Book, Book, Book

I have three books on which to report today, and here we go:

#27 — The Full Cupboard of Life, by Alexander McCall Smith — more Precious love, but I am taking a break to read some other books now, because I can stop! (If unhappily…)

#28 — A Room With a View, by E.M. Forster — This is a two-book volume for Kindle including Howards End, which I'm just starting. As a good English major, I read these books many years ago. Honestly, I don't remember when. I had only the vaguest memories of A Room With a View, and they really came from the film. I got the movie from Netflix and watched it with Light Princess in and around reading the book over the weekend. She found the heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, very irritating, and that is an apt characterization of Forster's Lucy, who struggles with herself and others. I had forgotten how *funny* the book is; I had also forgotten the naked men "bathing" in the "Sacred Lake," which came as a bit of a shock to both mother and daughter. We had a long discussion about nudity in movies and the double standards attached to it. 😉

#29 — An Altar in the World, by Barbara Brown Taylor — This is her latest, a book about spiritual practices grounded in our real lives and bodies. Whether or not she means to, she seems to continue to make the case that Western Christianity is limited and limiting. I must admit to being very irritated with her after reading "Leaving Church." I concluded that a little more attention to self-care might have enabled her to continue in parish ministry. But maybe that doesn't matter, really.

Some of the practices she proclaims are very much part of my life, and some make me uncomfortable enough that I ought to pay more attention to them (see "The Practice of Wearing Skin").

I loved her story of walking in the woods in the dark with her husband, and the chapter about getting lost. Probably my favorite sequence in the book takes her to the top of a fire escape to pray, hoping to discern her calling. She concludes that God tells her to "do anything that pleases you and belong to me." I love that and roll my eyes at it almost at the same time. I love it, I want it; I crave the freedom to do just that and believe it's possible to be faithful that way. But my life continues to be one of compromising what I might like to do with meeting the needs of family. And so I roll my eyes, self-protectively, because this is my continuing struggle.

6 thoughts on “Book, Book, Book”

  1. I have the BBT book and read a bit of it; need to get back to it. I confess that I have a hard time with her now, for many of the same reasons you mention.

  2. I guess I don’t get the idea of being a famous preacher without being part of a church. I loved hearing her talk about preaching at the Festival of Homiletics a few years ago, and I believe our ways of making sermons are similar. But my understanding of preaching is contextual. So it’s puzzling to me that she is where she is.

  3. I like your comments on A Room with a View. I am looking for a book to read with Mad-Dog. She seems to be more willing to read if we both read it and then talk about it. I am also intrigued about our cultures (specifically film culture’s) aversion to nudity. I watched “This Film is not yet rated” And I found myself in agreement with the fact that gratuitous violence is common place but show a boob…and the film becomes too adult. What does that say about culture when we accept if not glorify violence readily (an ugly, life usurping thing) and reject nudity and sexuality ( a beautiful, life affirming thing).
    I have been scared to read Leaving Church because I have been in such a sensitve place in my discernment, but I like what you have said about Altar in the World…because that seems to be my call presently…..hmmm I regret we cant come see the Daivd and Goliath …LP will rock as Goliath! If the rain holds off, we’ll be camping!

  4. “… my life continues to be one of compromising what I might like to do with meeting the needs of family. ”
    I so sympathize! Sometimes I wish I were free to live my own life … and then it occurs to me … this is my life, and being faithful to these obligations is what I’m about. (Doesn’t always help to remember that when you’re feeling limited, I know.)

  5. I love “A Room with a View” because I can remember being that young woman–desperately trying to be “good” and “do the right thing,” all the while feeling that I wanted more…

  6. All I can say is “wow” about your reading list.
    I read “An Altar in the World” during Lent; it really worked well for Lenten reading, although I remember her chapter on “Feeling Pain” came back to me after an intense migraine experience. Almost blogged about it.
    I did not remember the sentence you quoted from her book. Perhaps it’s a modern rendering of Luther’s paradox from “The Freedom of a Christian”
    A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none.
    A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.
    Or, maybe not.

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