It’s Over?

I don’t usually post in the evening, especially on the weekends, but while making dinner and listening to my husband and son play guitars together, I stopped. I listened. Just for a moment I let the music, music from people I love dearly wash over me. I longed for the members of the family missing; those that are gone from this world, those living outside our sight for the time being, and those I know would love to listen in amazement. I remembered a paragraph of my book that I really wanted to blog about. I made a note on my computer to write about it on Monday morning, but here it is again. Someone must need to hear it.

It seems that “awareness” is a buzz word these days and I’m completely on board. I love seeing t-shirts with “WOKE AF” on them. I want one. It’s something I think we all take for granted, being aware. We come to an end of a week, season, or year and think “Wow! What happened?” “It’s Christmas again? Already?” “Wasn’t your son just a baby last week? And now he’s running after girls?” We hear it every day. It’s hard in the constant spin in this world to keep track of what’s happening around us. It’s hard to even watch a movie or eat a meal without attempting to multitask, to get more done in that hour or two. I watch my sons worry about their future, trying to make a plan, and I tell them to stop and enjoy today. It’ll all change soon.

Can we slow down time by being aware of its passing? Probably not, but we can certainly try. We can draw out specific moments, maybe write them down to savor. I feel like I should have taken time to write more down. At least I took more pictures. I wish more of them had me in them. Most of my pictures, my children will be able to say “Mom took this one. That’s why she’s not in it.” It makes me appreciate selfies. They bring us all in the photo.

I finished “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” this morning. I wanted to slow down and savor each page, but I just couldn’t stop myself from rushing to the end. Part of me wanted to read a chapter a day and move on to something else, maybe I will with the next book. Maybe, instead of reading for an hour from one book, I’ll have several books and read one chapter from each. Same time spent, same number of books read, but I can make the story last longer.

Towards the end of the book, this paragraph struck me. I stopped and read it twice. I cried, and I put the book down to get another cup of coffee to think. I read it to my son when he woke up. I want to print it out and post in on my fridge to remind me.

“Dear God,” she prayed, “let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me gay; let me be sad. Let me cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere – be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”

Touching isn’t it? God, let me live every minute as if it is all I have, because it is. Let me taste my breakfast, let me feel the pain, let me revel in joy. Let me remember the dreams of my subconscious. Let me really live, not just trudge through to the end and on my deathbed think, “It’s over? Already?”

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Exciting and Relevant History

Another book has been read! I’m on a roll this year since I decided to dedicate two hours a day to reading. And I mean dedicate. It’s the first thing I do each day. I can read for about an hour and a half straight before I need a break now. That’s a marked improvement from a few years back when fifteen minutes was my limit before my mind started to wander. After that first hour and a half (with coffee) first thing in the morning, I do my yoga practice, meditate, and then make breakfast. Then I can usually sit and read for another hour and a half. And that’s just my morning reading! I usually pick up the book again for a few minutes at a time during the day, especially while my son is at the gym. No, I’m not going in there! This body is made for reading, not sweating in front of other people half my age.

A couple days ago I finished “Summer for the Gods” by Edward J. Larson. I got it after watching “Inherit the Wind” and wanting to know more. I think I’ve written about this before. Movies, to me, are appetizers. They show me glimpses of what’s out there to know. I typically look up a movie I like to see if it were based on a book. If it’s a movie about a real person, I look for their auto-biography or biography if they didn’t write their own. If it’s a movie about a historical event, I look to find books about it that might give me more insight, the older and closer to the event the better.

“Summer for the Gods” was written recently so I would have bypassed it for an older one, but this book was recommended on a website because it gave both sides a fair shake. It wasn’t written from a Fundamentalist Christian or Evolutionist point of view. I could feel a bit of a leaning toward science instead of religion, but it was acceptable and reasonable. I knew the movie was a tad sensational and one-sided, so I was looking for something to balance it out.

This book was great because it started at what led up to the trial, how it went down, what changed because of it, and how it is still affecting us today. And it wasn’t boring! It read more like a novel than a history book. As a Christian, homeschooler, and a libertarian, I had no idea that this trial had so much to do with how I see things now. I highly recommend it!

“What is Evolution?”

I’ve had this book on my shelf for several months. I bought it from the author’s website after I read several articles by him and really wanted to hear more from him. I wasn’t disappointed. This book is questioning evolution theory, not on the basis that it conflicts with Christian theology, but because it conflicts with sound scientific thinking and is more philosophy than science. He proposes that it is closer to its own religion because several prominent proponents of it have stated that the only way to promote the theory is to “loosen America’s grip on faith.” Personally, I can learn and study how our physical world works and still believe in the “why” of Christian faith. There is no conflict between science and faith. And I’ve read many books and articles from scientists that are also Christians that have the same idea.

So why the push to denounce anyone who questions the ideas presented in evolution theory? Isn’t the point of science to question everything? If we stop questioning, don’t we end any chance of scientific discovery?

The one thing that keeps coming back to me while reading this is the definition of science. Merriam Webster’s definition of science is “knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method”. And scientific method is, “principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.” The evolution that has occurred over millennia is not something we can prove by observation or experiment. We haven’t been able to recreate it or test it. It’s only a theory. It may seem that all the signs we have point to the theory being correct but we cannot say it is law in our world. The science will never be settled, well, unless we find a way to go back in time or recreate it somehow.

But here’s what I don’t understand. Why is it so important to people that we “admit” that evolution is how this planet obtained its diverse species? It has no real bearing on any other scientific knowledge or understanding. The same goes for theoretical physics. Interesting to think about and come up with new theories, yes. But it has no bearing on how we attempt to get a person to colonize Mars at this time.

Anyway, the book was very interesting and not “God said He created the earth!” and it doesn’t glorify Intelligent Design or Creationism either. It only points out some flaws in the theory, the fact that it cannot be recreated, and that it is being pushed on public education as definitive science that everyone must accept to be considered a legitimate scientist. I found it very interesting and, once again, it’s led me to add another book to my reading list, “Why is Evolution True?” by Jerry A. Coyne.

If you’d like to read more about William James Herath and his book, go to http://www.whatisevolutionbook.com

On The Road

Wow, November sure got away from me! I was planning on doing more writing this month, but alas, circumstances. What can you do?

I finished reading “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac a few days ago. I found it at a used bookstore the day after I put it on my Amazon wish list. Weird. So, of course, I put it at the top of my “to-read” pile. My son played an audio recording of Steve Allen reading Jack about a year ago and it was fascinating. It was poetic and fun to listen to, even though I only understood about a third of what he was saying. The words came to quickly and, well, poetry, you know? Also, I remember my Mom saying she liked reading him when she was a teenager. That’s why I put the book on my list in the first place.

The book was intriguing right from the start. The cadence of the writing pulls you in and you want to know what he sees and feels in this world. I love the sound of Beatnik poetry, but it’s so dark. My younger son and I spent several afternoons in a row making haiku with a poetry toy we got years ago and listening to beatnik poetry on YouTube for inspiration. It was cool, man, and such a drag, man, a real, king-sized drag! Why were young people so darn depressed in the 40’s? Was it a remnant of the Depression? Coming out of the depression as a young person must have really sucked.

By the end of the book, I had no sympathy for him or his friends. He described some pretty selfish and nasty behaviors that didn’t seem to take anyone into account but his and his friends’ pleasures and moods. There was no light in it, no enlightenment about anything really, other than life sucks, just keep swimming. It made me sad. It also made me feel a little better because there have always been people like this in the world. Our current culture is no different or worse than any other. Life goes on. I’ll choose the joyful and the good.

One very interesting thing occurred to me while I was reading this. The book was published in 1955, about when after my Mom was born. My Grandfather was married and starting his own family. But the story Jack was telling was from 1947, about the time my Grandfather’s Dad passed away suddenly and he was left to take care of his Mother, alone. I remember him telling stories about working and doing what he could to help her, meeting my Grandma, and coming into adulthood in the early 50’s. So here was this guy in his early 20’s, traipsing across the US, stealing, bumming, doing drugs, “all kinds of mean, nasty things” while my Grandfather took up the reins of his family and took care of business. Jack and my Grandfather were in the same city living very different lives. One created a book of sadness. One created a family that, despite its rough parts, is still growing and spreading across this world.

I guess I just don’t see anything positive that he left this world, other than something to contrast good with.

Gone With the Wind

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833 pages.
40.17 hours.
32 days.

I finished “Gone With the Wind”. I found this book at the thrift store for $1 and it went straight to the top of my reading pile.

I’d rate this one right up there with War & Peace! Wow! What a great story! The movie really did it justice too. I swear she must have written the book with those actors in mind. The characters. The history. The perspective of the American Civil War and Reconstruction. I have to find a couple good books on the Reconstruction Era, one from a couple different angles. The more I learn about the Civil War, the less I can find any ‘good guys’ on either side as far as politics and war goes. In civilians, I can find many heroes and angels.

This was one of those books I just couldn’t put down, especially toward the end. I cried and sobbed even though I’ve seen the movie several times and know what happens. I just kept hoping the book would end differently. Now I have to watch the movie again. Good thing I have it on DVD!

Onward to the next book on my list. Unfortunately, I’ll have to do a bit of research before I add Reconstruction books to my pile. I’m sure one will come up sooner or later. Today I started “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” by T.E. Lawrence. It’s also one of my all-time favorite movies!

“The Question of God”

20170729_152400The whole title of this book is what drove me to order it! “The Question of God – C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life” by Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr.

Wow! What a read. I like to keep track in my reading journal how long I read each time I sit down with a book. Even though this book is only 244 pages long, it took me over ten hours to read it. I stopped a lot to think and write my thoughts down more often in this book than most books I read. There was just so much resonating in my heart!

Two big takeaways for me this time. Freud strikes me as a “sad, sad little man” unable to see outside of his own self. I just cannot imagine what it was like for him and I wouldn’t wish that worldview on anyone. I know. Probably not the kindest thing to say or the most insightful, but it’s the feeling I had throughout the book. Every time I read how Freud wrote about and viewed life and human nature I cringed at the sheer sadness of it. How could someone so intelligent have such a limited view of the world?

“Freud explained that when the child grows up ‘he knows, to be sure, that he is in possession of greater strength, but his insight into the perils of life has also grown greater, and he rightly concludes that fundamentally he still remains just as helpless and unprotected as he was in childhood, that faced by the world he is still a child.”” It’s just so sad to think that his relationship with his earthly parents so wounded him that he grew into an adult, took the analogy of God as Father, put them together and then tried to convince everyone around him that they should be feeling the same way. The whole book goes on through Freud’s life in this way. He seems angry and resentful that he was ever born, that the world did not appreciate his genius, and that everyone and every thing was out to hurt him. I felt sorry for him.

The other thing was that I really love C.S. Lewis and need to read more of his books first hand. I’ve read several, but there are so many that I haven’t read in their entirety. The first one of his books that I will read next is “A Grief Observed.” Another book I need to add to my list is G.K. Chesterton’s “Everlasting Man”.

One more thing before I go. I have pages of notes that mean little to me as soon as the day after I finish a book. I think I need to start taking my time and writing better notes. I may not always have the book to refer back to and even if I have the book, I frequently read a note I don’t understand, look back at the page I was referring to, and still don’t understand what I was thinking. That’s not good!

Another Book Started

I started reading “The Closing of the American Mind” by Allan Bloom this morning. It’s been sitting on my shelf for years along with several others and I’ve finally had the self-control to stop buying new books that draw my eye and read the ones I’ve already got on my “to -read” shelf! As I started to read it I wondered if I really should right now. Will it only depress me? Or will I be inspired to continue my own education further and encourage my sons to do so as well by my example? I’m going to go with inspired for now and see what happens!

The book was written in 1987 and I wondered two things as I read the preface. First of all, I wonder if any of our politicians today have a real “liberal education”. It seems to me that college no longer has the goal of making better people and has become a job training facility. We have children raised in institutions from near birth, completely cut off from the real world, that are now continuing on into college that they believe should be paid for by the government to get good jobs. Few, if any, even ask the question “What is man?” in any serious way. It’s so sad to me because we live in a time when free access to literature and classical writing, along with easy access to conversations with others about those topics is at its height. We don’t really need to spend a ton of money to become liberally educated but yet no one really wants it. Instead, they want free job training, which they could have gotten for free by just picking a career and interning while they learn it.

It all seems so backward. Will this book help me to learn how it got that way? Or whether or not we can change it?