Sunday, September 25, 2011

One Call Away by Brenda Warner

This is an easy-to-read book by the wife of a celebrity football player who has been through some hard times and emerged as a person who sees her flaws but sees her worth, also. Brenda Warner comes across as a person who was raised with simple values. She refuses to allow these values to be trifled with, destroyed, or ignored. One of those values was to stand for the truth, no matter what. She has learned, though, that this value is not always appreciated by those around her.

Mrs. Warner is the mother of seven children and she values that work of raising children more than most anything else in her life. Not all of her life has been rosy--her parents were killed in a tornado, her first marriage was less than perfect and her first child was a special-needs child. Getting back up was crucial after being knocked down by each of these events--and the telephone call which conveyed the news to her.

She seemed very honest in dealing with who she is and how she found the courage to walk on. Often she gives her husband and her children credit for giving her the determination to try again. I think any reader will find sympathy and compassion for her and for her story. It is not a story that seeks to make her a heroine; it seeks to show her humanity.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stained Glass Hearts by Patsy Clairmont

The author of this book is a new author to me. Often the book, especially at the start, seems to be written for people who are used to following her and who have gotten acquainted with her family and whims and professional work already. In fact, there were times in the reading that I felt as if I were a stranger receiving a letter intended for someone else.

In spite of these unconnected feelings, I continued to read finding a connectedness that became pronounced as the book went on. It became easy to skip over the personal, leaving that to the reader who enjoyed a familiarity with the author's personality and experiential minutia, and go to the parts that were thought-provoking, informative and carefully charted and researched.

It is very easy reading and the chapters relating to stained glass and brokenness kept me reading. Her charts at the end of each chapter were most helpful and I took advantage of this information to learn more about mosaics, Norman Rockwell, and stained glass. The book, on the whole, was well worth the reading.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Final Summit by Andy Andrews

This is a wonderful book you will not want to put down. It combines a fantasy experience and a dutiful dilemma all at the same time. One remarkable asset of the author is his research into the biographies of the "real" people he introduces into the action. This book required a tremendous amount of historical research and it is reflected in the characters the author revealed in the telling. It is the story of a summit. The participants--all deceased but one--the moderator of the panel who has found entrepreneurial success in life and had been shaped by the words of seven people. Gabriel, the archangel, is the "guy" in charge of making the panel and the moderator stick to a program and reach a decisive decision about what needs to be done at this moment. Each of the deliberations are meticulously researched and presented. In fact, it is fancifully believable. Their final answer came as a surprise to me and, I suspect, it will also surprise most readers. The character of David Ponder, the moderator who is hell-bent on his continued success, is carefully scripted. His characterization is covered in every boardroom in the country and his frustration with failure and people who contribute to "his" failure is eerily evident to the reader. I would be surprised if many readers could not not identify with their own David Ponder. It is a book worth reading and worth thinking about after the reading.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Eat Your Peas, by Cheryl Karpen

Eat Your Peas (for Mom) by Cheryl Karpen is a delightful, short book to say thank you to a Mom. But it also gives the same kind of approval to the Mom that the Mom gave to her growing daughter. The book is illustrated in simple but fanciful printing and design. It adds much to the readability of the book.

I can't imagine what mother would not be pleased to receive a copy of this book. Often those daily, even momentary, commands seem to be floating somewhere out in space, missing the mark of the one intended to hear them. The author is constant in her remembering the remarks and the reasons behind the remarks. She validates that the remarks were legitimate whether the daughter heard or heeded the words.

The author asks the question, "What can I do to make your life easier and better?" and then she proceeds to validate her mother with encouragement to pursue any of her delayed dreams. The daughter nudges her mother to get out and try new things and to "ask for what she wants." One gets a sense, here, in the reading, that the mother has been reluctant to make her own set of demands as the years have gone on. The book comes full circle with the admonition from the daughter to stay healthy by eating the peas, herself!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Conversation with God by Alton Gansky

It took me nearly a section before I was comfortable in the reading of this book. Part of this was because of the momentary hesitation at reading what God said about that particular subject, and then Jesus, and then anyone else who might have written about the subject in the Bible. It is multiple conversations on various subjects based on Biblical thought, theology and writings. But it took me some time to think about such possibilities! In the end, I became attuned to the intention of the writer and found the book to provide depth to me as a reader in every section.

The best feature of the book, so far as I was concerned, was the definition of words that theologians toss around freely. Church people accept the word but have very little idea of its meaning. These are words like "sanctification", "redemption", "the kingdom of God", "salvation" on and on and the author did a masterful job in taking the time and space to make individual explanations of each term which he used.

My next favorite feature of the book was the groupings of subjects together. At the end of the section, I would look back and see if the author could have omitted any part of the composite groupings without hurting the total picture. In the end, I thought that he asked the right questions and provided excellent sources for answers. The explanations at the beginning of each question were top-drawer and urged the reader to think! The notes at the end of the book are an invaluable resource.

My favorite section was the Kingdom of God followed closely by Christian Living. However, there were some questions which I underlined and marked to be read again. Some of these were "How do we know if we are saved?" and one that lingers in my mind, "Why is there so much suffering?" I recommend this book for the person who is contemplating the call to Christianity and for the Christian who long ago made a profession of faith! There is something in it for both.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Finding Our Way Again by Brian McLaren

This book is not what I would define as an "easy read". It required constant attention and persistent re-reading to keep everything in focus. Nonetheless, it gave insight, experience, and background. I was especially interested in Part 3: Ancient. In the author's three point sections of Katharsis, Fotosis and Theosis, I found much on which to reflect.

Katharsis (Via Purgativa), as the author explains "is the gate through which we enter the ancient way and its practices." The use of the symbol of the abbess adds a provocative dimension to the section. In this katharsis, the author urges all to purge the present of all the things that have accumulated in one's present spiritual experience and study the ancient way and its practices. This includes the way one lives, worships, works, pleasures ones self, all elements of one's life. I especially pondered the words: "Purgation has everything to do with practice, not penance." These simple words gave me a new view of this basic, major step for the person who is ready and able to confront himself and go from there.

It was easy to guess what the next step was to be about by simply looking at the name of the process: Fotosis (Via Illuminativa)--Once a purging has been done, light must make sight possible. Or, to use a more modern vernacular, after the blinders are off, one must deal with the blinding light. The author makes a wonderful point that "Light makes sight possible, and the spiritual life is, in many ways, about seeing." The Scripture of Matthew 6:22-23 came alive to me after that reading.

One of the most thought-provoking sentences in the book to me was "One learns about light not just by being in its presence, but also by experiencing its absence." The comments in this section of the author must be contemplated again and again by the reader. As I went back through the book, I read again lines and phases that I underlined and I remembered, again, their impact. I think you will find the same.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Sacred Journey by Charles Foster

This is an excellent thought-provoking book. From the first words of the chapter, I realized that I would be on a trip of thoughtfulness and I was proved right. The idea of pilgrimage lures and repels different readers but the author manages to give ideas to anyone who is truly seeking to explore the subject.

As I finished the book, I thought of the most unforgettable passages for me personally and these are the three areas that I intend to pursue further: "thin places", synchronicity, and the words "Every pilgrim's step is a step toward his childhood." Each area of searching should lead me on new pilgrimages of faith-building. As someone who has traveled extensively, I found his words so true about Jerusalem and Rome and the Holy Land. And yet, the book is also geared to the person who will not or cannot leave the confines of home and the author spends many chapters addressing the person who searches in a solitary manner.

There are several constant strains which run through the book. One is that Jesus was constantly on the move and commanded his followers to follow him. The reader is asked to move also and not be content with the status-quo of the religious experience. A verse quoted often in the text is "Seek and Ye Shall Find." Where should you go? the author asks and then goes on to answer, "Follow your heart."

The person who skips "The Sacred Journey" and reads all the other Ancient Practices Series will miss a real confrontation with his inner self. It is an excellent book on a subject that has not been exhausted by other writers. I continue to reflect upon its messages and shall re-read it often.