Monday, February 22, 2016

Mailbox Monday ~ one arrived today

The Living God and the Fullness of Life ~ by Jürgen Moltmann, 2015, religion
Modern humanity has accepted a truncated, impoverished definition of life.  Focusing solely on material realities, we have forgotten that joy, purpose, and meaning come from a life that is both immersed in the temporal and alive to the transcendent.  We have, in other words, ceased to live in God.  Moltmann shows us what that life of joy and purpose looks like.  Describing how we came to live in a world devoid of the ultimate, he charts a way back to an intimate connection with the biblical God.  He counsels that we adopt a "theology of life," an orientation that sees God at work in both the mundane and the extraordinary and that pushes us to work for a world that fully reflects the life of its Creator.  Moltmann offers a telling critique of the shallow values of consumerist society and provides a compelling rationale for why spiritual sensibilities and encounter with God must lie at the heart of any life that seeks to be authentically human.
It's been 2-1/2 years since I did a Mailbox Monday post.  With my Kindle and several libraries at my disposal, I rarely order books.  This one arrived today.  Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia, is now hosted on its own blog.  It's a way for readers to share the books that arrived in the past week and explore other book blogs.  Warning:  Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday Thirteen ~ Emily's visit

1.  Emily with frogs.  My friend Emily flew in for a visit, and how did I entertain her?  By taking her to my libraries.  Here she is with the reading frogs at the University City Public Library.

2.  Emily with a lion.  Around the corner from the frogs was this lion, who reminded Emily of Roary the literary lion of Lyon.  Roary became my writing partner in 2007, though he's been busy with other things for several years now.  Oh, yeah, lions are symbolic of U-City (that's University City), which has lions at the western end of "The Loop" on Delmar Boulevard.  U-City's 100 Year Birthday in 2009 was the occasion of having nine lions decorated, and this lion was decorated with pages of books.

3.  Emily in the bookstacks.  From there, we went over to the Mid-County branch of the St. Louis County Library system, located in Clayton, Missouri.  This is where I usually get my books.

4.  Emily in the history room.  The next day we went downtown to the St. Louis Public Library in the CITY of St. Louis.  I photographed Emily in front of the 1855 panorama of St. Louis that is in the history room.

5.  Emily with two books by Betty Burnett, which we found at the downtown St. Louis Public Library.  Betty is a friend of mine at the Crown Center.

6.  Emily looked up at this stained-glass skylight.  It's above the third floor of the downtown library, and I think it's beautiful.  We went to that library because I told Emily about all the wonderful architectural features in the building.

7.  Emily photographed the window over the Grand Staircase at the downtown St. Louis Public Library, but I had trouble pulling up the photo I took.

8.  Emily also visited the Crown Center's library, and I failed to get a picture of that.

9.  Emily won over my friendly little Clawdia, who likes being with people.

10.  Emily exercised inside with two Crown Center classes.  She joined me for my chair yoga class and a couple of days later attended Melissa's regular class.

11.  Emily exercised outside by walking around the Crown Center buildings when it was sunny.  She works hard at keeping her joints limber.

12.  Emily got to know some of my friends because I invited them to go with us to eat out while she was here.  And because she got to talk to them at our monthly book club meeting.  (Books, again!)

13.  Emily flew out of Lambert, the airport in St. Louis, in the early afternoon today.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Beginning ~ with not being seen

Invisible Man ~ by Ralph Ellison, 1952
I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms.  I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind.  I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
This "Invisible Man" memorial to Ralph Ellison would make a better cover than the ones I've seen.  The version of the book I have is 439 pages long, and I can see I won't finish reading it before our book discussion on Tuesday.  So I resorted to reading the SparkNotes plot overview.  Here's Amazon's summary (their version has 581 pages):
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

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

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Library Loot ~ mindfulness and creativity

Mindfulness (Idiot's Guides)~ by Domyo Sater Burk, 2014
Written by a Zen Buddhist monk, Idiot's Guides: Mindfulness helps readers understand and use the practice of mindfulness to ease psychological and physical issues (including anxiety, depression, compulsive behaviors, addiction, and trauma); repair and improve relationships with others; connect with children; and find meaning in life.
The Little Spark: 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity ~ by Carrie Bloomston, 2014
You were born with a creative spark inside.  Do you look at yourself now and wonder if the spark has gone out?  Ignite that inner fire with the 30 engaging exercises, fun activities, inspirational images, and motivating ideas in this book.  Learn what your Little Spark of creative passion looks like, how to capture it, and how to make room for it in your life.  Read the book cover-to-cover and use it as a month-long creative roadmap, or just dip into the exercises as your time and inclination allow.  Either way, you will change your life.
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to share the names of books we checked out of the library.  See what others got this week.

Beautiful Blogger Award

Joy @ Joy's Book Blog nominated random bloggers for the Beautiful Blogger Award by saying, "If you’re in the mood for sharing seven random facts, consider yourself nominated!  I’d love to know more about you."  Thank you, Joy, I accept!

Here are the rules for the Beautiful Blogger Award
1.  Link to the blogger who has nominated you.  (Done, see above.)
2.  List seven random facts about you.
3.  Nominate seven creative, beautiful bloggers, and let them know about the nomination.
Seven random facts about me
1.  I drive a Subaru named Emma Sue, whose last name is Baru.  (Yeah, say the whole name now, and you'll get it.)  Emma comes from her dark green, emerald-related color.

2.  Can you tell that I love playing with words?  For weeks, I've been savoring bits of Richard Lederer's A Man of My Words: Reflections on the English Language (2003) and have fewer than 20 pages left to ponder.

3.  I have a cat who's a drama queen.  I didn't know Joy, who nominated me because I'm willing to do this, is allergic to cats.  Thanks for sharing that "random" fact, Joy, so I won't have our Compassionate Sundays meetings in my apartment but elsewhere in the Crown Center.

4.  My home is in the Crown Center for senior living, where we have lots of activities, like exercising, and resources, like the library where I volunteer by reshelving the books.

5.  I've been blogging about books since January of 2007.  The first book I wrote about was The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (2003), which I rated 8 of 10, "a very good book."

6.  I keep a journal, sort of, in the sense that I collect my thoughts and memories in notebooks like this one.  If I ever write a memoir, I'll call it Bits of Bonnie.

7.  I play a cedar flute, sort of.  I have memorized one song ("Whippoorwill" by R. Carlos Nakai), so that's what I shared with my Religions of the World classes when I got to the chapter on Native American spirituality.  It's a haunting tune, and the librarian at the Lee Highway branch of Chattanooga State would tell me each semester that she'd heard me playing it.

If this video quits working, hear "Whippoorwill" by R. Carlos Nakai at YouTube.  I know only the slow part that Nakai plays at the beginning (0:55 to 2:05) of this video, which is all that's on page 63 of The Art of the Native American Flute by R. Carlos Nakai, 1996.  When he speeds up (2:58 to 3:38), he uses the same notes, but faster.  The version I play is on "Changes," his first recording of Native American flute music.  The cover says he composed "Whippoorwill" after hearing the bird's song in the woods of upstate New York.  I love this piece!  Can you tell?

My seven nominations
1.  Nancy @ Bookfoolery
2.  Wendy @ Caribousmom
3.  Helen @ Helen's Book Blog
4.  Colleen @ Loose Leaf Notes
5.  Alyce @ At Home With Books
6.  Ginnie @ Goldendaze-Ginnie
7.  Maphead @ Maphead's Book Blog
    (No, silly, his folks didn't name him that!  It's his nickname.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

TWOsday ~ two books about Montana

Nothing to Tell: Extraordinary Stories of Montana Ranch Women ~ by Donna Gray, 2012, history (Montana)
Sitting at the kitchen tables of twelve women in their eighties who were born in or immigrated to Montana in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, oral historian Donna Gray conducted interviews between 1982 and 1988 that reveal a rich heritage.  In retelling their life stories, Gray steps aside and allows theses women with supposedly “nothing to tell” to speak for themselves.  Pride, nostalgia, and triumph fill a dozen hearts as they realize how remarkable their lives have been and wonder how they did it all.  Some of these women grew up in Montana in one-bedroom houses; others traveled in covered wagons before finding a home and falling in love with Montana.  These raw accounts bring to life the childhood memories and adulthood experiences of ranch wives who were not afraid to milk a cow or bake in a wooden stove.  From raising poultry to raising a family, these women knew the meaning of hard work.  Several faced the hardships of family illness, poverty, and early widowhood.  Through it all, they were known for their good sense of humor and strong sense of self.
The Mine ~ by John A. Heldt, 2012, fiction (Montana)
In May 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground.  But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity.  He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way.  Stuck in the age of swing dancing and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war.  With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books.  But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever.  The book follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.
I bought the book about the Montana Ranch Women to learn more about Montana because that's where my friend Joan is from.  But when I got The Mine (which is currently free for Kindle), I didn't realize it was the first of five books in the Northwest Passage series.  I don't usually read series books, but this one sounded good and I like the idea of time travel.  I've read far enough to discover this interesting assessment of Joel, the main character.
"He had an encyclopedic mind, the curiosity of an inventor, and the judgment and discipline of a three-year-old."

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Picking up Compassion again

Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life ~ by Karen Armstrong, 2010

Back in 2014, some of us started working our way through this book. We got all the way to August and the 8th step before the project dwindled down to only Shirley and me.  Here's what we wrote about each of the eight steps we did:
Overview ~ Practice Compassion
Preface ~ Wish for a Better World
The First Step ~ Learn About Compassion
The Second Step ~ Look at Your Own World
The Third Step ~ Compassion for Yourself
The Fourth Step ~ Empathy
The Fifth Step ~ Mindfulness
The Sixth Step ~ Action
The Seventh Step ~ How Little We Know
The Eighth Step ~ How Should We Speak to One Another?
The Ninth Step ~ Concern for Everybody
The Tenth Step ~ Knowledge
The Eleventh Step ~ Recognition
The Twelfth Step ~ Love Your Enemies
Joy @ Joy's Book Blog has set up Compassionate Sunday for a year of "a process for developing personal compassion to engage in compassionate community for a more compassionate world."  She has set up a link list for those willing to discuss their progress in blog posts.  "Or," she says, "you can join the discussion in the comments or on Facebook, where I’ll post a link to this post to anchor a discussion."  As of today, she's off and running with it.  Here's a link to her First Step: Learn about Compassion.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

BTT ~ multiple copies

Today's prompt from BTT:
"Do you own multiple copies of any books?  Why?  Is it the format?  Size?  Just because you love it?"
I have multiple reasons for getting multiple books.

First, to replace one that's practically unreadable because it's falling apart.  On my last day at seminary (April 24, 1987), I went to the bookstore and bought Theology of Hope by Jürgen Moltmann, happy I'd finally have time to read it instead of assigned homework.  I underlined and wrote in the margins as I read the book, but the pages began to fall out of the browning cover as the glue dried out.  The first 78 pages are in one clump, and pages 79-156 are another clump.  The cover is still holding onto pages 157-342, with a huge gap in the front.  I could have thrown it away, but my notes are all through that copy.  After 25 years, I bought a new copy in 2012.  This shiny version, I'm happy to report, has a notice on the copyright page promising it won't turn all brown like the first one:
"The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials."
Second, I have multiple copies of books I use in classes I teach.  For example, I still have four brand-new copies of The Complete Gospels edited by Robert J. Miller, as well as my own well-marked and tabbed copy.  If and when I teach my class on "Seven Gospels," I'll sell those copies — probably for less than I originally paid for the books, but at least it will free up some shelf space for other books.

Third, I have been known to buy a copy of a book and get home to discover I have one already on my shelves.  Sometimes, they are different editions and, thus, don't look the same.  Usually, I simply gave one of them to my friend Donna so we can both read and discuss it.

Fourth, which is related to the third reason, I unknowingly bought a second copy of Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart D. Ehrman, but have NOT given away either version.  Both were published by HarperSanFrancisco, but one has "Plus" in the back:
Questions and answers with the author
Readers' responses to the book
Famous manuscripts
Top ten verses that were not originally in the New Testamant
Unfortunately, though this one appears to be the newer one, it has browner pages and a cut-out oval on the front cover that will probably tear at some point (cover on the right).  The other (on the left) has whiter pages and slightly larger print, making it easier to read.

Fifth, I have a extra copy of We Make the Road by Walking by Brian D. McLaren because a friend decided not to join me and others in our year-long quest for spiritual formation as we studied the book.  I'll probably give it away.

You may have noticed all these examples are nonfiction.  I'm not likely to buy two novels, since I rarely buy fiction at all.  I'll let the library provide those for me.

TBT ~ 2/4/77

Today is 2-4-16, making this 39 years to the day since I knew I would not stay any longer in a particular job than it took for me to find another one.  I spent much of that work day writing "bj received 2/4/77" in the top right corner of papers plonked in stacks on my desk by my then-boss.  Papers dating back months.  One I remember had on it a note from my boss telling me to have [another employee] attend a meeting in December.  December!  That long-past month.  It wasn't that I objected to doing the work, although I was not a secretary.  It was simply that I didn't intend to be blamed for meetings missed and jobs undone because the appropriate people were not notified.  Was he trying to deflect the blame to me?  So I dated each page, showing when I received it.  My boss sometimes reeked of alcohol when he arrived at work at 8:00 in the morning and obviously had not been doing his job.  Papers — obviously (again) — had been piling up on HIS desk for weeks.  Nay, for months.  Nothing ever came of those meetings missed and jobs not accomplished, at least nothing I ever knew about.  But the date was indelibly imprinted on my mind by repeatedly writing "bj received 2/4/77."

Oh, right.  You want to know how long I stayed after that.  I finished the project I was working on at that place and started a new job in May as an editor of an in-house publication, making half-again more than the job I left.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

TWO on TWOsday 2/2

Hippos Go Berserk! ~ by Sandra Boynton, 1996, children's, 8/10
"One hippo, all alone, calls two hippos on the phone."  So begins Sandra Boynton's classic counting story.  Exuberant hippopotamus guests show up in ever-increasing numbers, until an all-night party is inevitable.
Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind ~ by Judy Finchler and Kevin O'Malley, 2006, children's, 9/10
Principal Wiggins has promised to dye his hair purple and sleep on the school roof if the students read 1,000 books this year, and Miss Malarkey is determined to find the right book for every student, including this story's reluctant-reader narrator.  Winning her students over book by book, Miss Malarkey will have students loving to read in no time.
I found these two books at the library this week, read one while standing at the shelf, brought the other home to read.  Which would you want to read twice (as on 2/2, which is February 2nd)?  I'll tell you.  I wanted to read the list of books Miss Malarkey handed out to her students, which takes up a whole page in the book.  When I perused those fictitious titles, I laughed out loud.  My favorite?
"Chad Shrub: From Prince to President"
It seems this main character overcame wealth and privilege to become leader of the free world.  Only adults reading this to children are likely to laugh.  Maybe only adults of voting age in the year 2000, who remember "hanging chads."