Saturday, August 19, 2006


Well, seeing as Phil tagged me (I didn't play tag at school - sadly I am old enough to have the scars of british bulldog before it was banned by health and safety!) here are my answers for the meme:

One book that changed your life:
Without question 'The Road Less Travelled' by the late M. Scott Peck. The opening sentence could be part of any gospel narrative...."Life is difficult". A timeless lesson - though I would say that we are the ones who make it so with our choices. It's not really a self help pile of nancy crap but a harsh look at how we fuck up and maybe can re-build our brokennes. The book talks both about resistance to grace and the welcoming of grace. It's not easy, and often comes with responsibilities (the cheap grace Bonhoeffer speaks of). Accepting grace often welcomes more than we bargained for, but also often more than we hoped.

One book that you have read more than once:
Probably my favourite book of them all, 'The Grapes of Wrath' by Steinbeck - an unquenchable tale of human struggle, of the pain we cause one another and the dignity and earthy integrity that some embody - it's a story that speaks to the humanity of everyone.

One book you'd want on a desert island:
God not sure. Phil's answer is a good one - I too have 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' and have still not read it. I would probably say the Bible because there is still some of it I have not read and perhaps should - there's also some of it I have read and need to read again and again and again...

One book that made you laugh:
Down Under by Bill Bryson made me laugh out loud in an airport bar so many times the tender asked me to "keep it down a little could you mate" - just the line from the first paragraph; "FLYING INTO AUSTRALIA, I realized with a sigh that I had forgotten again who their prime minister is..." I laughed so much and hard I thought i would pass out - many around me wished I had!

One book that made me cry:
Easy choice. Just recently I read Night by Elie Wiesel. It tells the story of a teenager wracked with guilt at having survived the horror of the Holocaust and the genocidal campaign that consumed his family. His memories of the nightmare world of the death camps present him with an intolerable question: how can the God he once so fervently believed in have allowed these monstrous events to occur? There are no easy answers in this harrowing book, which probes life's essential riddles with the lucid anguish only great literature achieves. It marks the crucial first step in Wiesel's lifelong project to bear witness for those who died. Here's what I mean:

' Let us try and imagine what passed within him while his eyes watched the coils of black smoke unfurling in the sky, from the oven where his little sister and his mother were going to be thrown with thousands of others: "Never shall i forget that night, the first night in camp, which turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall i forget that smoke. Never shall i forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies i saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall i forget those flames that consumed my Faith forever. Never shall i forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall i forget those moments which muredered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall i forget these things, even if i am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never"
....And i, who believe that God is love, what answer could i give my young questioner, whose dark eyes still held the reflection of that angelic sadness which had appeared one day upon the face of the hanged child? What did i say to him? Did i speak of that other Israeli, his brother, who may have resembled him - the Crucified, whose Cross has conquered the world? Did i affirm the stumbling block to his faith was the cornerstone of mine, and that the conformity between the Cross and the suffering of men was in my eyes the key to the impenetrable mystery whereon the faith of his childhood had perished? Zion, however, has risen up again from the crematories and the charnel houses. The Jewish nation has been resurrected from among its thousands of dead. It is through them that it lives again. We do not know the worth of one drop of blood, one single tear. All is grace. If the Eternal is the Eternal, the last word for each one of us belongs to Him. This is what i should have told this Jewish child. But I could only embrace him, weeping.'

One book that you wish had been written:
'Jesus: The Stand Up Years' - evidently he was pretty good at it - the one about a camel and the eye of a needle is said to be a classic according to the critics.

One book you wish had never been written:
With out doubt 'Ecclesiastes' - I mean, what's that doing in the Bible? One quirky messed up book! (actually come to think of it That's the reason i like it!) - So actually it would have to be anything by Jilly Cooper - do people actually read her shit?!

One book that you're currently reading:
I read a few at a time but the one I am returning to most is John Pilgers 'Freedom Next Time' It's a bloody hard book to read as it chronicles man's inhumanity to man, the appalling lies and silence from the mainstream media, and the amount of innocent deaths around the globe for the betterment of the few, is hard to take. Pilger has never held back with the truth, despite numerous death threats over his career, banned from countries and standing up to those that perpetrate these crimes against humanity. As Chomsky says, Pilger continues to be a prophetic beacon of light in a dark world

One book you've been meaning to read:
'The Fate of Africa' by Martin Meredith. Got this last Christmas and still not really picked it up. I fell in love with this regal country on my first visit and realised I was more than ignorant when it comes to its history...I should really pick this one up and start to educate myself. The synopsis is: 'The value of Meredith's towering history of modern Africa rests not so much in its incisive analysis, or its original insights; it is the sheer readability of the project, combined with a notable lack of pedantry, that makes it one of the decade's most important works on Africa. Spanning the entire continent, and covering the major upheavals more or less chronologically—from the promising era of independence to the most recent spate of infamies (Rwanda, Darfur, Zimbabwe, Liberia, Sierra Leone)—Meredith (In the Name of Apartheid) brings us on a journey that is as illuminating as it is grueling.'

So, there you have it - Thanks Phil! - and the final responsibility is to tag four more kids in the playground, so I tag The Good Dr Higgins, Jude, Cary, and Mata (wish I could link you but haven't worked out how you do that yet, sorry)


mister tumnus said...

the road less travelled. and that first sentence. same effect on me :)

Bible Discernment said...

For more info on Bible Versions go to

Jude said...

blimey... I'm not going to wax as eloquently as you sir! Now... let me think...

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

Shirley, it seems to have on many

Jude, think i was just rambling really

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