Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Everything I Own

by Dave Peightal, as recorded by Jason Gray.

What would I give to be pure in heart
To be pure in flesh and bone
What would I give to be pure in heart
I'd give everything that I own
I'd rid my whole house of my demons of lust
And open the windows of trust
And out of those windows all fear will have flown
I'd give everything that I own

What would I give for the words of God
To come tumbling from the throne
What would I give for the words of God
I'd give everything that I own
I'd open my head and they'd roll right in
When I opened my mouth they'd roll out again
And uproot the weeds of the deeds I have sown
I'd give everything I own

Now what would I give for my children's strength
On the day that they stand alone
I mean what would I give for their strength to stand firm
I'd give everything that I own
I've wasted my life in accomplishing things
Ignoring the Giver of wings
So Lord teach them to fly to the foot of your throne
I'd give everything I own

All I've accomplished, the titles I hold
My passions, positions,possessions and gold
To God they must look like a thimble of foam
And it's everything that I own
Dirty rags are all that I own

So I stand before God with my stubble and hay
He just laughs, but says there is still a way
Because "Father, Forgive" are the words Jesus moaned
When He gave everything He owned

So what would I give to be pure in heart
For the known to be made unknown
What would I give to be born again?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Winter Reading Challenge Update #1

Well, here is my first review/update.

I finished reading Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller. My reason for reading the book was that I kept running across this title in blogs and articles I was reading, and running into people who either loved or hated it (very few were lukewarm in its regard.) After the daughter of a dear friend posted that it was her favorite book, I decided I should not go by reviews, but give it a read for myself. So I have, and I attempted to be as fair in my appraisal as I could, given that one can never read something without bringing ones own presuppositions and assumptions to that reading.

My first challenge in reading Mr. Miller in any "fair" way was to get over his rambling, stream-of-consciousness, non-grammatical style. He writes like people text message: whatever enters the brain comes on the page. Sometimes this makes for a startling, stark statement. Most of the time I find it irritating. But I did try to overlook the style to a certain degree so I could appreciate the content.

My second challenge was the content: specifically, the adoration Mr. Miller has for the "cool", the non-traditional, and for his own generation of seekers, who apparently are the only generation to have found "authentic" Christianity. Perhaps this is too broad. Let me explain my impression of a couple of these areas.

Mr. Miller is constantly mentioning that things are "cool", and seems driven by what is "cool". Reed College is cool, Latin is cool, his friend, the beat poet, is cool. He doesn't define this, so I am only guessing when he uses this term what he means by it (which I guess is appealing, contemporary, and perceived as relevant.) I, on the other hand, am distinctly "uncool", and see "cool" as a worldly affectation that we as believers should avoid. "Cool" is how the world defines what it wants to look like. I prefer to strive for Christ-likeness. So this didn't earn Mr. Miller any points with me. But maybe I am just old and grumpy.

It is also obvious that Mr. Miller grew up in a culturally-Christian church that de-emphasized a personal relationship with Christ and personal holiness. He is constantly picturing all of traditional Christianity as shallow, superficial and legalistic, and contrasting this to non-Christian, non-traditional, politically liberal people that are far more loving and beautiful than anything he encountered in the church. While I must grant the point that much of traditional (read mainline, and perhaps even evangelical) Christianity in the US today is, indeed, superficial, legalistic and shallow, I have to admit feeling rather aggravated that it has never entered Mr. Miller's mind that there may be more traditional Christians somewhere who can be traditional and conservative, and yet actually love Christ in an authentic way and live a life of community and service and accountability with others in their church family. Mr. Miller bandies about the word "authentic" as if the only authentic Christians are young, Urban, and left-leaning. I found this condescending and ignorant. It seems to imply a kind of immature conceit that at one and the same time wants to accuse those who paint with too broad and stereotypical a brush, but them manages to do just that.

That said, there are some positive things in Mr. Miller's book. I believe he is an earnest follower of Christ. Through the course of the book there are moving accounts at times, and references to people or readings that I encourage others to listen to or read. In the end, it appears Mr. Miller is moving in the right way, towards solid, orthodox belief, even if it takes the whole book to wend his way there. And even though that way was often strewn with politically correct jargon or ideas (such as, all Republicans are non-compassionate to the poor, etc.)

I must say I didn't like this book. I found it irritating mostly. And what I find troubling is the way this book has been touted as "deep", or "meaningful", or "the only Christian book you can give non-Christian friends without being ashamed." (And yes, that last is from some of Miller's promotional material!) Mr. Miller is definitely trying to ride the wave of "cool", post-modern responses to the traditional church. I wouldn't say it was a waste of time to read, particularly because I can now respond to those who speak about it as "deep" or "poignant" with a greater first- hand understanding of the content. But I do not recommend this as a good way to spend precious reading time.

I also completed Terry Pratchett's novel, Going Postal. This is in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, taking place in Discworld. Pratchett is exrtemely humorous, and this is a very strange little novel, full of twists and turns, word-play, and just plain non-sense. This is the only reading I have done from this series, and I'm not sure I'll delve much farther, but it was a nice change of pace. If you want something light and fluffy, silly, funny, and rather interesting, you might give Pratchett a try.

And on another note, I am adding two titles to my Winter Reading Challenge List, mostly because they were thrust upon me in one way or another over that last couple of weeks:

The Mother-in_Law Dance: Can Two Women Love the Same Man and Still Get Along by Annie Chapman. This book was loaned to me by a lady who works out with me at Curves. She overheard me talking about marrying off a son, and having just done the same and just read this book, she brought it the next day to loan to me. It is pretty interesting and full of wisdom from what I've seen so far!

The White Witch by Elizabeth Goudge: This story of the English Civil War was being read by Dave on our recent trip, but after I finished Going Postal, I needed something else to read, and swapped with him.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Blog readability test

Thanks to Kathleen, I found this little engine that will grade your blog reading level. My blogs rate...drum roll please...

cash advance

Cash Advance Loans

I have no idea why...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Power of Adoption

What a blessing to be reminded this morning, as I read this article in Touchstone, that the power of God's transaction with His Son, which resulted in my adoption, is strong enough to give me identity, heritage and a future hope. Amen and Amen!

And while we're on the topic, watch the latest YouTube from Bethany Christian Services if you need a little lift...

Winter readng challenge

Kathleen posted an invitation on my classical home educator's list for a winter reading challenge, and I've decided to join in. Now, for me, this is a courageous step. I am wading in with the big girls, who read fast, read lots, and are a whole lot smarter than me... but here is my humble list...

In the category of needing to finish, and hoping this will help me do it:

Resurrection by Tolstoy. I am listening to this in audio format: it is my folding laundry reading... and so far, is pretty typically Tolstoy, and keeps giving my flashbacks to Dickens' Bleak House.

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. This was recommended by my son and his friend Josh. It is very funny, and very strange, and quite a change of pace for me.

A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin. I have been reading little chunks of this for a year, but I keep getting interrupted. I NEED to finish it...

Life at the Bottom by Theodore Dalrymple. I read the first 2/3 of this a year ago, and had to set it aside for a while. He writes in an interesting and compelling way about a depressing subject, but it is excellent, and I need to finish off the last few essays.

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Almost finished with this one, too.

And in the category of on the near-future list, and hoping to read by the end of February:

Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card. We recently enjoyed the first book in this series as an audio book on a family trip (Ender's Game), and were taken by the sparse style and interesting plot of this science fiction/fantasy book (recommended by ds Ben). So on to the next in the series.

The Writer's Workshop by Gregory L. Roper. I am hoping this newly published ISI book will get me excited about teaching composition next year.

Bonfire of the Humanities by Hanson, Heath and Thornton. To feed my passion for classical education.

That will be a challenging list for me. Here we go!

December Give-away

December Giveaway