What I Read January - June, part 1 [from the book pile 2019]

Oh goodness, how have six+ months gone by without a reading update?!? Life’s been a bit upside down lately, and I’m especially grateful for the companionship of good books. Hope you enjoy the micro reviews + publisher blurbs! Let me know if you add anything from this list to your book pile!

Sharing books from my Madeleine L’Engle collection at our reading group this spring.

Sharing books from my Madeleine L’Engle collection at our reading group this spring.

You can see my 2018 reading list here. | You can see all my reading lists since 2006 here.

One other note: A couple years ago I began using Amazon affiliate links as a way to bring in some pocket change from the books I share on the blog. I was challenged by an independent bookseller to reconsider this strategy as Amazon has a horrible reputation in its dealings with authors and other members of the book industry. I want to champion local business and humane working relationships and so I've included an IndieBound link that will direct you to purchase any of the following books from an independent bookseller near you. I've also included the order link for one of my new favorite booksellers, Hearts and Minds Books.  Using the link I've provided you can order any book through heartsandmindsbooks.com, a full service, independent bookstore and receive prompt and personal service. They even offer the option to receive the order with an invoice and a return envelope so you can send them a check! Brian and I've been delighted with the generous attention we've received from owners Byron and Beth Borger. We feel like we've made new friends! (I also highly recommend subscribing to Byron's passionately instructive and prolific Booknotes posts.)


Novels

1. Children of God: A Novel (The Sparrow Series)
By Mary Doria Russell (Fawcett Books, 1999. 438 pages)

Amazon | IndieBound | Hearts & Minds Booksellers

"The only member of the original mission to the planet Rakhat to return to Earth, Father Emilio Sandoz has barely begun to recover from his ordeal when the Society of Jesus calls upon him for help in preparing for another mission to Alpha Centauri. Despite his objections and fear, he cannot escape his past or the future.

Old friends, new discoveries and difficult questions await Emilio as he struggles for inner peace and understanding in a moral universe whose boundaries now extend beyond the solar system and whose future lies with children born in a faraway place.

Strikingly original, richly plotted, replete with memorable characters and filled with humanity and humor, Children of God is an unforgettable and uplifting novel that is a potent successor to The Sparrow and a startlingly imaginative adventure for newcomers to Mary Doria Russell’s special literary magic.”

Micro Review: The first book in this two-part series, The Sparrow, was one of the best books I read in 2014, ending up on my top 15 life-changing books since I started keeping track on this blog in 2008. I’d heard that the follow-up, Children of God, was generally good but not enjoyed quite as much by fans of The Sparrow, and I’d agree with that consensus. The first book just about wrecked me -- in mostly good ways. Since it falls in the category of Sci-Fi, I'd probably not have picked it up on my own. But some dear friends shared how much they'd loved the story of -- well, a Jesuit priest in outer space. With only a little bit of experience reading science fiction, I've quickly learned that the power of the genre -- for me -- is the way a well-told story of an imaginary land and its inhabitants can help me reframe the powerful drama of my own land and species in the most surprising, touching ways. This was the case for me reading about the brave team of space explorers hoping to give and receive love on the planet Rakhat -- for some, even the love of the Gospel of Christ. The devastating results of offering pure, but misunderstood, love mirrors all the great tragedies we know since the beginning of man. And the beginning of my very own life on Earth. Children of God split the storyline between Earth and Rakhat and I found that the Rakhat story more compelling. Emilio Sandoz lost a little bit of his shine for me as he tries to recover from trauma and re-enter regular relationships on earth. I understood the trauma, but struggled more with his romantic choices and the results of his forced participation in a Rakhat rescue. The story arc was still compelling and one of the only books I’ve read that I can authentically attribute the over-used descriptor of “spellbinding.”

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read either of Mary Doria' Russell’s Sparrow books! How do you feel about them?

2. This Must Be the Place: A Novel
By Maggie O’Farrell (Knopf, 2016. 400 pages)

Amazon | IndieBound | Hearts & Minds Booksellers

"An irresistible love story, an unforgettable family. Best-selling author Maggie O’Farrell captures an extraordinary marriage with insight and laugh-out-loud humor in what Richard Russo calls “her breakout book.” Perfect for readers of Where’d You Go, Bernadette.

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn, and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex–film star given to pulling a gun on anyone who ventures up their driveway. Claudette was once the most glamorous and infamous woman in cinema before she staged her own disappearance and retreated to blissful seclusion in an Irish farmhouse.

But the life Daniel and Claudette have so carefully constructed is about to be disrupted by an unexpected discovery about a woman Daniel lost touch with twenty years ago. This revelation will send him off-course, far away from wife, children, and home. Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back?”

Micro Review:

I first heard about this title on a One Great Book podcast with Modern Mrs. Darcy: Volume 1, Book 8 - “if you have a place in your heart and on your shelves for inventive, emotionally resonant literary fiction, that sometimes flouts convention but does it with purpose, whose characters you might love not in spite of, but because of, their flaws, This Must Be the Place may be the next great book you’re looking for.”

This was an enjoyable read with interesting characters, easy-to-follow timeline shifts in the narrative arc, and a satisfactory plot ending. My main disappointment is that while a large portion of the book was set in Ireland, we didn’t get much of a “feel” for the place outside of a few mentions here and there. If Ireland is a setting I want to FEEL IT!


Mysteries

3. The Cruelest Month: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel (Volume 3)
By Louise Penny (Minotaur Books, 2011. 320 pages)

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"Welcome to Three Pines, where the cruelest month is about to deliver on its threat.
It's spring in the tiny, forgotten village; buds are on the trees and the first flowers are struggling through the newly thawed earth. But not everything is meant to return to life. . .
When some villagers decide to celebrate Easter with a séance at the Old Hadley House, they are hoping to rid the town of its evil---until one of their party dies of fright. Was this a natural death, or was the victim somehow helped along?
Brilliant, compassionate Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec is called to investigate, in a case that will force him to face his own ghosts as well as those of a seemingly idyllic town where relationships are far more dangerous than they seem.”

Micro Review: This series has been a quiet little luxury during some difficult days. I read the books kind of like I eat a bowl of popcorn - mostly light and airy with an occasional kernel of buttery goodness. It’s the kind of series I can pick up whenever I need to just read without much brain work but still appreciate the redemptive story arc.

4. A Rule Against Murder: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel (Volume 4)
By Louise Penny (Minotaur Books, 2011. 336 pages)

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"What happened here last night isn't allowed," said Madame Dubois.
It was such an extraordinary thing to say it stopped the ravenous Inspector Beauvoir from taking another bite of his roast beef on baguette.

"You have a rule against murder?" he asked.

"I do. When my husband and I bought the Bellechasse we made a pact....Everything that stepped foot on this land would be safe."

It is the height of summer, and Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are celebrating their wedding anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse, an isolated, luxurious inn not far from the village of Three Pines. But they're not alone. The Finney family—rich, cultured, and respectable—has also arrived for a celebration of their own.

The beautiful Manoir Bellechasse might be surrounded by nature, but there is something unnatural looming. As the heat rises and the humidity closes in, some surprising guests turn up at the family reunion, and a terrible summer storm leaves behind a dead body. It is up to Chief Inspector Gamache to unearth secrets long buried and hatreds hidden behind polite smiles. The chase takes him to Three Pines, into the dark corners of his own life, and finally to a harrowing climax.”

Micro Review: See above.

5. The Brutal Telling: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel (Volume 5)
By Louise Penny (Minotaur Books, 2017. 400 pages)

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"The wise and beleaguered Chief Inspector Armand Gamache returns to Three Pines The Brutal Telling, the fifth book in Louise Penny's #1 New York Times bestselling series.

Chaos is coming, old son. 

With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. Everybody goes to Olivier's Bistro—including a stranger whose murdered body is found on the floor. When Chief Inspector Gamache is called to investigate, he is dismayed to discover that Olivier's story is full of holes. Why are his fingerprints all over the cabin that's uncovered deep in the wilderness, with priceless antiques and the dead man's blood? And what other secrets and layers of lies are buried in the seemingly idyllic village?

Gamache follows a trail of clues and treasures—from first editions of Charlotte's Web and Jane Eyre to a spiderweb with a word mysteriously woven in it—into the woods and across the continent, before returning to Three Pines to confront the truth and the final, brutal telling.”

Micro Review: See above. I’ll add that I found the mystery angle of this story especially compelling.

6. Bury Your Dead: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel (Volume 6)
By Louise Penny (Minotaur Books, 2011. 400 pages)

Amazon | IndieBound | Hearts & Minds Booksellers

"It is Winter Carnival in Quebec City, bitterly cold and surpassingly beautiful. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has come not to join the revels but to recover from an investigation gone hauntingly wrong. But violent death is inescapable, even in the apparent sanctuary of the Literary and Historical Society--where an obsessive historian's quest for the remains of the founder of Quebec, Samuel de Champlain, ends in murder. Could a secret buried with Champlain for nearly four hundred years be so dreadful that someone would kill to protect it?

Meanwhile, Gamache is receiving disquieting letters from the village of Three Pines, where beloved Bistro owner Olivier was recently convicted of murder. "It doesn't make sense," Olivier's partner writes every day. "He didn't do it, you know."

As past and present collide in this astonishing novel, Gamache must relive a terrible event from his own past before he can begin to bury his dead.”

Micro Review: See above. I’ll add that I loved the opportunity to get out of the quirky, but loveable Three Pines community into the rich, historical setting of Quebec. Montreal is totally on our travel bucket list! I also appreciated the way the mysteries included the current crime and a revisit to an old, somewhat unresolved crime from a previous book.


Short Stories

7. Strange Pilgrims
By Gabriel García Márquez (Convergent Books, 2016. 224 pages)

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"In Barcelona, an aging Brazilian prostitute trains her dog to weep at the grave she has chosen for herself. In Vienna, a woman parlays her gift for seeing the future into a fortunetelling position with a wealthy family. In Geneva, an ambulance driver and his wife take in the lonely, apparently dying ex-President of a Caribbean country, only to discover that his political ambition is very much intact.

In these twelve masterly stories about the lives of Latin Americans in Europe, García Márquez conveys the peculiar amalgam of melancholy, tenacity, sorrow, and aspiration that is the émigré experience.”

Micro Review: My friend Ryan loaned me this book with the invitation to try reading Gabriel García Márquez again after I gave up on his acclaimed One Hundred Years of Solitude which I gave up on pretty quickly. He was right. The short story format was a better genre to get to know the author and I waded through them like a walk on the seashore - refreshing, beautiful, and occasionally, mesmerizing. I think more than anything plot-driven, I found the author’s ability to describe settings and characters in story after story affecting me like wave after wave (twelve stories in all) of sharp but alluring prose.

As an example, I could read this character description over and over just for the hypnotic quality of the combination of words (and this is the translation!):

“She was beautiful and lithe, with soft skin the color of bread and eyes like green almonds, and she had straight black hair that reached to her shoulders, and an aura of antiquity that could just as well have been Indonesian as Andean. She was dressed with subtle taste: a lynx jacket, a raw silk blouse with very delicate flowers, natural linen trousers, and shoes with a narrow stripe the color of bougainvillea. 'This is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen,' I thought, when I saw her pass by with the stealthy stride of a lioness, while I waited in the check-in line at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for the plane to New York. ”
- Gabriel García Márquez, Strange Pilgrims


Apostles Reads Selections

8. Walking On Water: Reflections on Faith and Art
By Madeleine L’Engle (Convergent Books, 2016. 224 pages)

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"In this classic book, Madeleine L'Engle addresses the questions, What does it mean to be a Christian artist? and What is the relationship between faith and art? Through L'Engle's beautiful and insightful essay, readers will find themselves called to what the author views as the prime tasks of an artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation through one's own art.”

Micro Review: I re-read this book with our church’s reading group for Epiphany and loved it every bit as much the second (third?) time around. The theme of invisible being made visible in the everyday world is perfect for Epiphany when we read through the accounts of Jesus’ being revealed as God in some of the most famous Gospel encounters.

It’s the perfect book to read with friends interested in the ways art and artists tell the story of truth, goodness, and beauty in this world.

9. Hinds’ Feet On High Places: An Engaging Visual Journey
By Hannah Hurnard, Illustrated By Jill de Haan and Rachel McNaughton (Tyndale House Publishers, 2017. 160 pages)

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"Journey with Much-Afraid to new heights of love, joy, and victory. For the first time, this beloved Christian allegory is a mixed-media special edition complete with charming watercolor paintings, antique tinted photography, meditative hand-lettered Scripture, journaling and doodling space, and designs to color. As you read and connect with the story of Much-Afraid and her trials, the pages of this book become a canvas on which to chronicle your own story, struggles, and personal triumphs.

Hinds' Feet on High Places, with more than 2,000,000 copies sold, is a story of endurance, persistence, and reliance on God. This book has inspired millions of people to become sure-footed in their faith even when facing the rockiest of life's terrain. The story of Much-Afraid is based on Psalm 18:33: "He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights."

The complete Hinds' Feet story is accented by 80 full-color paintings, photography, and hand-lettered Scripture.”

Micro Review: We read this beloved Christian allegory with our church’s reading group for Lent this year. I selected this beautiful mixed-media special edition complete with charming watercolor paintings, antique tinted photography, meditative hand-lettered Scripture, journaling and doodling space, and designs to color. I’ve lost track of the number of times since Easter that I’ve thought back to Much-Afraid’s challenging journey to her new identity of Grace and Glory. I’ll return to this devotional year after year.


Spirituality / Non-Fiction

10. Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace
By Christie Purifoy (Zondervan, 2019. 224 pages)

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"Images of comfortable kitchens and flower-filled gardens stir something deep within us--we instinctively long for home. In a world of chaos and conflict, we want a place of comfort and peace.

In Placemaker, Christie Purifoy invites us to notice our soul's desire for beauty, our need to create and to be created again and again. As she reflects on the joys and sorrows of two decades as a placemaker and her recent years living in and restoring a Pennsylvania farmhouse, Christie shows us that we are all gardeners. No matter our vocation, we spend much of our lives tending, keeping, and caring. In each act of creation, we reflect the image of God. In each moment of making beauty, we realize that beauty is a mystery to receive.

Weaving together her family's journey with stories of botanical marvels and the histories of the flawed yet inspiring placemakers who shaped the land generations ago, Christie calls us to cultivate orchards and communities, to clap our hands along with the trees of the fields. Placemaker is a timely yet timeless reminder that the cultivation of good and beautiful places is not a retreat from the real world but a holy pursuit of a world that is more real than we know. A call to tend the soul, the land, and the places we share with one another. A reminder that we are always headed home.”

Micro Review: I was able to review Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace by Christie Purifoy for Englewood Review of Books
A Flouring Tree, A Feature Review:

Annie Dillard, in The Writing Life, encourages writers to remember Thoreau’s salient recommendation: “Circle round and round your life… Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.” If it’s possible to gnaw a bone elegantly, Christie Purifoy does just that in her newly-released second book, Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace. Like her debut, Roots & Sky, Purifoy continues to circle round and round the subject of finding, losing, and making home.

With regard to Thoreau, a more apt metaphor Placemaker might be sitting under the shade of a tree we didn’t plant. Purifoy provides a virtual grove of shade trees gathered from the landscapes of the places she’s lived throughout her life. Not unlike Annie Dillard (or Thoreau) in her diligence to wring wonder from the natural world, Christie Purifoy offers readers glimpses of the universe’s deepest truth, goodness, and beauty from the fauna and flora we encounter in the ordinary places we make our homes.”

You can read the rest of my review describing why I loved this book and some of the trees in my own story here.

11. The Sabbath (FSG Classics)
By Abraham Joshua Heschel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 144 pages)

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"Elegant, passionate, and filled with the love of God's creation, Abraham Joshua Heschel's The Sabbath has been hailed as a classic of Jewish spirituality ever since its original publication-and has been read by thousands of people seeking meaning in modern life. In this brief yet profound meditation on the meaning of the Seventh Day, Heschel introduced the idea of an "architecture of holiness" that appears not in space but in time Judaism, he argues, is a religion of time: it finds meaning not in space and the material things that fill it but in time and the eternity that imbues it, so that "the Sabbaths are our great cathedrals."

Micro Review: This was a re-read for me in order to follow along with Englewood Review of Books’ Lenten online reading group. I facilitated one of the sessions. You can see my questions for Chapters 7-9 here.

Here’s an excerpt from my reflection following the first time I read the book (back in 2015):

Even though I'd always meant to read it because Abraham Joshua Heschel is quoted by almost every author I've ever read (usually from this book), I'll admit it was seeing an image of the cover art that finally got me to purchase the book.  The prints of wood engravings by Ilya Schor on the cover and at the beginning of each chapter provide an elegance to Heschel's graceful words about the beauty of Sabbath time to Jewish faith and life.  Heschel's words are poetic (at times, even, mythical) which I found captivating enough, but especially so when paired with his daughter's prologue to the book which explained in more day-to-day (week-to-week, rather) terms of what a Sabbath practice looked like in her father's home.

Beautiful.”


Christian Perspective / Social Issues

12. Darkness Is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness
By Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Foreword by Justin Welby (Brazos Press, 2015. 240 pages)

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"Where is God in the suffering of a mentally ill person? What happens to the soul when the mind is ill? How are Christians to respond to mental illness? In this brave and compassionate book, theologian and priest Kathryn Greene-McCreight confronts these difficult questions raised by her own mental illness--bipolar disorder. With brutal honesty, she tackles often avoided topics such as suicide, mental hospitals, and electroconvulsive therapy. Greene-McCreight offers the reader everything from poignant and raw glimpses into the mind of a mentally ill person to practical and forthright advice for their friends, family, and clergy.

The first edition has been recognized as one of the finest books on the subject. This thoroughly revised edition incorporates updated research and adds anecdotal and pastoral commentary. It also includes a new foreword by the current Archbishop of Canterbury and a new afterword by the author.”

Micro Review: We’re walking with a loved one suffering from severe depression. Friends loaned us Kathryn Greene-McCreight’s book and I’d recommend it to everyone wanting to be a good gift to mental illness. May our tribe increase.

13. Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible
By M. Daniel Carroll R. (Brazos Press, 2013. 170 pages)

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"Immigration is one of the most pressing issues on the national agenda. In this accessible book, an internationally recognized immigration expert helps readers think biblically about this divisive issue, offering accessible, nuanced, and sympathetic guidance for the church. As both a Guatemalan and an American, the author is able to empathize with both sides of the struggle and argues that each side has much to learn.

This updated and revised edition reflects changes from the past five years, responds to criticisms of the first edition, and expands sections that have raised questions for readers. It includes a foreword by Samuel Rodriguez and an afterword by Ronald Sider. This timely, clear, and compassionate resource will benefit all Christians who are thinking through the immigration issue..”

Micro Review: We had the privilege of hearing Danny Carroll speak at our diocesan convention last autumn on the biblical lens for immigration. Put this at the top of your reading and listening lists. You can see each of his three plenary talks from the weekend here. If you aren’t able to read the book right away, you can also hear the author in this series of brief videos.

The entire thread weaving through all of Scripture places priority on the foreigner and stranger. To think Christianly about immigration is actually pretty plain. Policies are complex and require good governance. The posture of anyone who lives within the Kingdom of Christ toward immigrants is straightforward. Let’s stop pretending otherwise.


Plough Book Reviews

14. Jean Vanier: Portrait of A Free Man
By Anne-Sophie Constant, Translated By Allen Page (Plough Publishing House, August 2019. 250 pages)

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"The life of Jean Vanier, founder of l’Arche, who changed the way the world views disability

It’s a crazy story. In August 1964 a thirty-six-year-old Canadian from a famous family – one who has already joined the navy during war at age thirteen, become an officer, earned a PhD, and taught ethics at the University of Toronto -- takes up residence in a little house he just bought in the village of Trosly, France, with two mentally disabled men he has removed from a care home. The house, which he calls l’Arche (the Ark), has neither water nor electricity. His plan? None. He is just convinced he has to do it, touched by the silent cry of these men shut up in the gloomy, violent institution where he found them. His example is contagious; within months the community has grown to over fifty.

Jean Vanier is known and loved around the world for having created L'Arche, those unique communities of people with disabilities and their volunteer caregivers in more than one hundred and fifty sites on five continents. But Vanier is also a philosopher, a spiritual master who touches believers and nonbelievers alike, a tireless messenger of peace and ecumenism, and an adventurer with life full of twists and turns. Anne-Sophie Constant's literary biography paints a rare portrait of this extraordinary man and the events and influences that shaped his destiny.

“The story of Jean Vanier is the story of a free man – a man who knew how to become himself, who knew how to free himself from restraints, opinions, and prejudices; from intellectual, religious or moral habits; from his epoch; from popular opinion. . . . Jean Vanier has transformed the lives of thousands and thousands of mentally disabled people. And he has transformed the understanding of thousands of people regarding the disabilities of their own children and of people with disabilities. Where we see only failure, disgrace, impossibility, limit, weakness, ugliness, and suffering, Jean Vanier sees beauty. And he knows how to open the eyes of others to see it..”

Micro Review: It’s a curious thing about us humans that we often delay our acquaintanceship with the work of remarkable humans until they die. For that reason, this August may be perfect timing for this new release from Plough Publishing House as the world mourns the loss of Jean Vanier, age 90, in May. For those like me who have circled around the writing and wisdom of the man who traded in a life of the political and academic elite to found L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 countries, for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. I find these kinds of biographies that provide background and context for the lives of those who so deeply influence the world helpful as a launch into the primary sources written by the figures themselves. I’m looking forward to reading deeply through Vanier’s writing and grateful to Anne-Sophie Constant and Plough for inviting me into the circle of those who knew the man firsthand.

More than anything I want to, in the words of the Apostle Paul, put on Jean Vanier as he put on Christ. I want to become more fully human in the process of companioning others to do the same. Thanks to this portrait of Vanier’s life I will always imagine the Kingdom of Christ like the crowd who gathered for L’Arche’s fiftieth-anniversary celebration. Here’s the description from the book’s epilogue:

“[The festival} took place on September 27 [2014]. To the surprise of the passersby, there was a gigantic parade of seven thousand people marching from the Hôtel de Ville to the Place de la République. The crowd shouted, sang, and danced in the streets as colorful balloons floated into the air. “What are you demonstrating against?” people asked. “Against nothing! We’re celebrating! Come dance and eat cake with us.”… So they danced on the Place de la République - marchers, wheelchairs, and pedestrians all mixed together.”

May each protest I offer against all that is inhuman and unlove have the air of the celebration that the Kingdom is here and now and through what Vanier described as the “sacrament of the poor” can be lived in the good company of Jesus who invites us all, like little children, into the belovedness of God.

15. At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl
By Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl, Edited by Inge Jens, Translated by J. Maxwell Brownjohn (Plough Publishing House, 2017. 381 pages)

Amazon | Plough Publishing House | Hearts & Minds Booksellers

"Personal letters and diaries provide an intimate view into the hearts and minds of a brother and sister who became martyrs in the anti-Nazi resistance during World War II.

Idealistic, serious, and sensible, Hans and Sophie Scholl joined the Hitler Youth with youthful and romantic enthusiasm. But as Hitler’s grip throttled Germany and Nazi atrocities mounted, Hans and Sophie emerged from their adolescence with the conviction that at all costs they must raise their voices against the murderous Nazi regime.

In May of 1942, with Germany still winning the war, an improbable little band of students at Munich University began distributing the leaflets of the White Rose. In the very city where the Nazis got their start, they demanded resistance to Germany’s war efforts and confronted their readers with what they had learned of Hitler’s “final solution”: “Here we see the most terrible crime committed against the dignity of humankind, a crime that has no counterpart in human history.”

These broadsides were secretly drafted and printed in a Munich basement by Hans Scholl, by now a young medical student and military conscript, and a handful of young co-conspirators that included his twenty-one-year-old sister Sophie. The leaflets placed the Scholls and their friends in mortal danger, and it wasn’t long before they were captured and executed.

As their letters and diaries reveal, the Scholls were not primarily motivated by political beliefs, but rather came to their convictions through personal spiritual search that eventually led them to sacrifice their lives for what they believed was right. Interwoven with commentary on the progress of Hitler’s campaign, the letters and diary entries range from veiled messages about the course of a war they wanted their country to lose, to descriptions of hikes and skiing trips and meditations on Goethe, Dostoyevsky, Rilke, and Verlaine; from entreaties to their parents for books and sweets hard to get in wartime, to deeply humbled and troubled entreaties to God for an understanding of the presence of such great evil in the world. There are alarms when Hans is taken into military custody, when their father is jailed, and when their friends are wounded on the eastern front. But throughout―even to the end, when the Scholls’ sense of peril is most oppressive―there appear in their writings spontaneous outbursts of joy and gratitude for the gifts of nature, music, poetry, and art. In the midst of evil and degradation, theirs is a celebration of the spiritual and the humane.

Illustrated with photographs of Hans and Sophie Scholl and their friends and co-conspirators..”

Micro Review: I’d never heard of Hans and Sophie Scholl or the White Rose before receiving this book from Plough Publishing. In one way I’m glad to be just learning their story now against the backdrop or our current political and cultural climate. I’m beginning to understand that the one-dimensional understanding of anyone loyal to Hitler’s Germany has created massive blind spots and harmful ignorance in our belief that we’re living on the “right side of history.” May God raise up many more Hans and Sophie Scholls in our day. May we, like these young, idealists be willing as their peer in the resistance, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, allow all our wish-dreams to be shattered by Jesus.

And even then, in our zeal for Christ’s Kingdom to be on earth as it is in heaven, may we like Sophie Scholl never lose sight of the beauty of our Father’s world who wrote during her final autumn - a few months before her execution by the Nazi government ruling her beloved Germany:

“Now I’m delighting once more in the last rays of the sun and marveling at the incredible beauty of all that wasn’t created by man: the red dahlias beside the white garden gate, the tall, solemn fir trees, the tremulous, gold-draped birches whose gleaming trunks stand out against all the green and russet foliage, and the golden sunshine that intensifies the colors of each individual object, unlike the blazing summer sun, which overpowers anything else that tries to stir. It’s all so wonderfully beautiful here that I’ve no idea what kind of emotion my speechless heart should develop for it, because it’s too immature to take pure pleasure in it. It merely marvels and contents itself with wonder and enchantment - isn’t it mysterious - and frightening, too, when one doesn’t know the reason - that everything should be so beautiful in spite of the terrible things that are happening? My sheer delight in all things beautiful has been invaded by a great unknown, an inkling of the creator whom his creatures glorify with their beauty. - That’s why mane alone can be ugly, because he has the free will to disassociate himself from this song of praise. Nowadays one is often tempted to believe that he’ll drown the song with gunfire and curses and blasphemy. But it dawned on me last spring that he can’t, and I’ll try to take the winning side.”

Read this book with a side of humble curiosity and then pass it on.

16. The Gospel in Gerard Manley Hopkins: Selections from His Poems, Letters, Journals, and Spiritual Writings (The Gospel in Great Writers)
By Gerard Manley Hopkins and Margaret R. Ellsberg, Foreword by Dana Gioia (Plough Publishing House, 2017. 268 pages)

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"How did a Catholic priest who died a failure become one of the world’s greatest poets? Discover in his own words the struggle for faith that gave birth to some of the best spiritual poetry of all time.

Gerard Manley Hopkins deserves his place among the greatest poets in the English language. He ranks seventh among the most frequently reprinted English-language poets, surpassed only by Shakespeare, Donne, Blake, Dickinson, Yeats, and Wordsworth.

Yet when the English Jesuit priest died of typhoid fever at age forty-four, he considered his life a failure. He never would have suspected that his poems, which would not be published for another twenty-nine years, would eventually change the course of modern poetry and influence such poets as W. H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Geoffrey Hill, and Seamus Heaney. Like his contemporaries Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, Hopkins revolutionized poetic language.

And yet we love Hopkins not only for his literary genius but for the hard-won faith that finds expression in his verse. Who else has captured the thunderous voice of God and the grandeur of his creation on the written page as Hopkins has? Seamlessly weaving together selections from Hopkins’s poems, letters, journals, and sermons, Peggy Ellsberg lets the poet tell the story of a life-long struggle with faith that gave birth to some of the best poetry of all time. Even readers who spurn religious language will find in Hopkins a refreshing, liberating way to see God’s hand at work in the world.”

Micro Review: I re-read this insightful book for a Selah assignment this spring to study a Christian mystic. I was delighted to discover that one of my favorites, Gerard Manley Hopkins, included in a list of English mystic poets on God in nature.

Here’s my mini-review from my first read back in 2017:

I'm grateful for any opportunity I have to learn an artist through his life story. There are drawbacks, of course. Sometimes it's hard to look a hero in the proverbial eye through their letters and journal entries. It's hard to hear the doubt, insecurity, and suffering of the people who've introduced so much beauty into the world. Oh my goodness, Gerard Manley Hopkins' poems are beautiful. And his suffering was real. My favorite part of the book is still the poems, which I guess I could read in his collected works, but I've learned that I often prefer to read and study artists' work within the context of their everyday lives. 

Here's my all-time favorite Hopkins line from The Wreck of the Deutschland: "Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east".

Yes, let it be so.


Go to my reading lists page to see my reading lists from 2018 and previous years.

Here's my Goodreads page. Let's be friends!

Linking up with another good reading resource: Modern Mrs. Darcy's monthly Quick Lit post.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!  

What are you reading these days? 

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p.s. This post includes affiliate links in this post because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!

7 Eastertide quick takes

What I've been up to lately: places, people, books, podcasts, music, links & more for your weekend downtime.

(1) an update on our friend Christine Warner

I hope that most of you had the opportunity to read my explanation for changing up the normal posting series here during Eastertide. Our friend Christine Warner suffered a near-fatal accident that led us to enter to practice resurrection through deep intercession for her life to be spared and to be fully restored to wholeness.

God has heard our prayers for greater, persistent healing in Christine's body. We're still praying and invite you to join us. You can continue to follow updates at the Christ Church website. You can still contribute to the fund to assist the Warner family here.

Thanks be to God! Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah! 

P.S., Here's a sweet video Christine's eldest son created for her in honor of her birthday.


(2) photos from Easter Sunday

I managed to take a couple of photos, but was mostly busy being grateful that the weather was somewhat springlike!


(3) books I'm reading

I'm deep into certification coursework to become a Spiritual Director. I'm about halfway through with graduation slated for May 2019. It's taken about a year to wear this role with some degree of confidence and I feel like I'm beginning to move on more cylinders now. I'm finding the reading full, rich, and time-consuming. That's part of the reason I haven't updated my What I Read posts all year! I'm reading a lot, but it's being processed more internally. I imagine one of these days I'll start having many words to say about it all, but for now, here's a current favorite.

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 5.11.16 PM.png

 

  1. The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism by Bernard McGinn
  2. The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon - During Eastertide our church's reading group (Apostles Reads) dove into one of my favorite food-as-theology books, and then shared warm discussion during a two-hour dinner party. You can read the review I wrote several years ago after I was first introduced to this classic.
  3. Mending the Divides: Creative Love In A Conflicted World by Jon Huckins and Jer Swigart - I recently contributed a feature review at Englewood Review of Books for this 2017 IVPress release. You can read my review here: The Abundance of Wholeness, Completeness, and Fullness - A Feature Review of Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World

(4) photos from our Easter Sunday road trip to Madeleine L'Engle's Connecticut home

Our plans to visit home fell through at the last minute so Brian drove me to Madeleine L’Engle’s house (her beloved Crosswicks in Goshen, CT). We saw her Congregational Church and the General store her family ran for a few years. We also found a delicious lunch in Litchfield.

It was a good day.


(5) music links for songs & albums I've had on repeat the past few months (in no particular order)

  1. Pretty much everything from Leon Bridges - like this performance on SNL and, especially, this music video for his gorgeous song River.
  2. Every single song and video released by The Porter's Gate Worship Project. You can hear the whole album here: Work Songs
  3. Sufjan Stevens' newly-released single Tonya Harding. I'm so glad I heard the song before we saw the movie, I, Tonya. It felt like a prayer I could carry into the theatre with me. I wrote about the song in a best-of-2017 post for Think Christian.
  4. Speaking of Think Christian, I feel like the writers have been hitting it out of the park with commentaries on new musical releases in the past year. For instance: Calexico's Thread That Keeps Us - Music Without Borders by Aarik Danielson,  4:44 - Hearing Jay-Z's Confession by Chad Ashby, Open Mike Eagle and 'Brick Body' Temples by Aarik Danielson
  5. On the worship music front I've been especially grateful lately for Andrew Peterson's Resurrection Letters and Sandra McCracken's Songs From the Valley and Steadfast Live. This song from Peterson, in particular has been on repeat since Easter. Our wonderful worship leader taught us this song last week, and I just keep listening to it.

(6) photos from our kid-visiting tour of Texas

We're keeping the tradition of visiting Texas in April. We were a bit late to see the bluebonnets at full peak, but enjoyed the sunshine all the same. We made it to Denton to see Kendra, Fort Worth to see the newlyweds (is 2 1/2 years still new?), and to Austin to see Andrew, and a Lego session with our godson Emmett. We managed to be there in time to catch Andrew's comedy gig with the Moontower festival (thanks to the friends who joined us!). We also got to visit Alex in his classroom and Kendra at her church. (Ask me sometime about how I made a grand entrance to Kendra's church by sprawling across the sidewalk in the most ungraceful fall ever. Eyeroll....) We even had enough time to catch up with a couple of friends and still sneak in a get-away for just the two of us. A good trip with people we love. 

Texas trip


(7) blog posts from the archives

2017 - 50 ways to Practice Resurrection during the 50 days of Eastertide ("Choose 1 idea or 50, but whatever you do, do it with gusto!")

2017 - Practice Resurrection 2017: send me your photos and captions! ("feasting is a discipline, too. We take in the good with gratitude and contentment without making an idol of the gifts. This requires us to depend on the Creator as much (maybe more so) as any other spiritual exercise.")

2016 - Practice Resurrection: Resist frenzy ("To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is in itself to succumb to the violence of our times.")

2015 - 7 quick photo takes from New Mexico trip ("7 New Mexico takes from the trip Brian and I took in March 2015. Spoiler alert:  New Mexico is beautiful.")

2013 - What I'm Into Lately, April 2013

2011 - Tuesday is for Hospitality: peace be with you (" I never set out to learn this lesson, it seems to be happening to me without even my permission, an unexpected new layer of healing what has been so deeply wounded in me.)

2007 - Livingpalm's Blog (Long, long ago back when this blog had a different name and we used clever nicknames for ourselves instead of our first names, Brian wrote a sweet post about me. I don't ever want to forget it.)

Also: Quietly passed by the twelfth anniversary of my First post ever - April 10, 2006.

NM.0.jpeg

3 years ago

 

 

 

 

 

That time when Brian and I made a snap decision to get away to a deserted mountain cabin in New Mexico to get our last breath before he graduated seminary.


May your week ahead include true, good, and beautiful things, friends!

SEE OTHER BLOGGERS' 7 QUICK TAKES POSTS HERE

UPDATED: Our favorite Advent & Christmas books (for all ages)

 

Each year we try to repack our Christmas decorations in the order we'll need to get them back out the beginning of next Advent.  It looks something like this:  nativities, Advent wreaths, Advent calendar, ALL THE BOOKS, everything else.

Little by little over the years, I've added a book here and there to be brought out and enjoyed for a short season.  Admittedly, much of my collection has been selected by what's available at the thrift store and library sales.  Every once in awhile, though, I find a book so lovely and beloved, it's worth purchasing retail!

I hope you enjoy this little peek into our Advent & Christmas bookshelves.  I'd love to hear what books you enjoy this time of year!

(Also, p.s. there are all kinds of affiliate links in this post because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!)

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas: An Austin Family Story by Madeleine L'Engle

*This is far and away my all-time favorite Advent story - probably because my mother read it to us when we were little.  Also, because Madeleine L'Engle is dear to me.

*I've often thought it would be fun to make a companion Advent calendar to go along with the story, matching the Austin family's daily Advent activity.

*It just now occurs to me that the Austin family probably lives in Connecticut (thus, the December blizzard).  That makes me love the story even more.

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

* I discovered this delightful story a few years back, and every year find someone - anyone - who will let me read it out loud to them.

*If you've ever had the quirky privilege of gathering with a large, loud, multigenerational family at a holiday, you should pretty much be able to recognize each character in this story.

Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

*What a wonderful, imaginative man, dear Tolkien.  And, of course, his love for Father Christmas reminds me of his writing friend's depiction in Narnia.

*For more than 40 years now, my own father hand writes a Santa letter (including the same sort of disguised shaky writing as Tolkien's).  For more than 20 years, my husband has done the same.  Somehow, someway I want to hunt down those letters and make our own family book.

*Tolkien's illustrations are priceless.

All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings by Gayle Boss

  • I ordered this book from the wonderful Hearts & Minds booksellers after reading about it in Byron Borger's Advent Booknotes. Take some time to peruse his suggested reads. I'm learning that I totally trust his recommendations!
  • The illustrations and concept of this book is just plain gorgeous. "In twenty-five portraits depicting how wild animals of the northern hemisphere ingeniously adapt when darkness and cold descend, we see and hear as if for the first time the ancient wisdom of Advent:  The dark is not an end but the way a new beginning comes."
  • Beautiful for all ages!

Home For Christmas: Stories For Young and Old by various authors including Henry Van Dyke, Pearl S. Buck, Elizabeth Goudge, Madeleine L'Engle and more

*I'm a huge fan of Plough's anthologies.  

*So many favorite authors in one place. So many good stories.

The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean 

*We've never done a Jesse Tree as part of our family Advent, but I think we would have if I'd known about it when the kids were little.  This is the way I've made up for that omission.

*The illustrations!

A King James Christmas: Biblical Selections with Illustrations from Around the World edited by Catherine Schuon & Michael Fitzgerald

*I picked this up one year at Book People, Austin's perfectly wonderful book store.  The illustrations are gorgeous.

*Excerpts from the Gospels are woven together to form a seamless and easy-to-follow story of Jesus’ birth and infancy, including the Annunciation, the Visitation, the adoration of the Magi, the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and the flight into Egypt. Fully illustrated with reproductions of paintings, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, and stained glass windows from around the world.

The Spirit of Christmas: Stories, Poems & Essays by G.K. Chesterton

*This book is new for us this year, and it is almost impossible to find.  We were fortunate to find it from an online used book seller.  I'm only including it in the list for you to keep your eyes open at used book stores and library sales throughout the year.

*Chesterton famously adores Christmas. Each year for over thirty years, G.K. Chesterton would write at least five or six articles on Christmas, along with one or two poems and some other odd piece, that would be spread among the journals for which he was a regular contributor and Yuletide issues of other journals for which he was not.  This is a collection of some his best and brightest from all he wrote on the subject.

Shepherds Abiding (A Mitford Story) by Jan Karon

*I haven't read this yet, but my mother gave me the book during a recent visit and promised I would love it.  I don't doubt her one bit!

What the Land Already Knows: Winter's Sacred Days (Stories from the Farm in Lucy) by Phyllis Tickle

  • I just discovered this charming little trilogy of books for the liturgical year from the religion section of our library book sale. I knew Phyllis Tickle's work in the Divine Hours prayer manuals, but had no idea she was a long-time columnist and wrote such lovely prose.
  • I also had no idea that Mrs. Tickle was mother to seven children, 5 of whom she and her husband Sam moved to a Tennessee farm when they wanted to recover their own childhood rural roots. Each brief, engaging story in the book is taken from the family's escapades making life work on the farm.
  • My favorite story in this volume? The pregnant cow stuck on the ice. It's epic.

Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury by Jan Brett

*It's all about the warm, sweet, earthy illustrations.  I never get tired of Jan Brett.

The Bird's Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin 

*This Victorian-era story certainly falls into the oeuvre of Christmas tearjerkers.  I don't care. I love the story.  Probably again, because my mother read it to us as kids.  

*I recently learned that Kate Douglas Wiggin originally published the book to help fund the Silver Street Free Kindergarten, which she founded in 1878. That makes me like it all the more.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

*You'll laugh and you'll cry.  

*A perfect read-aloud, if you can find anyone to listen.  And they'll be glad they did.

*We love this story so much, we performed it as a pageant in our church years ago.  So much fun.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (picture book edition) (Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis

*The story that includes the world in mourning that "It's always winter, but never Christmas." And then Father Christmas comes!  Well, there's the Gospel, friends.

A Christmas Carol: The Original Manuscript Edition by Charles Dickens

*One of the best depictions in literature of Gospel repentance, set in the perfectly appropriate season of Advent and Christmas.  We watch every version, look at ever illustration.  We never want to be too sophisticated to tire of this tale.

Sounding the Seasons: Seventy sonnets for Christian year by Malcolm Guite

  • While this collection of sonnets from the Anglican priest/poet/troubadour covers the entire year, his Advent (the O Antiphons) and Christmastide are stunning.

Accompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation by Luci Shaw

  • It's no secret that I've been a long-time fan of Luci Shaw's poetry. She does Advent especially well.  

The Glorious Impossible [Illustrated with Frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel by Giotto] by Madeleine L'Engle

*Madeleine L'Engle's simple poignancy illuminated by Giotto's glorious frescoes from the Scrovegni chapel in Padua (full color throughout, with gold washed edges). Perfection.


What are some of your favorite Advent and Christmas stories?  Tell me about them below!

Our favorite Advent & Christmas books (for all ages)

 

Each year we try to repack our Christmas decorations in the order we'll need to get them back out the beginning of next Advent.  It looks something like this:  nativities, Advent wreaths, Advent calendar, ALL THE BOOKS, everything else.

Little by little over the years, I've added a book here and there to be brought out and enjoyed for a short season.  Admittedly, much of my collection has been selected by what's available at the thrift store and library sales.  Every once in awhile, though, I find a book so lovely and beloved, it's worth purchasing retail!

I hope you enjoy this little peek into our Advent & Christmas bookshelves.  I'd love to hear what books you enjoy this time of year!

(Also, p.s. there are all kinds of affiliate links in this post because I'm trying to be a good steward, and when you buy something through one of these links you don't pay more money, but in some magical twist of capitalism we get a little pocket change. Thanks!)

The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas: An Austin Family Story by Madeleine L'Engle

*This is far and away my all-time favorite Advent story - probably because my mother read it to us when we were little.  Also, because Madeleine L'Engle is dear to me.

*I've often thought it would be fun to make a companion Advent calendar to go along with the story, matching the Austin family's daily Advent activity.

*It just now occurs to me that the Austin family probably lives in Connecticut (thus, the December blizzard).  That makes me love the story even more.

A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas

* I discovered this delightful story a few years back, and every year find someone - anyone - who will let me read it out loud to them.

*If you've ever had the quirky privilege of gathering with a large, loud, multigenerational family at a holiday, you should pretty much be able to recognize each character in this story.

Letters From Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien

*What a wonderful, imaginative man, dear Tolkien.  And, of course, his love for Father Christmas reminds me of his writing friend's depiction in Narnia.

*For more than 40 years now, my own father hand writes a Santa letter (including the same sort of disguised shaky writing as Tolkien's).  For more than 20 years, my husband has done the same.  Somehow, someway I want to hunt down those letters and make our own family book.

*Tolkien's illustrations are priceless.

Home For Christmas: Stories For Young and Old by various authors including Henry Van Dyke, Pearl S. Buck, Elizabeth Goudge, Madeleine L'Engle and more

*I'm a huge fan of Plough's anthologies.  

*So many favorite authors in one place. So many good stories.

The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean 

*We've never done a Jesse Tree as part of our family Advent, but I think we would have if I'd known about it when the kids were little.  This is the way I've made up for that omission.

*The illustrations!

A King James Christmas: Biblical Selections with Illustrations from Around the World edited by Catherine Schuon & Michael Fitzgerald

*I picked this up one year at Book People, Austin's perfectly wonderful book store.  The illustrations are gorgeous.

*Excerpts from the Gospels are woven together to form a seamless and easy-to-follow story of Jesus’ birth and infancy, including the Annunciation, the Visitation, the adoration of the Magi, the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and the flight into Egypt. Fully illustrated with reproductions of paintings, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, and stained glass windows from around the world.

The Spirit of Christmas: Stories, Poems & Essays by G.K. Chesterton

*This book is new for us this year, and it is almost impossible to find.  We were fortunate to find it from an online used book seller.  I'm only including it in the list for you to keep your eyes open at used book stores and library sales throughout the year.

*Chesterton famously adores Christmas. Each year for over thirty years, G.K. Chesterton would write at least five or six articles on Christmas, along with one or two poems and some other odd piece, that would be spread among the journals for which he was a regular contributor and Yuletide issues of other journals for which he was not.  This is a collection of some his best and brightest from all he wrote on the subject.

Shepherds Abiding (A Mitford Story) by Jan Karon

*I haven't read this yet, but my mother gave me the book during a recent visit and promised I would love it.  I don't doubt her one bit!

Jan Brett's Christmas Treasury by Jan Brett

*It's all about the warm, sweet, earthy illustrations.  I never get tired of Jan Brett.

The Bird's Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin 

*This Victorian-era story certainly falls into the oeuvre of Christmas tearjerkers.  I don't care. I love the story.  Probably again, because my mother read it to us as kids.  

*I recently learned that Kate Douglas Wiggin originally published the book to help fund the Silver Street Free Kindergarten, which she founded in 1878. That makes me like it all the more.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

*You'll laugh and you'll cry.  

*A perfect read-aloud, if you can find anyone to listen.  And they'll be glad they did.

*We love this story so much, we performed it as a pageant in our church years ago.  So much fun.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (picture book edition) (Chronicles of Narnia) by C.S. Lewis

*The story that includes the world in mourning that "It's always winter, but never Christmas." And then Father Christmas comes!  Well, there's the Gospel, friends.

A Christmas Carol: The Original Manuscript Edition by Charles Dickens

*One of the best depictions in literature of Gospel repentance, set in the perfectly appropriate season of Advent and Christmas.  We watch every version, look at ever illustration.  We never want to be too sophisticated to tire of this tale.

The Glorious Impossible [Illustrated with Frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel by Giotto] by Madeleine L'Engle

*Madeleine L'Engle's simple poignancy illuminated by Giotto's glorious frescoes from the Scrovegni chapel in Padua (full color throughout, with gold washed edges). Perfection.


What are some of your favorite Advent and Christmas stories?  Tell me about them below!

5 of my favorite quotations on writing: Kenyon, L'Engle, King, O'Connor, Berry


5 faves: quotations on writing

For a long while I've dreamed about going back to school. It's not the right time (as I like to say "Not all 6 of us can be in school at once!" -- which is probably a cop-out) In the meantime, I'm excited to pursue another goal. I saved up my pennies and signed up for the Glen Online Creative Non-fiction Writing Course.

I'm really excited to learn and thankful for Glen Online and Image Journal's hospitality and encouragement. So to celebrate (and to rouse to the task at hand) here's some writing pep talks from five of my favorite authors.

source

1.  
Jane Kenyon, at a 1991 literary conference in Enfield, New Hampshire, from A Hundred White Daffodils:
"Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off  the hook. Work regular hours."

2.

"As soon as Bion, our baby, was in nursery school, I dropped out of the group of mothers who occasionally gathered together to drink coffee and gossip. This was writing time. Nobody else needed writing time. And I felt that I was looked at askance because I spent so much time at the typewriter and yet couldn't sell what I wrote. I certainly wasn't pulling my weight financially. In my journal I wrote: 'There is a gap in understanding between me and our friends and acquaintances. I can't quite understand a life without books and study and music and pictures and a driving passion. And they, on the other hand can't understand why I have to write, why I am a writer. When, for instance, I say to someone that I have to get home to work, the assumption is that I mean housecleaning or ironing, not writing a book. I'm very kindly permitted to be a writer but not to take time in pursuing my trade. Nor can they understand the importance of music or why an hour with a Mozart sonata at the piano is not wasted time but time spent on a real value. Or really listening, without talking, to music. Or going for a walk simply to see the beauty around one, or the real importance of a view from a window." 

3
Stephen King in On Writing:

“Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
4.

Wendell Berry on 

How To Be a Poet

 (to remind myself)
i   
Make a place to sit down.   
Sit down. Be quiet.   
You must depend upon   
affection, reading, knowledge,   
skill—more of each   
than you have—inspiration,   
work, growing older, patience,   
for patience joins time   
to eternity. Any readers   
who like your poems,   
doubt their judgment.   


ii   
Breathe with unconditional breath   
the unconditioned air.   
Shun electric wire.   
Communicate slowly. Live   
a three-dimensioned life;   
stay away from screens.   
Stay away from anything   
that obscures the place it is in.   
There are no unsacred places;   
there are only sacred places   
and desecrated places.   


iii   
Accept what comes from silence.   
Make the best you can of it.   
Of the little words that come   
out of the silence, like prayers   
prayed back to the one who prays,   
make a poem that does not disturb   
the silence from which it came.
Source: Poetry (January 2001).

5.
Flannery O'Connor
source
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Any favorite quotations like to share?  
Do tell!

*Linking up with Jenna today