Thursday, January 17, 2013

what I'm reading in January

Give a mom a goal . . .
say, a book to write,
or a thousand-ish ideas for blog posts- so many that it crosses her mind to begin a new blog dedicated purely to the subject . . .
this is what will happen:

her computer will need fixed. this will take three days.
one child will get sick.
another will get an ear infection.
her internet will go down.
the next available repair appointment is in three days.

she will run out of coffee.
(yes. repeat three times).

this mother will be forced to watch The Bachelor at night and question the meaning of her existence.

at the same time,
she will experience one of the most peaceful weeks in all of motherhood,
and as she sits sipping her tea it will occur to her
that maybe living offline is nice
but she really needs that cup of coffee.

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So the food and travel series won't be happening consecutively in January as I'd originally thought, but I do hope to blog on the subject and I would love to read your thoughts and stories about these experiences. If you have a blog post related to the experience of food or travel, send me a link at any time for a link-up.

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#1The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

I really like Tim Keller and this book was very readable, I would recommend this to anyone attempting to understand what the Bible says about marriage. The chapter written by his wife Kathy on gender roles was excellent especially for anyone who may have a negative assumption of the Biblical view of submission and authority. I found the first section of the book especially good as Keller attempts to describe what marriage is and what it is not, as modern people have either "cosmically impossible expectations" or deep ambivalence toward marriage.
The reason that marriage is so painful and wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God's saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God's mercy and grace.
However. Maybe it is because I grew up in the church, but I did not find the rest of the book to be anything I was not already quite familiar with. And like I said, for anyone who does not already have a Scriptural basis for marriage, this book is the best place to start. But that's what the book is- theological, and it left me wishing, as most theology does, for something more. (This came close to being redeemed however by the fact that he quoted both Jane Eyre and Wendell Berry).

#2 Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

The subtitle to this book is, What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy? and yes, Thomas goes to great lengths to make his case that God's purpose for marriage is to help us deepen our relationship with God and to make us more like Christ. (But like a friend said, it doesn't sound like much fun! heh) He takes more of a heart approach than Keller to navigating the "long conversation" of marriage, and makes some interesting parallels between marriage and our relationship with God. I was challenged throughout the book especially how marriage teaches us to love, and in living with an eternal perspective.

My complaint is that I have a hard time believing anyone who cannot offer personal examples. The greatest failure he was willing to describe was that on his wife's birthday the first year they were married he only bought her three books, not knowing that she doesn't like books as much as he does. (Really? Wow.) Another time he describes a stressful morning before church when he had to preach four times, and had to break up a fight with his kids and when he got to church was really frazzled and asked some people to pray for him so he could preach. (I give up). Because his own marriage seems so rosy, it makes it difficult to buy his premise that marriage is not also about happiness.

Whew. And now I am in need of some fiction.

#3 Remembering by Wendell Berry

This wasn't my favorite Port William novel, but it was lovely as always. It tells the story of Andy Catlett who lost his hand in a farming accident a few months prior, and reminded me of my grandfather who lost his right arm in a very similar farming accident. Also in the book he drives between Columbus Ohio and Pittsburgh, along the way he stops and spends some time with an amish man with the last name of Troyer, likely around the area where I grew up. I could imagine him standing in my grandfather's fields and having this conversation, understanding his lament of "progress" and nostalgia for the simpler life. Although I don't think my grandfather was philosophical in his farming practices, I know that he was thoughtful and slow to change. This is a conversation I wish I'd had with my grandfather.

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