A New Take on Christmas

It is time for Advent, and I usually spend my Sunday mornings in a church that goes through the Advent…liturgy(?)…but that’s not the case for me this year. The church we’ve been attending hasn’t mentioned Advent…that’s not their style. Of course, we really haven’t been attending that church…or any…for quite some time. Back on the church search train. Something for which I don’t really have the energy right now…even though I have the desire to find a community that’s is a good fit for all of us.

In the mean time, however, I’ve been spending my Sunday mornings resting, reading, doing yoga, baking…other practices that in some way honor the Sabbath–but don’t feel like they do down here in the Bible belt. And…I really do want to be part of a church community.

All that to say…I started reading a new book recently, and I’m finding that now is the perfect time to read it: Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell.

It’s actually a perfect book to read as part of Advent. Rob goes into the history of the Jewish nation–starting from Genesis and moving to Exodus, then Solomon, then the Exile (don’t worry, it is by no means exhaustive). As he traces the Jewish story and the many parallel processes of Israel trying to become a priestly nation (one full of people whose primary aim was to worship and serve–which should go hand in hand)…and failing. Each time, God tries to renew the covenant. Each time, Israel does something else to move further East (East of Eden…Nod…away from God…exile…read the book). Enter the need for a different kind of God in a different form to establish a different covenant–that still gets the job done.

Reading the story of the Jews and the many parallels between their history and the story of Jesus has been fascinating–and meaningful. Particularly as we wait and prepare for the Christmas season. That’s what Advent is about–waiting and preparing. That’s was the Jews were doing in exile. And, let’s face it–we are all a people in exile in some way. Suffice it to say, I’m thankful I picked this time to pick up this book. It’s a good read for Christmas–even if it wasn’t meant to be.


Year End Book Review

Well…maybe not a review per se. But I wanted to share with you the books I DID read this year–in between the countless articles for school. Admittedly, some of what’s on the list was for school in some way, but here goes:

The Cider House Rules–John Irving

I love this man’s writing, and Cider House didn’t disappoint. It was yet another Irving book with memorable characters dealing with difficult issues–including grief.

Such a Pretty Fat–Jenn Lancaster

You may know of her from Bitter is the New Black and other writings. This book made me LAUGH out loud. It chronicles her decision to begin losing weight and the many experiences along the way. Jenn is witty and sarcastic, so her writing was perfect for me–and I understood the weight loss process, so I completely appreciated her take on life.

The next few came about as I worked on a project on eating disorders for a class on psychological disorders. In some way, each on helps the reader have a better picture of what it’s like to have an eating disorder and how it’s dealt with in different ways–or it’s about learning to love the body you have, in spite of what messages we receive about how we ought to look:

Thin is the New Happy–Valerie Frankel

Half-Assed: A Weight Loss Memoir–Jennette Fulda

Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia–Marya Hornbacher (by far the most graphic)

Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self–Lori Gottlieb (probably the best on eating disorders for getting inside the person’s psyche)

Feed Me! Writers Dish about Food, Eating, Weight, and Body Image–Harriet Brown

Body Outlaws: Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image–Ophira Edut (reminiscent of Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth…but way better)

In the world of theology (now that I’m not in div school, I don’t mind reading about theology in my spare time), there were a few gems this year:

Rapture Ready: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture–Daniel Radosh

This book was hilarious and scary all at the same time. It was a Jewish journalists view (and a pretty even-handed view) of Christian Pop Culture. Admittedly, he did the Family Christian/Lifeway store thing and then he went to Christian pop culture on steroids. You’d be amazed at what’s out there, people. Hence, the scariness. In all, though, very enlightening and humorous.

Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope–Brian MacLaren

I read this with a group of people and each time we met the question remained the same: So what do we DO? We KNOW everything must change. What now?

And each time we came away with the same answer: Love God and love people.

This book does give the reader plenty of food for thought on things such as war, the environment, and other hot topics that are very relevant for all of us today.

Speaking of relevant: Food Inc.–Karl Weber

I haven’t seen the documentary for fear it really will make me a vegetarian…or all out vegan. However, the book will give you LOTS to think about…and may change the way you eat–or at least shop for food. Its contributors include familiar names such as Eric Schlosser of Fast Food Nation fame and Michael Pollack (Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food) among others.

And just to keep up with some current events that stem from–you guessed it–thirty years of history (and religion):Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi. If you love to read–and enjoy not only the freedom to read what you like, reading good literature or living in a democracy–this is a good one. Life in Iran is not for the faint of heart.

More current events…well…in light of the most recent school board election in Wake County, this could all get turned on its head…but I read it before all that nonsense occurred: Hope and Despair in the American City: Why There Are No Bad Schools in Raleigh–Gerald Grant.

I’ll leave it at that, lest I start my rant on the Wake County School Board.

And finally, some fiction that was just fun to read:

The Accidental Mother–Rowan Coleman

The Fourth Hand–John Irving (great for you Packers fans, too)

The Unlikely Spy–Daniel Silva (a great WWII spy romp reminiscent of John Lecarre and Frederick Forsyth–go read it now)

And last but not least, Cyclops by Clive Cussler. If you aren’t familiar with Dirk Pitt, you should be.

And there’ll be more to come, now that the semester is over and I have more time…well…until the new year starts. Then you’ll have to wait a year to read all about what I’ve been reading 🙂