Sunday, April 30, 2006
Son of Laughter by Frederick Beuchner. Matt & I agree this great. Well written and makes you wonder, did that really happen in the Bible?
Love To Water My Soul by Jane Kirkpatrick. One of my all time favorites. The prose is beautiful and it is based on true people and places in Oregon. Jane Kirkpatrick always tells you what was true and what she made up at the end. I like all of her older books better than her more recent series.
Cloud of Sparrows by Takashi Matsuoka. Matt recommended this one to me. It is about white people arriving in Japan as missionaries at the end of the 19th century. A great story.
Pursuit and Persuasion by Sally Wright. This is a mystery in a series of four. Set in the 1960s with good character development. The disappointing part is there is a great cliffhanger at the end of the series, but she has been unable to publish no. 5.
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield. This is a favorite from childhood. It is actually referred to in "You've got mail" with Meg Ryan. It is a young adult novel, but worthy of reading as an adult.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. This novel is just pure fun. It's like eating candy. There is not tons of depth, but it reads quickly and gives you a whole new perspective on the world of books.
Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery. I didn't read the entire Anne of Green Gables series until shortly after Matt and I got married. This one is about her first year of marriage. I enjoyed the whole series, but the liked the one where she goes to college and this one the best.
Bolt by Dick Francis. I pretty much like every mystery book Dick Francis has ever written. His writing is clean and excellent compared with most mystery books. He isn't shy about bringing violence into his books, but I feel like it's more on the "your afraid of what's about to happen side" of violence. Just be warned. They're not cute little novels, they're set in the horse racing world and people die.
How to Be Good by Nick Hornby. You might recall the movie "High Fidelity" and "About a Boy", both written by Nick Hornby. This book has not been turned into a movie, but it explores what it means to be a good person with some humor and drama thrown in.
A Painted House by John Grisham. I like the themes of grace in this book. Matt liked it too even though it's not on his list.
Biographical (if you like biographies, you can ask for more recommendations, I tend to favor these)
Spirit of the Rainforest by Mark Andrew Ritchie. This is not exactly a biography. It is an anthropological record of an Indian tribe in South America. I had to read it for an anthropology class at Western Seminary. It records different tribes' interactions with the spirit world. It is the most realistic picture of tribal spirit relationships I've ever seen. And yes, there is spiritual change in the story, so it's not all about evil. Matt did edit this book for me, because it includes the brutal stories of their lives before good comes into their world.
I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilquis Sheikh. This is a 1950s story of a Pakistani woman who finds God. I feel like the story could be a present day testimony of someone from the Middle East. I loved reading a detailed account of how God comes into her life.
My Several Worlds by Pearl Buck. Pearl Buck was actually a MK, but rejected Christianity. This her story of growing up in China between 1900 - 1940. I loved her cultural insights and how she viewed missionaries and she's a superb writer.
Red China Blues by Jan Wong. Jan Wong was one of the first foreign exchange students to China. It's a great account of culture in I think 1979. My favorite part was her eye witness account of Tiananmen Square.
A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L'Engle. This is more like a journal. It is part of a series of four. I enjoy her insights into life, although I do not always agree with her. My first encounter with Madeleine L'Engle was reading A Wrinkle in Time which Matt said boys will like too. It's a deep sci-fi young adult novel.
In The Beginning by Irina Ratushinskaya. Irina Ratushinskaya was put in the Soviet Gulag because of her poetry. Her story begins with childhood and goes through her time in the Gulag, and again how God comes into her life. Her poetry is also beautiful, but hard to understand the social implications when you are an outsider to Russian culture.
Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis. I don't recommend this book for everyone, but if you like to play Scrabble, you will find the world of tournament Scrabble play fascinating. The title describes the main characters quite well. And just a warning, apparently competitive Scrabble players like to swear.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
disclaimer: K is going to add more books to the list for the ladies in the near future. She saw my list and assured me it was "incomplete".
Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold. I tried to convince K for months to read this book, and she wouldn't. Something about not wanting to read a book about the devil. But it's not about the devil, you see. It's about Carter the Great, magician, and the book is full of lions, blind girls, borax, motorcycles, Houdini, pirates and more. You really just can't beat it. K agrees that this is a great, great novel.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Here's one K forced me to read. I wouldn't try it because it reminded me of Faulkner (who you will notice did not make my list in any way, shape or form). This has become one of my favorite novels of all time. It's a retelling, of sorts, of the Cain and Able story, and the central question of the novel is, "How do we deal with sin?" I've probably read it six times in the last three years. I guarantee you will like it. If you don't, call me and I will explain to you why you should!
Lord of the Flies by William Golding. You must read this book, if someone didn't force you to do so already. Some boys get stranded on an island and must form their own society. C.S. Lewis said he found the book to be "hallucinogenic". He found it almost frightening how clearly Golding puts the scenes in your mind. It really is like reading a movie, if that makes any sense.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Classic. You should be forced to read it in school. But if, like me, no one ever forced you to read it, you can enjoy it yourself now.
The Good German by Joseph Kanon. Set soon after the fall of Berlin, this morally complex novel tries to find an answer to the question, "What would a 'good person' have done while living in Germany during WWII?' But it's still a thriller, well-written and engaging.
The Once and Future King by T.H. White. The definitive (yes, better than Mallory) take on King Arthur. This is a book you can give to literally anyone and they will enjoy it. Assuming they can read english.
Books That Are Really Good But Don't Necessarily Get Full Endorsement As "Must Reads" From Krista:
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I can't believe you if you haven't read this. Set in a future dystopia, the main character's job is to burn books. It's about, um, censorship, I guess.
A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor. Some of the greatest stories in the english language, including the title story which is just about as good as a short story can get.
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. It's about growing up, more or less. Which was a surprise for me, since I thought it was a horror book. I had it confused with "Children of the Corn." Yup, this was much, much better than that. For my younger readers, you should know that this book has been banned before because of the language and so on. I suppose that has completely dissuaded you from reading it.
1984 by George Orwell. Big Brother, dystopia, sad communist ending, blah blah blah. It's good.
Watership Down by Richard Adams. It's a novel about rabbits. No, really. A heroic epic about rabbits. And wouldn't you know it, it turned out just fine.
Great Books That I Heartily Endorse But That Krista Hasn't Read:
Big Picture by Percival Everett. This is a great collection of short stories. There's fly fishing, bull riding, painters, a severed boar's head and pretty much everything else you would want a book of short stories to contain. And don't listen to the whiny little review that the Amazon people have up on their site. "Cerrulean" is an excellent story.
Napoleon of Notting Hill by G.K. Chesterton. I love Chesterton, his fiction and his non-fiction. But I've read this book about five times. It's one of the few books I've ever read that perfectly balances humor and tragedy in the same narrative. It basically explores why war takes perfectly ordinary things (hills, flags, men) and turns them into glorious objects of patriotical interest. This one should be a movie but isn't.
Glamorous Powers by Susan Howatch. Howatch's novel is about a priest in the Church of England who has a vision from God and then has to figure out what God is trying to say to him. It's slow in places, but I often had the creepy feeling that Howatch had been reading the secret journal I keep in my head.
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. A mythical autobigraphical novel/experiment that is hard to explain but easy to enjoy. Eggers walks us through the bizarre events his siblings faced when their parents die and they are suddenly "on their own." Funny, charming, sad, et cetera.
Til We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. My favorite C.S. Lewis novel.
Books I Am Not Sure Krista Would Like, But That's Not Going to Stop Me:
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. I never cared about mystery stories at all until I read the Big Sleep. Then you will have to read all of the other Chandler novels. He writes beautifully about Philip Marlowe, a detective in 1940's Los Angeles.
the Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connelly. Meanwhile Michael Connelly writes about Harry Bosch, a 90's cop in Los Angeles who has the unfortunate defect of caring about justice, integrity, and human beings. A little bit difficult to read sometimes because of the "real life" situations Harry finds himself embroiled in (i.e. sexual situations, violence), but the Bosch novels tackle real problems in our society and makes you ask how to right wrongs in our current world.
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. Our narrator leaves for San Lorenzo where he falls in love, finds religion (Bokonism), becomes president and then things really get interesting. It's funny, bizarre and pure Vonnegut.
Plato Papers by Peter Ackroyd. I don't know what to say about this other than the fact that it is weird. Weird and funny. Short. I don't know if it should even be on this list but there's one thing I can say for it: it sure is weird.
Oddville by Jay Stephens. I have no illusions that anyone is going to listen to me and read this book. But let me just say: crazy flying yellow baby, undead grunge band, evil scientists, gargantuan monkeys, giant radio controlled robots and bad alley cats make this a must-read.
Simply Christian by N.T. Wright. Carolyn "I don't have a blog" Culbertson gave me this book to read and it is spectacular. I'm not finished with it yet, but I can heartily endorse it already. Anyone interested in Chritianity could read this and find it insightful and valuable, from an athiest to a priest.
Prayer by Richard Foster. My favorite book on prayer. It's challenging in places, but overall I found it accessible, interesting and extremely helpful.
Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard. Don't read this when you are tired or the big hardback will smack you in the face. If you have the patience, however, this spells out how God changes people's lives in the clearest, most succinct way I have ever seen.
There Are Plenty of Others
There are lots of other authors I love who I haven't included on the list. Gene Wolfe, for instance, is a favorite, but I think a pretty narrow sliver of people who read this blog would like him. I would put pretty much every Steinbeck novel on this list, as well as "Wise Blood" by Flannery O'Connor. I would put a couple of Percival Everett's novels on the list, but not all of them. The way I read books is, I find a novel I like and then I read everything they have ever written: their novels, short stories, essays, grocery lists. So if you like one of these drop me a note and I'll tell you which novels to check out next by the same authors.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
K and I rented a DVD of old News Radio episodes. For those of you who don't know, it is a classic sitcom of the mid to late 90's. It is good t.v.
In the meantime I know you all are wondering why there is no good television in April. It is because Sweeps start in May.
Allow me to send this angry diatribe out into the blogosphere: O you television people! Why can you not just make good t.v. all the time? Why must you only show new episodes of LOST during sweeps! My fierce anger is kindled against you! Grrr!
In closing allow me to say that there just is not much good t.v. anyway. Why, when I was a boy we had good t.v. But this newfangeld stuff is just no good.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
It's during the description of Herod's conflicted feelings about John the Baptist. It says that Herod "feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John he was greatly puzzled; but he still liked to listen to him."
I would like my writing to be the overflow of a righteous and holy life. I would like it to impact people like Herod, so corrupted and evil that they are indignant to discover that it's wrong to marry your brother's wife. I would like them to puzzle over things, to think about them all the time and wonder what it all means, and I would like them to enjoy it at the same time, just like Herod enjoyed hearing from John.
I felt sorry for Herod as I looked at the different things mentioned about him in the gospel accounts. In John, for instance, he becomes interested in meeting Jesus (that's mentioned in Luke, too) but doesn't come face to face with him until just before the crucifixion, when Christ refuses to speak to him. I think of Herod then, and I really feel for him. He seems to be responding somehow to what John is sharing with him (Herodias certainly seems to think this is a danger, at least), but then his own disturbing sinfulness leads him into a situation where he must behead John. Then, when he finally sees Jesus, his chance seems to have passed. It ends with him mocking Jesus and sending him back to Pilate.
I hope that Herod figured it out somewhere along the line. I hope he saw the emptiness of his own life and saw something noble in Jesus' silence when he questioned him. I hope that somewhere he met Christ again and in time to recognize him for Who and What he is.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Student 1: Okay, Sauron is in his tower and he has the Ring, and Yoda is there and he has his lightsaber.
Student 2: Yoda would kick @$$.
Student 1: Yes, I agree. Undoubtedly he would kick @$$. But how would he do it?
Coming to a pulpit near you!
This weekend was Intern Kickoff Weekend, which is when all the people who are going to do an internship with CCC come together and we hire them and teach them how to raise support. It was a lot of fun. 38 students came together, some headed overseas, some headed to exotic American locations. A highlight must have been the "Fiesta of Forms" where people could fill out their I-9s, wear a sombrero and eat taquitos. Another highlight would have to be the "Chinese Banquet" that we had with the Rapeljes, McComas(es), Scott Wynegar, Justin, Andy and Ryan. Ryan, right? I think so. Anyway, the waitress at the Chinese restaurant assured me that we wanted the "banquet" which would mean more food, soup, dessert, appetizers and so on. In classic Asian style I assured her that I did not want the banquet. Then she said she would make any substitutions I wanted, but I was cool. I acted like I did not want it. Then she said she would add in any dishes we wanted at the same cost. Which I accepted.
I am sure they made plenty of money, because they kept thanking me and one of the waiters told me multiple times "you are the man". They also said that I must have gotten my tax rebate check. They invited me to come again. I think I will. It was a good, good meal, and great company.
Another highlight would be the meal with the future Venezuela team. Thai food! Yum! They're a good gang, too.
Anyway, this weekend is a great reminder of why we do what we do. It's awesome to see our students going out into the world to share the good news with everyone.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Z's 5th birthday this week! We had a mermaid party. Z loved it and we all had a fun time.
A and Z both wore mermaid costumes.
Look at that fashion sense! My kids like attention.
We made paper airplanes for fun. One kid cried nonstop after I accidentally threw his over a fence. Oops.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Leg of lamb
Big perfect asparagus
Homemade potatoes au gratin
She also made a fancy chocolate layer cake thing for Z's "pretend birthday". That's right, folks, pretend birthday.
It was an excellent meal. I told her she should have made double portions so that she could have frozen half and we could have just had the same thing next resurrection day.
I find that with praise music I consistently guess the wrong year. It is invariably three or more years "newer" than I would have thought. Theory: Our praise music responds to what is in vogue secularly. Not very revolutionary as theories go, but there it is.
In other confessions of being an evil person, I told K that we needed to switch where we sit in the church because the guy sitting behind us sings so loud and with such a dramatically overdone vibratto. I just can't concentrate while that guy (who I am sure is a great and loving guy) overpowers me with his formidable set of pipes.
Man, I really am evil. Okay, I have to log off and go get some confession time now. Adios, muchachos.
I know part of this, of course, is that we are finally coming to the end of the re-entry cycle, which has been longer and more brutal than I would have expected, I think partially because of all the new stresses we introduced so quickly in returning (seminary, the new job, etc). Makes me think of Dan and Amy (hi, Dan). Hang in there, guys. It's going to be okay one day soon!
We've been going to the Village now for about three months, and we'll keep going there so long as we're living in Portland, I think. They have integrated ministries (meaning they're mainstream in the church, not compartmentalized) with Koreans, East Asians, East Indians and Hispanics in our community, and are working on figuring out how to reach Vietnamese. I am thinking about joining the 530 am (!) Korean prayer times and K and both believe it's time for us to join in on the various multicultural potlucks! Yum!
Daughter: Mom, could we get this movie? I already saw it.
Mom: I can't believe your Father let you watch that.
Daughter: I didn't see it with Dad.
Mom: Oh yeah? Then when did you see it?
Daughter: I saw it with you, remember? When your friend came over? That guy?
Mom (hurrying down the aisle): Oh, yeah.
Daughter: Remember, Mom?
Mom: I remember, I remember.
Nurse: You would have to fast for twelve hours.
Me: Great! I haven't eaten any breakfast yet.
Nurse: But your appointment is not until 3:15 pm.
Nurse: It's just, that's a long time to fast.
That afternoon I went to the doctor's office, where I explained again that I would like, in addition to the free drugs, a cholesterol test.
Doctor: Have you been fasting?
Doctor: That's a long time to go without food. Are you okay.
Me: Um. Yes.
Note to my readers: In many parts of the world it is not considered a big deal to go without food for 21 hours. But I am glad to be considered some sort of master of self-discipline here in my homeland.
I am pretty sensitive to drugs, actually, so I have been sleeping all weekend. I should only be this way for the next eight days, folks!
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Meanwhile, one of his own short stories, The Holy Adultery, has appeared at Communique. It's quite good, and well worth your time.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Me: What do you mean? Oh, like his body was wrapped up?
Z: No, it was a roll.
Me: Like all wrapped up in cloth or something?
Z: No, a roll. He held up some bread and said it was his body.
Z: And then he said a cup of wine was his blood.
Me: And what did you think of that?
Z: I thought it was pretty neat.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
You may have noticed a lot of news stories about google censoring its China search engine, proving that they are really in it for the money and not for truth, justice or integrity.
A good example is this image search for "tiananmen square" that doesn't bring up a single image of "tank man", the courageous student that stood in front of the army's oncoming tanks just before the massacre started.
Last night, however, I discovered that if you spell "tiananmen" incorrectly you can get plenty of pictures of Tank Man.
If you just search for "tiananmen" one search result comes up (out of eight screens worth). I am guessing this is available only for a limited time. It's mostly beautiful, serene pictures of the square.
Here are the misspelled results.
For contrast, here's what comes up on the non-censored (so far as I know) English Google.
Fellow Revolutionist Ken already wrote about this, but as he is a fluent Chinese speaker and writer he never thought to misspell the words.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Update: The Israelites have just slaughtered a lot of people and Moses is asking God if they've proved themselves to Him yet, and how many more battles will they have to fight to prove their devotion to him. Wait. Now it's a commercial. Ahhhhh, that's better.
I think that they should remember, however, that our impressive political machinery has already made bumper stickers and trucker hats.
And as we all know, truckers like to choose whether to put cheese on their chili. I am trusting that the truckers, at least, will be on our side.
Me: What's wrong?
A: I want a tattoo.
Me: A tattoo? You're crying because you want a tattoo?
A: Yes, and I don't have one.
Me: If you had a tattoo, what would you want one of?
A: A bear.
Me: A bear?
A: A baby bear.
Me: And where would you put this tattoo?
A: On the back of my hand.
Me: And can you explain to me why you want a tattoo?
At this point I had revealed myself as a completely incapable comforter and she just started crying more and wandered away.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
Returning from Colorado I had to take a cab to get back to my house. My driver had been a cabbie for 40 years, all in Portland. I asked him about how much the city had changed (a lot) and whether he had seen a lot of strange things (he had). Here are my favorite two stories:
Cabbie: So one day I am driving this guy somewhere and I feel the barrel of a gun against my head and the guy says, "I am gonna kill you" and I say, "What? For this car and the money? You can have 'em! I'll just pull over and get out" and he said, "No. I'm gonna kill you" and I said, "Well, if you're gonna kill me then I am gonna kill you." And he said, "How're you gonna do that? I'm the one with the gun" and I said, "Yeah but I'm the one with the car. You're about to ride through the windshield because I'm gonna drive us right into that tree over there" and then I stepped on the gas and the guy started yellin' "You're crazy, you're crazy let me out" and I said, "Not until you throw that gun out the window" and then he did and I let him out.
Me: That's awesome. Did you get much of a tip?
Cabbie: About $800. I called the cab company and the city and told them what I did and they said, "Good. You keep the money."
Me (just starting to wonder if I should be worried that he apparently carries a gun and trying to figure out if I should ask him about it): That's, uh, that's great.
Cabbie: Of course I still carry my piece in case anyone tries to rob me.
Me (wondering about the business guy who was "a lot like me"): Of course.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
I also saw a rabbit yesterday. It was a city rabbit, I think, because it appeared to be foraging in a garbage can. Also, it was smoking a cigarette.
A little later I saw a fox, a really beautiful one. It was eating a rabbit, which probably ran slowly due to its smoker's cough.
Also, some deer. And it snowed today! Oh yeah, and a crow (raven?) that was about as big as a television. Which--depending on the size of your television--is quite impressive.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Here is something cool, though. There is an owl outside my window right now and it is hooting and hooting and hooting. It's sort of soothing. Unless you're a mouse, I guess.
Carolyn Culbertson has written a devotional on the gnw stinters site. It's about John Bunyan... although I was disappointed that she never mentioned Babe the big blue ox. And really, what is a John Bunyan story without flapjacks and Babe?
Anyway. You will like it.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Me: I have a quest for you, brave knights, because I am the King.
A: What is it?
Me: You must go put on your shoes, for it is time for us to go.
A: Well, I don't think I will do that, because I am the Queen.
Me: You still have to do what I say then, because I am the King, and the Queen has to do what the King says.
A: Well, I will be the King then.
Z: Who tells the king what to do?
Me: I don't know. The emperor.
Z: Who tells the emperor what to do?
Z: Well. You're not God, Daddy.
Me: Yes, that's true. Go put your shoes on.
But then we get to the means of accomplishing that, and I start to wonder if violent overthrows really do the deed. I mean, thank you Founding Fathers, for throwing all the tea into Boston Harbor and so on, but was that really the way to go about things? I wonder.
I guess my thought is that real revolution, real transformation, has to start with individuals and their connections to the people around them, and spread like a virus. What good is it to overthrow a tyrant and replace them with another? That seems to be our history, us as a human race.
I hope that my writing can have more effect on the lives of others than me killing someone. More positive effect, at least. I hope that living a righteous life, in the end, will mean more than killing a king or queen or whomever. I hope that being a good father will have more transforming effect on my society than me stomping out a bad government.
I just don't think terrorism works. Not in the way that a "freedom fighter" hopes it will. I don't think violence is the answer, unless that violence can somehow distinguish between the righteous and the evil, the just and the unjust. And I think the only revolution that will matter, the only one that changes anything in the future of our world is the revolution of the heart. That's the only revolution that can bring lasting, beneficial change on a societal level.
My Father, Father-in-Law and I went to see V for Vendetta last weekend. They are not to blame, it was entirely my idea, as I was interested in seeing the movie adaptation of the comic book, and also as the Wachowskis (of Matrix fame) had written the script.
I suppose the rest of you saw this coming as soon as I said "comic book" but I had sort of hoped the movie wouldn't veer into melodrama (it did). I also hoped that it might maintain some of the purity of the comic's study of anarchy vs. fascism and the grey spaces between the two (it didn't).
The main problem here was the sermonizing. I didn't go to see a sermon, but that's what I got. Instead of fascism vs. anarchy I got conservative Christians vs. loving (but firm) liberals. It makes it pretty hard to be entertained. On the other hand, it's a good idea for all the Christians to go see this movie so they can see how an unbeliever experiences so much of Christian media.
Things I liked: V's dashing Robin Hood performance. Seeing Natalie Portman actually act.
Things I disliked: the cartoony black and white morality essentially made this a film about a good guy who is a terrorist. As my father-in-law said afterwards, "I guess we should stay out of London for the next twenty years."
Last but not least: I am rather fond of anarchists. I think they are cute, like bunnies.
But allow me to say: I ain't afraid of no ghost.
I'll keep you appraised of any strange happenings. I actually did just hear some kids run by in the hall, but I am assuming it was actually kids running by in the hall and not ghosts of kids running by in the hall.
And remember: All work and no play makes Matt a dull boy.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
Our good friend Ken is on a rampage!
Alexis is organizing armed revolution among the disabled veterans of Croatia!
The Omnivore is toasting the novels I loaned him!
Rob is forced to admit that I AM RIGHT!
Taylor exposes the undercover Tigers.
Matt gives Stella a bath in the sink.
Andy gets a nose hair trimmer.
Meanwhile, Dave is not on the moon. A pirate ship appears on the horizon! A shot rings out!
And I think that the best picture to sum this all up is Godzilla in "DESTROY ALL MONSTERS!" For that sad minority who has never seen DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, it is the story of alien forces on a lunar outpost who simultaneously set free all the monsters of yore, from Godzilla to Ghidrah. Only the United Nations Starship Moonlight SY3 can save the citizens of Earth from utter chaos and imminent trampling.