I haven't been reading as much since the baby was born, but what I did read was excellent.
Bread and Wine, Readings for Lent and Easter is an anthology of readings by a variety of Christian authors. I really love this book, and will likely read it again each year for the season of Lent.
It seemed appropriate to read and think on the concepts of sin, self-denial, and suffering during the final months of my pregnancy, when I was overwhelmingly aware of limitations, the weariness and heaviness of my flesh, groaning and waiting for new life . . . (I was only half joking when I would say that I was giving up my body for Lent). And then came the agonizing "death" of childbirth (even with an epidural- no, nothing heroic about it), followed by such great joy and rejoicing of a new baby!
There is too much to say about all of the wisdom and insight found in this book, so I will only summarize one of my favorite chapters in the book. It is written by Morton T. Kelsey, called the Cross and the Cellar. In it he first of all reminds us that the cross . . .
"is the symbol, alive and vivid, of the evil that is in us, of evil itself. Scratch the surface of a person and below you find a beast or worse than a beast. This is what the cross says. We don't like to believe this, but let's look at the facts . . . " He then goes on to describe Nazi Germany, "the most literate and educated nation in the world. We think that the people who did these things must have been perverted monsters. Actually most of them, until they stepped into these roles, had been peaceful German burghers who had never hurt a person, living quietly and peacefully in their quiet homes, and then the devils in them were let loose."He gives several examples of the evil throughout history carried out by seeming normal, "good" people, and finally takes the reader to the cross to show how every person who played a part in crucifying Christ could have been any "good" person like me or you.
Pilate was a coward who cared more about his comfortable position than he did about justice. "Whenever you or I are willing to sacrifice someone else for our own benefit, whenever we don't have the courage to stand up for what we see is right, we step into the same course that Pilate took."
Ciaphas thought he had the whole truth. . . . "Those who put their creeds above mercy and kindness and love, walk there even now."
Judas was impatient. He "wanted Jesus to call upon heavenly powers . .. When he failed to do this, Judas no longer wanted anything to do with him. Judas' fault was that he couldn't wait. When we can't wait and want to push things through, when we think we can accomplish a noble end by human means, we are just like Judas."
The carpenter who made the cross . . . "knew full well what the purpose of the cross was. . . If other men use it for ill, is it my fault? So say all of us who pursue jobs which add nothing to human welfare or which hurt some people."
. . . These are the things that crucified Jesus . . . They were not wild viciousness or sadistic brutality or naked hate, but the civilized vices of cowardice, bigotry, impatience, timidity, falsehood, indifference- vices all of us share . . . .
I was so impacted by this chapter because I see myself in every single person he described.