen, Lucille Odom finds herself in the middle of an unexpected domestic crisis. As she helps guide her family through its discontent, Lucille discovers in herself a woman rich in wisdom, rich in humor, and rich in love.
Okay, what's going on in this family? Yes, I want to know and will keep reading. The book isn't new, so if you've read it, tell me in the comments whether or not you liked it.



Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Library Loot ~ August 6-12

The Way ~ by Kristen Wolf, 2011, fiction (ancient Palestine)
Anna is a fiery tomboy living in ancient Palestine whose androgynous appearance provokes ridicule from the people around her and doubt within her own heart. When tragedy strikes her family, and Anna's father — disguising her as a boy — sells her to a band of shepherds, she is captured by a mystical, secret society of women hiding in the desert. At first Anna is tempted to escape, but she soon finds that the sisterhood's teachings and healing abilities, wrapped in an ancient philosophy they call "The Way," have unleashed an unexpected power within her. When danger befalls the caves in which the sisters have made their home, Anna embarks on a hazardous mission to preserve the wisdom of her mentors by proclaiming it among ordinary people. Her daring quest and newfound destiny reveal, at last, the full truth of her identity — a shocking revelation that will spark as much controversy as it does celebration.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are ~ by Brené Brown, 2010
Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living — a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.  Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be.  We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel inadequate.  So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, "What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air?  Why isn't everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations?  What will people think if I fail or give up?  When can I stop proving myself?"  In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough," and to go to bed at night thinking, "Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave.  And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging."
(Tuesday Teaser from this book, posted here.)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to name books we checked out of the library.  Click here to see what others got this week.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tuesday teaser ~ inextricably connected

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are ~ by Brené Brown, 2010
Quote from the book:  "Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.  Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives."
I like this recognition of connection.  Since we are all connected, we could say we are one.

Islam
"Have you not considered how Allah sets forth a parable of a good word being like a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are in heaven?"
— Qur’an 14:24

Hinduism
"I am the fragrance of the Earth, the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives."
— Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita 7.9

Judaism
"When God created the first human beings, God led them around all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said: ‘See my works how beautiful and praiseworthy they are! Think of this, and do not corrupt or destroy My world.’ "
— Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7

Christianity
"What is the kingdom of God like?… It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches."
— Jesus, Luke 13:18

Shintoism
"Return the thing given to the human as a gift of nature to its original place."
— Ancient Japanese Saying

Native Spirituality
"Great Spirit, help us learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock."
— Native American Prayer

Sikhism
"Air is the Guru, Water is the Father and Earth is the Great Mother of All."
Guru Granth Sahib p. 8

Confucianism
"Does Heaven say anything?  The four seasons pursue their courses, and all things are continually being produced.  Does Heaven say anything?"
— Confucius, Analects 17:17

Jainism
"Nonviolence is the supreme religion. One who looks on the creatures of the Earth, big and small, as one’s own self, comprehends this immense world."
— Lord Mahavira

Zoroastrianism
"Who created the waters and the plants? Who yoked the swiftness of the winds and the motion of the clouds? For I beheld Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) as the primeval source of creation."
— Gatha Ushtavaiti 44.4

Taoism
"In harmony with the Tao, the sky is clear and spacious, the Earth is solid and full, all creatures flourish together…"
— Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching 39 (Stephen Mitchell's translation, 56:13-32)

Buddhism
"Cut down the forest of desire, not the forest of trees."
— The Buddha, Dhammapada 283

Bahá’í Faith
"Know thou that every created thing is a sign of the revelation of God."
— Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings 177

Unitarianism
"We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part."
Seventh Unitarianism Principle

The Green Rule
Do unto the Earth as you would have it do unto you

Monday, August 4, 2014

Meditation instead of medication?

Should doctors prescribe meditation instead of medication?  This basically sounds like what my doctor has been saying for years.  How many of you have tried meditation?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ my friend, the author

BOOKS
St. Louis: Yesterday and Today ~ by Betty Burnett, 2009, history
This author was a new friend before I realized she had published several books.  I met Betty in my new face-to-face book club in June, had lunch with her recently, and was delighted when she joined my discussion group that's studying We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation by Brian D. McLaren (2014).  I checked out one of Betty's glossy, coffee table books from the library and have been learning more about my new town.
Selected Writings of Bahá'u'lláh ~ translated by Shoghi Effendi, 1979, religion
My copy looks similar to this one, but it's apparently older than any cover photos Google can find.  I found this book at McKay's in Chattanooga shortly before moving, and bought it because I've never studied the religion in depth even though I taught religions of the world for years as an adjunct at Chattanooga State.  I took it off the shelf and started reading when Betty Burnett mentioned one of the residents here in our apartment building is of the Bahá'í faith.  I love the diversity among my new neighbors!
When Children Ask About God: A Guide for Parents Who Don't Always Have All the Answers ~ by Harold S. Kushner, 1989, religion
My new friend Sheila brought me a book to read that she thinks I'd like.  I'm sure I will, since I've read nearly everything Harold Kushner has written, including When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981).  This week, I found out Sheila has written the lyrics for several musicals, including one that is being revived in St. Louis this year.  I hope it works out that I'll be able to attend.
Goodnight June ~ by Sarah Jio, 2014, fiction (Seattle, Washington), 10/10
I finished this novel in a couple of days and rated it a 10 out of 10 because I couldn't put it down.  On Friday, I wrote about the book's first lines, if you want to read more about it.  I highly recommend it, especially if you enjoyed the beloved children's book Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.  The author imagines a bookstore owner who was "Brownie's" friend and the inspiration for her moon book.

FAMILY NEWS

My granddaughter has announced that the twins she's expecting are boys.  I had never heard of a "gender reveal" party, but it must be a thing these days.  Their cake was half pink and half blue, but only cutting into it "revealed" blue circles that were baked inside.

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Five ~ What’s in a name?

Bonnie (me) in 2008 with my youngest grandchild
Today's Friday Five is brought to us by 3dogmom, who wrote:
"Lately I’ve been a bit obsessed with tracking some genealogical mysteries in my family.  I’m reaching back through generations into the past, but I’m also moving from the past toward the present in an effort to locate cousins descended from the same ancestor.  Naming patterns prove to be useful clues in these endeavors, and in turn, lead me to today’s Friday Five theme."
1.  Is there a story behind your name?
Oh, yeah.  Let me tell you the story of my name(s).  My parents named me Bonnie for my mother's only sister and Lillian for my father's only sister.  The problem was that each of them used her name.  So my paternal grandmother tried lots of nicknames until one stuck:  Bitsy.  I weighed only five pounds when I was born, so I guess I was "itsy-bitsy" in that sense.  But I didn't like the name.  On the first day of school, my teacher called each child to her desk and asked, "And what are YOU called?"  Mother was sure I'd go into a long explanation of my names.  When it was my turn, however, the teacher asked her question, and I responded with one word.  "Bonnie," I said, and I've been Bonnie ever since.
2.   If you have children, how did you choose his/her/their name(s)?  If you don’t have children, how about a pet?
My husband and I could agree on only two names when I was pregnant the first time:  Barbara or Sandra, with either Lynn or Louise as the middle name.  On the way to the hospital, he asked me, "What if it's a boy?"  Back in 1960, no one knew which sex until the baby arrived.  I answered, "I guess David, since it's the only one we both like."  Surprise!  It was twin girls, so we used all four names we had chosen.  The first to arrive was Barbara Lynn, and Sandra Louise arrived three minutes after her identical twin sister.  Three years later, we still couldn't find any other names we both liked, so I assured my husband it would be a boy.  It was, and we named him David Alan.  I tell people we couldn't have any more children because we had run out of names.
3.   I named the stand mixer in my kitchen Ethel, and a friend of mine names her plants.  Do you ever name household items, and what inspires the names behind them?
I named my first plant a few days ago.  Her name is Phil, short for Philomena, because she's a Philodendron.  I named her because my daughter-in-law named the 50-year-old philodendron I gave her when I moved to St. Louis.  Before that, it had never occurred to me to name a plant.  Phil is doing fine in her spot above the kitchen sink.
Model of a Lightning sailboat
4.  Do you daydream about what you might name a boat, a novel, a business, or something else that begs for a title?
No daydreaming.  In 1968, we named our sailboat Blue Streak, because we talked a "blue streak" about it before deciding to buy it and because it was a 19-foot Lightning class sailboat.  We painted the "S" of the name to look like a lightning streak.
5.   If you were to write under a pseudonym, what might that be, and is there a story behind that name?
Maybe Lillian Rose.  Lillian actually IS one of my names, and in the 1990s I used Lillian Rose just to see if I could "be" someone else in an online discussion with a group of my friends.  I "signed" my chat room name something like this:

Lillian @>-->---
No one ever guessed who I was until I told them what I'd been doing.

Beginning ~ with a bookstore

Goodnight June ~ by Sarah Jio, 2014, fiction (Seattle, Washington)
Everyone has a happy place, the scene that comes into view when you close your eyes and let your mind transport you to the dot on the globe where life is cozy, safe, warm.  For me, that place is the bookstore, with its emerald green walls and the big picture windows that, at night, frame the stars twinkling above.  The embers in the fireplace burn the color of a setting orange sun, and I'm wrapped in a quilt, seated in a big wingback chair reading a book.

"June?"

I open my eyes quickly, the stark white walls beyond my hospital bed reset my frame of mind to reality.  The thin sheet draped over my body is stiff and scratchy, bleached one too many times, and I shiver as a nurse places her icy hands on my wrist.

"Didn't mean to wake you, honey," she says, fastening a blood pressure cuff around my arm.
I am so ready for a novel after lots of nonfiction, and this one (which I started last night) is perfect.  It has a connection to Goodnight Moon, the beloved children's picture book.
June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness.  Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby's estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children's bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s.  Amid the store's papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon.  Sarah Jio offers a suspenseful and heartfelt take on how the "great green room" might have come to be.
So, I wondered, what does any of this have to do with June being in the hospital?  I kept reading.  I also noticed that both book covers show "embers in the fireplace burn[ing] the color of a setting orange sun."  See that?



Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.