Saturday, November 27, 2004

Book reviewer

It's turned into a cold, rainy Saturday after a balmy Friday-after-Thanksgiving. I tried to make up for having had to work in a corporate office building yesterday by driving all the way home with the driver's side window rolled down. Today is a more typical Northern Hemisphere autumn-to-winter day.

I accomplished a number of tasks this morning, including finding someone to light the Advent candle tomorrow. I also have a number of gifts to buy today, so, naturally, I first went to a bookstore. Naturally, I found books that interested me, too, including discovering an author/book reviewer I didn't know of, senior editor of the Washington Post Book World (free registration required), Michael Dirda. I picked up his book Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments about books, reading, authors, libraries, bookstores, his Beloved Spouse and children, and buying books(!).

Then I came home and looked up Dirda's writing online: his reviews, including tomorrow's review of Richard Wilbur's Collected Poems, and an archive of his weekly online discussions. I see that he also has just published another book, Bound to Please.
Pleasures of a book reviewer: to open a new book tentatively, with indifference even, and to find oneself yet again in thrall—to a writer's prose, to a thriller's plot, to a thinker's mind. Let the whole wide world crumble, so long as I can read another page. And then another after that. And then a hundred more. (Readings, p. 13)

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Finally, I've managed to download Real Player and have it work. So now I can listen to Michael Silverblatt's Bookworm online. I just listened to today's show with author Carlos Ruiz Zaphon Zafón about his book The Shadow of the Wind. The conversation was not as much about the content of the book as about the structure of storytelling and the experience of reading. Such riches!

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Haberdashery entry

A vague memory from post-colonial boarding school days is the small room, the haberdashery, from which we were supplied shoelaces, amongst other things which I now don't remember. According to Webster's, a haberdasher is "Brit: a dealer in small wares or notions." This is another of those catch-up entries of small (although not unimportant) notions.

Working full-time and helping out at the church now that our pastor and her husband have accepted a call to another church have not left much mental space for writing here or even checking e-mail very regularly.

So I missed the date to write back to my aunt about her book club's selection, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, on which I do want to comment, perhaps in another entry (famous last words).

I've appreciated others' thoughtful, and passionate, entries on the election aftermath: Leah at Struggle in a Bungalow Kitchen; Charlotte at LivingSmall; Kerstin of At My Knits End, who has recently moved her political entries to homegrowndaisy.

Then, last night, Sister Joan Chittister was interviewed by Bill Moyers on NOW. (Hopefully, the transcript will soon be available in the archive.) She is a strong, prophetic voice challenging those who claim God's exclusive endorsement for their positions. At the same time, when asked what she has in common with those against whom she stands up so strongly, she responded, "Jesus."

I've also appreciated the mood of "November time" as the church year comes to a close.
As the church moves into November time, the procession of the faithful returning to gravestones is a lasting reminder of those who have gone before and by their witness have helped to sustain the church. Etched into memory and written into tablets of human hearts, our loved ones give us a living faith even in their dying. A cemetery walk at this time of year helps the members of its community ground itself in a story that extends far beyond what normally seems visible. At the graves, the faithful stand at the gate to eternal life. In this way, the church begins its move toward the end of the year, toward the fulfillment of all time, toward the culmination of twelve months of God's grace.

We remember that in every place, but certainly at the grave and in the church, the common prayers of the people have been shared. Our Kyries are a cry for peace. At times of grief and loss, we realize poignantly how prayer unites a people, even if the prayer consists of only a few words or even simple silence. This is counterintuitive to a culture that depends on convincing its members of the value of things through blizzards of word and image. The November church would do well to hold to silence in remembering the past. Sundays and Seasons 2004
As Pastor Peg Schultz-Akerson preached in her All Saints Sunday sermon,
Real joy, for Christians, comes not from things or from comfort or from security, but from glimpsing what Jesus knew – that God’s reign is wonderfully near and wondrously surprising. Joy comes in participating in God’s bringing of that reign about, even if our participating causes weeping for a time when we recognize the disparity between what is and what will be in the fullness of time. [...]

The cost is that the closer we listen to Jesus the more we notice life’s disparities – the more we notice things that cause us to share in the mourning for a world where things are not yet as God holds out for them to be. But to listen to Jesus is also to joyfully discover what it is that’s worth dying for and, that the dying we do in Christ is bound for resurrection. Jesus says, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
Thursday night was a wonderful celebration of people coming together to honor those who are doing what they can where they are to live sustainably on this earth now. The City of Pasadena gave Outstanding Recycler Awards, and my friends at Path to Freedom were award recipients. The Patagonia company sponsored the event and provided a delicious spread. (Coincidently, the caterer purchased edible flowers from my friends to garnish the platters. See pictures here.) The founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, was one of the speakers. His simple, unassuming talk emphasized the five points outlined in this essay:
  • Lead an examined life
  • Clean up your act
  • Do your penance
  • Support civil democracy
    ("The great social movements of the past 200 years – for democracy itself, for women’s rights, for social equality, for conservation and preservation of the environment – rose up directly from small groups of people who spread the word to others. Today in the United States, small groups of kayakers and fishermen work tirelessly to bring down dams; duck hunters toil to preserve wetlands. And it’s mothers who exert the most pressure to clean up local toxic landfills.")
  • Influence other companies (Have a 100-year plan)
Photographer Robert Glenn Ketchum showed slides and made a plea to preserve SW Alaska's rich salmon-spawning habitat from oil drilling.