This Week’s Reads

Because of always having several books on the go simultaneously, I finished 3 this week and they’re phenomenal enough to recommend them here.

The Dean’s Watch by Elisabeth Goudge is stuffy and passionate and achingly beautiful. I’d read it a long time ago, and it felt especially fitting to be re-reading it this week, since its setting is Advent. The characters are vivid and alive, even if sad and scruffy. They’re real. I’ve heard that it’s to be an allegory, but I haven’t seen through it all yet. There’s something in this quote though, that means more than the words say:

“It does not matter, Job,” said the Dean at last.  “I mean it does not matter that the clock was broken. What matters is that the clock was made.”

For years, I shied away from Henri Nouwen’s The Wounded Healer because I thought it was too deep and wordy. But when I actually opened it I found it very readable and accessible. The depth and wisdom was amazing. The thoughtfulness and careful words are to be read slowly and digested. He talks alot about loneliness and how it’s not something to run away from, but can become a source of life for others.

This is the announcement of the wounded healer: ‘The master is coming–not tomorrow, but today, not next year, but this year, not after all our misery is passed, but in the middle of it, not in another place but right here where we are standing.’

This morning over coffee, I finished The Shack, the book that took the evangelical world by storm some years back. I’d read it before, after an operation when I was in a daze of painkillers, so not everything registered very well, but my impression then was the same as this time: that its message is valuable and powerful, but the writing style was very distracting. I wanted to mark out all the fluffy adverbs. Even so, I really like the picture of the fellowship and love among the Trinity, and the way they shower love and are ‘especially fond’ of people. The story was both convicting and comforting.

Mack, if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again.

I never wanted an e-reader before, but today I do. Next week I plan to go to the US for 2 months. I’m teaching a Bible school class for girls for 3 wks, and have  no room to take any books for resources. Living with one checked-in bag for 2 months means only essentials go. In theory and in practice, I like travelling light. But I hate to be book-less. I don’t know yet how my ideal will match my practice.

Related post: Heavy Books

Comments on “The Jesus I Never Knew”

I’ve been reading Philip Yancey’s The Jesus I Never Knew and have only several pages left to read. Like always at the end of a good book, I’m sorry to see the end coming.  Yancey’s calm, thorough, careful writing soothed and fed me when I felt restless and hungry for rich words and truth.

He writes about Jesus’ world, what it must have been like to breathe that air, to walk those roads. In many ways, I’m not sure that it was so different from today’s gritty, tentative, restless towns. More than ever to me, Jesus is the hero to follow, the leader to believe in. And the audacity hits me sometimes, that I say I try to live like He did, because of my colossal failures in loving and serving like He did/does.

The best parts of the book are the last two chapters: “Kingdom: Wheat Among Weeds” and “The Difference He Makes.” The words and ideas are full of triumph and purpose, not heady and empty ideas, but solid and real–truer than our present physical surroundings.

I recommend this book, not just because of the easy-to-digest writing style, but because of the content that can lead to the source of Life.

And as an aside: Someone wrote me recently to ask why I’m reading Yancey, because she heard that he left the faith. I sighed, not because of the question, but because of the rumor. Someone has not been doing their homework, and jumped on a victim and spread a lie without reading to the end of the story.  So Yancey did leave the faith in his youth, but the fruit of his life now shows his allegiance to Christ. Who hasn’t done stupid things when they were young?

Please do yourself a favor and when you hear negative things about an author, don’t write him/her off as poison. Ask good questions of people you trust, don’t believe everything you hear or read on the internet, read books with discernment. ALL books are going to be flawed because their authors are flawed. But we can be students and ask good questions and learn the good that people have to teach us and at the same time be honest about the things that aren’t truth.

(The aside turns into a rant so the speaker steps off her soapbox.)