Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dear Tom


This doodle looks like it would be the scene for a wonderfully romantic birthday evening, doesn't it?

Perfect for Tom (and me) then!

Tom has chosen Strawberry Shortcake. Ok. To be honest, I suggested it (knowing his tastes) and he liked the idea so much that he never bothered trying to think of anything else.

I made an actual, honest-to-goodness sponge cake (leavened only with egg whites) and will be seeing how Nigel Slater's tip works about a touch of raspberry heightening strawberries' flavor. With freshly whipped cream, of course!

Perhaps I should say the above Google looks perfect for a celebratory evening since we will not be alone.

Hannah will be joining us before that for dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant and then for the ... presents! Rose will be chiming in from the West Coast also ...

Quick Flicks: What We've Been Watching

Erroll Garner
No One Can Hear You Read
(documentary)

Some of the best 53 minutes you'll ever spend on a documentary. This makes you appreciate Erroll Garner's jazz genius in improvising, communicating joy, and inspiring others. Little time is spent on his personal life, which may be just as well based on the few things his daughter said (which pretty much broke my heart). But I don't watch documentaries to find out whether musicians were kind to their daughters. I watch to find out why their music was brilliant or different. And this does that very, very well.


A Cat in Paris
(Animated • French • dubbed)

A charming animated film about a cat who spends her days with her little girl and her nights accompanying a cat burglar. The two plots come together when the little girl follows her cat one night. Kind of "That Darn Cat" for the French. If our girls were still small we'd have to buy this and it would be daily viewing.

I liked the animation style, the jazzy soundtrack, and especially the way they showed what was happening in pitch darkness.

Pixar Short Films Collection: Volume 2
(Animated shorts)

This collection features the short animated pieces that appear before every Pixar full-length movie. Unfortunately viewing them in sequence makes it obvious that the quality is very uneven. Some are simply brilliant like Night and Day and La Luna. Presto was a throwback to old style cartoons that was thoroughly enjoyable. Others are extensions, back story if you will, of lesser characters from Wall-E or Up, which are amusing enough for what they are.

The losers are the shorts that push Toy Story or Cars characters into situations which, frankly, don't have stories to justify being viewed. One wonders if this was when Disney was more in control because it certainly feels as if the viewers' intelligence weren't being taken into consideration.

I still recommend the collection if only to have Night and Day, La Luna, and Presto available. They demonstrate what respect for story and creativity can do.

Of Gods and Men
(French)

I watched this for discussion on A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast, which will air on May 2.

This is a rich, meditative film which shows a group of Trappist monks in Algeria who must choose between the practical, understandable choice to abandon their monastery when extremist Muslims terrorize the area ... or following a spiritual calling even when there seems to be no reason to do so. The monks are intertwined in the local Muslim community, but all are equally helpless in the face of the extremists. The monks' choices are not portrayed as heroic or sentimental but simply as human, as each man each must pray for guidance, consider his place in the area, and face what it means to fully live one's faith.

Well Said: Most People

From my quote journal.
In most cases, people, even wicked people, are far more naive and simple-hearted than one generally assumes. And so are we.
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Abbey by Chris Culver

The AbbeyThe Abbey by Chris Culver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Ever seen those books from the 1960s where one volume had two books, with one printed upside-down and back-to-back with the other?

That concept is why wound up with this book. I requested The Outsider from the Amazon Vine program. I found ... lucky me! ... that the publisher had the first book in the series upside-down and backed up to it. Turns out The Abbey was a huge seller as an ebook and is now coming out in print.
I may not have been a very good Muslim, but my religion called me to seek and foster justice. It’s a divine edict as stringent as any command in any faith. Nobody gets a pass, least of all somebody who hurt my niece.
I was intrigued by the protagonist being an American Muslim police detective but the story itself was pretty interesting. Detective Sergeant Ashraf Rashid hasn't worked homicide in a long time but his niece is murdered and he asks his ex-partner to let him look into it. Ash knows his niece wasn't a drug user so when the coroner calls it an overdose, he turns up the heat. A string of deaths, pressure to stop investigating, and anonymous threats to his family add to Ash's problems. The plot goes into overdrive and is somewhat overblown by the end, but I forgave it because I was unwilling to stop reading and flipping pages ever faster. I read it in one evening ... the author clearly hooked me.

What made the story stand out was Ash himself. He rationalizes his drinking despite the fact that he shouldn't as a practicing Muslim. Heck, he rationalizes drinking as a husband when he rinses with mouthwash before going home, and as a cop, which we see when he's busted while driving. Clearly Ash is struggling with his profession.

What really fascinated me were the threads of faith woven throughout ... as it defines Ash's identity, as it is seen within his family, and how it is practiced in everyday American life (he can’t go to a certain diner for pancakes because they are cooked on the same griddle with bacon). These points aren't dwelt upon but are just ever-present in his life, just as my Catholicism is for me (I couldn't have eaten that bacon on a Friday). That made Ash into a much more developed character than we'd have seen otherwise and lifted the book above the common.

Overall it was an enjoyable book and I'm glad to have the sequel, The Outsider, as close as flipping the book over and opening the "back" cover.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Book Review: Becoming a Great Godparent

Becoming a Great Godparent: Everything a Catholic Needs to KnowBecoming a Great Godparent: Everything a Catholic Needs to Know by Paraclete Press

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I do have one godparent who has really been supportive of me my whole life. She has pushed me to become a better version of myself, and has supported me in the difficult decisions I've had to make. She treats me like I know she would treat her own kids."

=======

"Sadly, none of my godparents have really had an impact on my life. Two of them were involved with me early on, but I haven't spoken to them for years. The other two haven't really had an influence on my life at all."
These are among the responses from teenagers about their godparents which begin Becoming a Great Godparent. For me they are the whole point of this book and the reason both my husband and I read it with such interest. I long to be the first sort of godparent and have a terrible dread I will end up as the last sort. Certainly I am haunted by that last statement which drifts through my mind when I ponder how to be involved with our new godchild, Magdalena.

This handy little book is easy, quick read and offers excellent, simple advice for those who have been honored by being asked to help with a child's spiritual formation. It tells what godparents should do, gives ideas on how to stay close, has a very brief history, and answers commonly asked questions.

In short, this book is just what a new godparent needs to help them get off on the right foot and stay the course. Highly recommended.

Note: I received a review copy from the publisher. Would've loved it even if I'd have bought it for myself.

Weekend Joke


This is an old one but it made me laugh when I came across it today ... so let's have it again!

Thanks to Doug Savage for letting me share this. See more at Savage Chickens.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Well Said: Trouble

From my quote journal.
Trouble is so hard to bear, is it not?--How can we live and think that any one has trouble--piercing trouble--and we could help them, and never try?
George Eliot, Middlemarch

BLOG TOUR: Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious by Pat Gohn


A young woman I know told me she loved the title of this book, saying, "You had me at bodacious!"
A lot of people love that word -- bodacious.

This review is for the rest of us, the ones who see "bodacious" and cringe a little.

I am here to tell you, "Be not afraid." What Pat Gohn really is writing about is what Blessed John Paul II called "the feminine genius."

What Pat Gohn does, beautifully, is contrast what it means to be a woman in today's culture versus what the Catholic Church recognizes about true feminism.
Few women I know really understand the depth of their own beauty because they are too busy comparing themselves with others or have been unfairly compared--and rejected--by others. ...

But what if I told you that there is a level playing field? What if you found out that every woman has gifts that make her beautiful--beauty derived from something innate and eternal and not fleeting or skin-deep/ These gifts sing in sync with the beauty of a woman's inborn femininity, a standard for true beauty far beyond mere appearances.
Gohn gives examples from the challenges and rewards of her own life as she takes us through the gifts every woman has--receptivity, generosity, sensitivity and maternity. I was touched more than a few times by her eloquent celebration of the true meaning of womanhood ... and her ways of pointing out the truths that many today have forgotten.
A woman's body was made to nurture and bring life into the world. Her vocation resembles her maternal nature; it bears fruit that gives life. A woman's relationships with others, even though they may not be fruitful biologically, as in giving birth to a child, can be fruitful spiritually. Her receptivity and her generous and sensitive care of others can give birth to good fruit of a spiritual nature in the lives of other people. In this way, a woman's life-giving gift of self to others is made through loving service, bearing the good news of love through her person.
Gohn continually expands our vision of common understanding about women, almost flipping them upside-down as we are shown new ways to think. That is a great part of what makes it so applicable to women of every age. I knew deep down, for example, what Gohn tells us above about bearing spiritual fruit, but I'd never heard it anywhere. Her discussion in the book brought it to the surface for me. It made me appreciate that aspect of my own personality as part of my personal feminine genius, bestowed upon me by God.

I think that's going to be a typical experience for all women, young or old, when reading this book. Pat Gohn is a genius at speaking about "feminine genius." Definitely recommended.

PAT'S PERSONAL MESSAGE




BOOK GIVEWAY
I have a copy to give away! Reflect and share on this thought from John Paul II's encyclical "The Gospel of Life" …
In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a "new feminism"… to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women…" (par. 99)
Leave your comments below for a chance to win a copy of Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.

Be sure to check the other stops on Pat's blog tour to see what others had to say about the book!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ten Things to Do Instead of Wallowing

Has life ... or the economy or politics or the state of the world ... got you down?
After a while, reading the headlines stops informing you and starts deflating you. You think you're filling your brain with information so you can be spurred to action, but you're really just filling your heart with despair until you feel like there's no point in even trying to act.
We can't control most of those things. Simcha Fisher has a list of things you can do "What can you do right now, when you're sitting in your kitchen..."

I share it because in the last six months or so I have taken to doing about half the things Simcha shares on her list for the same reason. And I've begun pushing them on people.

The one I've found most helpful in my own life? Turning off the news and computer. It really allows you to reclaim your real life instead of the artificial one being poured out of every media outlet.

The one I hadn't thought of but am now thinking about? Writing an actual letter.

The thing I'd add? Read a book. Adventure, romance, history, mystery. There is something out there that will whisk you away to another world or give you a balanced perspective or ... maybe both at once1

Thank you Simcha for writing the post that has been in the back of my mind for a while now!

Well Said: Judas

From my quote journal.
Judas is neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demoniacal power of darkness but rather a sychophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion. But it is precisely this anonymous power that crucified Jesus, for it was the anonymous voices that cried, "Away with him! Crucify him!"
Pope Benedict XVI

Notes on Mark: Degrees of Relationship

MARK 6:1-3
Here is one of the things that separates the Protestants from the Catholics. "Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judah and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?"

This commentary explains the reason Catholics read this passage and still say that Mary was always a virgin. I am not putting this commentary up to start any arguing as I think it highly unlikely that anything I write will change someone's mind on this subject. It is just an FYI sort of thing for anyone who is curious as I was about how they described it.
St. Mark mentions by name a number of brothers of Jesus, and refers in general to his sisters. But the word "brother" does not necessarily mean son of the same parents. It can also indicate other degrees of relationship -- cousins, nephews, etc. Thus in Genesis 13:8 and 14:14 and 16 Lot is called the brother of Abraham (translated as "kinsman" in RSV), whereas we know that he was Abraham's nephew, the son of Abraham's brother, Haran. The same is true of Laban, who is called the brother of Jacob (Genesis 29:15) although he was his mother's brother (Gen 29:15); there are other instances: cf. 1 Chronicles 23:21-22, etc. This confusion is due to the poverty of Hebrew and Aramaic language: in the absence of distinct terms, the same word, brother, is used to designate different degrees of relationship.

From other Gospel passages we know that James and Joses, who are mentioned here, were sons of Mary of Clophas (Jn 19:25). We know less about Judas and Simon: it seems that they are the apostles Simon the Cananaean (Mt 10:4) and Judas the son of James (Lk 6:16), the author of the Catholic Epistle, in which he describes himself as "brother" of James. In any event, it is nowhere said they were "sons of Mary" -- which would have been the natural thing if they had been our Lord's brothers in the strict sense. Jesus always appears as an only son: to the people of Nazareth, he is "the son of Mary" (Mt 13:55). When he was dying Jesus entrusted his mother to St. John (cf. Jn 19:26-27), which shows that Mary had no other children.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In which our heroes finally get to Los Altos and we see Doan in action.

Another exciting chapter of The Mouse in the Mountain is ready for your listening pleasure at Forgotten Classics.

An Absolutely Spiffing Review of Stranger in a Strange Land

I've gotten into a wonderful conversation over at the Catholic Writers' Guild blog. It goes on in the comments box of whatever book review I've posted lately, but carries on the same conversation.

Don has begun dipping into Robert Heinlein's writing and his comment is a really wonderful review of Stranger in a Strange Land. It is insightful and ties together with my review of Save, Send, Delete in a way that is really right but never would have occurred to me.

Now he's found a cordial nook of the library thanks to a librarian who is delighted to have a fellow science fiction fan. When that happens can Terry Pratchett books be far behind? Of course not!

This is why we do it, people. The blogging and reviewing and such. Because the friends we make are so much fun.

Go read it.

Things I Know Because My Washing Machine Broke

When your washing machine breaks ...
... and you are lucky enough to have a grown daughter in the area ... she will not only let you use her machine ... she will very kindly take the laundry and wash it for you. What a sweetie!

When your washing machine breaks ...
... and you went to your grown daughter's to have cocktails (oh, fine, and also pick up the laundry) ... you will also video Skype with your other daughter in L.A.

It is almost as good as a family party, what with the drinks and the talking and these two people chatting in the background while those two people talk about how amazing Middlemarch is (never mind which two people, that isn't important).

You might have a second cocktail while you're at it. But the important thing is the family party.

When your washing machine breaks ...
... your daughter will ask you to stay for dinner and to watch a British TV show she just knows you will love. She will order a pepperoni pizza from Piggie Pies and ask them to put garlic on it. They press the garlic so it just adds a certain soupcon of depth. Who knew? We didn't but I plan to do it for every pizza I order in the future.

When your washing machine breaks ...
... and you have the new one installed, with a trial load of towels washing, which you keep checking because it is so much fun to watch it swish through the glass lid (what will they think of next?) ... it will sweetly let you know it is finished by singing a little song.  (I guess that is what they thought of next.)

It's got to do that, you know, because it is so quiet that you can't tell it is even running.

When your washing machine breaks ...
... you look at all the good things that came from it and you realize how small all your problems are and how great are your blessings.

Well Said: A Fine Fount of Admonition

From my quote journal.
This was not the first time that Mr. Bulstrode had begun by admonishing Mr. Vincy, and had ended by seeing a very unsatisfactory reflection of himself in the coarse unflattering mirror which that manufacturer's mind presented to the subtler lights and shadows of fellow-men; and perhaps his experience ought to have warned him how the scene would end. But a full-fed fountain will be generous with its waters even in the rain, when they are worse than useless; and a fine fount of admonition is apt to be equally irrepressible.
George Eliot, Middlemarch

Monday, April 22, 2013

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial LifeMiddlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life by George Eliot

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was highly recommended by everybody, including Rose, so it went on my 2013 Goals Reading List.
What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?
This is a gentle tale of many courtships and marriages, of the relationships in community (as we can tell from the subtitle "A Study of Provincial Life"), and above all of how our actions affect others.
People glorify all sorts of bravery except the bravery they might show on behalf of their nearest neighbors.
At about page 600 the story threads suddenly intertwined at a highly accelerated pace and I was fraught with anxiety for Mr. Bulstrode, then for Dr. Lydgate, and at last realized how much Dorothea's suffering had matured her. It made for a highly satisfying ending which was capped by Eliot's final summing up of everyone's lives.
People are almost always better than their neighbors think they are.
Throughout Eliot, as omniscient narrator, drops gentle observation appropriate to the story which are also appropriate to our lives in general.
Blameless people are always the most exasperating.
I cannot possibly share enough of them, or the plot in general, to do this book justice. I see that I also have forgotten until now to mention the humor running throughout the book. Perhaps that is what captured me first of all. George Eliot has a fine sense of irony and an even finer way of bringing it to our attention. You must simply try it for yourself.

Well Said: What we live for

From my quote journal.
What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?
George Eliot, Middlemarch

Notes on Mark: Unbelief and Power

MARK Chapter 6
In the last chapter, Jesus has been changing people's lives and hearts as he healed, exorcised, and did other miracles. This chapter, Mary Healy tells us, sees that come to a grinding halt. 
The mighty works that hostile opponents, demons, diseases, and even death could not stop, are blocked--temporarily--by a greater obstacle: unbelief. It is not that Jesus' power is limited, but people are hindered from experiencing his power by their refusal to believe in him.
Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy
This, for me, is huge. All the power in the universe can be unleashed on these peoples' behalf and they refuse to let themselves experience it because they will not believe. Is this the reason that we don't see more miracles in our own age?

What about my life? Am I willing to believe, to stay open, to eagerly anticipate and ask for God's power on my behalf?

Sobering questions as chapter 6 looms ahead.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekend Joke: Cowboys

Three cowboys are sitting around a campfire, out on a lonesome Texas prarie, each with the bravado for which cowboys are famous. A night of tall tales begins.

The first one says, "I must be the meanest, toughest cowboy there is. Why, just the other day a bull got loose in the corral and gored six men before I wrestled it to the ground by the horns with my bare hands."

The second cowboy can't stand to be bested. "Why that's nothing. I was walking down the trail yesterday and a fifteen-foot rattlesnake slid out from under a rock and made a move for me. I grabbed that snake with my bare hands, bit its head off and sucked the poison down in one gulp. And I'm still here today."

The third cowboy remained silent, silently stirring the coals with his hands.

Friday, April 19, 2013

"The whole country is watching you, they just don't know it."


Lester Siegel: Okay, you got 6 people hiding out in a town of what, 4 million people, all of whom chant "death to America" all the livelong day. You want to set up a movie in a week. You want to lie to Hollywood, a town where everybody lies for a living. Then you're gonna sneak 007 over here into a country that wants CIA blood on their breakfast cereal, and you're gonna walk the Brady Bunch out of the most watched city in the world.

Tony Mendez: Past about a hundred militia at the airport. That's right.

Lester Siegel: Right. Look, I gotta tell you. We did suicide missions in the army that had better odds than this.
Fascinating story, excellent acting and directing, and above all a sense of history which seemed spot on. Although I knew the outcome, I was still in suspense up to the last moments of the escape.

As someone who was in college when the Iranians took the American embassy workers hostage, I was suddenly mentally right back in that time as the shots of the mob and protests were shown. It was like watching the news every night all over again.

I was impressed not only by the quality of the acting but by the script which didn't have much time to tell everybody's story but which gave us enough to make us understand and care. Perhaps one of my favorite characters was the Iranian cultural official who was giving a tour of the bazaar. He was obviously just a normal person, excited to be connected with a movie, who had his own idea of what would make a good flick. The way that normal characters like that were interspersed with the fanatical revolutionaries was a nice touch to remind us that amongst the chaos there were regular people trying to live under trying circumstances.

This movie deserved every award it received.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Julie and Scott did NOT switch bodies for this podcast ...

... Night Watch, urban fantasy straight from Russia, is the book we're discussing at A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Well Said: A Speck in Our Vision

From my quote journal.
Instead of wondering at this result of misery in Mr. Casaubon, I think it quite ordinary. Will not a speck very close to our vision blot out the glory of the world, and leave only a margin by which we see the blot? I know no specks so troublesome as self.
George Eliot, Middlemarch
This morning, reading Middlemarch, I wanted to slap Rosamund this morning. However, reading this quote reminds me of how often I wanted to grasp Mr. Casaubon by the shoulders and shake him very, very hard. Talk about two people who did not deserve the good spouses they had. Oh my goodness.

The Big Book of Ghost Stories by Otto Penzler

The Big Book of Ghost StoriesThe Big Book of Ghost Stories by Otto Penzler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a treat for myself after getting a free lance writing job. I read the entire book over a long period of time by opening it at random to one of these short stories. There are classics (The Monkey's Paw; Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad) and stories from much more modern authors like Donald Westlake, Isaac Asimov, Chet Williamson, and Andrew Klavan. There are so many stories in this "big book" that it took me some time to finish, especially at the meandering, leisurely pace I favor for short story collections. I really enjoyed it because I rarely came across a story I didn't like. I also really enjoyed Otto Penzler's introduction to each of the authors. He gave a good idea of what their overall work was like without giving away the story itself.

My only quarrel is with the categories in the table of contents that tend to give away the surprise for too many of the stories simply by playing on the twist. That actually was the reason for just opening the book and reading the story I found there so that I kept the element of surprise as long as the author's skill allowed.

Kudos to the publisher, Black Lizard, for their production values ... the cover is not only atmospheric because of the vintage image, it is also sturdy. The paper for the pages is lower quality, as one would expect, but the binding is such that you can tell it will hold together no matter how many times that book flops open. The binding also allows the book to lie flat on a surface which is a definite advantage considering the size. And the print is a pleasing size, not the gigantic type which too many modern publishers use to either pad out pages or pander to older eyes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Everybody Loves ... Kostya

Review: Exporting Raymond (documentary)



Phil Rosenthal created hit television show Everybody Loves Raymond. When the Russians called, wanting his input in creating a Russian version (Everybody Loves Kostya), he gets on a plane and finds ... a whole new sort of comedy. Are families and comedy the same everywhere? How does one navigate the Russian entertainment business? Can he keep the heart and soul of the American show while translating it to a different culture?

While Phil Rosenthal answers these questions, we see where a lot of the humor of the television show came from. He's quick with comic insights to everyday life that sound remarkably similar to those we see in clips of the show. As we follow his efforts, we get a new look at Russia, one that makes us feel remarkably at home in some cases.

Above all this made me want to rewatch Everybody Loves Raymond.

Notes on Mark: Hearing Jesus' Voice

MARK 5:40-43
I love the point that Barclay makes here, derived from the actual language used in the gospel. It makes an already amazing scene turn into a touching scene of love that Peter has kept alive in memory.
There is a very lovely thing here. In the gospel itself, "Maid! Arise" is "Talitha Cumi," which is Aramaic. How did this little bit of Aramaic get itself embedded in the Greek of the gospels? There can be only one reason. Mark got his information from Peter. For the most part, outside of Palestine at least, Peter, too, would have to speak in Greek. But Peter had been there; he was one of the chosen three, the inner circle, who had seen this happen. And he could never forget Jesus' voice. In his mind and memory he could hear that "Talitha Cumi" all his life. The love, the gentleness, the caress of it lingered with him forever, so much so that he was unable to think of it in Greek at all, because his memory could hear it only in the voice of Jesus and in the very words that Jesus spoke.
The Gospel of Mark
(The Daily Bible Series, rev. ed.)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Well Said: Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ

Recorded at his deathbed. This, to me, seems to be the perfect daily prayer. You may know it as the simplified song from Godspell.
Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits Thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults Thou hast borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, friend and brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly.
St. Richard of Chichester

Free Book! One Day Only!


Free book! One day only


In our infinite benevolence and generosity, Ori and I are making my new e-book, Hailstone Mountain, available for free download on Tuesday, April 16.

One day only! Act now! Unless it's not Tuesday yet. Or it's Wednesday.

Free on Tuesday. That's the deal. Tell your friends.

Lars from Brandywine Books speaks and I listen. (And get my free book.) I've always meant to read one of his books and now the price is right. 

Ok, you saw it here ... I told my friends. Go get it!

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I've never been that interested in this book or anything by Wilkie Collins for that matter. Collins had that stigma (for me) of having written "classics" and "the first detective novel." Which just killed any interest I'd ever have had because classics and "first ever" books are musty, boring, and stale, right?

I know that isn't true, but I still have a hard time shaking that idea.

However, when B.J. Harrison, narrator extraordinaire of The Classic Tales Podcast offered the first five hours of this book as a free sample I couldn't resist. I soon gave in and ordered the entire books. I was hooked in just a few chapters.

I really didn't expect Gabriel Betteredge, the first narrator, to be so funny. He spends his spare time reading and rereading Robinson Crusoe which is his ultimate guide to any tricky decision he must make.

The second narrator is equally hilarious, a maiden aunt whose dedication to the Christian cause is such that she spends a considerable amount of time hiding religious tracts in people's homes to trick them into reading them. I actually laughed out loud at some of the tract names. Now that I think of it, I knew that Collins and Charles Dickens were good friends and I suppose I should have expected a good sense of the ridiculous.

Not every narrator is humorous but the characterization is strong for everyone. Rachel Verinder's outburst to Franklin Blake toward the end of the book made me applaud her strong common sense while I sympathized with her situation. I was moved to pity by Ezra Jennings' plight and delighted in Sergeant Cuff's penchant for roses.

Harrison's reading emphasized humor without being over the top and pointed out the pathos without being maudlin. His reading was the key to my thorough enjoyment of this Victorian tale complete with a family feud, a cursed diamond, three untrustworthy Indian jugglers, and a small boy nicknamed Gooseberry.

The ending was of its time and incredible by today's standards, but I was on tenterhooks as each revelation was made. In fact, I put off listening to a brand new book in a series I love so that I could get to the end of this mystery.

Harrison is offering the entire book for $5 which is an amazing bargain. I'm sure how long that offer will stand so if you're interested check out the link above.

Jeff Miller's review of Save Send Delete

Here it is ... he liked it just as much as I did.
The often long emails that take so many divergent paths are a wonder to read. They are so funny, pointed, and filled with the realities of life. Political correctness has not only taken a vacation, but I think had run away in alarm.
And, I'll just say it here, I'm a book stalker of Jeff's. So it evens out.

Monday, April 15, 2013

In which there are shady doings in Los Altos while the bus passengers are still on the road.

Chapters 2 and 3 of The Mouse in the Mountain by Norbert Davis at Forgotten Classics.

The Brits and the Yanks ... We Just Don't Get Each Other

Here are 10 American Habits Brits Will Never Understand.
(I'm just sayin', y'all never got corn stuck in your teeth? Floss matters, people!)

And, the corresponding 10 British Habits Americans Will Never Understand
(After watching Doctor Who, I see that grabbing a cuppa tea in an emergency is more practical than you might think.)

Via Brandywine Books.

Notes on Mark: Witnesses and Death Customs

MARK 5:35-39
The number of witnesses that Jewish law considered to be necessary for legal purposes was three. Jesus always used Peter, James and John ... those closest to him.
Jesus did not want more than these three Apostles to be present: three was the number of witnesses laid down by the Law (Deut 19:15). "For Jesus, being humble, never acted in an ostentatious way" (Theophilactus, Enarratio in Evangelium Marci, in loc.). Besides these were the three disciples closest to Jesus: later, only they will be with him at the Transfiguration (cf. 9:2) and at his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. 14:33).


The scene of unrestrained grief that would have greeted Jesus and his disciples as they entered really would have been an uproar. Here are a few of the details about mourning customs at the time.
Jewish mourning customs were vivid and detailed, and practically all of them were designed to stress the desolation and the final separation of death. The triumphant victorious hope of the Christian faith was totally absent.

Immediately death had taken place a loud wailing was set up so that all might know death had struck. The wailing was repeated at the grave side. The mourners hung over the dead body, begging for a response from the silent lips. They beat their breasts; they tore their hair; and they rent their garments...

Flute players were essential. Throughout most of the ancient world, in Rome, in Greece, in Phoenicia, in Assyria and in Palestine, the wailing of the flute was inseparably connected with death and tragedy....

When death came, a mourner was forbidden to work, to annoint himself or to wear shoes. Even the poorest man must cease from work for three days. He must not travel with goods; and the prohibition of work extended even to his servants ... It was the custom not to eat at a table, but to eat sitting on the floor, using a chair as a table. It was the custom, which still survives, to eat eggs dipped in ashes and salt.

There was one curious custom. All water from the house, and from the three houses on each side, was emptied out, because it was said that the Angel of Death procured death with a sword dipped in water taken from close at hand. There was one peculiarly pathetic custom. In the case of a young life cut off too soon, if the young person had never been married, a form of marriage service was part of the burial rites. For the time of mourning the mourner was exempt from the keeping of the law, because he was supposed to be beside himself, mad with grief.
The Gospel of Mark(The Daily Bible Series, rev. ed.)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Notes on Mark: Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac

MARK 5:1-20
This is the familiar story of Jesus sending the demon from the possessed man into the swine, which then rush over the cliff. I knew that the presence of pigs would signify a Gentile population but never fully realized all the elements in this scene that speak to Jesus saving Gentile nations. And I've gotta say that the symbolism connected with the sea is fabulous. I certainly never heard that in any homily!
Gerasenes: Gerasa is one of the cities of the "Decapolis" (5:20), a confederation of ten cities in NT Palestine. They were predominantly Gentile in population, and most of them were located east of the Jordan River. The presence of "swine" in 5:11 reinforces this Gentile context, since the Jews would never herd animals that God declared unclean (Lev 11:7-8).

Legion: The term for an armed regiment of nearly 6,000 Roman soldiers. It points to the overwhelming presence of demons in the man and accentuates the intensity of spiritual combat between Jesus and the forces of evil...

Allegorically (St. Bede, In Marcum), the demoniac represents the Gentile nations saved by Christ. As pagans, they once lived apart from God amid the tombs of dead works, while their sins were performed in service to demons. Through Christ, the pagans are at last cleansed and freed from Satan's domination.

Into the sea: Biblical symbolism associated with the sea is diverse and flexible. According to one tradition, God's enemies arise from the sea in the form of beasts that oppress God's people (Dan 7:1-3; Rev 13:1). Here Jesus reverses the direction of evil by sending the demon-possessed swine back into the sea. Like Pharaoh's army in the OT, God's adversaries are drowned in the waters (Ex 14:26-28; 15:1).
The Gospel of Mark(The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible)
Looking Forward: here is a parallel connection,a foreshadowing, that never occurred to me (yes, there's a lot of that going around).
The principles "sitting" and "clothed" reappear in Mark 16:5, again in the setting of a tomb, where it describes the young man who announces Jesus' resurrection. With these verbal parallels Mark hints that the exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac, like all Jesus' miracles in the Gospel, is an anticipation of the power of his resurrection, already at work in the lives of human beings.
Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy
And we see that power at work in the life of the demoniac when Jesus tells him to proclaim what has been done for him. Yet another leap forward from the present text that I hadn't made, but one that works powerfully in my imagination in looking at my own life.
The seemingly inauspicious missionary, a former demoniac, faithfully carries out Jesus' command by broadcasting throughout the entire region his story of deliverance--the kind of proclamation that is impossible to refute. Indeed the success of his efforts appears later from the very different reception Jesus meets on his second visit to the area.
Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture: The Gospel of Mark by Mary Healy

Well Said: True Interpreters of Scripture

From my quote journal.
The saints are the true interpreters of Holy Scripture. The meanings of a given passage of the Bible becomes most intelligible in those human beings who have been totally transfixed by it and have lived it out. Interpretation of Scripture can never be a purely academic affair, and it cannot be relegated to the purely historical. Scripture is full of potential for the future, a potential that can be opened up when someone "lives through" and "suffers through" the sacred text.
Joseph Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth: 
From the Baptism in the Jordan
to the Transfiguration

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 35


35. Searching for Sugar Man


In America we've never heard of Rodriguez, an enigmatic rock musician from the early 70's whose two records flopped. In South Africa, his records are bigger than Elvis. The legend surrounding him always includes a colorful death on stage ... by self immolation, pistol to the head, drug overdose, etc. Two South Africans set out to find out how Rodriguez died.

Why Rodriguez is so well known in South Africa is worth a movie of its own. When you include the discovery made by the men tracking down his legend, it propels this story into the "truth is stranger than fiction" category.

The documentary is put together like a well told piece of detective fiction and we were riveted by the story of the American musician we'd never heard of before.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Well Said: Solemnity and Bacon

From my quote journal, originally from Jennifer Fitz who gives a recipe to go with it.
Nothing says “solemnity” like bacon on a Friday.
Jennifer Fitz
Of course, you've got to be of the "no meat on Fridays crowd for this to really hit home ... or to even be comprehendible.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Bones of the Old Ones by Howard Andrew Jones

The Bones of the Old OnesThe Bones of the Old Ones by Howard Andrew Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the highly enjoyable sequel to the excellent Desert of Souls (my review here). I really enjoyed it and if Goodreads allowed half-stars the rating would 4.5.

Asim and Dabir are pulled into adventure when a young woman (Najya) begs them for help escaping kidnappers. The kidnappers have some very strange powers and the young woman seems to have been put under a spell. Investigating how the spell and how to shake the kidnappers propel our heroes into realms resplendent with sorcery, old gods, giant battles, and much more. And there's a flying carpet. That made me very happy.

If someone crossed The Arabian Nights with Robert E. Howard, you'd have Bones of the Old. Asim is a captain of the guard. Dabir is a knowledgable scholar. The classic mixture of brawn and brains are well paired again as the two friends encounter old enemies and solve puzzles from mythical times while traveling through the ancient Arabian desert, albeit one covered with snow.

It is a well-told adventure that I read in 24-hours. It was more of a straight-forward rescue tale than Desert of Souls and, for that reason, I docked it a half star. But that half star is a small one.

I wish these were available as audio books because they are right down SFFaudio's alley and I'd love to have a read along about them. (hint, hint)

However, for those of us who don't mind actual reading, my advice is to get both books and waste no time in jumping feet-first into adventure.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Super Fantastic Review of Happy Catholic (the book)

"I am suddenly nostalgic for the good old days," Davis remarks, "when you could smoke a cigarette, have a burger, or sip a cocktail without fear of getting a dirty look." What's that got to do with Catholicism, you ask? Davis doesn't hammer her point home in this essay, or in any of the others. She sketches out the main points, and leaves it to the reader to fill in the blanks, to connect the dots. In this essay, she is commenting on British jockey and crime writer Dick Francis' observation that in America, people think that one can fend off death indefinitely by jogging or adopting other healthy habits.

Davis could have produced a thousand-word essay supporting her points with exacting details; she doesn't. Her comments are trenchant and brief, as if you were seated next to a very witty and provocative dinner companion. Americans worship health and equate death with guilt, she remarks. It's almost like we've turned healthy living into a secular religion. And then you realize, oh, that's right. I'm reading a book by a Catholic about being Catholic. You put two plus two together, and before you realize it, you are asking big questions and thinking profound thoughts. You didn't need the thousand-word essay. You just needed a few inspirational bon mots from this erudite, sophisticated, literate Catholic woman.
Danusha Goska, author of Save Send Delete, has a review of Happy Catholic that knocked my socks off! Didja see that? Bon mots. Erudite. She said it, folks, not me. Though it did make me very, very (very) happy.

Danusha's review is generous and kind and ... I'm going to go read it again another time or two (or three). If you are interested I urge you to do the same because what is given above is a mere taste.

Thank you Danusha!

This Just In: Selfless: The Story of Sr. Theophane's Missionary Life in the Jungles of Papua New Guinea

Selfless: The Story of Sr. Theophane's Missionary Life in the Jungles of Papua New GuineaSelfless: The Story of Sr. Theophane's Missionary Life in the Jungles of Papua New Guinea by Reida Immolata

This was a surprise review book that showed up on my doorstep via UPS last night. The cover and photos inside remind me of Story of a Soul (St. Therese of Lisieux's autobiography). This is not an autobiography but is written so far in the same sweet, gentle style of the early-middle 1900s.

I'm still on Sr. Theophane's (Inez's) youth but that little tomboy's earnestness and devotion is getting to me. It probably helps that this is reminding me somewhat of Cheaper by the Dozen in the New York state setting and time period.

I look at this woman's life spent giving to others for love of Christ (the overview makes that clear although I am not far into her actual life). Then I look at the people spending so much time and energy blabbing about changing things to their own tastes (ordaining women priests and suchlike) ... things which they do not have the power to change, for one thing, so they are doing nothing but raising acrimonious feelings on both sides.

It makes me think that if we stopped talking and began doing, giving, serving the less fortunate all around us, how much better the world would be. And our own souls. And, hopefully, the souls of those around us.

It may be that the life of this little anonymous missionary is a true message for our times much along the lines of that of the more famous Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Just a train of thought that this book began in me as I was washing dishes, musing over the book ...

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bleg: A Good Book About Catholicism and End-of-Life Issues?

A pal of mine is in the medical profession, just entered the Church, and was asking about a good book to read for end-of-life issues.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Thank you!

The Universe Within by Neil Shubin

The Universe Within: A Scientific Adventure. by Neil ShubinThe Universe Within: A Scientific Adventure by Neil Shubin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
All the galaxies in the cosmos, like every creature on the planet, and every atom, molecule, and body on Earth are deeply connected. That connection begins at a single point 13.7 billion years ago.
This book takes a big scientific fact and then links it back to life on Earth and our lives specifically. For example, the Big Bang created particles that exist on Earth and in living creatures today (including us). Along the way he tells the stories of scientists whose "wacky theories" just happened to be right and what happened in the process of proving them. Those personal stories, along with Shubin's own scientific exploration which is interspersed throughout the chapters, bring the science to a personal level and keep the reader engaged.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that Shubin celebrates the science and connections without imposing any philosophical opinions on us. I have seen some complaining about his lack of concern about climate change and it was then that I realized how refreshing it was to just get the facts without the author's personal opinion as well.

The book is only 240 pages so clearly it is an overview, but it is one with just enough details for those who, like me, have just a smattering of scientific knowledge.

Note: I received this review copy from the Amazon Vine program.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Eternal rest grant unto Roger Ebert, O Lord.

I was instructed long ago by a wise editor, "If you understand something you can explain it so that almost anyone can understand it. If you don't, you won't be able to understand your own explanation." That is why 90% of academic film theory is bullshit. Jargon is the last refuge of the scoundrel.
Roger Ebert blog entry, Nov. 10, 2008
Roger Ebert lived by those words, eschewing jargon with a vengeance. He wound up becoming an American icon. I was surprised that I became a bit weepy when hearing the news. He'd had cancer since 2006 and I recall thinking just recently about what a good run he'd given it all this time, still reviewing movies and weighing in on his blog about whatever caught his interest.

It was on his blog that he recently wrote about being a Catholic in every way except that of belief in God. I pray for his soul and hope that at that last moment of choice, he chose wisely and clasped the hand extended to him from Heaven.
Eternal rest grant unto Roger Ebert, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

April 8th HHS Contraceptive Mandate Comment Period Closes

Go here to leave a comment.

Many thanks to Jen Fitz for reminding me of this. I read her comments and used the first line to launch off on my own.
Do you believe that mentally competent, grown women are capable of making their own purchases? I do. If you don't take all my income with taxes, I'll be able to do so very nicely, thank you.

I can also pick my own health insurance. (It's a shock I know, but try to bear up under it.)

I don't need the government to patronize me in the process. Oops, too late.

In which Doan and Carstairs board the bus to Los Altos and meet their fellow passengers.

Doan and Carstairs are back in The Mouse in the Mountain which sees our hard-boiled duo on the beginning of a Mexican vacation. Hear it at Forgotten Classics.

Now sweded for your viewing listening pleasure ...

... and because all the tapes got erased somehow.  Julie and Scott talk about Be Kind Rewind on A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Notes on Mark: The Storm

MARK 4:35-41
A few basics to put us in the scene. I like the detail of Jesus being asleep upon a pillow. It definitely is eye witness information when it is at that level.
The Lake of Galilee was notorious for its storms. They came literally out of the blue with shattering and terrifying suddenness. A writer describes them like this: " It is not unusual to see terrible squalls hurl themselves, even when the sky is perfectly clear, upon these waters which are ordinarily so calm. The numerous ravines which to the north-east and east debauch upon the upper part of the lake operate as to many dangerous defiles in which the winds from the heights of Hauran, the plateaus of Trachonitis, and the summit of Mount Hermon are caught and compressed in such a way than, rushing with tremendous force through a narrow space and then being suddenly released, they agitate the little Lake of Gennesaret in the most frightful fashion." The voyager across the lake was always liable to encounter just such sudden storms as this.

Jesus was in the boat in the position in which any distinguished guest would be conveyed. We are told that, "In these boats ... the place for any distinguished stranger is on the little seat placed at the stern, where a carpet and cushion are arranged. The helmsman stands a little farther forward on the deck, though near the stern, in order to have a better look-out ahead."

It is interesting to note that the words Jesus addressed to the wind and the waves are exactly the same as he addressed to the demon-possessed man in Mark 1:25. Just as an evil demon possessed that man, so the destructive power of the storm was, so people in Palestine believed in those days, the evil power of the demons at work in the realm of nature.
The Gospel of Mark(The Daily Bible Series, rev. ed.)
Symbolically, even if we don't believe that the evil power of demons is at work in nature, Scripture is telling us something along those lines about Jesus' power by having him calm the sea. Sometimes it seems as if we are about to be overwhelmed by troubles as vast and unpredictable as the ocean and then we must turn to Jesus to calm our storm.
Besides being vast and powerful, the sea is also unpredictable. When a storm rises, even a short distance can seem like miles. Throughout scripture, the surging power of the sea has been used to represent the forces of chaos and darkness in the world -- images we read of in the telling of the great flood (Genesis 7:17-24) and the mythic sea creature, Leviathan (Psalm 74:13-14; Isaiah 27:1).
Mark: A Devotional Commentary
(The Word Among Us)
And a reflection to remind us that Scripture speaks to you and me today.
Mark narrates this story not only to recount the memorable event of the storm, but also to reflect the experience of the early Christians. ... How often have [Jesus'] disciples through the ages felt that way in the midst of "storms" of persecution, natural disasters, or personal troubles? But Jesus' authority is without limit and though he allows trials in the end nothing can truly harm those who trust in him. His reproach in verse 40 is an invitation for all Christians to awaken their faith in his presence and in his absolute authority over the cosmos.... Indeed, the most repeated command in Scripture is "Do not fear!" Why? Because to refuse to give in to fear disables the enemy's strategy, which is to dissuade Jesus' followers from their mission. When we have no fear, the enemy trembles in fear.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What I'm Reading: Extinction Machine (Joe Ledger #5) by Jonathan Maberry

Extinction Machine (Joe Ledger #5)Extinction Machine by Jonathan Maberry

Joe's back.

Pulled off vacation, Joe Ledger is knocking on research lab doors with Top and Bunny, looking into cyber-attacks so clever they can't be tracked back to anyone. But no one's answering, even though all the lights are on. Until a couple of men in black, who seem strangely inhuman, step onto the loading dock.

And mayhem ensues.

Yep.

Joe's back.

Sorry Moonstone. Sorry Jane Eyre. Sorry Middlemarch. Sorry stack of audiobooks that I just got in the mail. You're sweet and ... uh ... we'll always be good friends. But I've got to go.

I've got a date.

Joe's back.

And I've got to slip into my slinkiest pair of earbuds.

(Review copy from Audible, via SFFaudio.)

Patient Zero (#1)
Dragon Factory, The (#2)
King of Plagues, The (#3)
Assassin's Code (#4)

Notes on Mark: The Mustard Seed

MARK 4:30-32
We are all familiar with this because we have heard so many comments on its meaning for us today. But how about what the Jews of Jesus' time would have thought when they heard it? Barclay elucidates.
There are in this parable two pictures which every Jew would readily recognize.

First, in Palestine a grain of mustard seed stood proverbially for the smallest thing possible. For instance, "faith as a grain of mustard seed," means "the smallest conceivable amount of faith." This mustard seed did in fact grow into something very like a tree. A traveler in Palestine speaks of seeing a mustard plant, which, in its height, overtopped a horse and its rider. The birds were very fond of the little black seeds of the tree and a cloud of birds over a mustard plant was a common sight.

Second, in the Old Testament one of the commonest ways to describe a great empire was to describe it as a tree, and the tributary nations within it were said to be like birds finding shelter within the shadow of its branches (Ezekiel 17:22ff; 31:1ff; Daniel 4:10, 21). The figure of a tree with birds in the branches therefore stands for a great empire and the nations who form part of it.
The Gospel of Mark(The Daily Bible Series, rev. ed.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Save Send Delete by Danusha Goska

Save Send DeleteSave Send Delete by Danusha Goska

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I became excited when Moyers identified you as a skeptic who questions everything. I actually put down my fork and stopped chewing my pasta fazool. I question everything, and I find that makes me very lonely. If you want to talk about Islam and terror, for example, you know that the Politically Correct, self-identitied "Patiots" won't allow any critical statements about US petro-dependency. Abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage: people bring so many agendas to these matters that real, probing questions are never asked or answered. But you were as dogmatic in your atheism as a Monty Python parody of a pope.
One night after watching a celebrity atheist on a talk show, devout Catholic Mira does the unthinkable. She sends him a long, forceful, clever email that she knows will never get past his secretary. Except that he answers. And he won't let her off the hook with a polite apology.

We see only Mira's side of the correspondence, which soon pulls us into her life, their growing friendship, and doesn't let anyone off the hook in considering faith, love, and what it means to be human. "Save Send Delete" refers to what Mira chooses to do after she's written each email we've read. I was delighted by the way this clever device let us see not only Mira's actual email but her inner thoughts as she hesitated or deleted what she'd written.
Monday 1:20 a.m.
Rand! Good grief, I see that you've written back already. I can't read that right now.

I was drifting off to sleep and I remembered. In my first e-mail to you I called you a "git" and a "wanker." And here I am chastising you for stereotyping me.

But that was so long ago Rand, and we are different people now, and we're doing something different here, aren't we? And it hurts when you refuse to see me.
SAVE send delete

Monday 1:34 a.m.
save SEND delete
I cannot possibly do this book justice. But, of course, you know that's not going to stop me from trying.

The book is a thinly fictionalized version of what really happened to author Danusha Goska. However, don't let that give you pause. It is a finely crafted work of literature, no matter the origin of the ideas conveyed.

It is going on my 2013 Best Books list.

I was really excited reading the first half of the book because I related to the conversations. I've been blogging long enough to have had many long email exchanges about faith or lack thereof. I was cheering in Mira's section as she said all the things that intelligent Christians know and sometimes would like to hurl at unthinking atheists smugly giving knee-jerk answers. (And know this now, there are as many unthinking, knee-jerk atheists out there as there are unthinking, knee-jerk Christians. No group is exempt from this.)

Mira makes her points respectfully, with credit given where it is due, but she doesn't back down. She is adamant about truth being shown and acknowledged by all sides. And, of course, that's another thing I loved about this book. Truth, honesty ... those are hard qualities to come by.

Watching Mira struggle to keep conversations honest was fascinating and taught me some valuable lessons. I want to stress here, that this book is not just for Christians. Both Goodreads and Amazon contain 5-star reviews from all sorts of believers and doubters. All praise Danusha Goska's writing and thinking in this book.

The second part of the book changes in tone as Mira and Rand grow closer and more honest with each other. It becomes less about intellectual answers and more about real life, about finding God or meaning in life when times are hard. This was when the spotlight turned on me and it wasn't comfortable.

It is not that I pulled back or wasn't engaged with the book. It was as if I were reading that other very different yet also great book, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, which this section of the book made me think of for some reason. Mira's life has been hard and it made me realize how very fortunate my own life is. I always know my life is fortunate, but there is a tendency to think one's life is more difficult than it actually is. When one comes up against real hardship, it holds up the mirror, shakes us up (just as the prophets were sent to shake the people up), and gives the corrected perspective so that one may continue. This tendency is actually discussed very compassionately by Mira in a section about house-sitting for a professor.

I couldn't put the book down, as Mira and Rand's story propelled me forward.I spent a good deal of time pondering my actions versus mere lip service (none of us are exempt from our unthinking, knee-jerk moments, remember?). And that's a good thing.

Ultimately, the core message of Save Send Delete is one we all understand. We want to be seen, to be heard, to be known for who we really are, deep down. It is that which we hope and strive for from friends, family, loved ones. The lack of being known devastates us when we have trusted someone deeply enough to allow ourselves to become vulnerable. That is the ultimate betrayal.

What Christians find in God, in Jesus Christ, is that he knows us, in a way we don't even know ourselves. And when He breaks through so that we can recognize it, we are stunned and overwhelmed.

That is why words are so inadequate.

Usually.

Danusha Goska's words ... her original, insightful story ... is up to the task.

Do not miss this book.

NOTE: There is some bad language. Just skim over it if that's a problem.

DVD Review: Understanding Sunday Mass: A Kid's Point of View

A review from Scott Danielson. I have to say this looks like a good resource.

UnderstandingSundayMass
What a great idea this movie is. Understanding Sunday Mass: A Kid's Point of View's goal is to teach young people the mass, and it unconditionally succeeds at being both entertaining and informative.

The film opens with a scene we see nearly every Sunday. A family, including two kids, are attending mass. We see dramatic eye-rolling sighs of the kids as they prepare to tolerate another hour in church. "I confess, to Almighty God," says the priest as their eyes wander around the church, trying to find something to help them pass the time… but then everyone and everything freezes. Father Jerry, with his magic remote control, appears from the back of the church, and spends the rest of the time explaining the mass to the two kids while using the remote to fast forward or reverse.

What's an "ambo"? A "chasuble"? What does "Liturgy of the Word" mean? How about "Liturgy of the Eucharist"? Father Jerry explains it all.

In today's world, as catechists compete with movies, TV, YouTube, and a host of other shiny objects for the attention of students, it's wonderful to have this effective and entertaining film that was created by people who clearly understand that engaging the imagination is a terrific way to educate.

You can find all the information you need about this DVD at http://www.sundaymass4kids.com.