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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Books

The House by the Dvina: A Russian Childhood by Eugenie Fraser -- an interesting account of life in Archangel through the eyes of a girl growing up there with her Scottish mother, Russian father and extended family.  Bridget recommended this book and I got it for my birthday off my Amazon Wishlist. 

Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival by Anderson Cooper  -- I've seen this one at my local library and finally decided to read it.  I enjoyed reading more about his personal life as he told stories from various troubled spots around the globe. 

The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions by Marcus J. Borg and N.T. Wright  -- as the cover states, "the leading liberal and conservative Jesus scholars present the heart of the historical Jesus debate." I got this one for my birthday, and enjoyed reading both men's perspectives. A very respectful book. These two may not agree on Jesus, but they are friends!
I shared this bit on Facebook one day:

I often find it interesting how people talk about the Biblical stories and creeds within their own cultural context. For instance I was reading this morning ...

"The cultural relativity of biblical and creedal language struck me with considerable force when I was in South Africa on a lecture trip a few years ago, soon after the official end of apartheid, My schedule including lecturing at a black theological seminary, an interesting learning experience.  On the drive back to Pretoria with my white host, I was told that the black church was being encouraged to develop its own creed. The reason?  Because the status of "only son" was not a very high status in that particular black culture. One has no access to an "only son"; he is socially isolated.  A much higher status was that of "oldest brother." Thus, if one were to speak of Jesus with the highest status known in that culture, one would speak of him as "our oldest brother" and not as an "only son."  (p. 154)

The Year of Learning Dangerously: Adventures in Homeschooling by Quinn Cummings -- I know a lot of people who homeschool their children including my sister. I saw this book on the new books shelf at my library and it was an entertaining and informative read.  Although the author's version of homeschooling seems quite different from what I'm used to here in North Carolina, I really appreciated seeing how "we" looked through her Los Angeles eyes.  My sister said she read this book awhile back and enjoyed it as well.

The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne -- I stopped by the library the other day and saw this on the new books shelf. I glanced at it and decided to check it out.  Apparently this guy has a blog, but I've never heard of him before. Still, it was a good way to learn more about Tourette's (I have an online friend whose daughter has this) and how this syndrome affected this guy's life. Also, he grew up Mormon so I appreciated that aspect as his faith was mentioned often in this book. I enjoyed the anecdotes from the library as he works at the Salt Lake City Public Library which sounds massive compared to the small branches in my own county. 

A Comrade Lost and Found: A Beijing Story by Jan Wong -- The author, a Chinese-Canadian journalist travels with her husband and teenaged boys for a month-long stay in China.   The author has a special reason for the trip: she wants to find a young woman she betrayed three decades prior.  I enjoyed this book - a great way to learn tidbits about China through the eyes of a former Maoist.  It's interesting to see how drastically this country has changed, and what shocked the author about this country's changes.  How former dedicated Maoists, for instance, lived such luxurious lives.  Lots of interesting tips about life in Beijing as well.

The Unwanted by Kien Nguyen  -- A memoir of an Amerasian man who grew up as a despised "half breed" in Vietnam, but later was able to come to America.  The author tells of his growing up years - the privileged life he lead until the fall of Saigon and how drastically things changed for them as the years went by.  I read books like this wondering why I ever complain about anything because, truly, some people in this world have horrible lives. He closes the book saying, "as dark as my memoir may be, it is not unique by any means. It's estimated that more than fifty thousand Amerasian children shared my fate, or worse.  Their stories were all too common ones of terror and repression, abuse and neglect, strength, and ultimately - for the lucky ones - survival. I kept writing in hopes that these innocent victims' lost childhoods might finally be mourned, and their buried secrets at last revealed."  (pg. 343)

To See You Again: A True Story of Love in a Time of War by Betty Schimmel -- I seem to be a sucker for these memoirs from people who were persecuted by the Nazis.  This story takes place mostly in Hungary although later the family was marched to concentration camps in Austria and later moved to Germany (by the US liberators). The last part of the book tells of the author's married life in the United States as well as her visit back to Hungary after the Communists took over.   Once again I am amazed at how cruel people are to each other, and am disgusted by Germany and  likeminded people who treated fellow humans worse than animals.  I enjoyed this book for the most part though the latter fourth I thought the author was stupid for having married a man she didn't love. Maybe I figured she could have made a better effort since she was foolish enough to marry him.  But then who am I to judge why people marry?