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11/29/2006

We're Up


I typically read more than one book at a time, at least two - a fiction selection as well as non-fiction. Which reminds me of a pet peeve I acquired while working at Half Price Books. A customer would request an unfamiliar title, and I inquired, Is it fiction or non-fiction? Before I could even ask if it was literature, romance, mystery, poetry, political science, or history, at least 65% of such customers would say, "Fiction? Is that when it's a true story?" It was challenging to not scoff, so I took a deep breath, repented arrogance, and explained the difference. Still to this day, I wonder what sad education those customers received. Is "fiction" really a difficult term? Or is "non?"

But back to what I'm reading. My sister-in-law, Beckye, sent me a birthday book, Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me by Andree Seu. Upon describing the gift to John I revealed my own ignorance, "You know, the title is from Jabez's prayer." My husband (the more erudite spouse) said, "No, the title is what Jacob said to God as they wrestled." Oh, don't I read the Bible enough?

I am relieved the book was not inspired by Jabez's prayer. All of the Bible is God-breathed, and worthy of inspiration to writers, but The Prayer of Jabez phenomenon has received bad press in Christendom, and for good reason in my opinion. Plus, I love the story of Jacob's wrestling match with God. Jacob was a scrappy, tenacious fellow. God patiently wrestled, could have taken him out early on, but impressively, Jacob held on, grit his teeth, and said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!" What faith, right? God merely touched Jacob's hip and that was the end of WWF's God vs. Jacob, yet the Victor blessed his opponent with a new title, Israel.

Seu's book is small, a good size for purses and travel, and full of short essays. She is a regular columnist for WORLD magazine which Beckye reads and thus knew I, too, would be inspired by her writing style. Seu is interesting: a widow, four children, and long ago, as a Nietzsche-loving teenager, studied directly under Francis Schaeffer in his Swiss L'Abri chalet. She said to his face, "There is no way to know anything about truth or God starting from your own mind - and that's the only place we can start!" She was wrong, of course, and in Schaeffer's creative and intellectual manner, he calmly explained that she believed Rationalism which differs greatly from rational Christianity. Take away the Gospel, the non-fiction book about Jesus, and the world is irrational.

All of this to say I am reading two non-fiction books at the moment (very peculiar). Well, three including the Bible. As I mentioned, I gleaned several books for my birthday. I salivated, my mind raced, Which one should I read first? I added Seu's book to Greene's, but I recalled recent mental notes to read the Bible with more frequence. My thoughts and behavior as of late have been wretched. Maybe not all-out evil, but too despairing, too worrisome. Annoying. Moody. Johnny sing-song chants, "We're up, we're down, we're up, we're down."

Last night we were down. The artsy Psalms book from John, and two from my Mom - The Elements of Style by Strunk & White and a stunning book of Mary McCleary's art (After Paradise) - stacked on our cluttered coffee table. We watched recorded TV shows: Heroes and ER. I set a glass of red Zinfandel (another gift from friends) on the coffee table, barely tapped the glass with an accidental flair, and the crimson liquid drenched the Indian tapestry tablecloth and the books. John ran for paper towels and I flipped out. I cried. Lamented. Wailed. My books! They were gifts! I need to learn better grammar and punctuation and now look - it's ruined! They are all ruined! The other two were supposed to be pretty coffee table books for company!

Johnny reminded me that all three books are still legible. We can replace the decorative ones later. No one cares, accidents happen. Books are grand, but they are just things. Continuing to flip out, I pouted an ugly, immature look. Earlier that day I prayed to not commit the exact litany of lunacy I performed over spilled wine. God's answer was to display what I am without Him, His Words not read, His help not wrestled. When I do read the Bible perfection is not achieved, but I do feel sane, and sanity is lovely.

Today: Out of bed, powdered my nose, brewed coffee, cooked oatmeal, released Harley Cat onto the porch, burned incense, checked my e-mail and a few blogs, and focused on the Morning Prayer readings - currently Psalms, Genesis, and Matthew. Then an essay by Seu. I am trying to quickly read Seu's book for two reasons: 1, it is great, and 2, I am dying to read another novel from my Mom - Snow by Orhan Pamuk, the 2006 Nobel Prize winner in Literature. At least I did not spill wine on that book. The three stained books are dry and wilted, but only on the edges (although McCleary's art took the most severe beating). The tapestry is washed and drying, slung over the shower curtain. I am acting 32. So far.

3 comments:

Beckye said...

The Elements of Style is a great book! It won't matter if it's stained. It's just as good!! :)

So glad you're enjoying Andree!! I love her.

And 3 cheers for focusing more on Scriptures! I have some great Bible reading plans, if you're interested. ALL different kinds.

After reading through the Bible annually for years with my kids, I haven't in a few years and the Lord has been graciously reminding me that THAT is my priority. :)

Karen Mains challenged me years ago on a radio program to spend more time reading Scripture than anything else I read or watch -- (!!) It changed the way I saw everything, of course, seeing it from His perspective! I haven't done that in a long time, and need to again.

March to the Sea said...

2 or more at a time?! I can hardly get through ONE book in 6 months..its awful.

Barring kids books..I read 10 a night!

Jenni said...

Beckye, I'm using The Book of Common Prayer's lectionary which takes me through the Psalms every month, and the rest of the Bible every two years. I often "read ahead," so perhaps I will get through the Bible annually if not this year, the next.

March, I am a very nerdy bookworm!