Thursday, December 31, 2009

Glittering Vices: A New Look At The Seven Deadly Sins And Their Remedies, Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung

5 stars
As a philosopher from Calvin College, DeYoung brings her expertise to this topic as she provides a historically accurate understanding of the vices while doing the helpful translation work concerning the way the vices need to be understood and addressed in our modern time. Her writing is clear and engaging and this book is a must read for anyone who counsels, mentors, disciples, or is looking for wisdom. Her analysis is filled with insight and practical conclusions. Although she turns the reader's attention to the vices one can't help but nurture a longing for and response toward their corresponding virtues. This is a book I will return to and apply.

The Golden Key, George MacDonald

4 stars
Another classic fairy tale by MacDonlad. This edition also includes illustrations by Maurice Sendak (of Where the Wild Things Are). A short and magical tale.

The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer and the Witness of the Spirit, Gordon T. Smith

3.5 stars
A book built around the spiritual traditions of Ignatius Loyola, John Wesley, and Jonathan Edwards. It was a very helpful read and one from which I will draw some lecture material. It is a long read and I think as far as the topic goes there are better and shorter books available. What makes this one unique however is the lens through which it is written. It also contains some very practical considerations regarding how to apply oneself to a discernment, prayer and the witness of the Spirit.

The Mind Of The Maker, Dorothy Sayers

3.5 stars
I have only read half of the book but I just couldn't seem to get through it. What I found most helpful and worth reading was her take on the trinity as idea / energy / power in chapter three. Otherwise the book felt overly intellectual and academic and I wasn't in the mood. Might have to try it again at another time.

IMAGE: Art, Faith, Mystery #62

4 stars
Once again, inspiring. Here were a few lines that resonated with me:

"To live in faith means to live in the present, to know that the substance of grace is here and now." ~ Gregory Wolfe (pg. 5)

"Prayer keep no / set hour, can take you / unaware." ~ Mark Rudman (pg. 18)

"...the role of the interpreter, the critic - not just as a passive recipient, but as a participant in the art, almost a co-creator alongside the artist." ~ Bruce Herman (pg. 24)

"Of the place she lives and of her life I should say it is enviable. For starters, it's in the Midwest, which is decent and wholesome and devoid of the grittiness of New York and the senselessness of Los Angeles, Midwesterners, while not taken seriously by the rest of the country, particularly those in the east, believe they represent the very best of what America has to offer. They may be right in this regard." ~ Peter Levine (pg. 37)

"Most of existence is invisible and inaudible. How do we make a connection with this huge world? By metaphor. The Bible is lavish with metaphor, but metaphors can very easily become cliches. The poet is a defense against cliches...Can I do nothing in terms of publication, publicity, or getting a job done, but instead focus on getting this language into myself - written, spoken, prayed - unselfconsciously? If I can, than I am being honest." ~ Eugene Peterson (pg. 66)

"Humility is a prerequisite for the accurate use of language. We live in a world made by God, but we refuse to live in mystery. We're always trying to figure it out. Now mystery doesn't mean obscurity. It doesn't mean ignorance. Mystery means living in a trusting presence to what we cannot control or explain...Living with some tension, in mystery, is part of the life of faith, and it's what keeps us growing." ~ Eugene Peterson (pg. 69, 70)

See the contents of the journal by clicking here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"I wonder what was tied up...How did it get away...Where is it going..."

one-line pen & ink drawing

Chris (age 10)
Once upon a time there lived a monster. It's name was Bongo. It was the strongest of the monsters in the world and the dumbest in the world. One day scientists caught it but Bongo didn't like it. So he ran away to the forest. The End

Ben (age 7)
Well, a long, long, long time ago there lived a snogulbuffer that was very rare. There was only one of them and a wizard. The snogulbuffer wanted to go back to the wild and one night the snogulbuffer heard the wizard muttering the secret code to the gate. He heard the code. The code was: 1-2-7-6-9-3-2-1-7-6-9-1-3-4-9-1-6-2-5-3-9-7-1-2-3. He got out and no one has ever seen him since. The End

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot

5 stars
Herriot is a master story teller and this 442 page memoir of his early veterinarian practice in the Yorkshire Dales of northern England is filled with delightful and poignant adventures. The boys and I used this as part of our science curriculum this semester and are excited to pick up his next memoir in the series. Filled with colorful characters, suspense, humor, death, life, love, and plenty of animals - this book is a great read - one that causes you to want to go and care for the people and animals in your own life and live well.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Anne Lamott

"The secret is that God loves us exactly the way we are...and that he loves us too much to let us stay like this."

from Traveling Mercies

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Henri J.M. Nouwen

"How true it is that sadness is often the result of our attachments to the world."

from The Genesee Diary, 15

Monday, December 7, 2009

Jonathan Swift

"May you live every day of your life."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dr. Seuss

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more."

from How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Saturday, December 5, 2009


the art form whose medium is learning

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick

5 stars
Awarded the Caldecott Medal, this book is a unique and masterfully designed children's novel. What makes it stand out on its own is the creative way the 500+ page tale is supported and told through words as well as beautifully crafted pencil illustrations (see below for a glimpse - note half of the book is illustrated making it as much of a visual experience as an audio experience). I spent the last couple months having my 2nd grader read the book to me and found it to be a great adventure to take together. I highly recommend this story.

Two quotes I particularly liked:
As I look out at all of you gathered here, I want to say that I don't see a room of Parisians in top hats and diamonds and silk dresses. I don't see bankers and housewives and store clerks. No I address you all tonight as you truly are: wizards, mermaids, travelers, adventurers, and magicians. You are the true dreamers. (pg 506)

Time can play all sorts of tricks on you. In the blink of an eye, babies appear in carriages, coffins disappear into the ground, wars are won and lost, and children transform, like butterflies, into adults. (pg 509)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dr. Seuss

Today we celebrate my youngest turning 8 and I read him Seuss' Happy Birthday To You...
Today you are you! That is truer than true!
There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Shout loud, "I am lucky to be what I am!
Thank goodness I'm not just a clam or a ham
Or a dusty old jar of your gooseberry jam!
I am what I am! That's a great thing to be!
If I say so myself, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

IMAGE: Art, Faith, Mystery #61

5 stars
Here is the spring 2009 edition and once again I found myself not disappointed with this quarterly journal. To see the whole table of contents & contributors - click here

Here are a few favorite lines...

"The absence of the tragic sense of life is killing us...To refuse tragedy is to refuse history, for history is the story of conflicts and injustices that cannot be merely undone...The notion that Christianity is somehow alien to tragedy - that it is simply and straightforwardly "comic" because the resurrection makes for a happy ending - could not be more radically wrong...Unless we can believe that God has willingly submitted himself to the harsh necessities of the created order, then we will be helpless when those necessities lay us low." ~ Gregory Wolfe (pgs 4, 6)

"I've learned that nothing makes a bit of sense to me unless I write about it...I can't explain it but to say that writing is my thinking, or my feeling now, and given how my life is turning out, I'm going to need to write a while before I understand." ~ Wilmer Mills (pg 17)

"As Karl Barth loved to say, God's "no" also contains his ever greater "yes."" ~ Artur Rosman (pg 33)

"Why build in the shadow of a hill / when you can build on it?"
"But now, there is only now / and this walking." ~ Alice Friman (pgs 42, 43)

"The people we call artists have always gone into a dark space. A space turned inside-out. Not a somber space, where darkness is sadness, but a mysterious one - like the nighttime darkness of the imaginative child who marches golden caravans across his bedroom ceiling. The poet Homer, archetype of artists, was famously blind - yet out from his darkness pulsed eternal heroes, gigantic and grand like constellations." ~ Katie Kresser (pg 45)

~ Madeline Defrees (a former nun reflecting on her vocation as a poet):
"There was a lot of internal pressure away from poetry. I knew Hopkins had given it up because he thought it would interfere with prayer. And Thomas Merton had published an essay in Commonweal saying that if a person was looking for a life of contemplation, sooner or later the time would come when that person would have to give up poetry, because contemplation was moving towards silence, and poetry was necessarily moving toward expression. But then, five or ten years later, it bothered Merton's conscience, so he wrote an essay saying he had made a mistake, that in fact poetry was not something someone did, but part of what someone was. I used to think that because poetry required a kind of total attention, and so did prayer, that they went together. I had superiors, at least one, who told me that I wasn't anything special just because I was a poet. I knew I wasn't supposed to be writing poems when I was supposed to be praying. But they really are very close." (pgs 63-64)

"I think memorizing poetry is a great discipline...First of all, I think it gets at things that more direct language can't. It expands. It's like something you put in water and then it just expands. We hear so much language that's 95 percent waste - and so something that is more memorable is significant." (pg 69)

"There could hardly be anything more shocking than the doctrine of the incarnation. It's as if Christianity built in this irreverence: the divine, the holy, the inexhaustible had nostrils, an anal cavity." ~ Debbie Blue (pg 85)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"I wonder how this frog turned into a pig..."

one-line pen & ink drawing

Chris (age 10)
Once upon a time there lived a frog who wanted to be a human. There was one more bottle left that could turn anyone into a human. The frog had been looking for it. Finally, in the deepest part of the forest, in the oldest tree, he found it. Then he drank it but it wasn't it. So the frog turned into a pig.

Ben (age 7)
Well, a long, long time ago there lived a prince and the prince had a frog named Nogulhedin. This frog was a magical frog. What it would do was turn into many different kinds of animals. It was so fast that the frog changed quickly. One night a bad wizard gave the frog a potion to stop the frog right when he was changing into a pig. Now he is a famous dancer. the end