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(I’m laying on the couch, reading, Britt walks in)

Britt:  WHOA!  That is a huge book!

Me:  Yep, I like big books.  This is a children’s novel.

Britt:  What is it?

Me:  His Dark Materials, you know, the Golden Compass. 

Britt:  Wait, I think I read something in a church bulletin that said you shouldn’t read that book or let your kids go see the movie.  Something about it being satanic.  Is it satanic?

Me:  That’s what I’m trying to figure out.  As far as I can tell, it is a children’s novel set in a fictional world, where an entity similarly structured as the church is evil.  Personally, I would compare it to 1984, where the government is evil.  I mean, it was written by an atheist.  But there seem to be some good moral themes.  It obviously is going to come down to good vs. evil.  We’ll see. 

____

Dan over at the Pasty Quail has been covering the Golden Compass debate, and I think it is really interesting.  I really like what he has to say here.  I strongly disagree with any organization that wants to tell me what I can and can’t read, or what I should and shouldn’t watch.  Why don’t churches worry about movies full of violence and hate and the kind of evilness that really and truly does exist in this world, instead of waging war against a STORY about an IMAGINARY place?

I haven’t read the whole thing.  So maybe I’ll feel differently about it when I get finished.  But I somehow doubt that a lot of people who are against this book and movie have read it.  I personally have more faith in my own faith than to be threatened by a novel.  Especially not a novel who heroes and heroines refuse to break their sworn promises, and who fight for the innocent, and whose actions are compassionate and heartfelt.  Because that is what I have gotten out of the book so far. 

But, you know, maybe it becomes satanic later on.  I would like to be a part of a church that encouraged children to read the book, or see the movie, and then initiate a discussion about how the "church" or the "god" in the book is different from the Church and the God that we believe in.  My mom said that some people don’t like the idea that people can be moralistic even if they aren’t religious.  But that is just a fact of life, right? 

I’m not sure why this whole thing bothers me so much, but I really don’t like the whole controversy.  I think part of it stems from the fact that it irritates me when people talk about Harry Potter being evil, and even some people think Lord of the Rings is negative, which is really amazing to me. 

There are over 500 facebook groups about the Golden Compass as of today.  Most of them are titled – DO NOT GO SEE THE GOLDEN COMPASS, or BOYCOTT THE GOLDEN COMPASS or THE GOLDEN COMPASS AND IT’S ATTACK ON CHRISTIANITY (wtf?) 

I particularly like – BOYCOTT THE GOLDEN COMPASS AND IT’S ATHEIST MESSAGE.  Really, I would say there appears to be more hate in these groups than in the book that I’ve been reading. 

I want to join the group – YOU KNOW WHAT YOU RELIGIOUS BIGOTS?  I JUST MIGHT GO SEE THE GOLDEN COMPASS.   or maybe – READING THE GOLDEN COMPASS DID NOT MAKE ME AN ATHEIST.

Really, I could spend hours going through these facebook groups.  But I don’t have time.  I need to go finish my novel.  I’m intrigued, and entertained, and challenged by it. 

 

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What I’ve Been Reading

Since it is summertime, it is time to talk about books.  I’m going to Puerto Rico with my family tomorrow, and I need to go to the bookstore tonight and get some new books – let me know if you have any suggestions real quick.  In the interest of fairness, I’m going to tell you what I’ve been reading lately.  Don’t laugh at me, I read random books. 

Ill_3 

Illusions, by Richard Bach – The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.  This is a book Todd sent me a long time ago, that kept getting lost in the shuffle of other books.  I really enjoyed it, I’m not even sure exactly how to explain it.  But what I walked away with from this book is that the way we think and perceive the world can either limit our abilities and experiences or can magnify and increase our abilities and experiences.  That reality is fluid and dreams are important.  It isn’t a very long book, and the writing isn’t complex.  But there is something weighty and heavy about it, something that caused me, while reading it, to put it down for a few days and think before picking it back up again.  Bach also wrote Johnathan Livingston Seagull, which I would also recommend.  If you are going to read them both, read Seagull first. 

Ss The Secret Sharer, by Joseph Conrad. 

This isn’t really a book so much as a story.  The book I have also included Heart of Darkness, which is something I always planned on reading and haven’t.  But I really enjoyed the Secret Sharer, it is the story of a young Sea Captain, his first voyage as a captain, and the boat has been at sea for months with the same crew when he takes over.  The Captain rescues a man who has escaped from a passing ship where he has been accused of murder.  It is a story of finding your identity and how strongly empathy can touch you once you see yourself in another person. 

Gt The Grand Tour – by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Steverman.

As it turns out, I like to read children’s novels.  This book is by two authors I used to read as a child – they write books about magicians, and dragons.  This book is about two young socialite girls from england who have just married and are traveling around Europe enjoying high Paris fashion at the turn of the 20th century.  The best way I can describe it is to say it is a Harry Potter crossed with the Davinci Code.  The two girls and their husbands get caught up in a plot involving ancient artifacts from across Europe and a pagan rite to create a ruler to unite all of Europe.  I know it sounds silly, but the history is well researched, and the ruins and places they visit are real.  Seriously, if Harry and his crew were the main characters in the DaVinci code.  I really liked it. 

Md The Midnight Disease – The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block and the Creative Brain  – by Alice Weaver Flaherty

This is a book I borrowed from Ivy.  I haven’t read the whole thing, I don’t have the psych background to really grasp a lot of it, but it is about hypergraphia – which is when you have the uncontrollable desire to write, and essentially the opposite to writer’s block.  The book also talks about writer’s block and a lot about creativity.  I found the definition for creative that the book gives to be interesting, two requirements – it must be novel and valuable.  If you have a novelty that isn’t valuable, it isn’t creative, and if you have something valuable but not novel, it isn’t creative either. 

The book also talks about motivation and your vocation.  One part I liked was the word Workaholic – and how some people assume that workaholics are driven by anxiety and that the workaholic works to relieve the anxiety and not because he enjoys his work or is trying to reach a goal.  But that it is almost impossible if you have a true vocation and your work is part of who you are, to always work for pleasure or for a goal – that terror and anxiety are going to be your motivation from time to time.  There is a lot more in the book – in just this one chapter I’ve been quoting from, about hobbies (which are often just work for fun) that are a release for people, and how paying a writer for his work can sometimes kill his motivation, or make him sloppy.  The book examines the ebb and flow of a writer’s words, seasons, hormones, age, fatigue, depression, illness, alcohol, drugs, music, deadlines, procrastination, etc.  It even talks about how the graduate student is likely to have writer’s block and hypergraphia at the same time – being completely blocked on an important paper while writing heavily in the realms of email and blogging.  Wow.  Sounds familiar. 

Anyway, the book is full of quotes from famous writers, and written by a neurologist who teaches at Harvard Medical school and who seems sincerely interested in the topic.  Most of it is over my head, but I felt like I learned something.  Writing is a mysterious past time. 

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Reviews

Tpd I just got finished reading Through Painted Deserts – Light, God and Beauty on the Open Road,  by Donald Miller.  I loved it.  Thought it was amazing.  I’ve read Miller’s other books, Blue Like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What.  I think he is a gifted writer who speaks to his audience in a sincere voice that has a tone of understanding.  He is honest about the difficulties of religion and the world at large.  He is the kind of author that when you finish reading his book you wish he was a personal friend.  I don’t feel like that terribly often.  I like to give his books away as gifts.  I can never find my copy of his books cause I have a tendency to loan them out and never get them back.  Shocker. Through Painted Deserts is the story of him and his friend traveling across the country in a VW bus.  Hilarious, thoughtful, and endearing. 

Sad I have been listening to Amos Lee’s new album – Supply and Demand.  I like Amos Lee a lot.  I was first introduced to his music by Betsy – who tried to make me listen to him for a long time before I finally stopped being stubborn and realized that he is awesome.  I prefer his more upbeat songs, but a couple of his slower songs are great as well.  Betsy really likes Southern Girl – which I also support.  I think my favorite song is Sympathize.  There are a couple of songs available on Myspace – HERE.

La OHH, and my friends Charles and David have started a band called Lady Antebellum, and I was listening to their new music on myspace and I am impressed.  These boys are so talented and sweet and awesome, I’m really proud of them for chasing their dreams.  I don’t think they have an album out yet – but they have quite a few songs available on myspace.  They have my stamp of approval.    Go LISTEN.

The only other thing I’m worried about today is what kind of halloween cookies I want to make.  Sugar cookies of course, but what shape?  Punkins?  I’m thinking Punkins.  Dipped orange with green butter cream icing stems.  GAH.  Decisions are so tough, cause, ghosts can be so cute too.  Or should I make cupcakes?  Cookies are probably easier to transport.  Hmmmm…..

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I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them – with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself.

                                                                             –  Eudora Welty

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Sea Wolf

Josh recommended Sea Wolf by Jack London to me the other night at dinner.  We were discussing old books we liked and discovered we both love Jack London, but I had never read Sea Wolf.  He said he would bring me the book, but I ended up checking it out from the library the next day.  I don’t know what it is about novels, but sometimes I MUST have one immediately.  Sea Wolf is about a man who is a gentleman scholar and falls off a ferry ship in the San Francisco harbor in a fog, is swept out to sea, and picked up by a seal hunting ship and forced to be a cabin boy for the remainder of the voyage, by the harsh Captain, Wolf Larsen.  The symbolism behind Wolf is that he is Satan – and I might give more excerpts as we go along. 

Captain Wolf  is a self educated man who revels in conversation with the narrator, Hump, who is the first truly educated man Wolf has ever had the opportunity with whom to speak his thoughts. 

Here is an excerpt I read this morning:

"And, Hump, I can tell you that you know more about me than any living man, except my own brother."
    "And what is he?  And where is he?"
    "Master of the steamship Macedonia
, seal hunter’  was the answer.  "we will meet him most probably on the Japan coast.  Men call him ‘Death’ Larsen"
    "Death Larsen!"  I involuntarily cried.  "Is he like you?"
    "Hardly.  He is a lump of an animal without any head.  He has all my – my-"
    "Brutishness,"  I suggested
    "Yes, – thank you for the word, – all my brutishness, but he can scarcely read or write."
    "And he has never philosophized on life,"  I added.
    "No,"  Wolf Larsen answered, with an indescribable air of sadness.  "And he is all the happier for leaving life along.  He is too busy living it to think about it.  My mistake was in ever opening the books."

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Scary Quote

I forgot to post my favorite Halloween quote yesterday, but I’m going to do it today anyway.  It is from Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, and the narrator is walking through a dark fog, and he is imagining sinister shapes in the fog. 

"To think that the spectre you see is an illusion does not rob him of
his terrors: it simply adds the further terror of madness itself — and
then on top of that the horrible surmise that those whom the rest call
mad have, all along, been the only people who see the world as it
really is."

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First Lines

I stole this idea.  But I like it a lot.  So here are some of my favorite first lines.  I’m not going to repeat any of the ones that have already been used. 

"When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everyone said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen."

"It was a pleasure to burn."

"I went back to the Devon School not long ago, and found it looking oddly newer than when I was a student there fifteen years before."

"Matrimony was ordained, thirdly,’ said Jane Studdock to herself, ‘for mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the other.’

"Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies’ eardrops and traversed by a brook that had its source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascades, but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof."

"The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon."

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How to Be Good

I have been reading Nick Hornby’s novel – How to Be Good.   I like it, I bought it in the airport on the way to Dallas. 

This is my favorite quote from the book so far –

"Tomorrow maybe I’ll try and find a phone number for the organization that provides counseling for people who have been brainwashed by cults; I’m sure that depression of this kind is an entirely normal consequence of having your whole reason for living taken away from you."

For some reason I thought this was really funny. 

I’m exhausted. 

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Blue Like Jazz

I am in love with the book – Blue Like Jazz, "Nonreligious thoughts on Christian Spirituality," by Donald Miller. It is amazing. I think I will give y’all a little excerpt (I haven’t read the whole thing, but so far it is awesome):

Chapter 1 – Beginnings
"I started to sin about the time I turned ten. I believe it was ten, although it could have been earlier, but ten is about the age a boy starts to sin, so I am sure it was in there somewhere. Girls begin to sin when they are twenty-three or something, but they do life much softer by their very nature and so need less of a run at things."

Chapter 3 – Magic
"Everybody wants to be fancy and new. Nobody wants to be themselves. I mean, maybe people want to be themselves, but they want to be different, with different clothes or shorter hair or less fat. It’s a fact. If there was a guy who just liked being himself and didn’t want to be anybody else, that guy would be the most different guy in the world and everyone would want to be him."

Chapter 5 – Faith
"The Goofy thing about Christian Faith is that you believe it and don’t believe it at the same time. It isn’t unlike having an imaginary friend. I believe in Jesus; I believe he is the Son of God, but every time I sit down to explain this to somebody I feel like a palm reader, like somebody who works at a circus or a kid who is always making things up or somebody at a Star trek convention who hasn’t figured out the show isn’t real."
I get really excited about new books to read.  They are like new friends.  Betsy told me about this one, and I love her.

Is today Wednesday?  Happy Wednesday!

p.s. I love my new family I am living with – they are awesome.

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Pleasure Reading III

"’It seems he had some naive conception of a women ‘fit to be his wife,’ a particular conception that I used to run into a lot and that always drove me wild. He demanded a girl who’d never been kissed and who liked to sew and sit home and pay tribute to his self-esteem. And I’ll bet a hat if he’d gotten an idiot to sit and be stupid with him he’s tearing out on the side with some much speedier lady.’
‘I’d be sorry for his wife.’
‘I wouldn’t. Think what an ass she’s be not to realize it before she married him. He’s the sort whose idea of honoring and respecting a women would be never to give her any excitement. With the best of intentions, he was deep in the dark ages.’"

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gloria describing an old beau,
The Beautiful and the Damned

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