Friday, March 30, 2012

Beginning ~ in a strange bedroom

Before I Go to Sleep ~ by S. J. Watson, 2011, fiction
The bedroom is strange.  Unfamiliar.  I don't know where I am, how I came to be here.  I don't know how I'm going to get home.
As weird as this sounds, I already know why the narrator doesn't know where she is.  It's the whole point of this book, "it" being amnesia.  I got this book because I'm intrigued by the whole idea of going to bed and — overnight — forgetting everything and having to start anew.  Here's the book's synopsis:
Memories define us.  So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?  Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love — all forgotten overnight.  And the one person you trust may be telling you only half the story.  Welcome to Christine’s life.
By the time most of you read this in the morning, I hope to be well into this story.  It's midnight here, and I'm ready to go to bed to start reading this book.  I, unlike Christine, expect to wake tomorrow with my memories intact.  'Night, all.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Miss Rumphius ~ again

Miss Rumphius ~ by Barbara Cooney, 1982, children's, 10/10

Jan @ Yearning for God has made my day!  Miss Rumphius became my very favorite children's book long after my children were grown and married and having children of their own.  I've been writing about Miss Rumphius on my blog since 2007, the year I started blogging.  Here are a couple of my older posts:
Favorite children's book
Books that will always stick with me
I hope you enjoy this video that Jan found.  The narrator reads the entire picture book, scrolling Barbara Cooney's paintings in a beautiful tribute to that author/illustrator.  Thank you, Jan!

Did you listen carefully?  What was the third thing little Alice must do?  Did you notice the narrator is also "little Alice"?  And both of them have hair the same color. Oh, I love this book!

Read more about Barbara Cooney on Wikipedia and on a blog.  She had favorites:  "Of all the books I have done, Miss Rumphius, Island Boy, and Hattie and the Wild Waves, are the closest to my heart. These three are as near as I ever will come to an autobiography."

Did you notice I rated it 10/10?

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Last Week ~ by Borg and Crossan

The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem ~ by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan, 2006, religion, 9/10

No matter how many times I study a passage of scripture, I can always find something more in it.  If I look at it from a different angle, the light falls on something I didn't notice the last time.  If I approach it while dealing with something in my life or in the lives of people in my congregation, I see something new.  It happened again this month, as I took another look at the gospel of Mark, along with Borg and Crossan.  A few days ago, a discussion among preachers touched on themes in this book.  I loved the thinking in this exchange:
One said,
"Palm Sunday is April Fool's day this year.  Any thoughts on linking the two?  (Personally I'd love it if the full moon was a week earlier and Easter Sunday was April 1.)"
The other responded,
"I've been thinking along the same lines.  The Last Week by Borg and Crossan talks about the entrance of two different parades ... that might be a way into the connection."
Borg and Crossan discovered that many Christians are not clear about the details of events during the week leading up to Jesus's crucifixion, so they present a day-by-day account of Jesus's final week of life, with eight chapters for the eight days.  (Notice that this would fit nicely into a Lenten Bible study.)  They begin by differentiating between what we call "Passion Week" (a time of suffering) and what Jesus was passionate about — the kingdom of God.  Let's take a look the first two days.


On Palm Sunday, as Elaine mentioned, there were two entries into Jerusalem.  The triumphal entry of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, riding on a horse and leading his soldiers into the city, symbolized the military strength of the empire.  The other entry was a peasant procession that Borg and Crossan suggest "looks like a planned political demonstration" (p. 4).  Pilate represented a domination system of political oppression, economic exploitation, and religious legitimation.  And Jewish leaders were on his side.
"What was new was that the temple was now at the center of local collaboration with Rome" (p.15).
The temple authorities raised tribute for Rome with an annual "temple tax."  They were supporting imperial violence and injustice.  And here we have a chance to mention April Fool's Day, as the first preacher above wants to do.  Jesus, riding his little donkey, was making fun of Pilate.  Making a fool of him.  Making an important point about the kingdom of God, that it was nonviolent.

And that leads us to Monday.  Remember the story about the money-changers in the temple?  Actually, they were in the courtyard of the temple.  Jesus took a look around the place on Sunday evening (according to Mark) and saved his second "demonstration" until morning.  But notice he did check it out.  He was preparing for the next day, just as he had lined up the donkey ahead of time.


Overturning the tables was planned, just as Jesus planned his entry into Jerusalem.  These were two demonstrations against the system.  Sunday, the anti-imperial entry into Jerusalem, and Monday, the symbolic destruction of the temple.
"What is involved for Jesus is an absolute criticism not only of violent domination, but of any religious collaboration with it" (p. 53).

"There was a terrible ambiguity in that the priest who represented the Jews before God on the Day of Atonement also represented them before Rome the rest of the year" (p. 41).
Borg and Crossan give compelling details that show how Mark carefully painted a picture of Jesus demonstrating against violence and injustice.  In the preface, they show how the word passion has come to mean the suffering of Jesus during Holy Week.  Yet the passion of Jesus, what he was passionate about, was the kingdom of God.
"The first passion of Jesus was the kingdom of God, namely, to incarnate the justice of God by demanding for all a fair share of a world belonging to and ruled by the covenantal God of Israel.  It was that first passion for God's distributive justice that led inevitably to the second passion by Pilate's punitive justice" (p. viii).

The authors point out how Mark used "frames" around scenes to make his points.  It was fascinating to me to see the stories of healing the blind before and after the disciples had totally misunderstood Jesus.  In other words, they were blind.  After reading this book, I can see that Mark was a much more sophisticated and nuanced writer than I had realized.  The careful placement of stories about blind men being healed, immediately before and after a story about the disciples' incomprehension, serves to emphasize that part of the story.  The point is made with the frames:  the Twelve just don't get it.  They can't see, and thus miss the point of what Jesus is trying to teach them.  This is a major point in the book:
"Notice, above all, how repeatedly Mark has Jesus insist that Peter, James, and John, the Twelve, and all his followers on the way from Caesarea Philippi to Jeusalem must pass with him through death to a resurrected life whose content and style was spelled out relentlessly against their refusals to accept it.  For Mark, it is about participation with Jesus and not substitution by Jesus" (p. 102).
That understanding is from the Wednesday chapter, but it is made even more explicit in the Friday chapter:
"Was Jesus guilty of advocating violent revolution against the empire and its local collaborators?  No. ... was Jesus guilty of nonviolent resistance to imperial Roman oppression and local Jewish collaboration?  Oh, yes.  Mark's story of Jesus's final week is a sequence of public demonstrations against and confrontations with the domination system.  And, as all know, it killed him" (p. 163).
Another quote, this time from the Easter Sunday chapter, points out how these authors understand the point Mark and the other gospel writers wanted to make:
"Good Friday and Easter, death and resurrection together, are a central image in the New Testament for the path to a transformed self.  The path involves dying to an old way of being and being reborn into a new way of being.  Good Friday and Easter are about this path, the path of dying and rising, of being born again" (p. 210).
And finally, using the gospel of John, the authors give their understanding of the claim that Jesus is the "only way."
"The Jesus of John's gospel speaks explicitly about being 'born again' (3:1-10).  In another passage, he says that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it cannot bear fruit (12:24).  He speaks of this way as 'the only way' (14:6) in a verse that has unfortunately often become a triumphalist claim justifying Christian exclusivism.  But within John's incarnational theology, the death and resurrection of Jesus incarnates the way of transformation.  This is what it means to say, 'Jesus is the only way.'  The path we see in him — dying and rising — is the path of personal transformation" (p. 211).
This review may seem to have little focus, hitting various points as it does.  But taken all together, the points Borg and Crossan make show what Mark was attempting to do in his narrative.  It may be a new way of seeing the story for you, not what you were expecting.  That's happened to Matthew and Luke, who used Mark's gospel as a basis for what they wrote, according to most scholars.  Borg and Crossan show where Matthew and Luke changed a thing or two, here and there, while writing their gospels, not aware of what Mark had been doing, like with his framing technique. (In the Monday chapter, page 33 has a chart of half a dozen stories Mark "framed" to make his point.)

I highly recommend this book and rate it 9 of 10, an excellent book.  I also reviewed it for RevGalBookPals today.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Salon ~ spring has sprung

We have had temperatures in the mid-80s this week, making the trees think it's time to bloom.  But it's still too early.  Maybe only two or three weeks, but this is too hot for March.  When I went out to run errands on Thursday, this pink-blooming tree greeted me at the parking lot.

I tried to get a better close-up of the blooms, from the other direction.  (Click to enlarge the photos.)  You can see the day was overcast, though we've had lots of sunshine this week.

Before pulling out into traffic, I took time to photograph the pansies under another pink-blooming tree at our gate.


This week, I decided to take part in two reading events.  I've already completed three books toward this first one.

March 20 - June 20
For the Spring Reading Thing 2012, I plan to read at least thirteen books during the thirteen weeks of Spring, which I have listed in the sign-up post.

I also plan to do more reading from my shelves and less from the library.  That will help with my other goal of getting rid of some books so my home will be less cluttered and I will have usable bookshelves again.

I haven't really made any plans for what to read during Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon, since it falls right smack in the middle of spring.  Perfect for reading my spring books, huh?  If you want to read with us on Saturday, April 21, click here to read the rules and enticements.  Then go sign up.  It's always lots of fun, and there are prizes.  I like to visit readers to see how they are doing.  And I probably spend way too much time with the mini-challenges.

More TSS posts can be found on Facebook.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday Snapshot ~ my dad

This is a 1945 photo of my dad, William Elmer Setliffe, Jr.  He was probably 26, since his 27th birthday would have been in October.  The bronze plaque at the church where I grew up showed that the organ was "dedicated in honor of those who served in World War II."

I also took a close-up so I could read my dad's name.

Not having taken any interesting photos lately, I hadn't planned to post a snapshot this week.  Then I saw that Helen @ Helen's Book Blog had pulled out an old one of her (very young) parents.  Thanks for the inspiration, Helen!

Saturday Snapshot is a meme hosted by Alyce from At Home With Books.  To participate, post a photo taken by you (or a friend or family member).  Your photo can be old or new, as long as its subject is appropriate for all eyes to see.  Check out snapshots others are sharing this week.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Beginning ~ with a tiger

Lone Wolf ~ by Jodi Picoult, 2012, fiction

In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have freed the tiger.

This is a book about wolves, but the first sentence talks about a tiger?  Strange!  However, that first line is in italics — actually, the first few pages are — and that tells me it's set off for some reason.

I borrowed this book briefly from my roommate Donna before she went to work, wanting to grab the first sentence for this post.  I scanned the page and saw in the next paragraph that the speaker was nine years old.  I don't know yet whether I should say "he" or "she" about the narrator, but I'm intrigued.  I'll probably get to start this novel in a few days, just as soon as Donna finishes it.  She's already near the middle of the book.

Gilion at Rose City Reader is now hosting Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Thanks to Katy at A Few More Pages for hosting it since October 2010.  Gilion has made a new button — thanks, Gilion.  To check out other book beginnings, click here for today's Mister Linky.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dewey's 24-hour readathon

It's time once again to sign up for Dewey's Readathon.  On Saturday, April 21, we'll have 24 hours of non-stop book reading around the world.  To participate as a reader, sign up on the Mister Linky provided on the blog.  The Read-A-Thon starts at 8:00 am Eastern Daylight Time, where I live in the United States.  Participation is open worldwide, so let me know in the comments if you'll be part of this readathon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Reading Thing 2012 ~ my book list

March 20 - June 20, 2012
Katrina @ Callapidder Days is hosting Spring Reading Thing 2012, which starts today, from the first day of spring through the last day of spring.  The calendar tells me it's thirteen weeks and a day until June 20th, so I've chosen thirteen books I hope to complete for this reading challenge.

The basics:
  • create a list of books you plan to read (can be changed)
  • set other goals, if you want to (optional)
  • write a blog post (this is mine) showing your list and goals
  • sign up by linking your post on Katrina's Mister Linky
  • let everyone know at the end how you did on your list
LIST OF BOOKS to read or finish reading ( when completed):
  1.  Lone Wolf ~ by Jodi Picoult, 2012, fiction, 10/10

  2.  Ashfall ~ by Mike Mullin, 2011, YA fiction (Iowa, Illinois), 9/10, (library book)

  3.  Patience, Princess Catherine ~ by Carolyn Meyer, 2004, YA fiction (England), 9/10

  4.  Mary, Bloody Mary ~ by Carolyn Meyer, 1999, YA fiction (England), 9/10

  5.  Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Why Fifty is the New Fifty ~ by Tracey Jackson, 2011, psychology/aging, 7/10

  6.  I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory ~ by Patricia Hampl, 1999, memoir writing, 8/10, (library book)

7.  Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration ~ by Norman Cousins, 1979, memoir

  8.  Girl Meets God ~ by Lauren F. Winner, 2002, memoir, 8/10, (library book)

  9.  Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis ~ by Lauren F. Winner, 2012, memoir, 8/10

10.  Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived ~ by Rob Bell, 2011, religion, 9/10, (library book)

11.  Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus ~ by Robin R. Meyers, 2009, religion

12.  Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell ~ by John Shelby Spong, 2009, religion

13.  The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed  the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels ~ by Thomas Cahill, 1998, history (Middle East), 9/10
14.  Before I Go to Sleep ~ by S. J. Watson, 2011, fiction, 9/10, (library book)

15.  God Is No Laughing Matter: An Artist's Observations and Objections on the Spiritual Path ~ by Julia Cameron, 2000, religion, 8/10

16.  The Age of Grief ~ by Jane Smiley, 1987, fiction, 7/10

17.  Catalyst ~ by Laurie Halse Anderson, 2002, YA fiction, 9/10

18.  Into the Tangle of Friendship: A Memoir of the Things That Matter ~ by Beth Kephart, 2000, memoir, 8/10, (library book)

19.  The Breath of God ~ by Jeffrey Small, 2011, fiction (Bhutan, India, USA), 9.5/10

20.  The Metaphor of God Incarnate: Christology in a Pluralistic Age ~ by John Hick, 2005, religion

21.  Living Buddha, Living Christ ~ by Thích Nhất Hạnh, introduction by Elaine Pagels, 1995, religion

22.  Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings ~ edited by Marcus Borg, 1997, religion, 7/10, (library book)

23.  Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant ~ by Anne Tyler, 1982, fiction (Maryland), 8/10

24.  The Beginner's Goodbye ~ by Anne Tyler, 2012, fiction (Maryland), 8/10, (library book)

25.  One Hand Clapping: Zen Stories for All Ages ~ by Rafe Martin, illustrated by Junko Morimoto, 1995, YA religion, 9/10, (library book)

26.  Close to Famous ~ by Joan Bauer, 2011, YA fiction (West Virginia), 8/10, (library book)

27. The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade ~ by Ann Fessler, 2006, history. 9/10, (library book)

28.  Dead Asleep ~ by Jennifer B. White, 2011, fiction (Massachusetts), 9/10

29.  The Lady and the Unicorn ~ by Tracy Chevalier, 2004, fiction (France and Belgium), 9/10

30.   Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story ~ by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor, 2009, memoir (Greece, Turkey, South Carolina, France), 9/10

31.  The Happy Room ~ by Catherine Palmer, 2002, fiction (Missouri, Kenya), 8/10, (library book)

32.  Nop's Trials ~ by Donald McCaig, 1984, fiction (Virginia), 9/10

33.   Murder and the First Lady ~ by Elliott Roosevelt, 1984, mystery (District of Columbia), 8/10
1.  Read from books I already have.  Strategy?   Read at least two of my books for every library book.

2.  Get rid of a lot of my books so I have more room.   Strategy?  Give some to friends and family, take some to the store that sells used books (for trade credit), and donate others to the reading room at the senior center.
16 of 4 fiction
1 of 1 psychology
1 of 1 writing
4 of 3 memoir
4 of 3 religion
2 of 1 history
28 of 13 books, and still reading 
16 my books
12 library books
16/12 ratio, which is not good enough 
4 to friends
30 to used book store
3 to senior center
37 books total 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday Salon ~ dragons, food, and books

(click to enlarge photos)
Last week, my friend Donna and I went to Ichiban for Japanese food.  The chef's hat was covered with dragons, like this cloth on his belt.  His hands are a blur because he's chopping something in with the fried rice, and the other photo shows my delicious hibachi salmon.  My fortune cookie was appropriate, though it isn't exactly telling my fortune:
"You are a deep thinker with a knack for problem solving."

This afternoon, I will be leading a discussion of the book Last Week by Borg and Crossan.  I told you about it in an earlier Sunday Salon post, and I plan to post a review of it in the next few days.

As I look around me at the books on my shelves and piled on every flat surface, it seems I remind myself that I really should be reading books I own, rather than buying more or getting library books.

Visit the Sunday Salon's Facebook page for links to more posts.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Caturday ~ an IQ test (Irish Quotient)

1.  What's Irish and stays out all night?
2.  Why do people wear shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day?
3.  Why did St. Patrick drive all the snakes out of Ireland?
4.  Why can't you borrow money from a leprechaun?
5.  How can you tell if an Irish woman is having a good time?
1.  Paddy O'Furniture
2.  Real rocks would look funny.
3.  He couldn't afford plane fare.
4.  They're always a little short.
5.  She's Dublin over with laughter.

Those cats at the top aren't really wearing pins it would hurt!  Cats aren't crazy!

~~~ Kiki Cat, signing off

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Five ~ the late edition

Jan @ RevGals said, "All day I have looked repeatedly at RevGals to see where today's Friday Five is ... AND only right now, at 2 pm in Texas, do I realize I am the one in charge!  I am sorry I am so late and forgetful.  That brings forth all the times I've been late or forgot something.  How about you?  When have you been late or a no-show?  When have you forgotten something or someone?"

1. at church
This is a big confession.  One Sunday morning, I didn't wake up until mere minutes before the 11:00 service was to begin.  I don't know why my alarm didn't go off (or wake me?).  I lived about thirty minutes from the church, so even if I'd been going out the door, I would have been WAY late.  I called the church, the people took over and did it all, and I even heard from a first-time visitor that she came back to our church because the pastor was honest and didn't try to make up a story for not making it to church.  She kept coming as long as I was the pastor.
2. at home
Kiki used to be an indoor-outdoor cat oh, she loved going outside and she would occasionally want out late in the day.  I remember one time when I went to bed, having forgotten she was outside.  The next morning, I woke late, wondering why she hadn't gotten me up when it was time to feed her.  While I was still lying there stretching lazily, it hit me — she's still outside!  And we were in a new house, a place she didn't know yet.  Was she okay?  Was she gone?  I flew to the door and had to search around the house and call repeatedly before she came.  I haven't forgotten her since then, but she's very leery about going outside unless I stay with her.  Now, she spends most of her time inside, "reading" and writing her Caturday posts.  (She has one ready to post tomorrow morning, since Caturday is the day after Friday, but here's an old one to tide you over until tomorrow.)
3. at work
When I worked for one boss, he was very picky about anyone being late.  Getting three children to different schools, I would sometimes be a minute or two late.  Literally.  In the evenings, I frequently stayed over to work an extra hour or two, without pay.  When he chastised me for walking in the door exactly two minutes late, I decided I would no longer put in extra time after work.  I was never again late, arriving or leaving.  Was that terrible of me?
4. with friends
I've learned that whenever I'm running late for something, it's because I really don't want to be there.  On the other hand, I had lunch this week with a friend who has always been so notoriously late, that I actually considered telling her a time earlier than I would arrive.  But no, I got there a few minutes early and watched her turn into the parking lot only one minute late.  By the time she got inside, of course, she was even later, but it was so "early" for her, that I was pleased.
5. where else?
One of my major failings is finishing something I'm supposed to publish.  I have to force myself to do it, and it's possible that Pastor Julia is already worrying that I'm not going to have the book review for RevGalBookPals for this month.  (Never fear!  I'm on it!)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

You may be a bookaholic ... (#15)

... if you have ever bought a book and then discovered you already own it (or worse, already have two copies).

 To see all my bookaholic posts, click here:  You may be a bookaholic

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Library Loot ~ March 14-20

Happily Ever After ~ by Anna Quindlen, 1997, children's
One day, while holding her treasured baseball mitt, Kate makes a wish.  And poof! — she turns into a princess in a fairy tale.  But being a princess isn't at all what Kate imagined. Before long, she's fighting off dragons, entertaining witches, and teaching the ladies-in-waiting how to play baseball. With Kate around, fairy tale land will never be the same again! Transported back to medieval times, Kate finds that the life of a princess in a castle is less fun than she imagined.
All Mortal Flesh ~ by Julia Spencer-Fleming, 2006, mystery
Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne's first encounter with Clare Fergusson was in the hospital emergency room on a freezing December night.  A newborn infant had been abandoned on the town's Episcopal church steps.  If Russ had known that the church had a new priest, he certainly would never have guessed that it would be a woman.  Not a woman like Clare. That night in the hospital was the beginning of an attraction so fierce, so forbidden, that the only thing that could keep them safe from compromising their every belief was distance — but in a small town like Millers Kill, distance is hard to find.  Russ Van Alstyne figures his wife kicking him out of their house is nobody's business but his own.   Until a neighbor pays a friendly visit to Linda Van Alstyne — and finds the woman's body, gruesomely butchered, on the kitchen floor.  To the state police, it's an open-and-shut case of a disaffected husband, silencing first his wife, then the murder investigation he controls.  To the townspeople, it's proof that the whispered gossip about the police chief and the priest was true.  To the powers-that-be in the church hierarchy, it's a chance to control their wayward cleric once and for all.
I read the first in the series last summer — In the Bleak Midwinter — and now I see this is #5.  Should I read them in order?  Or does each book stand alone?

Betsy Red Hoodie ~ by Gail Carson Levine, 2010, children's
Betsy is finally old enough to take cupcakes to Grandma all by herself — with the company of her faithful sheep, of course.  And although wolves aren't good for grandmas, Betsy lets her best friend, Zimmo, come along too.  But will Zimmo's wolfish instincts make Grandma the tasty treat instead?  In her second picture book starring the feisty young shepherd Betsy, Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine teams up once again with Scott Nash to put a hilarious twist on an old favorite.  This reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood is sure to delight readers from little lambs to cupcake-loving grandmas.
Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived ~ by Rob Bell, 2011, religion
Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith — the afterlife — arguing, would a loving God send people to eternal torment forever?  With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly hopeful — eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now.  And ultimately, Love Wins.
This one, believe it or not, was suggested by my doctor when I went in for lab work to make sure my meds are doing the job.  She and I often talk about our books, and she recently studied this with a church group.  I thought I'd check it out.

Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  Claire has the Mister Linky this week, if you'd like to share the loot you brought home.  You may submit your link any time during the week.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Discussion of 11/22/63 by Stephen King

I've read this month's book, so I think I'll take part in the Chunky Book Club discussion.  Thanks to Wendy @ Caribousmom (and also @ Chunkster Reading Challenge) for setting this up for us.

11/22/63 by Stephen King is the huge book being discussed, starting today.  I reviewed it here in January.  You don't have to be part of the Chunkster Challenge to take part in the discussion.  Also, Wendy says they would love to have a link to your review of the book, even if you are not joining the discussion.  Who will talk about the book with me?
Click here to discuss the book.
Click here to share your review.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Salon ~ Cady and two books

A couple of Sundays back, I told you about Cady and her friend delivering Girl Scout cookies to me.  Yesterday, I went to her house to settle up all cookie sales, since I've been gathering orders from friends.  Cady and her mother (my daughter) have spent cold days selling the cookies with the other Scouts outside big-box stores, and today they are finished.  Cady, a former book reviewer for this blog, will be twelve next month.


These two books arrived in the mail yesterday.

Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus ~ by Robin R. Meyers, 2009, religion

The marriage of bad theology and hypocritical behavior by the church has eroded our spiritual lives.  Taking the best of biblical scholarship, Meyers recasts core Christian concepts in an effort to save Christianity from its obsession with personal salvation.  Visit the author online at Here's a look at the Table of Contents:
Prologue: A Preacher's Nightmare: Am I a Christian?
1 Jesus the Teacher, Not the Savior
2 Faith as Being, Not Belief
3 The Cross as Futility, Not Forgiveness
4 Easter as Presence, Not Proof
5 Original Blessing, Not Original Sin
6 Christianity as Compassion, Not Condemnation
7 Discipleship as Obedience, Not Observance
8 Justice as Covenant, Not Control
9 Prosperity as Dangerous, Not Divine
10 Religion as Relationship, Not Righteousness
Epilogue: A Preacher's Dream: Faith as Following Jesus
The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction About Jesus ~ by John Dominic Crossan, 2012, religion
Crossan:  "In 1969, I was teaching at two seminaries in the Chicago area. One of my courses was on the parables by Jesus and the other was on the resurrection stories about Jesus. I had observed that the parabolic stories by Jesus seemed remarkably similar to the resurrection stories about Jesus. Were the latter intended as parables just as much as the former? Had we been reading parable, presuming history, and misunderstanding both?"
Crossan examines Jesus's parables and identifies what he calls the "challenge parable" as Jesus's chosen teaching tool for gently urging his followers to probe, question, and debate the ideological absolutes of religious faith and the presuppositions of social, political, and economic traditions.  Moving from parables by Jesus to parables about Jesus, Crossan then presents the four gospels as "megaparables."  By revealing how the gospels are not reflections of the actual biography of Jesus but rather (mis)interpretations by the gospel writers themselves, Crossan reaffirms the power of parables to challenge and enable us to co-create with God a world of justice, love, and peace.

Visit the Sunday Salon's Facebook page for links to more posts.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday Five ~ women

Revkjarla has the questions for today's Friday Five @ RevGalBlogPals:
"This Friday-Saturday is our annual Women's Retreat at my church.  It's one of my favorite 24 hours of the year, because we enjoy each other, we laugh, we cry, we support each other ... and all of that good stuff!  So, since I am in the WR mode, let's talk about women in your life!"
1.  Name a woman author you very much love to read.
Gail Collins, for social commentary.
Jodi Picoult, for a thinking person's fiction.
Barbara Brown Taylor, for mindfulness.

All three of these women make me think, and all are excellent writers.  The photo at the top of this post is from my review of When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins (2009), but it absolutely does NOT show what we "housewives" of the time wore while cleaning the house.  I wore jeans long before it was considered appropriate for adult women.  If you click on the names of these three writers, you'll see some of what I've posted about each of them on this blog.
2.  Name a woman from the Bible with whom you would like to enjoy a nice long coffee talk.
Rebekah, wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob and Esau, is the first woman in the Bible who is said to have had twins.  In Genesis 25:21-28, the twins "struggled together within her," and so did my twins though in 1960 there were no ultrasounds to tell me I was expecting more than one.  When I went to bed one night, "the baby" seemed to suddenly stand up.  Once I had the twins, I wondered if maybe the one underneath was struggling because she was between her sister, who was pressing her down, and the bones of my spine, which were poking her.  Why do I choose Rebekah?  Because she tried to understand her world and wanted to do something about it.  We would probably call her a control freak.
3.  Name a famous woman from history with whom you would like to have lunch.
Eleanor Roosevelt was first lady when I was born in 1940. Eleanor vs. Ike, a 2008 novel by Robin Gerber, is hiding in a box somewhere in my apartment.  When I find the right box, I'll read this alternative history of a political campaign between the unforgettable Eleanor and the popular war hero Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower, known as Ike.  I was twelve when Ike was elected in 1952, but what fun if Eleanor had become the first woman president.  Will it happen in this book?
4.  Name a living famous or infamous woman with whom you would like to go out to dinner.
I'd be happy to go to dinner with any of the three in #1, or any of the women I imagined at my Thanksgiving table this past November.  There's some overlap of these two lists, ha!  Here's the Thanksgiving list, edited to include only those still living.
Barbara Brown Taylor (on both lists)
Beth Kephart
Fannie Flagg
Janisse Ray
Jodi Picoult (on both lists)
Laurie Halse Anderson
Masha Hamilton
Roberta C. Bondi
Sue Monk Kidd
Susan Beth Pfeffer
After looking over my list, I think I'd most like to sit down with Roberta Bondi, one of my seminary professors.  The title of her book To Love As God Loves exactly and succinctly expresses my theology, when God is defined as love.
5.  If you could be SuperWoman (o.k., I know you already ARE), what three special powers would you like to have?
Teleportation, so I could be in another place instantly, because it's the next-best thing to being able to be in two places at once, something they failed to teach me in seminary.
Time travel, since I love to read books about time travel.
Communication skills, which I used to teach, but especially the ability to "read" body language and pick up on unspoken cues.
More important than WHO I named is WHY that person interests me in the first place.  If you answer these questions — or any one or two of them — tell me what's special about her.

By the way, did you know yesterday was International Women's Day?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Library Loot ~ March 7-13

He, She, and It ~ by Marge Piercy, 1991, SciFic (North America)
It's the middle of the twenty-first century.  Shira Shipman's marriage has broken up, and her young son has been taken from her by the corporation that runs her zone.  So she has returned to Tikva, the Jewish free town where she grew up.  There, she is welcomed by Malkah, the brilliant grandmother who raised her, and meets an extraordinary man who is not a man at all, but a unique cyborg implanted with intelligence, emotions — and the ability to kill.  Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction in the United Kingdom.
In a discussion about The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin last week with Eva of A Striped Armchair, one commenter mentioned this book by Marge Piercy, which Eva and I both decided to read.  That's it for this week's loot.  I'm in the middle of reading three nonfiction books, so it may be awhile before I start this one — unless I need a bit of fiction sooner — keeping in mind that one of the books (The Last Week by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan) must be finished before I lead a discussion about it and review it for RevGalBookPals.

Library Loot is a weekly meme co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.  If you would like to share a list of the loot you brought home from the library, Marg has the Mister Linky this week.