Bed Side Table

I haven’t been reading much over the last couple of weeks. Nights are the only time I have to read (uninterrupted) and I have been too tired to commit to long nights, fully immersed.  So I have slowly been working my way through Arnold Zable, ‘Scraps of Heaven’ and ‘The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Volume 1: 1907-1922’, (Ed. Sandra Spanier).

I am a big fan of Arnold Zable. Reading ‘Café Scheherazade’ was boarding on a spiritual experience for me. His words are haunting and beautiful. He takes you on a journey gently but persuasively. You have little choice but to follow his words. Needless to say, I had high hopes for ‘Scraps of Heaven’. It is not letting me down.

scraps of heaven

Reading ‘The Letters of Ernest Hemingway’ is the ultimate in decadence. These are a collection of his private letters to his parents, his siblings and friends. They are revealing and delightful. They also demonstrate that Hemingway had a way with words from very early on.

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I have also recently read:

‘An Ice-cream War’ by William Boyd. Loved it. Boyd is quickly become a favourite author.

‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce. Nice, easy read (although, it did make me cry, so not completely ‘easy’).

‘Surprised By Oxford’, by Carolyn Weber.  I’m not sure what to say about this. I had really high expectations (never a good thing) and the girl can write, but…it just didn’t gel with me. I was disappointed but I’m not sure why. I obviously need more time to think about it.

 

And in fun news…

I have the all-important, highly coveted, ultimate privilege of choosing our next book club read! We have a very democratic system of choosing our books and it is always fun to be the one responsible for the next month’s short list. We only read Popular Penguins and each month someone picks 3 possibilities and then we vote on which of the 3 we want to read.  Recently we have also been running with a theme for each month. For example, last month’s theme was ‘Lesser Known Works’ and included ‘Summer Crossing’ by Truman Capote, ‘Hard Times’ by Charles Dickens and ‘Keep the Aspidistra Flying’ by George Orwell.  Capote won.

I have been thinking about themes and have come up with a couple of possibilities.  Theme options, so far, are: ‘Cat didn’t know’, ‘Obligated’ and ‘Let’s do it to it’ (a not so veiled reference to ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’). Thoughts?

Here is your chance to influences what we read!

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The Imaginer Prophets

Thus every totalitarian regime is frightened of the artist. It is the vocation of the prophet to keep alive the ministry of imagination, to keep on conjuring and proposing futures alternative to the single one the king wants to urge as the only thinkable one’.

Here, amidst these sentences, is where my hope and heart dwell. Like truth, layered with truth, so many of Brueggemann’s statements unleashed a great sense of hope and possibility in me.

I can’t sing. I can play an instrument. I can’t paint. I can’t dance.

But I can hear the whispers of the Kingdom build as I put pen to paper and finger to keyboard.

I have felt the suffocation of years of good theology gone bad. Do good. Be good. Don’t ask questions; seek only the answers found in Scripture. Sit and soak.  Well intended sermons confirming my right to consume my Christianity rather than participate with it.  And all the while secretly hoping that God was to be found in the lonely places, the wide open spaces, the quiet moments and the broken hearts.

The Christianity presented to me was nicely boxed, wrapped with ribbon and bows. A glittering present to be adored and treasured, kept safe and nurtured. And while there is no doubt that salvation is an undeserved gift, it is also essential that we resolve to make salvation the beginning of a journey that requires our hands and feet, our hearts and minds.

The church in all its good intention has mimicked this cultures consumerism and passivity – at the sake of the artists, the poets, the imaginers’.

The ones that don’t quite fit.

The ones that don’t see the world in black and white or even greys.

The ones who see the Kingdom sneaking in on the edge of their paint brushes, at the sweep of their hands, at the smell of their cooking.

These are the ones who will point us in the direction of a deeper, freer, sweeter life.

They are the ones who will pull us away from this frail, fickle attempt at life and of this future rooted in apathy.  They are the ones who will hold our hands and take us to the outer regions. The places where the poor and broken dwell.

The ministry of imagination sits directly opposite, but not in opposition, to my years of studying systematic theology.  They go hand in hand. As Brueggemann so beautifully demonstrated.  The church needs the good theology of imaginers and prophets to lead us to those lonely, desolate places that crave colour and light and life.  At the intersection where amazement joins forces with pragmatism; that is where I want to live.  Brueggmann has infused me with hope and possibility. I am so grateful for his words. And while we get ready for the imaginer prophets to raise their staffs and declare the freedom of the Living God I will dare to imagine that words, written in hurried, hushed moments will begin to dissolve the empire of consumerism and passivity. And I will dare to believe that good theology will be found in the poet’s voice and the painter’s stroke. And I will dare to claim that in the activity of creating and imagining, the Kingdom will come.

(This post is apart of the Reading in Transit Book Club. It is linked up here. Please go and check out other amazing, heart felt responses to Walter Brueggemann’s ‘The Prophetic Imagination’. There are some great conversations to be had!)

 

 

on my bedside table

If there is one thing my Book Club knows about me, it is that I do not like short stories.

And that I can’t read books about children being hurt or lost. And that I don’t like goats cheese. And that I have issues with Jane Eyre. And that John Steinbeck floats my boat. And that dytstopian novels confuse and annoy me.

Ok, so I guess they know more than one thing. But high on that list is that typically I don’t like short stories.   Which is why this book was such a surprise.

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A lovely, unexpected, delightful surprise.  John Cheever! Who knew? Cheever manages, in most of the 63 (!) short stories, to engage you immediately and decisively.  On the surface you could assume that the book is about a host of middle class, cocktail drinking conservatives – but it’s not. It is raw and gritty and Cheever does not shy away from the realities of depression, alcoholism, death and dysfunction. He is insightful and funny, profound and tragic.

This little treasure is also on my bed side table.

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I am trying to read a little each night. It is like the sweetest honey. Pure and good.

From The Book of Hours – “Be content, be content. We are the Body of Christ. We have found Him, He has found us. We are in Him, He is in us. There is nothing further to look for, except for the deepening of this life we already possess. Be content”.

I am also reading ‘To the Lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolf (for Book Club) and I am waiting on my friend to finish ‘Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art” by Madeleine L’Engle to hear her thoughts (I’m guessing that they are going to be very good thoughts).

My Book Depository wish list has gotten out of control…again.  But my birthday is coming up…!

‘Writing down the bones’ by Natalie Goldberg, ‘Pursing Justice’ by Ken Wytsma and ‘The Bellwether Revivals’ by Benjamin Wood are all about to be popped in my shopping basket, handed over to AJ to be wrapped and given back to me with a birthday card attached!

What else should be on my wish list?

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Reading In Transit Book Club

I have become quite the fan of Kelley Nikondeha. Not only is she a voice for justice and equality, she gets her hands dirty ‘doing’ justice and fighting for equality. And more than ‘doing’, Kelley is able to back it up with a solid, gracious, well thought out, sound, theological understanding.  Part of starting this blogging journey (again) is that I have been so encouraged and impressed by the good theological work I have seen being worked out through blogs.  Kelley is one of these bloggers.

I have shied away from theological books and discussion in the last few years. Certainly any public discussion. I know that at times my silence has been motivated by fatigue, fear, ignorance and wariness. This silence and hesitation has stunted my understanding of God, community, grace and myself.

I am being tempted to wade back in. Tempted by these great writers, writing out their faith and lives, encouraging discussion, disagreement and grace.

So I thought this might be a good way to begin – Kelley Nikondeha has put together a book club based on her 2013 reading list. And what a reading list it is! I am going to jump in for April with The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann and see how I go. Just reading great, chunky, solid theology will be good. Link in, jump in, read along – it will be fun!