I feel as though it is catch up time after reading three books and no posts about any of them! Apologies. Written In My Own Heart’s Blood took up my whole summer, and I eeked out every moment with it for its pure enjoyment. Diana Gabaldon is one of my favorite authors and I’ve read her whole series of eight Outlander books set in eighteenth century Scotland and modern times, plus her Lord John series. Of course, I watched all the Starz TV Season One episodes, and can’t wait for April when the series starts airing its concluding segments. Diana Gabaldon is a terrific story teller and she weaves in her extensive research on the places, times, and customs of her characters. She also includes poetry (sometimes her own) in Gaelic and English, and rich spiritual and sensual material. In other words, her stories incorporate all of life and pose questions about the meaning of our existence.
Who builds God? … We all do… If God makes man in His image, we all return the favor… But God’s there, nonetheless, whether we ken quite what He is or not.
How Big Is Your God, The Freedom to Experience the Divine, by Paul Coutinho, SJ explores our relationship with the Divine. The chapter titles give you an idea of the content: “God – an Experience, Not a Theology”, “Can You be Religious without Knowing God?” (yes), “Moving from Charity to Compassion”, “Four Ways of Relating with God” (and the next four chapters explore each way), “Transcending Your Images of God”, “Prayer, a Pathway to Freedom and Love”, “Are We Enslaved by Things We Do Not Fully Enjoy?” (key note: fully enjoy your possessions before giving them away!), “Life Does Not Offer Us Pleasure – It Offers Us Meaning”.
Each chapter is short enough for a nightly reading before bed, and as a Jesuit, the author is not shy about offering advice from the eastern religions.
Pleasure is a byproduct of meaningful activity.
Situations in themselves do not produce feelings. It is our perception of the situation that makes us feel good or bad.
The next book is a doozy and you won’t forget this one. Wise Blood, by Flannery O’Connor is a description of hell on earth, in my estimation. The characters are all unsavory, and they search for meaningful relationships and inclusion into society from their exclusive (alienated) positions. It’s a dark comedy of errors and some of the images are rather horrifying. It’s a depressing read, but makes one extremely thankful for the gifts given us. It made me aware of the grace of God, which is really the purpose of the author. In her note to the second edition she writes:
It is a comic book about a Christian malgre lui, and as such, very serious, for all comic novels that are any good must be about matters of life and death… That belief in Christ is to some a matter of life and death has been a stumbling block for readers who would prefer to think it a matter of no great consequence.
Hope I haven’t swamped you. Happy reading to all.