Monday, January 04, 2010

A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper - An audio book review

I am reviewing books for A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper is the first book I am reviewing for them. Since there is nothing I like better than reading or listening to audio books this is a joy for me to here goes:

As I began to listen to A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper, I thought my familiarity with the story of Ruth combined with the pedantic narration was going to put me to sleep before I could get through the five relatively short tracks. Piper’s continued use of scripture and the complete reading of the book of Ruth is paradoxically both reassuring and at the same time a bit dull. In continually referring back to the scriptural text Piper suggests he respects the truth of God’s Word-I like that. At the same time, however, it becomes a bit tedious for one familiar with the scriptures. Listening to the book as an audio track took away my ability as a speed reader to skim through sections that were readings of overly familiar text. Instead I had to wait to hear the portions of Piper’s book that redeem the time spent experiencing his perspective and insight. Piper spends a lot of time familiarizing us with Ruth and waits almost to the end of his exploration to make the experience relevant. I wish he had reversed the process. Late in the book he writes:
“One of the great diseases of our day is trifling. The things with which most people spend most of their time are trivial. And what makes this a disease is that we were meant to live for magnificent causes. None of us is really content with the trivial pursuits of the world our souls will not be satisfied with trifles. Why is there a whole section of the newspaper devoted to sports and almost nothing devoted to the greatest story in the universe, the growth and spread of the church of Jesus Christ? It is madness that our insignificant games should occupy such a central role in our culture compared to the work of God in Christ. It is one of the many signs that we are enslaved to trivialities. We live in the Swiss village but stare at the wooden figurines in the window rather than lifting our eyes to the everlasting snows. We live in a perpetual and hopeless struggle to satisfy our longings on trifles. So our souls shrivel, our lives become trivial, and our capacity for magnificent causes and great worship dies. “
Had the following paragraph been placed near the beginning of the book I would have been instantly drawn in and would have hardly noticed the portions of the book that were more expository. I give this audio book a 3 out of 5 points. Piper’s final conclusions are motivation for living a holy and eternally mindful life. These are worthwhile lessons for our jaded and trivialized society!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Here's my final answer...or least one I would give when I haven't slept and been up all night stewing!

I read lots of books. Some of my favorite books are by the authors Gene Stratton Porter and Harold Bell Wright. Porter and Wright wrote about 100 years ago between the years of 1903 and 1942. The characters of the Porter and Wright books and the times they wrote about were hard. Teddy Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson and Harding were president during these times. Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico became states. The Boys Scouts of America and the NAACP were formed. Ford Motor Company opened and produced the first Model T. The United States entered World War I and the country entered the decades directly before the Great Depression. People worked hard, they sacrificed a lot, and had pride in their country, their ethics and their families. When I read about these times and I think about today I realize how much our country has lost in the past century in its determination to forge a successful political union and a democracy worth following. I’m not talking about the lack of political leadership or the inability of the national parties to reach across the aisles to work together for common solutions. I’m talking about the individual, you and me, the common man on the street and their expectations of what is worth their time and effort while here on this earth. In losing the value of the individual we have lost the value of our society as a whole.
I get the sense when reading the books from the early 1900’s in the US that people didn’t expect wealth and luxury, ease and plenty out of life. They expected hard work and pride, strength of character and honor. It was shameful to be given something you hadn’t earned and a disgrace to not contribute to society in some form of social enterprise. Theodore Roosevelt described a “good American Boy” as
“He must not be a coward or a weakling, a bully, a shirk, or a prig. He must work hard and play hard. He must be clean-minded and clean-lived, and able to hold his own under all circumstances and against all comers.” ( A “good American Boy” he reasoned would naturally grow into a “good American Man”
Times were hard, child labor was abused, racial injustice was a huge issue, unemployment was climbing and salaries were low. Many had to eek out additional food from their own backyards to supplement what they could buy with their earnings. But despite the hardships neighbors watched out for neighbors. Towns looked out for the orphans, widows, the sick and elderly. Individuals took responsibility for their financial obligations and took the initiative to work out solutions when hard times made it difficult to manage obligations.
Today the average citizen seems dissatisfied with what they earn. They are always expecting more for the same amount of effort. Employers as well demand more and more production with fewer resources and lower compensation. This lack of job satisfaction demeans self worth and more and more people turn to consumption to fill the void left by their lack of pride in the hard work and societal status. The never ending downward spiral of consumption means that the average individual is trapped in an unsatisfying need to spend and then work at an unsatisfactory job to keep the creditors at bay who finance filling the void. The needs of society are no longer filled by knowing neighbors but by distant government entities that rarely judge merit on a case by case basis but instead hand out meaningless compensation determined by impersonally predetermined standards.
I think it is time for Americans to take back their lives. It’s time for us to live within our means…don’t spend more than we make! Take pride in your hard work and show it by living on what our work says we are worth. Reach out to those in the community around us that are struggling and thereby esteem them as individuals and ourselves as members of humanity that have worth and value. Take back our pride and self esteem from the drain of unsatisfactory work by pouring ourselves in to the good of those around us. Don’t succumb to the lie that satisfaction comes from possessions…it doesn’t…it comes from relationships with God and with our fellow man.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Well its been a while!

I'm pretty sure I've forgotten the password to this blog. I know there is probably a way that now I'm in I can change it or look at it. I guess I had it programmed into this computer to "remember" the password. Boy do I need that for more things in my life! I read the other day that your brain can basically hold between 7-10 pieces of information in your short term memory, hence the reason for the 10 digit phone numbers. Well I have three kids and a husband and since I've only been married almost 16 years and my kids are 12, 10, and 5 I'm not sure they've been moved to long term memory yet so that only leaves me 6 more things I can remember!

Life has been busy lately. All three kids are in school now and now it means three school schedules to keep up with instead of just two! I've started working part time managing the bookstore my church opened and I'm loving every minute of it! And guess what...I've got 5 passwords/codes to remember for that job so I hope I don't have any more kids because I probably wouldn't be able to remember their names...I don't have any other kids do I?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Monday, August 04, 2008

One Trip Highlight

Well there is so much to tell about the trip Ray and I just took to Vancouver Canada. The city at first impression seemed a glut of high rises but on further exploration we absolutely fell in love with this metropolitan jewel! One of my favorite finds was a corner of used book stores. As we talked to the owner of a lovely store called Criterion Books he brought out his personal copy of a folio publicaton of The Blue Fairy book by Andrew Lang specially illustrated by local Vancouver artist Charles Van Sandwyk. He told us that we could view and buy his books and prints at the Joyce Williams Gallery. We promptly walked the 9 or so blocks and found some of the most beautiful artwork I've seen in a long time. I purchased Affairs of the Heart and I can't wait to slowly acquire more of this amazing illustrator's work.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

About You MEME

I got this from Jade at Life in Holland who got it from JoLynne
Here are the rules for this meme.
1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you.

Thanks for playing along. I look forward to hearing from you.