Sunday, April 27, 2008

Atonement Child

I read Francine Rivers' Atonement Child today. It is about a girl who is a freshman at a Christian College across the country from her childhood home. She is raped and conceives a child. Despite the fact that she is engaged to a future minister, a student at a Christian college and a child of Christians, everyone who is important to her either urges or accepts aborting the child. She however, can never bring herself to go through with the procedure and ends up bringing conversion to an abortionist and healing to her family.

I had mixed feelings about the book. I found it preachy, much more so than I have found most of her other Christian novels. I also found it predictable. On the other hand, I found it troubling, perhaps because I suspect there is truth there. All these God-loving people in her life were pushing her to have an abortion. Her college kicked her out, even though they knew she'd been raped, saying people would think she and her fiance had sinned, unless she was willing to publically state that she'd been raped. I have to wonder sometimes how many women end up in abortion clinics because of what they perceive as lack of support?

Riddle

What do you get when you cross a REAL bodice-buster romance with Christian Fiction? Francine Rivers' Not So Wild a Dream may be the answer. Francine Rivers now writes Christian Fiction and I've read, and reviewed, many of her books. I'd say she's one of the best writers out there writing Christian Fiction. However, in the 1980's she wrote mainstream romance novels, books she has now pulled out of print and warns readers about on her website, making sure everyone knows she wrote them before she became Christian. I've read that Not So Wild a Dream was written after she experienced a religious conversion but before she decided to change genres. This is a story about a young woman who was born to a mentally ill Scottish-American fur trapper and a native American woman. While the man is in town one day Indians raid their home and kill her mother. A few years later her father sells her to a farmer who is looking for a wife. The man is kind and good and reads to her from the Bible. He talks to her about God. She fights the man all the way, wanting to go back to her father, but as he is dying she realizes she loved him too. Next, she becomes involved with a scoundral who teaches her a lot more about sex than she learned from her husband. They end up running a casino and when he leaves her, he left her with it (and it was a money-maker). The last man in the book is similar to the farmer, except that he is a seaman. He wants her, but wants her love, not just her body. Yes, its a love story, and yes, it ends happily. It isn't really Christian fiction since there are plenty of sex scenes and lots of immorality by the "good" characters but the woman's search for God does play a part in her life and how she views these men. I enjoyed the book.

I'm Sure Going to Miss This

I should have had someone take a picture because these days are coming to an end. I don't generally make the little one nap on the weekends. She fights it, we are busy, and, if she really needs one, she lays down and takes one rather than getting cranky and hard to live with. Generally, especially on lazy days like today, she eventually decides to do so. Today I was laying on the couch reading. She came over, pulling her blanket and carrying Shirtie (her security "blanket"--my old nursing pj's) snuggled up beside me with a book, and after I read to her, put her thumb in her mouth and went to sleep. She'll be four in a little over a week and will start school in the fall. My baby is getting big. Pretty soon she'll be too big to hold. She won't want to snuggle with Mom. I'm so thankful I got a second time around with all this joy--but all good things come to an end (and are generally replaced with other good things).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Headed for Bookmooch

I plan to put these on Bookmooch. Email me if you want them.

I recently read two Debbie Macomber books. A Season of Angels is basically the same book as Touched by Angles listed below. Different humans, same angels, happy endings. Susannah's Garden is about a middle-aged woman who returns to her hometown a few months after her father's death to move her mother into an assisted living facility. She had been dreaming about a high school boyfriend for months and while she is there, ends up looking for him. The book has a surprise ending (happy of course) and she makes peace not only with her decesased father but also with her daughter and she realizes how much she loves her husband. She ends up buying a flower shop on Blossom Street in Seattle.

An Echo in the Darkness is book II in her Mark of the Lion series. It is about a Jewish/Christian girl named Hadassa who is thrown to the lions and survives and uses her life to spread the Good News. There is a love story included but it is not at all graphic. The sexual depavity of the Romans is mentioned in and is a part of the book, but there is nothing graphic--no bedroom scenes, and the sinners end up repenting. It took a little longer for me to get into this book than what River's modern-day novels do, but I ended up enjoying it and will look for others in the series.

They Called Her Mrs. Doc is by Janette Oke. It is about the daughter of a Montreal physician who marries a doctor who is determined to return home to the frontier to practice medicine. It is told from the viewpoint of the old woman looking back at her life. It is Christain fiction and a little preachy but an enjoyable read.

Wisconsin by Andrea Boeshaar is a series of three novellas all set in Wisconsin in the present day. They were all love stories, all quite predictable and very preachy.

Library Books

It seems with Bookmooch I've forgotten the library exists. Well, I haven't exactly forgotten, but I'm always at the library with kids and don't really get a chance to look for books I want for any length of time. Well, recently I had to take Jay to the library for books for a school project. While there I did take a minute to grab a few books.

I grabbed four of Katherine Valentine's Dorsettville series books: A Miracle for St. Cecilia's, A Gathering of Angels and On a Wing and a Prayer. They are all about the life and times of the people of a New England town, Doresettville, as told through the eyes of the Catholic pastor. They are feel good reads but have no real substance to them. There are way too many miraculous happenings, IMO--and not miracles like the rich benefactor coming in at the last minute, but rather people being healed from terminal cancer because they touched a rosary given to a nun by Mary in Medjugoria, or an elderly priest being carried by angels across town in a blizzard and put inside a house whose owner was out of town. I still have one book left to read in the series, and if I find it, I probably will read it; but great literature this stuff is not.

My other library book was Touched by Angels which like most stuff written by Debbie Macomber was pure fluff. It is about three angels sent to answer prayers of three humans during the Christmas season. Of course all the prayers are answered happily, and the angels goof up a little. Oh, yea, some of the prayers dealt with marriage and of course they were answered, but not quite in the way originally expected. My only complaint is that one of the characters is a devout Catholic who is teaching in an inner city school. One of her students confesses she is pregnant and the next day she teaches a lesson about sex, stressing abstinence, but also pushing "safe sex".

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'll Play

The rules are:
1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What I was doing 10 years ago: Getting ready for my oldest to graduate from kindergarten. Working the same job I have now--I was probably working on the appeal for the biggest case we had (and that file is still just down the hall from my office). We had internet access by then, but I'm not sure if I had found aol boards yet. My husband had recently quit a job he'd had for several years to take over his late father's business.

Five things on my To Do List Tomorrow (since today's almost over): 1. Adoration (Friday nite is the one night I can get there before I'm half asleep without inconveniecing anyone else at home) 2. Watch the youngest water her marigolds (she wanted to plant marigolds, not sure where she heard of them and when we went to Home Depot to buy them, she decided she wanted purple and white petunias too--but she insists they are all her marigolds) 3. Finish proofreading some letters at work. 4. Read a book 5. Do or pawn off some of those chores at work that I've been putting off

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:1. Travel 2. Try to have another baby (if dh will agree--though at my age that's a stretch and I'm not willing to try very hard) 3. Hire a maid 4. Spend a day or two a week as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children 5. Run a Girl Scout troop in an area that lacks volunteers.

Three of my bad habits:1. Sloth 2. Impatience with people 3 Eating too muchthe doubt

Five places I have lived:1. New Orleans areab2. Mississippi Gulf Coast 2.5 Columbus, MS 3. Izmir, Turkey, 4. Monteray California, 5. Colorado Springs, Co. 6 Omaha NE, 7. Madison WI, 8. Kapuskasing Canada (yea I know, more than five--guess what my dad did for a living)

Five jobs I’ve had:1. Lifeguard 2. Swimming Teacher 3 Teacher 4. Telephone solicitor 5. Paralegal

If you want to play, join in!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I Like Being Responsible

Yesterday I picked my son up from school. After the usual pleasantries came the usual question: How is the homework? He said it was fine, that he had gotten some done while he was at the library, and that he had a report assigned in English. He had to write about some aspect of daily life in the time of Julius Ceasar or in the time of Shakespeare (guess what they are studying?). I asked if he needed any help and he said "I was trying to decide whether to ask you for help. I kind of like being responsible for my own homework". I pointed out that part of being responsible was asking for help when needed and so he did ask for some help. He wanted to to Shakespeare's time, so I suggested he research Elizabethan games. He has started his report. I guess backing off was the right decision.

Actually I've seen other signs too. He usually goes to the local library after school and waits for me there for about an hour and a half. However, they are closed on Friday. Luckily, the video game club meets Friday after school until 5:00, which is when I get there. Unfortunately, two weeks ago video game club was cancelled. He called me at 3:00 and told me it was cancelled and said he'd wait for me in front of the library. I didn't like the idea of him sitting out there for an hour and a half so I tied up things at work and left to pick him up. When I got there he was sitting on the steps doing his homework, and when he got into the car he continued to work on that assignment. This is such a difference from having to be pushed, pulled, cajoled, threatened etc.

Now if I can just get the other one to get with the program.

Monday, April 07, 2008

What to Read Next and more

While checking my daughter's school website for her homework assignments, I found a link to a website titled "What to Read Next". You enter the names of books you have enjoyed, and it recommends more, I guess like the bookstore sites do, except this will use books you have enjoyed, not books you have perused.

Another site I found there that might interest you is this portal to all sorts of educational sites. Enjoy.

More Homework

The good news: My son passed 3/4 classes last nine weeks, and his grades, which are about what he has gotten all along at this school (though these are basic level classes rather than college prep level ones) are HIS grades, not mine. The one class he failed would be considered an elective where he is going next year, so unless he fails a different class next nine weeks, he should go over there next year as a junior.

The bad news: My daughter tried to see how little homework she could do last nine weeks and still get decent grades. She overestimated the amount she could miss by quite a bit.

The good news: At least it is a solvable problem, and its one I have a strong financial incentive to solve. She's grounded until at least interim reports and I'm checking homework daily, riding her constantly. Hopefully I'm making her at least as miserable as she's making me.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Are You Christian?


One blog I've enjoyed reading lately and need to add to my blogroll is Denise's Catholic Matriarch in My Domestic Church. I've been pondering a post of hers, along with a book I've been reading and am going to try to make some sense here, but I'm not one of those bloggers who takes what I write seriously enough to draft, edit, revise, spellcheck etc (as I'm sure you've noticed if you've read any number of my posts).


First the book: It is junky Christian Fiction called Wisconsin. I picked it up on Bookmooch because I always look over the inventory of people from whom I mooch to see if I can order two rather than one. Since my mom grew up in WI, this caught my eye, and while it was amusing in the same way Harlequin Romances are, it was about that predictable and well-plotted. However, it was also VERY religious. The main characters all either are or become, in the course of the book "saved". This salvation gives them a new way of looking at life, the ability to love and bear hurt, and of course, this love for Jesus leads them to love each other, and they talk about it among themselves. The book is really a collection of several "novellas".
Denise, as you you noticed when you clicked the link wrote about Catholicism being hard. Basically, the Church is not a democracy, it is not Burger King and it has rules, not suggestions. She links to posts by people who basically wonder why there is such hate for the Church.
One of my long-time online haunts is a now almost-dead aol board for Christian Moms Debate. A few years ago we had a pretty regular contingent of conservative Catholics, a couple of liberal Catholics, a couple of liberal Protestants and some very vocal conservative evangelical fundamentalists. We basically went round and round on the same topics and while I'd like to think we got a better idea of where the others stood, I don't think we changed many minds. One thing I read over and over again was that Catholics were so into ritual and thought the Church would save them and they didn't have faith in Jesus. Of course we were also trying to work our way into heaven because the horrible Catholic church kept us in slavery and didn't let us read our Bibles where it said that all we needed to be saved was to admit we were sinners, needed Jesus, and ask Him to come into our hearts. A number of ex-Catholics posted over the years and I was always struck by the difference in attitude they had toward the Catholic Church than what Catholic converts had toward the churches from which they came. In general, the ex-Catholics were mad at the Church or someone in it, they showed little understanding of the Churches teachings or why the Church taught that way, and they felt that they had been deceived by the Church. Despite those feelings however, most didn't leave the Church because they had an active disagreement about doctrine. What was much more common was for someone to be at a crisis point in their life and a friend invited them to an evangelical church, which they later decided to join, or that while they were nominally Catholic, they didn't practice their faith, and when invited down the street by a friend, they went, enjoyed it and stayed. At that point the "learned" how wrong the Catholic Church was. Converts to Catholicism, on the other hand, generally saw the churches they left as good, but lacking.
One thing of which Catholics are accused is being "dead", of not expressing our faith and inviting others to it. In some ways I think this is just a cultural difference. My in-laws are of Italian descent. They all talk at once, and loudly. They greet each other with a kiss. In my family we speak one at a time, and we aren't huggers/kissers. My in-laws saw me as stand-offish and wondered if I disliked them. I wondered if I'd ever get a chance to speak. They were looking for me to act Italian, and I didn't. I wasn't that I disliked them, it was that I wasn't Italian, greeting people I see only on holidays with a kiss didn't seem natural, and I'm still not able to butt into conversations. Just as I didn't share the same culture with my in-laws, I think we don't share a culture with the evangelicals so they read the wrong motivations to our actions or lack thereof.
I also think that because we all claim to be one, we all take the rap for the bad eggs, whether it is Fr. who groweled at you in the confessional, Sister who made you kneel on the floor or Fr. who abused kids. Rev. X may have groweled at someone, Ms. Y may have humiliated a Sunday School student, and Rev. Z may have abused kids but they were all free agents and you can't judge the whole church on what they did...
Why did I mention that book? I know real life isn't as neat as that type of story book. I know most real people's romances aren't anything like Harliquins' and I doubt the faith stories in that book are much more real than the love stories, yet that is the way Evangelical Christianity is often presented--say this pray, make this committment and its done. Yes, you'll fall, but He'll always be there to "convict" you and pick you back up. Yes, you have to change, but not all at once, and He'll show you what to work on first. Catholicism is more like marrying the guy next door, not because you have this sweep me off my feet torrid romance but rather because he's always been there, you've always known him, always liked him, and its expected--heck your parents arranged the marriage.
Maybe that's it--Evangelical Christianity is much more "American" than Catholicism is. It is democratic, but with a constitution (Bible) that can be interpreted in different ways, and so you can find a group that interprets it your way. It is a chosen relationship, at least hypthetically, rather than an arranged marriage. However, many couples in arranged marriages fall in love--and many who choose thier mates divorce. Americans aren't into a lot of pomp and circumstance, yet the Church is. Americans don't like being told "no" and the Church is very good at that. Americans are generally into live and let live, yet the Church says "this is wrong". Americans like to feel good about themselves, yet the church says "you sin, confess".
I'm kind of all over with this and I'm not sure I made any sense, but its bedtime.

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