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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April Books

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai -- I've been wanting to read this one, and found it at a local library.  I enjoyed reading more of Malala's story, and hope she and her family will be able to return to their home one day.  It was interesting reading her views on the Taliban, Benazir Bhutto, the Americans, and, of course, schools for girls!

Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac -- an interesting way to learn more about the Navajo Indians and their work for the US during the war; my friend Joni recommended this to me a few years ago, and I finally found it at my library.

Cut Me Loose: Sin and Salvation after my Ultra-Orthodox Girlhood by Leah Vincent -- I heard a short interview with this author on NPR, and then found this book in the new section of my library; If you enjoy books about people leaving their super-strict faiths, you may enjoy this book.  It was more graphic at times than I expected. I couldn't help feel anger at her parents for how they treated her. It reminded me of fiction books I read as a teen about Amish teenagers breaking away from their faith and being shunned.  No unconditional love in these families!

The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ by Daniel Boyarin -- "Throughout this book, we have been observing how ideas that have been thought to be the most distinctive innovations of Jesus himself or his followers can be found in the religious literature of the Jews of the time of Jesus or before."  (pg. 133)  We're talking things like a suffering Messiah who atones for our sins, the possibility of a divine "Son of Man" (which the author claims is more of a divine title than "Son of God") and Jesus keeping kosher.

For the Benefit of Those Who See: Dispatches from the World of the Blind by Rosemary Mahoney -- I happened upon this book in the new book section of my library. Earlier this year I read the memoir of a deaf person so I thought it would be interesting to read about blindness.  The author shares about her experiences with the blind in Tibet, and later teaching English to a group of international students at a school for the blind in India.  Through her students I learned how blind people are treated in Germany, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, and Tibet.  I heard stories of other cultures, and even how people have reacted when their eye sights have been restored and they've seen for the first time (it's not as much fun as you'd think:  can you imagine humans not being as good-looking as you'd always imagined? and that's not the real issue just a mere shallow vanity thing)  My kind of book. Very interesting once you get past the introduction which dwells on how much the author would hate to be blind and her squeamishness when her boyfriend undergoes LASIK.  I almost decided to not read any further, but I'm glad I persevered. 

The Nazi and the Psychiatrist by Jack El-Hai -- the subtitle is "Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII" and it is about that, but it's mostly about Dr. Kelley, his family background and practice both during his time in Nuremberg and beyond.  I didn't know he'd worked in nearby Winston-Salem, NC, for a time after his stint in Germany.  He sounds like a very troubled man, but who wouldn't be hanging around a bunch of Nazis and trying to understand them!  Plus his grandfather...and mom.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi --  I really liked this book more than I thought I would.  I'd put it on my Amazon Wishlist a few months ago because someone had mentioned this guy to me. I tend to like conversion stories to varying degrees, and wanted to hear more about this guy.   The first many chapters conveyed how he grew up, his deep love for his faith, and how he enjoyed debating Christians in the United States.  He seemed to really love learning as he stated how often he'd visit his father's library to learn more about his faith and how to argue against Christianity.  You cannot help falling in love (um, can't think of a better way to put this) with his parents and just their sweetness and devotion.  Their family life is truly one to be envied.  Alas, he becomes best friends with a Christian who defends his faith, one who challenges him...and much of the book is about this amazing friendship, and how the two guys interact and learn more about each other's faiths.  It was quite an enjoyable read the last two days. None of the Islam bashing that one can find in many other books. 

Prototype by Jonathan Martin -- I believe this was on Rachel Held Evans' list of favorite books in 2013. I put it on my Amazon wishlist and got it for my birthday.  The author is a pastor of "liars, dreamers, and misfits" and he does a nice job of sharing his heart for people and for creation - restoring the world as Jesus would.  At one point he says we long for restoration, not escape, and he reminds us of the beauty all around us.  I read this as I was lying outside in the shade under a tree, with the bright blue sky sparkling above me. Birds were singing especially loudly and cheerfully.  It was a pretty neat moment. I like the part around page 147 about God coming down to earth, and how His doing that is "the descent of God's Kingdom peace into the chaos of the present."  Jesus brought the "comfort and delight of God's very own touch to humanity," and the other Comforter i.e., the Holy Spirit, came to do the same - and still does.   I was challenged by the chapter on community and sharing yourself and getting involved in one. I resist this to no end. I like the idea of it, but hate it at the same time.  People are messy. People take time. People want listening ears, and emotional support, and sometimes monetary support, and involvement - and, I'm often too selfish and wrapped into my introverted ways to reach out - or allow myself to be vulnerable.  "'Can't I just have a relationship with Jesus and not the church?' Actually, no.  you can't."  UGH! 

A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck -- a couple Mormon bloggers mentioned this book as something that really stuck with them so I added it to my Amazon Wishlist and a sweet friend sent it to me for my birthday. It has large print and is only 104 pages so I finished it in about an hour.  The first 80% of the book I was thinking this was so bizarre and I didn't really get it. But then it all sort of sunk in.  My first thoughts were that, hey, I would totally be fine if the Baptist version of hell were wrong, and lost people went to a huge library for a "short stay" and then they could be with God for the rest of eternity.  I have NO PROBLEM AT ALL with a more merciful God, and my views of hell being wrong.  I'd love to think of folks like Hitler and Bin Laden searching through books for the stories of their lives right now.  But then this book progressed and I was thinking hell was everyone being white, Americans, and being surrounded by SO MANY BOOKS. And, hey, I love books (note most blog posts these days are books I've read each month.)  I realized loneliness and lack of hope and even "short stays" in hell can be hellish.

The Lost Childhood by Yehuda Nir -- a rather interesting memoir of a Polish Jew and how he, his mom, and sister survived World War II.