I can hardly believe half of 2010 is over now! Wow! Christmas is fewer than six months away. And you celebrating Ramadan...it's coming up quite soon indeed! :)
Here is the list of books I finished in June.
The Letter and the Scroll by Robin Currie and Stephen G. Hyslop is a National Geographic publication full of colorful pictures and script explaining briefly (in just over three hundred pages) and highlighting what archaeology tells us about the Bible. I found this at my local library on Tuesday afternoon and finished it by Friday morning. I enjoyed tracing Abraham's journey from Ur of the Chaldea to Haran down through modern-day Syria into Canaan, Egypt and back to Canaan. I enjoyed reading about ancient cultures and people such as the Egyptians, Midianites, and much more. The chapter on Jeremiah's scribe was of great interest and it briefly explained how many of the prophets may have recorded the Scriptures that we hold dear today. Also I loved to imagine myself exploring some grassy hills as I thought of this being a place Jesus may have walked long ago. The section on the Dead Sea scrolls was so interesting as was the Jewish history in relation to the Babylonians, Persians and later the Romans. Page 294 discussed Judaism entering a new era of rabbis taking importance over high priests since the Temple was destroyed by Rome. So much good stuff in this book, but one quote I wanted to note in relation to The Story of Paul on page 286:
"While legend holds that Paul met his end in Rome sometimes after 60 C.E., executed by the sword, history shows that the power of Paul's writings testifies to the primacy of the pen."
God & Government by Charles Colson -- bought this book over a year ago and finally decided to read it! Great book that included many historical references as well as personal experiences of the author. Enjoyed the background stories on the Philippines when Ferdinand Marcos left power and Corazon Aquino took over as well as the events leading up to WW2 and also how some reconciliation took place between enemies in Northern Ireland. Great chapters about the perils and illusion of politics and remembering the Kingdom of God is within us not something we can legislate into power. I shared some favorite quotes in earlier posts and in the Father Jerzy post but here are a few more.
"'I am convinced now that none of us is ever really godless. I know now that He is always there for us whether or not we are there for Him.'" -- Jerry Levin, atheist turned believer in Christ (pg. 67)
Today in America -- "Legally and culturally, religion is increasingly being treated as a purely private affair whose teachings must yield to any so-called public purpose. You're free to believe what you want -- so long as it doesn't affect how you behave." (pg. 129)
Think of Jesus -- with his miracles and teaching, he started attracting quite the following. The people were ready for a Messiah who would free them from the oppressor! "But Jesus understood His mission, and it could not be accomplished by taking over the kingdoms of this world in a political coup." (pg. 132)
WW II Christianity "has become a religion of private comfort and blessing that fills up whatever small holes in life that pleasure, money and success have left open,what Bonhoeffer called a 'god of the gaps.'" (pg. 252)
"It would have seem quite impossible ... that an individual be granted boundless freedom with no purpose, simply for the satisfaction of his whims.... The West has finally achieved the rights of man, and even to excess, but man's sense of responsibility to God and society has grown dimmer and dimmer." -- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (pg. 263)
Dying for Heaven by Ariel Glucklich is a book I found at the library. I didn't know anything about the author, but thought the subject - "Holy Pleasure and Suicide Bombers -- Why the Best Qualities of Religion are Also its Most Dangerous" - seemed intriguing. I discussed it more here.
Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther by Ginger Garrett -- found in the new book section of the library. It's like Queen Esther is sharing her own story with more details than can be found in the biblical book by her name. Enjoyed this! I talked more about this book in my post on the two queens who rocked their world.
"When you are frustrated with your circumstances, when you feel you are being held back, perhaps God is keeping you there because He doesn't want you to overlook little things. Abraham Lincoln once said, 'The doors of history swing on small hinges.' Your job today is to embrace the insignificant. Accept life when it seems to go in slow motion. Pay attention to the mundane, and the humble. They may be your greatest assets when your own divine moment of truth is revealed." (pg. 287)
Sacred Writings: The Quran translated by Ahmed Ali -- started reading online on May 4 and finished this book on June 22. See notes in many previous posts. The notes begin here.
A Christian Guide to the Quran by Raouf and Carol Ghattas. I got this book online last year and when I decided in late April to finally read it, immediately I saw how helpful it would be to actually read the Quran as I read this book that seeks to build bridges between Muslims and Christians. So I read this and the Quran together.
Blooms of Darkness by Aharon Appelfeld tells the story of a young Jewish boy, Hugo, who is hidden by a prostitute in the Ukraine while the Nazi soldiers search from house to house in order to rid the land of Jews. I found this at the library in the new books section.
The Life of Christ by the American Bible Society -- a book I got Andrew for Christmas that I decided to read finally. It has full-colored pages with lovely pictures and text "rediscovering how his life, death, and resurrection changed the world."
Biblical Viewpoint: Focus on Leviticus -- a series of short essays from nine authors discussing topics from the book of Leviticus from the Torah. The authors discussed such things as Lessons from Two Fires, The Laws of Cleanness and Uncleanness, The Significance of the Day of Atonement. The Sacredness of the Blood among others. This book was very helpful to me in making some sense to these seemingly complicated and "weird" laws and rituals. The essays showed how much these were object lessons to the Israelites so they would recognize how awful their sins were to God and also how merciful God was in providing cleansing for them.
For more detail on how these essays helped me, please see Focus on Leviticus part 1 and part 2.
Staying True by Jenny Sanford -- I don't often read books such as this, but I saw it on the new book shelf and was a wee bit interested in reading the words of South Carolina's governor's wife after her husband's public betrayal of her. Her story touches on her early years, but more about her meeting and marrying Mark Sanford, running his campaign, rearing their four boys all the while staying true to her husband. Instead of a bitter story about how he wronged her, I found her full of grace and strength that she credited to her faith in God. On forgiveness she writes: "Saying 'I forgive you' is not the same as saying 'what you have done is okay.' (pg. 200) and I love how her friends rallied around her. Mrs. Sanford sums that up by reminding us "We can easily get into a position where we think we can do so much on our own, and often we can, but we are not meant to live alone." She continues, "I can only imagine where I would be this very moment and what our family and future would be like if Mark has listened to and respected the advice of his dear friends instead of following his 'heart.'" (pg. 207) In her concluding pages, she writes with conviction: "My heart has been pained but it is clean and I have peace. I have so much gratitude, there is no space, even in this vastness, for one drop of bitterness or regret." (pg. 211)
I enjoyed the talk of South Carolina politics and some less savory tactics and learning the backgrounds of both Mark (his surgeon father died of Lou Gehrig's disease when Mark was in college and Mark, the oldest child, "saved" the family farm with great effort) and Jenny (raised in a Catholic family near Chicago). It was also nice reading about their children and memories of their lives in the governor's mansion in Columbia.