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

Monday, December 31, 2012

December Books

Last day of the year!  I hope you have a wonderful 2013!

I started the year reading a book about grace, and the last book I finished was about the prodigal son - a benefactor of his father's mercy and grace.  Good thoughts for this year!  Here are the books I finished this month.

Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong
by Jean Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow  -- I got this from my Amazon Wishlist. It tells about the French mindset and covers history and the importance of the State to the French. I especially enjoyed the chapters on World War II and the war in Algeria and how both have shaped France today. I also liked the chapter on the language and French thoughts of what is private compared, say, to the average North American.   These are just a few things I copied and shared on Facebook while reading this book.

I'm reading a book about the French, and the authors said "The French love of grandeur and power unfortunately does translate into a tendency to hoard power.  As noble and well-intentioned as politicians may be, they tend to treat their elected positions like personal possessions. ... In France, a whopping 89 percent of députés and 60 percent of senators hold another office at the same time. Half of them hold three!"  For example former President Jacques Chirac: "while mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995 he was also the prime minister of France, from 1984 to 1986 he was député for his home region of Corrèze and député in the European Parliament."  (pg. 56)

"Language is a national complex in France.  Anglo-Americans consider language a tool, but the French regard it as an accomplishment, even a work of art.  They love and cherish their language in ways that are almost incomprehensible to English speakers. It's their national monument."  (pg. 162)

"The French are always surprised to hear that there are from five to ten times more accepted words in the English language than in French (they will typically talk about how much "richer" the French language is than English and assume by deduction that French has more words).  In French, the boundaries between what is acceptable and what is not are clearly defined and enforced by the Académie and the government.  In English, there is no body that rules out words."  (pg. 164)

"Because so many people speak English in so many different ways, 'getting the message through' is the spirit that dominates the use of English today.  Contrary to what many French believe, English is not a simple language.  As a French académicien once put it, English is a language that is relatively easy to speak poorly.  The real difference is that, unlike the French, English speakers tolerate poor use of their language." (pg. 169)

"France is the first country in Europe to define citizenship not by blood, language, or religion, but by residency in a territorial entity and adherence to its values....The principle shows a sharp contrast with Germany, where citizenship was still defined by blood for most of the twentieth century."  "Germany claims to have 7.3 million immigrants; France claims to have around 3.5 million. The number is high in Germany because the children of immigrants do not automatically become citizens at birth and usually remain immigrants all their lives. It's almost the opposite situation in France, where children of immigrants become citizens at eighteen as long as they grew up on French territory. Then, when they become citizens, they automatically vanish from statistics."  (pg. 301-302)

God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Rodney Stark -- an interesting perspective and one I've not heard. The author discusses Muslim takeover of formerly Christian lands and reasons for the Crusades. I especially enjoyed the talk of penitential warfare (pg. 107) and the Mamluks since one of my Syrian friends has this last name. It was interesting reading of his ancestors.  I've read a couple other of Stark's books and saw this one mentioned.  Got it from my Amazon Wishlist.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans  -- I got this from a sweet friend who sent it for Christmas. I greatly enjoyed this book as Rachel does a bit like A.J. Jacobs did when he lived the Bible for a year. Only she chooses themes for each month,and strives to focus on submission one month, modesty the next, purity, living justly, and so forth.  She told the tale in a humorous way, and had some rather good insight on interpreting Scripture. I really loved her conclusions while wearing modest garb...how she realized she judged people for what they wore (oppressed, sheltered, outdated, legalistic).  Sprinkled throughout the book were excerpts from her husband's journal as he shared how he felt while his wife was calling him "master" or standing by the "Welcome to Dayton" sign proclaiming that "Dan is awesome."

see previous post on "biblical womanhood"

These are just things I shared on Facebook:

I thought this was an interesting perspective.  Did you know in Jewish culture, the men memorize and sing Proverbs 31 to their wives at the Sabbath meal?  It's a praise to "women of valor" (eshet chayil). Yet due to the abundance of books (and Mother's Day sermons I might add) aspiring Christian women to be Proverbs 31 wives and mothers, the author of this book notes: "No longer presented as a song through which a man offers his wife praise, Proverbs 31 is presented as a task list through which a woman earns it."  (pg. 76)   Personally, are you made to feel it's a praise to women or is the Proverbs 31 lady someone you secretly dislike because you cannot measure up to her standard?  Or maybe you are somewhere in the middle?

This was one of my "any guesses" on Facebook....  According to this book I'm reading "To _______________ belongs the worthy distinction of being the only woman in the New Testament identified with the feminine form of the word 'disciple' - mathetria"  (pg. 223), and ___________ was the "first and only woman in Scripture to be explicitly identified as an apostle."  (pg. 247)

"When World Vision first began working in Colomi (Bolivia) just two years ago, aid workers began by asking the women there what they most wanted to change about their community. The answer surprised the workers. The women said that, more than anything, they wanted to learn how to care for children with special needs.  ... We heard stories of children who had been locked in rooms for weeks without being bathed and cared for, others who had been beaten nearly to death, and still more who had been abandoned because of fear and superstition.  Before World Vision came to Colomi, the mothers tried to organize. They formed a support group, where they exchanged stories and ideas, but they lacked basic information about how to care for their children with special needs and faced nearly constant ridicule from neighbors who said they were wasting their time."  (pg. 244)

The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks  -- see previous post

"We inherit not only the glorious histories of our ancestors, but their human failings, too, their kindness, their tenderness, and their satisfaction with easy contradictions; their wisdom as well as their ignorance, arrogance, and presumption, as our own. We inherit all the ways in which our ancestors and parents and teachers were wrong, as well as the ways they were right: their sparkling differences, and their human failings.  There is no unmixing the two."  (pg. 28)

Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent -- I've heard of this book, but never desired to read it. HOWEVER, someone gave it to Andrew for me so I read it. It was an easy read so I didn't feel I invested a whole lot of my life in it.  Rather cute book, I guess.Not really sure how to take the fact that an almost four year old speaks of going to heaven, talking to Jesus,  the sister his mom miscarried prior to his birth, and his father's Pop who died at 61.  By the way, he recognized Pop from a photo when Pop was 29, not the last picture taken of an old Pop with glasses.  Here is the website if you are curious about it.

The Duck Commander Family by Willie and Korie Robertson -- Andrew got this for Christmas so I decided to read it as well. It's about the guys from Duck Dynasty - some things about their growing-up years and the family.

Awake: Doing a World of Good One Person at a Time by Noel Brewer Yeatts -- I received this in the mail earlier in the month, and it was a quick, but challenging read. The author tells of some experiences she's had traveling around the world with World Help.  I especially enjoyed the chapters on the importance of clean water and educating women.  She spoke of justice, and how God wants us to make things better for people in the world.  She challenged me on whether I want a safe or significant life.

Encounters with Jesus by Gary M. Burge  -- seeing a few of the encounters with Jesus through the eyes of the people living back then;  see previous post

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson -- a book about praying, setting goals and praising God, but mostly about "praying through" -- this is a tough subject for me because I'm an instant kind of person not a pray for something way in the future person; yes, this is a flaw, and I should change....maybe I should pray about it.  :)

A few things I noted:

"The blessings of God won't just bless you; they will also complicate your life." (pg. 113)  -- I noted Samer with a smile on my paper

"The hardest thing about praying hard is enduring unanswered prayers. If you don't guard your heart, unresolved anger toward God can undermine faith."  (pg. 124) -- um, yeah

"One of the reasons we get frustrated in prayer is our ASAP approach.  When our prayers aren't answered as quickly or easily as we would like, we get tired of circling. Maybe we need to change our prayer approach from as soon as possible to as long as it takes."  (pg. 196)

Mukiwa by Peter Godwin -- This story by "a white boy in Africa" is about Peter's life in Rhodesia before black people took over the rule of this country. The first part is about life in Rhodesia from a child's perspective. His mother was a doctor so Peter told of going on sick calls with her. Of course black people had the worst diseases and died at any age. His mom also identified what people died from so Peter described watching his mom cut people open trying to figure out what happened.  He talked about leprosy, death by arsenic and even a lady who insisted on seeing his mother privately because she wanted contraceptives. At not even 23, she had six children and was tired of birthing babies every year of her marriage. This lady spread the word and soon many African women were visiting the clinic for ways to prevent more pregnancies.  Peter talked about his years in boarding school, adventures with his nanny and other servants the family employed. 

I noticed the term "kaffir" used throughout this book, and I'm much more used to it being used by Muslims for those who are nonMuslims so I was surprised to see it here.  I looked up "kaffir Rhodesia" on Google and found this Wiki article on "fanagalo" which gave this explanation.

"The word "Kaffir" is the Arabic word for an unbeliever, i.e. non-Muslim, and was used by Arab slavers to refer to the indigenous black people of Africa. It thence became a common word used by early European settlers to refer to the same people, and in the 19th century was a term for the Nguni languages, as well as an inclusive term to describe South African shares on the stock-market. Through time "Kaffir" tended, in Southern Africa, to be used as a derogatory term for black people."

Also it was interesting to hear the black people fighting for control referred to as "terrorists."  Granted many of their practices were atrocious.  The latter part of the book talked about Peter's days in the police force, as a lawyer and journalist visiting Zimbabwe.  (The new name for Rhodesia.)

The Cross and the Prodigal: Luke 15 Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Peasants By Kenneth Bailey -- I read one of his books a couple years ago and loved it. This one was much shorter and dealt only with the story of Luke 15 - the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.  I greatly enjoyed reading this with Middle Eastern eyes. The author made it clearer how the original hearers of this story would have heard it in their cultural context.


Rebekka @ Becky's Kaleidoscope said...

I love reading about the books you read!

Just a few comments

"The blessings of God won't just bless you; they will also complicate your life." (pg. 113)

I feel like this is twisting the word "blessing", to make it fit a situation that would most decidedly not be considered a blessing by the dictionary-definition of the word.

"The hardest thing about praying hard is enduring unanswered prayers. If you don't guard your heart, unresolved anger toward God can undermine faith." (pg. 124) -- um, yeah

"One of the reasons we get frustrated in prayer is our ASAP approach. When our prayers aren't answered as quickly or easily as we would like, we get tired of circling. Maybe we need to change our prayer approach from as soon as possible to as long as it takes." (pg. 196)

For the past two, this really doesn't prove that prayer is being answered by God at all. Looking at it this way, it doesn't matter what happens, it will be seen as "the will of God".

Rebekka @ Becky's Kaleidoscope said...

I'm sorry if that came off harshly, but I find it rather problematic, when people will give God the praise for all the "good stuff", but refuse to hold him responsible for anything bad.

Susanne said...

Well, if you read his book you'd understand the quotes in context. So, for him, they make sense. :)

Thanks for your feedback.