"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Remembering Syria & January Books

It's the last few hours of January and I just now finished the final pages of a pretty big book. Yay, I am glad I finished it in time to add to this list.  Here's what I read this month. Not as much as some months, but I started off slowly and just have been busy doing other things.  Three years ago right now I was in Syria. I decided to remember my days there by posting a few pictures on Facebook. I'm trying to post ones that I didn't post on Facebook when we got home. And I'm trying to share a few tidbits about the places we visited or people we met or things we did.  Also I'm trying to add just a few pictures each day and trying to correlate them to the actual date three years ago. For instance today we would have visited the Umayyad mosque and a really fancy Shiite mosque. You can check out the album at this public link - Remembering Syria.  Syria is in a mess these days.  Some of my friends from our visit are out of there now, but many remain.  My thoughts are often with them. 

Captured by Grace
by David Jeremiah -- although this was not on my wishlist, my brother gave me this for Christmas. What a challenging, good read for me!  A great way to start of the new year.  I made note of many things that spoke to me that I wanted to review later.  These are just a few things some of which I posted as Facebook status updates. 

"Mercy is God withholding the punishment we rightfully deserve. Grace is God not only withholding that punishment but offering the most precious gifts instead.

Mercy runs to forgive the Prodigal Son.
Grace throws a party with every extravagance.

Mercy bandages the wounds of the man beaten by the robbers.
Grace covers the cost of his full recovery.

Mercy hears the cry of the thief on the cross.
Grace promises paradise that very day. ..."  (pg. 22)

"Imagine discovering that the God you worship is Someone else entirely, Someone who bears radical differences to your most precious assumptions about Him. You would ask the very question Paul now asks: 'And he said, "Who are You, Lord?"'"  (pg. 112)

"...the essence of grace is surprise. There is nothing shocking about giving people exactly what they deserve. Grace subverts the rules and gives people what they don't deserve. It is motivated by the warmth of love rather than by cold calculation." (pg. 171)

Whose Bible Is It? by Jaroslav Pelikan - this was the first of my dozen Christmas books that I received and I got it from my Lil' Sis a couple weeks before Christmas day.  I cannot remember why I had it on my Amazon Wishlist, but enjoyed it nevertheless. The author started off talking about oral tradition in cultures and that lead to the writing down of the Bible over the centuries. His chapter on the Septuagint was interesting as was the Bible in various cultures. The binding of Isaac example was especially good.  He discussed peoples of the book and translating the Scriptures, the Bible according to Jews, Protestants, Catholics and so forth.  I should have been good and taken notes on these chapters. Alas, I did not.  He does conclude that the Bible is God's and "therefore really doesn't belong to any of us." 

The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011 by Melvyn Bragg.  This was one of those I found on the new books shelves at the library.  I enjoyed how the author showed how the KJB had influenced English speaking societies. I especially enjoyed his treatment of slaves and how the KJB spoke liberation to them and how they worked for their freedom. He made them seem very powerful.; see previous post for most information on this book

Jesus Before Christianity by Albert Nolan  -- one of those books I got from my Wishlist although I cannot recall why it was on there.  The author had some interesting ideas about things, however, so I'm glad I read it.  See previous posts for more details on this book

Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother by Xinran  -- this book was so sad, but good!  I am glad I read it as I know couples who have adopted children from China.  It's sad to read how valueless daughters are in China that they are often killed at birth. Yet mothers are mothers and many of them do have great pain following through with tradition's evil dictates.  This book shares cultural aspects of China and includes stories of women who have given up children for adoption. A very moving read. I was in tears several times.

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell -- Although this book was copyrighted in 1968 it was on the New Books shelf at my library.  It is "The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired  Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey" according to the jacket cover. It was an easy read and pretty entertaining. If you want to know what life was like for one kitchen maid turned cook in England, this book might be for you.  A lesson I took from it is to respect all people and just because someone is a servant it doesn't mean she wants practical gifts and boring color schemes.

The Triumph of Christianity by Rodney Stark -- Last year I read a short book he wrote about the rise of Christianity and this book incorporates some of that information as well as quite a bit more. Prepare to have your thoughts on the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, the Dark Ages and the following periods challenged.  (Or maybe you'll simply scoff at how he makes a mockery of history.)  I actually enjoyed his point of view although I was left wondering if it were all true or a different sort of history revision.


sanil said...

...You read seven books in January. I might finish my first book of the year tomorrow. :D

I'm inspired and encouraged by how much reading you do and how much you must learn from that. Thanks for sharing about all these books!

Shell said...


I decided on the second I would read 12 books a month. I had nearly 20+ books that were sitting on my shelves never having been read. I know, hard to believe! See, I was on a buying frenzy in December and couldn't stop buying books.
Anyway, I managed to finish eleven. Maybe if I would have stayed up a little later last night I could have finished number 12...but I was tired.
I thought about you! I was thinking while I was climbing my tired butt in the bed that I finally read as many books as Susanne reads in a month. It felt good. I felt smarter. Wiser to the world. Wiser in all things really. Funny huh?

I am trying NOT to buy any books this month. Once I finish my new ones, I aim to re-read all the books on my shelves. Some were read nearly 16 yrs ago and I think I would enjoy reading them again.

But of course I come here and now I want to check out that one with the Chinese Mother(forgot the title already lol)

It is dangerous to come check out your monthly blogs about what you're reading. You're like my pusher. An enabler--kinda? hahahahha

I send my love and best wishes..hope everyone is healthy.


observant observer said...

You really read a lot, is there anything in particular by reading that shapes you, if you don't mind sharing. Since I was trying also to read a lot (unfortunately cannot perform well since I tend to read a little here, a little there out of curiousity, and thought I got the message already..hahahaaa), but what I sometimes think of myself is that even after reading some books, I tend to keep thinking that I already decided my mind on something that sometimes different/opposing opinion about something else from books do not change my mind completely(bad...bad...stubborn girl!). Since I also find that different opinions of the writers come from different background and perception , facts are presented but opinion are made in minds.

About the Chinese mothers, i've been to China several years ago, and the boys there that I met told me how they feel so afraid of not getting spouse because the number of men have surpassed much of the number of women (due to favor of having son more that daughter). So will it change the situation there of how they treat their ladies, I don't really know.

Susanne said...

Aw, thanks, Sanil! I really appreciate your feedback. It's always either encouraging or educational! :)

Susanne said...

Shell, haha! Your enabler! :-P That's funny! Wow, you read a lot last month..you beat me! :D It's always good hearing from you. Hope you are having a good year so far!

Susanne said...

Observant, I hope the men will start valuing the women more. That's an interesting thought and would be a good development. It's a shame they didn't value them already though!

I think reading does help me see things from other perspectives especially when I read an author who doesn't believe the same way that I do. It helps me understand others better and that there are other ways to view issues. Then, of course, I like reading some people who agree with me and strengthen what I already believe to be true. Those help solidify my stances. I think there is probably good and a little bad to reading both kinds. :) Is that what you wanted to know or maybe I misunderstood your question. Let me know so I can clarify if i did.

Thanks for your feedback!!

observant observer said...

Susan, you did clarify the questions well.
I think that the globe will finally shape into a more common view eventhough there are still some disputes on some concept ( I m talking particularly about the role and value of women). I remember that just a few decades ago, women in Indonesia were valued less, they were not supposed to take high education because in the end they would get back to the kitchen and end as " domestic worker". But of course situation changed now, and I think we owed it, honestly speaking, to the dutch colonisation with some of their missionary workers.

I agree with you completely that reading books with different views, one agrees with our thoughts and the other a contrast will help us give new perspectives and understand better. Its just that sometimes I then find some holes or gaps that were not bridged well from contrasting views, that I finally decide that I still can keep my mind since I cannot ask the questions to the writer...;))

Susanne said...

Oh, that's interesting about your country! Glad you shared. :)

And I like what you said about the gaps in books and not being able to ask the author. Hehehe. Made me smile. :D

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