muccamukk: Spiral staircase decending multiple levels inside a tower.. (DW: Bookworm)
The Uncertain Path (Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice #6) by Jude Watson
This one was kind of heartbreaking. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon broke up, you guys! And they spent the whole book angry-pining, and then Obi-Wan got stuck in the middle of a politically disintegrating planet, and all his friends got mad at him! Oh no!

The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer by John Dominic Crossan
Fairly dense going, as Crossan usually is, and I'd like to read this again at some point, but it really is an excellent explication of the Lord's Prayer, and I honestly think all Christians should read it.

Bellwether by Connie Willis, narrated by Kate Reading
It's been about ten years since last time I read this. I remembered loving it then, and it was still very enjoyable, especially with the excellent audio version by Kate Reading. I still liked the romance plot especially, and the general commentary on trends, the writing itself was funny. But it also came across as a little dated (cellphones were cutting edge), and more to the point, Willis comes off a little too "kids these days," for someone writing a character who posits that it's human nature to be faddish.

The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace #1) by Erin Bow
Wow. So that happened. If nothing else, this book is a hell of a ride, plotwise, and that's only book one! Without giving away too much, it's a pretty unflinching look at what it's like to grow up in an abusive system, and what coping mechanisms one builds. It's also one of the more original looks at Our Robot Overlords, and what one might do about them.

I really liked Greta, our heroine, and how you slowly realize how closed off and damaged she is because from her PoV she's fine, they're all fine, everyone's fine together (ahaha, no they're not). Until it comes to crunch time, and not even really then. I also, for once, liked her love triangle. Adding more girls is apparently the way to get me to do that.

I would warn for some pretty graphic torture, and general PTSD.

(I didn't like this one as well as Bow's first two books, but I'm withholding final judgement until I see the whole series.)
muccamukk: Groot surrounded by his own branches and glowing pollen. (GotG: Green Man)
I'll try do the first episode of the Sinbad rewatch tomorrow. Meant to tonight, but Nenya fall down go boom now.

Ficlets for MJD also pending.

Content note: the second review talks about Christianity and sexuality at the same time.

The Yuquot Whalers' Shrine by Aldona Jonaitis
I loved how this was both a history of an artefact, in so much as anyone knows about it, but a history of how the artefact has been seen, used and treated, again in so much as we know about it. It's the kind of anthropology I enjoyed in college, with the layers of meaning and perspective explored, and everything re-examined under as many lights as possible, and nothing let slide. Plus the pictures are gorgeous. I will admit to not reading all of the appendixes, however.

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee
This book made me feel tired. As a lesbian Christian (Christian lesbian?) who has more or less not had to put up with the culture war to any great extent, and belongs to a queer-friendly denomination, it can be exhausting to hear over and over that I have to go talk to the people who hate me. It's not that Lee is wrong, I probably should reach out more, but my gut response to phrases like "Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate" is, "We gays aren't the ones doing anything wrong!" That probably makes me privileged, entitled, and a bad Christian, but there you are.

I guess the problem is that this book isn't really for me. It's for Evangelical Christians, and that is not a perspective I understand that well (and I rather get the impression that my idea of faith is firmly what Lee would consider wishy-washy and not well thought out). I thought the book did a nice job of discussing the ethics and theology, and I love Lee's compassion for all sides, so I'm really glad that he's there, trying to build bridges and support people through their struggles, and I wish him and his organisation all the luck in the world, and all of God's Grace besides, but it seemed to all exist in a parallel universe from anything connected to my life. I say that as a lesbian and a Christian.

Granted, the book focuses on Lee's early understandings and interactions with the church and his own faith, and is meant to underline how much the culture war harms those caught in the middle, so it's not meant as a biography, but he never talked about what happened when he DID finally connect with the gay community. All he ever talks about in the book is how alienating he found it too, and how he later came to connect differently, but I never saw that bridge built, not in the way that the one to theology was. Lee is very careful to avoid condemning the gay community, and is sure to underline that he's not playing some sort of, "I'm not like the other girls gays," game, which I appreciated, as I appreciated his nods to the trans community.

On the whole, it's probably a very good book, and my straight evangelical friend thinks it's amazing, but I'm clearly not the target audience. I found the prose a little simplistic, but appreciated the humour.

Dare to Kiss by Jo Beverley
Could probably have better been titled, "Lily Gets What She Wants," but I suppose "Dare to Kiss" is more romancey. You know going in that it's going to be short, but I could have used about five more pages of Lily and Ben interacting that underlined that they fell in love, and didn't just end up together because she was desperate and he was lonely. However, I loved Lily to bits. Heroines who know the system and work it for all they can get are my favourites, and the book made how high the stakes were very clear. We didn't get to know Ben as well, but he seemed nice enough, and this really was Lily's story. Rather classic Beverley move to hold the plot twist over our heads and then use it the way she did, but it made sense for all the characters.

Haven't read Beverley in ages, and clearly need to get back to her.
muccamukk: Misty and Colleen lying on a beach at sunset. Text: "...happily ever after. The end." (Marvel: Happily Ever After)
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa V. Harris-Perry
I thought going in that this was going to be a lot more literary criticism and a lot less current events commentary. I felt like the author perhaps over did it in justifying her approach at the start, as I'm not sure it's a book you'd pick up if you weren't already interested in her perspective, so that was a bit tedious, but once she started off, I got more into it.

Though the author only skated over common stereotypes of black women, her examination of the consequences of them, as well as her sections on Strong Black Women and Religion made for an interesting and thoughtful read. I especially appreciated that the author stated her perspectives and approaches, as well as personal connections to people and issues.

The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín, read by Meryl Streep
So that was more or less as depressing as hell. However, I very much liked the voice of the character, both as written and as read by Meryl Streep , and I think it has some very interesting things to say about Redemptive Suffering and how it's BS. I'd rec it to anyone interested in theology, with the mention that it has a lot of graphic torture. Get the audiobook if you can.

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century #1) by Cherie Priest
The world building was interesting, if a little superficial, and it was cool to see period(ish) Seattle as a change from New York or London. Some of the individual scenes were well paced and the action sequences well written. However, the story and characters didn't interest me that much. The son was so profoundly uninteresting that I never cared what happened to him, or if his mother found him or not. The mother was a bit better, though it's hard to tell if I was reacting to her or her character type, which is one I like. I liked some of the background characters, especially the air ship crews and Miss Angeline, but a lot of them felt like stock characters.

I've been told that the series picks up in later books, so I may give Dreadnought a try at some point.
muccamukk: Maria looks extremely unsatisfied with this turn of events. (Avengers: Disgruntled)
(But I get some in there!)

due South fans are taking one of their actors being in the Fifty Shades of Gray movie about as well as Pacific Rim fans when their actor was going to be in it (though I guess Herc's actor still is?). Anyway, my comment is that a) CKR has been in things that score way higher on my Offensive Bullshit Meter than this ever will (mainly the second X-Files movie), and that b) I'm kind of over hating on FSoG.It's probably objectively terrible, and not great at women, and really bad at kink, but the level of vitriol directed at it is starting to wear thin, especially on the by a woman, about a woman for a female audience level, especially when Dude!Porn (and X-Files movies) does worse on a regular basis and doesn't seem to get a fraction of the attention. It's heading towards shaming other women's kinks in order to feel superior territory. Which was so much fun when we did it with Twilight.

Then again, I'm continuing to find the misrepresentation, rule bending/breaking, and straight up sale of copyrighted material by the Big Bang Press people more upsetting then I should. So I probably shouldn't be judging people's inability to let go in the above paragraph. More here, anyway.

In semi-related news, apparently I have FEELINGS about RayV from due South. Or will at least go on at length about him in comments.

Oh, was listening to an interview with Amy-Jill Levine, a New Testament scholar, and she had the best analogy for oral history v written history I've ever heard.

You probably have both written tradition and oral tradition working together, and only later does the written tradition so overtake the oral that all we have are the Gospel texts themselves, and people keep saying that, "no if it's not literally in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John then we can't talk about it." You can see a modern example of this, that I think most of your listeners would be familiar with, when it comes to fairytales. If you have children, and you tell them the story of, say, Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, you can tell it any way you want, until they get their hands on one of those Disney books, and then it has to be exactly the way the Disney book goes, or they get upset.

Just finished two books, one Doctor Who, and one mystery novel, both of which reminded me of this Slate article about Women Writers on Reading Literature's "Midcentury Misogynists." Neither of them were that bad, but both had the vibes of being written by a dude for other dudes, and not caring what women thought in the least.

The Dying Days by Lance Parkin (last of the New Adventures line of Doctor Who novels from Virgin).
This book is better than its cover art!

The author is going for a Tom Clancy Writes The War of the Worlds sort of angle, which is fine except he doesn't have the page space for proper Tom Clancy (and I've been kind of Over Tom Clancy since I turned sixteen), and the dependency on multiple PoV to show the full situation somewhat sidelines the Doctor and Benny.

What we get of Eight and Benny, especially as it's her first meeting with this regeneration, is a delight, and I love the ending. I came at this from listing to the Big Finish productions made after this, so it was a hoot knowing what happened with them, but seeing the build up.

I will say, as with all tie ins, there was some mental math that looked like this.
-1 for doing a helicopter crash totally wrong
+2 for proper on scene first aid
-3 for Female Reporter Sleeps with Her Story
-1 for random youth assumed to be sex worker then turning out to be said.
-2 for no other female OCs
+2 for generally in character Eight (especially considering we only had the movie to go on)
-1 for that over the top entrance near the end
+1 for excellent escape method
+1 for ending

Which is what happened to the extra stars. Anyway, overall a fun tie in, even if it didn't have enough of the character I was on board to read about.

Bruno, Chief Of Police by Martin Walker
Another mixed bag. I really liked all the French culture, countryside, history and food. The book is something of a ode to living in South West France, and on that level it works well. Everyone likes South West France, and it was neat to read about a lot of the day to day details you miss when you're only in an area for a week or so.

I liked the mystery, though I did guess why the murder happened pretty early in, and probably wasn't as surprised as the author wanted me to be. Overall, it had a good progression and left enough clues without being obvious (or too obvious), and I liked the French history aspects in play throughout.

I didn't really like the protagonist at all though. He had this impossibly tragic backstory that I think was meant to make me feel bad for him, but mostly made me roll my eyes a lot, especially the Lost Love aspect. I'd have thought that Orphaned War Veteran with PTSD was enough, but nooooooo.

He also really objectified women, every time he met one, he focused in on how they looked and how he found them attractive, or didn't, and mostly related to them on level of how much he wanted to sleep with them, or didn't. There were two female police officers, and both had a lot of interactions around how their male co-workers wanted to sleep with them (one outright says eh, too bad about those newfangled harassment rules, or I'd totally be hitting on my junior officer, even if I am married), and the main character is all offended that another character is hitting on one of the woman officers, but it mostly comes off as because he wants to himself. And just generally the interactions with women were kind of gross.

Plus long rhapsodies about how the Old Boys Club ran this little town, which made me feel like if I lived in that town I'd move to Paris.

I might read the more of this series, as I really do like the other French culture aspects, but I'll probably space them out to like two a year.
muccamukk: Delenn smiling slightly. Text: Faith Manages. (B5: Faith Manages)
78 sign ups for [community profile] femslashex, and 53 people in the pinch hit group!

Just listened to a lecture series called Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words, which was pretty good, even if it did spend five out of twenty four lectures on the Lincoln-Douglas Debates (which I guess are pivotal, but are also Not That Interesting), and not nearly enough time on his letters (there was one lecture on his letters, and we only got that because he didn't make speeches in that period). I had thought it would be more about the man, and less about his speeches, but not so much. Anyway, over all educational. I enjoy reading about Lincoln. Anyone have Lincoln reading recs? I'll take fiction or non fiction so long as it doesn't bash Mary Todd.

I also listened to The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, which I had thought were going to be read by John Cleese, but were not. Boo. I'm probably a sucky Christian, but this was the first time I'd read/listened to them. It was an interesting cultural experience. Lewis has so much wit and insight into human behaviour that the letters work even today, despite being hampered by uncritical Victorian morality. Mostly. I felt like I got a lot out of the comments on prayer and fantasy v. will. I got rather less out of the sexism and prudishness. The addendum, "Screwtape's Toast" or whatever it's called, didn't work nearly as well. That had next to no insight into human behaviour and a whole lot of Kids These Days and a general lack of self-awareness that bordered on hypocrisy. If I were to listen to it or read it again, I would probably skip the addendum.

I'm almost out of Welcome to Night Vale! I just listened to "Subway" and I only have two left before I have to wait for two weeks like everyone else. So far, I've mostly been enjoying the series, though I find it does better if I listen to two or three a week, rather than a lot at the same time.

Finished Only Yours (Fool's Gold, #5) by Susan Mallery last week, but am only just getting around to writing what I thought. I really ought not to read series romances starting in the middle of the series. It always leaves me with the same feeling (save in the case of books by Jo Beverley, who is just better at these things): I really like the main couple to whom I'm mostly introduced in this book, but don't give a crap about the rest of the series characters. General giant yawns on the main character's mother, sisters, brothers, best friends, and random goat-herding acquaintances.

That said, I really did like the main couple. I found the issues compelling, dramatic and not over played. Instead of Giant Misunderstandings (to which I'm not entirely adverse), they tended to miscommunicate in a way that reflected their emotional issues and hang ups.

I would read more by this author, though not, perhaps more of the series. I know I'm supposed to feel charmed by the psychotic little town, but didn't actually that much.
muccamukk: Natasha stands in front of an explosion, looking unconcerned. (Avengers: Badass)
I have just realised now, looking at the intro post, that I signed up for the wrong day. Dammit. I meant to pick yesterday as it was a holiday and therefore not a day on which I was doing four hours of energy intensive physiotherapy (or going to church and taking communion). I actually signed up for today. I'm really sorry. I did fast yesterday? Shit. I'm sorry.

Okay, so as an intro, for those who didn't click through to the intro post, [ profile] irony_rocks was unable to observe Ramadan fasting this year due to health issues. That's totally allowed, she didn't a remittance instead, but she was feeling really bad about it, so a bunch of us volunteered to fast in her stead, a day or two each for the whole month. The practice is no food or drink between sunrise and sunset, which yesterday in Victoria, Coast Salish Territories, was 5:55am to 8:40pm.

I got up around 5:15am but then ended up wallowing in the shower and had to rush through breakfast. I may not have eaten enough? I had eggs on toast with hemp oil and seeds, dates and an orange, plus about a litre of water. That seemed to fallow the tips here, but given how hungry I was later, maybe I should have had something else too? I meant to eat yoghurt, but didn't have time.

Then I spent the rest of the early morning fartling around on the Internet, trying to avoid untagged porn on tumblr, and watching Big Time Rush. Then I walked downtown and volunteered at the soup kitchen for four hours. I usually do Monday mornings in a different department, but because it was a holiday, I worked on the lunch counter making sandwiches, chopping veggies and serving soup. Around this time, I got really thirsty, especially when I was doing harder work like moving tables and chairs.

When I got home, I was super hungry and thristy, and starting to get rather cranky about it. So I had a nap, which I hope was not cheating. When I got up, I tagged onto the due South virtual bar rewatch of... I forget what we rewatched yesterday. Possibly something forgettable. It's a super fun group though. I shall try to hang out with them more. Nenya had gone out to eat something, and when she got back, we watched Big Time Rush until it was time to start dinner.

I made pasta and meat sauce, and broke my fast while I was cooking by having a few dates and some water. Then we ate dinner and went to bed.

So, probably did it wrong, and totally did it on the wrong day, but interesting experience all around. I hope it sent some positive energy towards [ profile] irony_rocks, who is a really cool person.
muccamukk: Luke Cage laughing brokenly. (Marvel: Laugh or Cry)
The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King which I got from the library and put on my e-reader, but then, when I was almost finished, the library loan expired on my e-reader, and it went away! So I bought the damn thing and read the last ten pages. Good book, happy to give Mr. King the royalties.

It is not, by King's own admission, a comprehensive history of events. Nor is it a 200-hundred-page rant, though it does contain ranting and history. The book seems to me like an attempt to explain what it FEELS like to be First Nations in the 21st-century, both with the weight of history and culture expectations, and with current politics and culture.

The writing is sharp, funny, and more than a little bitter. I've always liked King's prose in fiction, and his voice comes across very well here. The whole book is so conversationally written that I felt like I was talking to him, or listening to an in-depth interview.

I'm not sure that I learned a lot in terms of the history, but I really felt like I came away with a cultural perspective. I thought the conversation about "Dead Indians," "Live Indians" and "Legal Indians" was especially interesting.

Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us by Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker The book is front-loaded with theology, but then follows the lives of the authors as examples of what that looks like in real life. I could have used more theology and less storytelling, overall, but it was an interesting read. Trigger warnings for absolutely everything.

I think this book is important to read, especially in relation to the way the dominant Christology can be abusive and damaging. I am not, at the end of the day, in complete agreement with Brock and Parker, but I'm also keeping a lot of it in mind.

I feel like this is one of those books that will bounce around in my mind for a while, and turn up interesting things in the years to come.

I'm now off to read something happy, because jeeze.
muccamukk: Delenn breaking the staff of the grey council. Text: Like a Boss (B5: Like a Boss)
Saw Iron Man 3, liked basically everything about it immensely and have no real comment. Except there needs to be Rhodey/Pepper/Tony fic, and plenty of it.

Picked up Ruse: The Victorian Guide to Murder by Mark Waid with lines by Mirco Pierfederici and Mink Oosterveer, and was kind of meh on it. I haven't read any of the old Crossgen stuff, but I like Waid, so I gave it a go. It was fine, I guess. The art was nice, and the plot was moderately good, but in the end I didn't really care much about the characters. There's nothing in this that makes the Male Victorian Detective and his Female Partner/Assistant/Handler plot feel at all fresh. It just kind of plodded along, hitting all the notes, I guess, but not really moving me.

I really liked, however, Here If You Need Me: A True Story by Kate Braestrup, which was the memoirs of a chaplain to the Maine State Parks Service. I think above all else the style dragged me in. It's funny because the reliance on metaphor and non-linear storytelling drove me buggy in my last book (Lighthousekeeping), but I felt it really worked here. It reflected how we don't live linear lives because of all the memories and connections and stories we tell, and for the memoirs of a chaplain, who exists by connections and stories, it was perfect, plus the author is REALLY funny.

I also really liked the author's call to service in a very practical way, I loved the bit where she was studying Iranaus' writing on Christ divinity and saying, "Yes, fine, but what do I do?" I the conclusions that she came to about where God is in times of tragedy (in the hands of the humans holding you up, much like that Mr. Rogers quote that was going around recently).

A lot of the story is about transition, and about mourning, and that was beautifully and unflinchingly written. How unbearable that is, and how others carry us through. I loved her relationship with her kids, and the rest of her family, the hypothetical and sceptical e-mails from her agnostic brother.

Mostly though, I loved reading about how people carry each other along, and find compassion and grace in the worst times. The author tells a story about how she comforted a man whose sister had killed herself, and her words to him moved me to tears. That is the kind of God I want to see working in the world.

(On a side note, there's a casual side-swipe at Islam that I didn't really appreciate. It's only about a page long, and it's more ill-informed than anything, but it really didn't fit the tone of the rest of the book).
muccamukk: Keren looking extremely dubious. Text: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus? (Christain: Lobster Jesus)
Just finished Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America by Jeff Chu. I have a lot of thoughts about this book, and not all of them are completely coherent.

1. I felt that this book was aimed more at queers or allies trying to grapple with the church than for churched Christians trying to figure out what's up with The Gays. However, as a lesbian Christian, I might have a skewed look at that.

2. I think this book has taught me more about compassion than anything I've ever read. I really love how he travelled and talked to every one and listened to them. I know it's his job as a journalist, but it must have been difficult for a gay man to go up to Fred Phelps and hear him out. I think that he really did this, and not only heard people out, but had empathy for them and did his best to tell everyone's story as best he could. I love that he also kept his voice and his story throughout.

3. (Related to 2). I really appreciated the cry for if not unity than understanding, the cry for dialogue. I know that I, as a member of a left-coast liberal church, have often dismissed the voices of more conservative denominations. They failed to pass my litmus test (usually they think I'm going to hell for loving my girlfriend, and I think if I go to hell, it'll probably be for something else), so I don't want to deal with them. At all. I think from now own, I'll try to listen, to find the light in every soul, as I want others to see the light in mine. There's value in self-protection, but I also think that I'm privileged to not come from a spiritually abusive background. My faith is strong. I can and should reach out.

4. I really appreciated how he highlighted the doubt and discussion within more conservative denominations. We queers tend to look at say the Southern Baptist Convention or the Church of Christ and see a monolith of hate. The in-depth discussion of Harding University's response to queer students really helped me appreciate the variety of opinion, and how even seemingly unsympathetic denominations really struggle with faith.

5. I feel like the author somewhat lacked patience for queer people who just wanted to be insular. He criticises the Metropolitan Community Church and online communities who don't want dialogue. I know from his interviews else where, that he respects that some people are cautious of the church, but that didn't seem to show up as much here, maybe because the emphasis of the book was opening dialogue.

6. I didn't really feel like my story, as some one who is a non-self-loathing queer, and who never has been, and who is happy in her church and always has been was reflected. I don't know if that was an intentional gap, or if he just didn't meet anyone like that or what. Other gaps were black churches (which he mentions having difficulty accessing), Latin@ churches, and Catholics. Mostly this book was about white or mixed-race Protestantism.

7. There's not a lot of theology here. If you're looking for 100 level Queer responses to the Bible, look elsewhere. He mentions at the beginning that he wrote this book because those books already existed in plenty.

8. There is a lot of storytelling in friendly, accessible and often humorous ways. I loved how light and expressive Chu's writing was.

9. I'm sure there's a nine, and I'll be kicking myself later for leaving something out, but mostly, I REALLY LOVED THIS BOOK. I have thoughts. You should read it too and have thoughts with me.

Anyway, now I'm taking a break from everything serious and reading the Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice series, which features a thirteen-year-old Obi-Wan Kenobi tearing around the universe getting in trouble, a somewhat bemused Qui-Gon Jinn worrying after him, quite a few female OCs, and rather a lot of h/c. Whoever wrote this, had my id in mind.

Next I plan to read Emilie and the Hollow World by Martha Wells, which I just got my hot little hands on yesterday. I have also been talked into reading The Lost Prince, and should finish my gloomy theology book about how being a Good Friday People is Bad.

Holy Week

Mar. 27th, 2013 11:44 pm
muccamukk: A figure standing on a hill, arms outstretched. Text: You are my god. My times are in your hands. (Christian: My Times Are in Your Hands)
Have decided that a good Holy Week Schedule goes something like this
Sunday: Palm Sunday Service; church lunch
Monday: Volunteer at homeless shelter
Tuesday: Contemplative Mass
Wednesday: Volunteer at church library; lesbian book club
Thursday: Maudy Thursday service
Friday: Good Friday service; evening Taizé service
Saturday: nothing planned, but have been visiting friend in hospital twice a day for all this, so probably that
Sunday: Easter Sunday Sunrise Service on beach; hotcross buns and tea; Easter Sunday Service; drag show

Books Etc

Mar. 19th, 2013 10:26 pm
muccamukk: Spiral staircase decending multiple levels inside a tower.. (Christian: We Love)
Finished Fullmetal Alchemist a couple of days ago. Overall, I really enjoyed the series. It hasn't moved me to throes of fannish delight, but it was a fantastic read, and I'll probably run through it again or watch Brotherhood at some point.

Got volume two of Sailor Moon from the library, but haven't looked at it yet.

Just finished The Rapture Exposed: The Message of Hope in the Book of Revelation by Barbara R. Rossing, which I got a church book sale. If you feel frustrated with Dispensationalism and The Left Behind series' take on the Revelation of John, and want to see it taken apart brick by brick, this is the book for you. The author clearly and passionately pokes holes in more or less everything Hal Lidsey, Tim LaHaye and company have every written, with special emphasis on ethics and internal inconsistencies. On that level, I found it satisfying, if slightly laden with WRONG ON THE INTERNET (though notes say she was commissioned to pick apart LaHaye, so I guess she did what she was hired to do).

If you've vaguely heard about the Rapture and controversies surrounding the Book of Revelation, and want to know more, this is probably a decent place to start. It lays out what the Rapture is supposed to be, why people believe in it, and where the idea came from. It also takes great pains to explain why it's wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong, and not in the Bible at all. Maybe don't pick up if you don't want to talk into the middle of a pretty heated theological debate. I was already pretty familiar with most of this, but found some compelling new ideas as well.

If you're looking for the author's own interpretation of the Book of Revelation, well, it's there and it's interesting, but it's very much in the NOT THIS, but this tone. Again, that's what she was hired to do, but I went in looking for more of her take on Revelation, and found mostly what she did not agree with. I also think that she was perhaps a little Augustinian in her interpretation (if she couldn't read a text so that it advocated charity, she bent it until it did). I'm not entirely sure that's with respect to the intention of the original author, but it's an interesting take.

I would recommend this book, possibly in combination with Marcus Borg's Reading The Bible Again for the First Time for people looking for a liberal theology take on Revelation, or for people sick of Dispensationalists.
muccamukk: A figure on a dune holding a lamp. Text: "Your word is a lamp." (Christian: Your Word)
Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally by Marcus J. Borg, from the library. I think mom got it, actually, but I'd been meaning to read Borg. If this had been the first historical-metaphorical interpretation of the Bible I'd ever run into, it would have been amazing as about the sixth, it felt somewhat perfunctory.

While trying to say at least something about the major divisions of the Bible, the author often doesn't have enough room to work, and tends to miss depth. This was especially evident with the Pentateuch and Gospels. Both sections felt extremely rushed.

Creation and Revelation, where the author had more time to talk about less material were more interesting and informative. I enjoyed those sections, as well as the one on Paul, who is apparently the author's area of research. I may try reading some of the author's more specialised work, as I think he has interesting things to say, when given the room to write.

This isn't a failing, so much as it wasn't what I was looking for, but I found there wasn't a lot of time spent on finding the Divine in the Bible. He spent so much time on historical criticism (which I'm interested in), that he didn't seem to spend a lot on God (which I'm rather more interested in). I get the impression that he's a very devote man, but he put all his effort into an academic approach, especially in opposition to literal readings of the Bible (which I'm not interested in). Which is why I say if I'd never run into historical criticism before, I'd have been amazed, but I've more or less incorporated it into my reading, and am looking for other things now.

I did very much appreciate his emphasis on social justice and opposition to empire, especially in the sections on the Prophets, Wisdom Literature and Revelation.

Finally, I couldn't help but notice that out of 91 modern authors that he cites, only eleven of them are women (for the record: Karen Armstrong, Adela Yarbro Collins, Verna Dozier, Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, H.A. Frankfort, Elizabeth Huwiler, Sallie McFague, Kathleen M. O'Connor, Tina Pippin, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Virginia Wiles). Not saying that's Borg's fault, but 12% female scholarship is pretty emblematic of what a sausage fest theology is, even in the 21st century.

We had sunny weather for the last few days, so I gave the flower beds a good going over before the bulbs start seriously coming up (a few non-blooming crocuses already), so I thought I'd grab Arabian Nights on MP3 from the library, for research purposes. Only the only one they had was The Arabian Nights: Their Best-Known Tales by Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora A. Smith, read by Johanna Ward (mostly based off the old Lang translation, I think). I was clipping along nicely with it, though I can't say I was too impressed by calling Muslims "Muhammadans," but at least they were Muslims, which puts it a step over Sinbad the show. Anyway, the first story with the talking bird wherein the Princess Saves Everyone was pretty cool. Then the next story had an evil black character, who was described in absolutely charming language, repeatedly, at length, and I was going :/ at the book, then we hit Aladdin, which started out with the villain being "The African Magician" and rolled on to the bad guy being a greedy Jew (even worse than most of his people). Then I stopped listening.

I may try find a new translation when I'm in town. I'm not having much luck turning up a non Victorian-Edwardian one in e-book.

I was going to combine this post with links to a story, but it's turning out to be the porn that never ends, so that will probably be tomorrow.
muccamukk: Text: "We're way over our daily quota of emo." (RoL: Daily Quota of Emo)
Made it about thirty minutes into the first episode of Labyrinth (The mini series based on the Kate Mosse book, not the idtastic Jennifer Connelly-David Bowie musical), then bailed due to a combination of generalised irritation and lack of caring. It managed to have both Bucky and Draco in it, which should have warned me off from the start. The fact that I pitched the book at the wall ten pages in should also have been a bad sign, probably. I was hoping the film would be less silly. Sadly not. They also managed to make the archaeology even worse. I also find a) feuding sisters, b) highly-sexualised evil women, c) basically anything to do with the holy grail but especially pertaining to d) lost books of secret revelations, extremely tiresome. I should probably just avoid Cathar-related material entirely, which is too bad, because the Cathars seemed cool.

Though seriously, what was up with the "Gnostics" Christians? They're like the Loki of early church history. There's two camps: They were wrong wrong wrongity wrong, and had very bad no good beliefs, and they probably shouldn't have been slaughtered wholesale, but still WRONG! OR (and no middle ground here), they were poor misunderstood woobies who were right and alone knew the true meaning of meaning, but the more powerful forces of greed and evil oppressed, murdered and then misrepresented them. Oh, and they weren't called gnostics, that's just a label the Holy Mother Church slapped on them while they were misrepresenting them. I've pretty much never met or read anyone who wasn't firmly in one camp or the other, and a lot of the discussion seems to descend into flame wars pretty quickly.

On that topic, I finished Growing into God: A Beginner's Guide to Christian Mysticism by John R. Mabry (who really didn't like the gnostic Christians, except the Valentinians, who he says weren't gnostic anyway), which was mostly pretty good, if not quite what I expected. I thought this would be an academic history of mysticism and an outline of the major beliefs. This was more of a self-help books for aspiring mystics.

Given that, I found it pretty useful. The prose was chatty and accessible, with a Q&A appendix for each chapter, clarifying many points I'd wondered about within the chapters. I read it straight through, but I'd recommend reading by topic: the chapter, the Q&A, then the quotes by mystics.

It's definitely a beginner's book, which is where I am on this topic, and it's orientated towards people who are or can be part of a Christian community. I found that last point a little frustrating because I was looking for something an unchurched person can do (in that there is no church in my area).

Still, I did find the book insightful, and will probably read it again.

I tried to read Pegasus by Robin McKinley, but didn't finish. It just sort of meandered about with no declarable plot, and considering I'd been spoiled that there was no proper ending and no sequel in sight, I gave up.

I'm currently reading a Marcus Borg book about reading the Bible, the memoirs of a Palestinian-Canadian war reporter, and several books on diesel engine repair (one of which likes to explain everything through mathematical equations, which I don't find deeply helpful).

I'm trying to decide if I should just go right ahead and rewatch Sinbad immediately or wait a bit. I guess there's no word on a second season? I have ordered a library book entitled When Baghdad Ruled the Muslim World: The Rise and Fall of Islam's Greatest Dynasty By Hugh Kennedy as period research. This is going to be one of those FML fandoms, I can tell. I can't believe I'm doing period research for a show that fails basic geography. (They got from Basra to Malta between one episode and the next, in a boat, in 800 CE, without apparently taking the time to sail around Africa). I just really like the characters, okay?

May rewatch Highlander a bit while I'm deciding.

Cute Link

Jan. 19th, 2012 03:06 pm
muccamukk: Amanda playing with bubble bath. Text: "Bubbles!" (HL: Bubbles!)
From [personal profile] marthawells (I just got The Serpant Sea! I'm so excited!)

Over at io9: 20 heroic librarians who save the world.

The list includes the usual suspects like Rupert Giles, Evie Carnahan, Barbara Gordon and the Librarian from Terry Pratchett, but I admit I bounced and squeed when I saw they'd included Eli Bradley and Haly from Pearl North's Libyrinth (seriously, am I the only other person who read this book? It's awesome!)

ETA: Oh, this is a neat sermon by Bishop Gene Robinson. Oldie but a goodie. Thanks to Nenya for the link.
muccamukk: Joe raising a glass and looking sardonic.Text: Sure, pal. Whatever you say. (HL: Whatever You Say)
These two quotes were in the same chapter of Sproul's Guide to the Bible.
Contrary to this thought, even contemporary theories of evolution affirm that there was a beginning—a time when things were not and a time when things were. Of course, these theories hold that by blind chance, all matter in the universe gathered into a single point and then exploded, leaving us with swirls of matter that would eventually condense into suns and planets and all living things.

These theorists have more faith than I do. To believe that all of this took place with no Creator, no grand designer, and no one shouting, “Runners to your mark,” takes a great deal of confidence in pure speculation. In fact, scientists’ own law of inertia makes a case against them. Even Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music knew better than this when he crooned, “Nothing comes from nothing . . . nothing ever could.”

The presupposition that “things at rest tend to stay at rest” begs the case against this sleeping nothingness suddenly and without notice coming together to create something: and not just something. Nothingness exploded, spontaneously formed light, billions of galaxies, the Grand Tetons, alligators, and eyelashes. Although they would not like to be given this distinction, these are people of great faith.

When our children were small, sometimes they would argue with my decisions, especially those decisions that affected them. Sometimes, after my unsuccessful attempts to build my case, I would simply say, “It’s going to be this way, just because it is.”

God is eternal. He has no beginning and no end.
He was not created; He was the Creator.

This is not an argument for the existence of God that I'm fond of making, but the fact of the Creation and the reality of the Creator are true just because they are. Given the alternatives to these truths—like the “Big Bang” or natural selection—my sincere hope is that you will simply come to the point of believing that God is and that He was the Creator . . . just because. For there to be a beginning, there must be something or someone who has the very power of being itself first to start the cosmic process in motion.

I love how he pretends he understands science, but mostly, as theology goes, that's really fucking shaky, dude. (Nenya: The logic is not strong with this one) And please talk to some Rabbis about the first lines of Genesis.

In happier news, check out San Diego Comic-Con Cosplay Spotlight: Gender Bent Justice League. Power Guy would be my favourite thing ever if the Flash wasn't. SMOKING.
muccamukk: A figure standing on a hill, arms outstretched. Text: You are my god. My times are in your hands. (Christian: My Times Are in Your Hands)
I'm looking for recommendations for books about the relationship between LGBT people (preferably lesbians) and Christianity. I'm especially interested in theology and scripture.

Looking through my shelf the other day, I realised that I have lots of queer theory and lots of books about Christianity, but the two never meet.

I'm hoping you all have thoughts and recommendations on this.
muccamukk: Lightstation in evening light. (Lights: Headland)
Someone linked to this video last night, which is nerdy and kind of awesome, and admittedly is "an anachronistic daydream asking the question, 'If pop producer Timbaland had sought to build consensus around declaring independence, what might he have produced?'"

It's nerdy and awesome in a number of ways, not the least of which is the fiddle solo.

Tonight, I went to a dinner at my church, which was followed by a talk about the history of the United Church of Canada (basically starting with Luther an moving to present day). It was a pretty fast summary, to be fair, but it still made almost no mention of First Nations people (when it did, it was about how the UCC now campaigns for Aboriginal rights).

After, in private, I told my minister that I thought he'd somewhat erased First Nations and Inuit peoples. He said that it was a theological history, which it was, but it was a history of what he said was a social justice-orientated church in North America. What we are is formed and informed by the land and people that were here when our ancestors arrived. This church would not be the same without the First Nations and Inuit peoples, and that gets left out.

And, you know, the bit where he skated right by the residential school issue, without so much as a mention. I'm always in favour of owning up to that one.

And this is where it ties into the otherwise awesome video linked above: my minister referred to the church on new ground. The first line of the song is, "Halfway across the globe, and we're standing on new ground."

But this isn't new ground, is it?

New to Europeans, certainly (discounting the Vikings), but that never seems to be the implication.
muccamukk: Text: "I sort of gave up killing for Lent." (Marvel: Lent)
Partook in the traditional all you can eat sausages and pancakes last night. It was fun.

I'm giving up sweets as usual. This is more difficult than it has been before, though I'm not sure why. Maybe it will even out after a couple of days.

I'm also using this book as a meditation guide. I saw it in the church library, and couldn't decide if I wanted to commit to something that rigorous (I'd been thinking about trying to meditate four or five days a week, not six). However, I opened it, and the first day not only had an excerpt of my favourite Psalm (139), but the excerpt that haunted me for months last fall. So that decided it.

Considering that I'm generally a fairly lousy meditater, I think it's going very well. One of the phrases in the first reading goes, "For as the body is clad in the cloth, and the flesh in the skin, and the bones in the flesh, and the heart in the trunk, so are we, soul and body, clad and enclosed in the goodness of God." I've lived with that in my heart all day, which is good, because it's not been a spectacular day otherwise.

I think the trick of meditating, or of the only way I've managed to do it, is to have a phrase to focus on, and if the mind wanders, as it does, to note the thoughts, dismiss them, and deliberately return to the phrase. Doing this as an exercise also seems to help me walk with that in my heart, or perhaps it's a way to tread a path in my mind that leads back to faith.

I'm interested in how the rest of the days will go.

I was late for work (with permission) because I went to the early Ash Wednesday service at church. The rest of the day seemed to be an exercise in learning to be humble.

I did buy comics though, which does tend to make me happy.

Especially Black Widow: Deadly Origins! I know, right? I've been bitching about this comic for months, but if you've been put off by that, totally get it and read through to the end. Spoilers ) To conclude, totally back to fan-girling Paul Cornell.

I am :-( that Doctor Voodoo is cancelled, because I was totally rocking it by the end. It took me a bit to get into the pace of it, and the world, but once I did the whole thing turned out to be largely made of awesome. It has such things as Spoilers ) Very fond, and I hope we get more adventures with Jericho and company soon.

Also :-( about the apparent cancellation of Spider-Woman. This may not be true, but she wasn't in the solicits that just came out (nor was Daredevil, so they might just be giving some titles the month off). It's another book that I started not 100% hot on but has grown on me. This one especially was fun.

Cap was Cap, but worth if for the exchange:
Sam: Steve warned me your idea of tactical planning was basically "rush in and get captured."
Bucky: He better not have said that--
Also, Rikki!

Love Poem

Oct. 26th, 2008 10:04 pm
muccamukk: Zoe looking very sad. (Firefly: Sad)
muccamukk: Spiral staircase decending multiple levels inside a tower.. (DW: Decendent of Trees)
Finally started retro posting my journals from Egg Island, which I will post links to as I finish a day. In copying, I have fixed grammar, tweaked structure, added pictures and captions, and removed names.

Those who got letters will probably recognise observations, phrases and events from the period I wrote.

Day One: Transit, Arrival, First Impressions (Pictures)

This is going to take me friggin forever, isn't it?

Oh, and here's my reading list, which I wrote on the inside of the covers:

Egg Island Reading List - in order finished - with stars! )


muccamukk: Spiral staircase decending multiple levels inside a tower.. (Default)

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