Reading

A couple of posts back, I mentioned a resolution of sorts I am hoping to fulfill in 2010: Reading Through my 90 Day Bible…but not necessarily in 90 days!  As I expected, I am not tracking well with the “read 12 pages a day” plan so far, but I have been happy with my progress, and am steadily working my way through. I’ve enjoyed the large print a ton, and love the themes I see recurring. Taking up the 90 Day Bible has been enlightening in many ways; one thing I’ve learned for sure is that on most days, I truly do not have a full hour’s segment in my day to set aside for reading (meaning all reading outside of school work with the children).  Reading those 12 pages takes about an hour if I am truly paying attention and following what is going on.

Just to make the progress in my 90 Day Bible even easier, I have picked up an additional four, yes four books this month, all of which I am having trouble tearing myself away from. Here are my current reads, in no particular order, along with a brief plot summary/explanation – all of which I have stolen from reviewers who write more concisely, and, let’s face it, with much more skill than I!

The Woman In White:

is an epistolary novel written by Wilkie Collins in 1859, serialized in 1859–1860, and first published in book form in 1860. It is considered to be among the first mystery novels and is widely regarded as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of “sensation novels”. (Thank you, Wikipedia!). My mother and SIL read this selection for a book club, and highly recommended it to me. I am enjoying the story immensely, and let’s just say it is a bit more of a scintillating read than the much more vapid four book series of novels I recently finished. I think we all know which books I refer to.

Death By Suburb

is our church home group’s current book; we just began reading and discussing this together, and I am thrilled with it thus far. Here is what a review had to say:  Suburban life, if pursued unheedingly, “obscures the real Jesus,” writes Goetz in Death by Suburb. “Too much of the good life ends up being toxic, deforming us spiritually.” But if obscured, Jesus is there somewhere, and Goetz’s book aims to help suburbanites find him in the ocean of lattÉs, in the aisles of Pottery Barn, and in the bleachers at the soccer field: “You don’t have to hole up in a monastery to experience the fullness of God. Your cul-de-sac and subdivision are as good a place as any.”

Goetz identifies eight “environmental toxins” that plague suburbia and offers a spiritual practice to purge each toxin from your system and help you realize that “even in suburbia all moments are infused with the Sacred.” By packaging his insights in this self-helpy formula—7 habits, 8 practices, 40 days to a more authentic Christian life—Goetz obviously opens himself up to criticism: this blueprint recapitulates some of the very problems of the suburban mindset that he is trying to offset. But I suspect he knew what he was doing, and chose the idiom to convey a subversive message to his target audience.

A Quest for More:

is the book we are working through on Wednesday nights at church. I believe the content here will dovetail nicely with the meat of Death By Suburb, the overall effect being one that assures me that I, on my own, putting forth my very best spiritual efforts are worth only so much scum — let’s just say that after a week reading both of them, I am fairly unimpressed with the shallow nature of my own little kingdom. Thankfully, Jesus uses the weak!

Here’s what a reviewer had to say about A Quest for More: Paul David Tripp expertly traverses the deepest recesses of the human heart and compassionately invites fellow Christian travelers to journey with him into God s bigger kingdom. The author promises readers that they will be encouraged, excited, and motivated by hope as they learn how to set aside their little kingdom attachments which can expertly masquerade within the church as Christian activism, legalism, emotionalism, formalism, creedalism, and externalism; in favor of God s expansive and soul-freeing eternal quest. Tripp demonstrates though sound biblical principles how humanity is made by God to transcend far beyond the mere physical realm and is likewise created to be glory junkies; those whose visionary lives are governed by God s grand purposes rather than existing only within their narrow self-interested confines. Writes the author, It is a fundamental denial of your humanity to narrow the size of your life to the size of your own existence, because you were created to be an above and more being. You were made to be transcendent. Tripp then shows Christians how to transcend through daily, moment-by-moment, practical methodology that transforms individuals into the image of Christ. It is within this purpose-driven framework, this Quest for More, that Paul Tripp compels believers to see beyond the worldly deception of personal achievement, success, materialism, in order to break free from this ungodly fulfillment that is too easily satisfied with a mediocre walk with Christ. Instead the author invites committed sojourners to a life characterized by an unyielding passion that pursues God simply for the pleasure of His glorious company and in the process, affect eternal change in a hurting, hopeless world.

Lastly, There Is No Me Without You.

I have seen this book recommended here, there, and everywhere.  All the heart-breaking news coming out of Haiti this week made me yearn to learn a bit more about some of the real suffering that goes on in our modern-day world. This book isn’t about something that happened in long-ago history; it chronicles the tragedy that so many people, and especially orphans, face each and every day in a far-away land called Africa.

The horrific numbers behind the AIDS pandemic in Africa, “the most terrible epidemic in human history,” have little resonance for most people in the West: “the ridiculous numbers wash over most of us.” But this searing account humanizes the statistics through heartbreaking, intimate stories of what it is like for young orphans left alone in Ethiopia. Greene’s story focuses on one rescuer, Haregewoin Teferra, who has opened her home and compound in a rickety hillside neighborhood of Addis Ababa and taken in hundreds of the untouchables thrown in the streets and left at her door. She cannot turn them away. Yes, the comparisons with Mother Teresa are there, but this is no hagiography; the middle-aged Teferra is “just an average person with a little more heart.” Greene tells the stories in unforgettable vignettes of loss, secrecy, panic, stigma, and, sometimes, hope, even as she documents the big picture of “the human landslide,” the history and science of epidemiology and transmission, and expresses her fury at the “crimes against humanity” of the multinational drug companies whose expensive patents have denied millions access to the life-saving medicines. Just as moving are the personal stories of international adoptions in the U. S., including two Ethiopian children taken into Greene’s own Atlanta family. The detail of one lost child at a time, who finds love, laughter, comfort, and connection, opens up the universal meaning of family.

In the past I had hopes of setting up a “Currently Reading” tab on the right side of our bloggy page. If I can twist the arm of my techie-guy, this might happen. But for now, if you’ll excuse me: I really have no business spending any more time blogging…my books are all a-calling!

3 Comments

  1. Lisa Rosendale
    Jan 18, 2010

    Tricia, regarding your 90-day Bible plan, I wanted to encourage you that the pastor this morning, while encouraging us to read every day, specifically discouraged trying to read the entire Bible in a year (or less) because of exactly what you mentioned- you get focused on checking a box and getting it done and don’t have the time to meditate and really meet God in the texts. So good job reading and don’t sweat it if it takes longer- the pastor says it should. :)

  2. Mom/Ruth
    Jan 18, 2010

    On the other hand…

    I believe the more we just straight out read the Bible — the way we read almost every other book — the more we will absorb it so it becomes part of who we are. We need to become familiar with even the unfamiliar parts of Scripture, and it won’t happen unless we read all of it. I repeat the process every 2-3 years, and each time I get excited about what I never noticed before! Hopefully I will continue learning this way until God calls me home. But I’ve never made it through in 90 days! Usually I take about a year.

    Regarding the other books on your reading list, I’ve only read The Woman in White, and I’m looking forward to hearing what you think about all of them.

  3. Uncle Andrew
    Jan 24, 2010

    We are about to start Quest for More in all our small groups at CTK as well. Looking forward to another Tripp book.