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A Sorta Fairytale
October 2013
Sat, Nov. 5th, 2011 11:17 pm
NaNoJouMo: Republic, Lost (and other current reading)

All right, now I'm ready to write about the books I'm currently reading. I have a tendency to jump around between several different books at the same time instead of reading just one, so all of the below are books that I'm still in progress on reading:

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky - I like the narrative voice in this story. I think Chobsky does a good job of capturing the essence of a certain type of introvert—an INFP, if I were to classify him by the Meyers-Briggs standard. (This is also, incidentally, my own personality type. I think it's fair to say I identify with the narrator quite a bit.) I'll be interested to see how the film adaptation, starring Emma Watson as Sam, the narrator's love interest/crush, turns out. My only complaint is that it does tend to fall into the tendency of a lot of slice-of-life stories about adolescence of being hyper-focused on sexuality and drugs. Yes, those things are parts of adolescence, but there is so much more. My favorite moments are when the book focuses on the other things, like the narrator's feelings about his extended family, especially his deceased aunt, or the extra books that his favorite teacher assigns him to read and write essays on. The parts that are about sex and drugs are kinda boring in comparison to the rest. I wish the ratio was a little more balanced. I may be biased because my own adolescent experiences—and even the experiences of many of my close friends, at least as far as I knew—were less characterized by those things than what you usually see portrayed in media.

  • Republic, Lost by Lawrence Lessig - If you have me freinded on Facebook, you've probably seen me post at least one link on the topic of corruption/corporate money in politics and/or at least one link to a presentation by Larry Lessig, either on this topic or on copyright law. Anyway, this book is Lessig's latest, and it is about how Congress has been corrupted by a dependency on campaign funders, rather than remaining dependent “on the people alone”, as the founders intended. It is an excellent book. I agree whole-heartedly that this problem is the “root” of the majority of bad policy that the US Congress has produced in the last several decades, including the decisions that led to the current financial crisis. I used to think campaign finance reform was just another issue, probably a good idea, but not any more important than any other issue. I now believe it is absolutely essential in order to restore the republic of the USA back to what it was meant to be—a republic dependent on the people, and not the funders. I urge every US voter to learn as much as they can about this issue. This is a good place to start: http://rootstrikers.org/ Also, I've linked several versions of Lessig's presentations on Facebook, but the one below is of his talk at Seattle's Town Hall, which I went to see a couple of weeks ago (and where I also got my book signed). I felt like it was a good remix of his best material. I know it's long, but Lessig is a very entertaining speaker, and this is an EXTERMELY IMPORTANT MESSAGE. So please take the time to watch it:

  • Lady in Waiting by Debby Jones & Jackie Kendall - This is a Christian book that addresses the struggles of single Christian women. It is a bit dated, and some of the advice feels a little stale to a 30-something woman who has read lots of similar books in the past. But overall, I've enjoyed reading it and felt encouraged by its message of living for God and serving him now rather than waiting for some fairy tale happy ending, as if life only starts once you're married.

  • Christian Universalism: God's Good News for All People by Eric Stetson - This is the third book on the topic of Christian universalism that I've read now. The first, The Inescapable Love of God by Thomas Talbot was the most convincing, IMO. This one uses a lot of similar arguments, and seems to be a bit more confrontational against those who hold a more traditional view of God's judgement. I like Talbot's book for being more gentle toward opposing viewpoints. Anyway, I'm not 100% sure what I think about Christian universalism. I lean toward thinking that Biblical teaching on what happens to human beings after death is sufficiently ambiguous that no one ought to be too dogmatic about it; I think the Christian universalist view (which is NOT the same as pluralistic universalism, BTW) is a reasonable one, and I think it does a better job of reconciling seemingly conflicting Bible verses on salvation and the sovereignty of God than traditional views such as Calvinism and Armenianism. I don't think we can deny that people will face God's judgement after death, but what exactly that judgement entails is open to interpretation.

  • A History of Japan: From Stone Age to Superpower by Kenneth G. Henshall – This is a book I picked up at the library recently because I wanted to read a general history of Japan. I haven't read very much of it yet, though, so I don't yet have much to say about it.

*yawn* For some reason I'm really tired tonight, even though I had a pretty easy day and took a nap this afternoon. I'm glad to be going to bed a little bit earlier than usual tonight. (And yes, 11-ish is pretty early for me!)


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Scandia Dream
Sun, Nov. 6th, 2011 04:06 pm (UTC)

Not so sure about Lady in Waiting. It seems like its moral is broken. On one hand, it tells women to have goals and interests- one specific woman is told to go ahead and pursue a doctorate. On the other hand, it tells women to not rely on career satisfaction- only in serving God. You have no idea how tiring it gets after so.many.years of being single to be told simply to "do service" while people in relationships are having all the fun. Life does not start when you marry or find someone to love- but when singles are expected to spend every.single.minute of their free time doing service, one cannot wait to get married and be able to enjoy life and pursue interests without feeling guilty about doing or wanting things for oneself.

Sun, Nov. 6th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)

It doesn't bother me that singles are told to focus on service because to me being a Christian means being focused on service, regardless of marital status. If I were married, I would be in a situation where I would naturally be spending a lot of time and energy "serving" my husband (and by "serving" I don't mean to conjure the image of a slave or to say that wives should be subservient to their husbands; I simply mean that it is natural and right for spouses to "serve" one another), and possibly my children, if I had them. As a single, it takes more effort on my part to follow Christ's example of service because I have to seek out opportunities to serve rather than having them naturally and obviously placed in my path due to fulfilling the roles of wife and mother. In general, single Christians have to seek service, whereas married Christians, especially parents, have service thrust upon them. (Of course, most married Christians I know also take on other areas of service apart from their own family, but they usually put their family first, which I think is only natural.)

Either way, it is always an important part of Christianity to serve, whether that service is towards one's family, or toward the church, or toward friends and acquaintances, or toward the people one encounters in her job, or through additional volunteer activities and mission trips and things of that nature. I do appreciate the reminder of that fact, and what I like about Lady In Waiting in particular is that it has reminded me that service is really much broader than the obvious examples like volunteering for VBS or going on a mission trip. For example, even something as simple as writing an encouraging comment on someone's LiveJournal entry cam be an act of service. (Of course, as I said, the book is quite dated and it predates the advent of social networking and email, but it talks about correspondence as an act of service, so it's not hard to make the extrapolation from there.)

But I agree with you in the sense that service as a single person is not an adequate substitute for marriage, and it cannot be expected to decrease the desire for marriage or the sorrow of extended singleness. In a good, healthy marriage, one should expect not only to serve but also to receive a number of benefits that really cannot be fulfilled in any other way. There is no substitute for a healthy marriage; but there are other things in life that are of value, and while we are deprived of the former we can at least do our best to enjoy the latter as much as possible.

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