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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What and Why I Read

I read on a wide variety of subjects. Not on everything however. I tend not to read much on technology, computers, chemistry, math (my brain gets dizzy any time numbers are present - thus you won't see lists of statistics supporting what I write!), fluffy fiction (as opposed to purposeful!), and very rarely biographies. Sorry to disappoint the biography crowd out there. I just find often they are either too inspirational and my cynicism makes reading difficult, or they are too condemning and fail to highlight both the good and the bad in a person. I did read the required biography of D.L.Moody and found it was worthwhile, and once in a while I will stumble on something and read it by accident. Enough of the biography discussion.

Here's an example of what I have recently read (only completed books listed here):

1. Hana's Suitcase
2. In My Hands
3. The Amish Way
4. Mao's Great Famine (1948-1952)
5. And Thereby Hangs a Tale
6. The Emperor of All Maladies
7. The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do

...among others I forget...

The genres I tend to read are, in no particular order:

2nd World War History
Biology and science (Physics occasionally)
Chinese History
Amish Culture and Society (non-fiction)
Oppressive Cults (why people stay, leave and how)
Fundamentalist Groups (and the pursuing of free thought)
The Brain and Memory, Cancer, Diabetes
Anything Controversial or opposing to my viewpoint
Theology - specifically the Doctrines of Grace
Popular Books (to see what all the fuss is about)
Marriage, Parenting, and family books
Psychology (can be frustrating at times)
Nutrition and Quack promoters of such

- Probably other genres I can't think of just now...

You'll notice not much room for fiction. Nothing against fiction, just I find the real so much more fascinating. At the same time, please don't bristle at that statement. Fiction can be extremely real - it can show what poetry and prose cannot. I just have a hard time finding it sometimes. Non-fiction is often concrete (though much of it proposed as non-fiction really is fiction - takes a discerning reader to catch this). Fiction can bore into your soul and catch you unaware! Maybe you have some good fiction recommends for me - add a comment and let me know.

Here's what I mean about defining vs. demonstrating. I can write poetry about a topic we all understand to some degree: Grace:

'Grace 'tis a charming sound' I once did hear, and longing still for more,
My heart drew near to soak it in; To drink from that deep store.
It was my soul's delight I found to joyfully partake
Of blessed truths reserved for those whose hungry hearts did ache.

Grace not only charmed the thoughts, and bound up broken hearts -
Redemption too was found therein - it left soul-branding marks.

I'm marked as one "By Grace was Sought, By Grace Arrested, Freed."
Grace captured my soul's filthy rags - By Grace I now believe.

Could Grace be lauded without thought of what it cost our God?
To condescend in human form - and walk this barren sod?

Could be we awed without a thought for loving sacrifice?
For grace to charm we must take in the awful, painful price.

By blood redeemed, by Christ set free, by death I am revived.
His life for mine, His grace defined goes farther than my thoughts can reach!
To think that I of all the world should be the one He seeks!

Grace charmed and wooed and won my heart
And now no longer free to roam -
I bind myself to His great cause
To make His glories known.


Or, we could write it theologically in such a way:

"In Grace the work of God is done whereby we see an unregenerate soul languishing in the pallor of sinful emptiness, longingly searching the vast array of the world's offerings of pleasure, knowledge, meaning, and ideals, only to come up empty again and again. In grace we find this wandering soul athirst for a drink he knows nothing of - flitting from well to well - of friendship, of religion, of systems, of fame, of mysticism, of hobbies and interest, of entertainment, of following the 'heroes' of the world. In grace we see this soul lost and sought and confronted with his aimless path of life and having been found by the One Who is Himself Living Water; we see this one receive the Saviour whose death brings life; We see him drink deep from the well of Truth and Grace. In Grace we see the work of God that devoid of any assistance or empowerment from the recipient, He lavishes blessings of inheritance belonging to the Son, onto the one whose thirsty soul finds satisfaction at the well of such grace. Grace bestows without merit or reward on the one whose efforts fail, whose virtues wither and whose righteousness does not exist. Grace does not bestow based on the desire or power or action of the recipient. Grace is all of God and none of me."

Both in poetry and theological treatise we define and know by the telling - we are told what grace is. But often for the soul to take in truth, the heart must be tricked into seeing, and this is where story comes in.

I wish I could demonstrate this for you. I could try to write a story depicting Grace and Redemption. Many have done this - Francine Rivers, Dostoyevsky, C.S. Lewis etc. (moderns, classics, theologians - many genres do well at depicting grace). I'm not much for writing fiction (yet) so I'll leave you with those for examples.

Perhaps in telling some of the stories of my life I hope to paint for you a picture of the grace of God in my life.




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