Category Archives: faith

Top Ten Tuesday – Short Stories/Essays (July 17)

TTT-Big2It’s been a long time, but it’s time to take part in Top Ten Tuesday again.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Favourite Novellas/Short Stories’. I kind of adapted it a bit and decided to do my top ten favourite short story or essay collections.

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  1. Night Shift – Stephen King. Of all the Stephen King story collections I’ve read this is probably my favourite, although it doesn’t contain my favourite short story of his, The Monkey. It’s hard to pick a favourite from this book, but it is probably between Graveyard Shift and Night Surf.
  2. Five by Endo – Shusaku Endo. This is a collection of five short stories by one of the most under-rated writers of the 20th century. They are all great, but Unzen stood out for me.
  3. Gristle: from Factory Farms to Food Safety (Thinking Twice About the Meat We Eat) – Moby (Editor), Miyun Park (Editor). I read this book not long after I became a vegetarian and it helped solidify my view that I hd made the right decision.
  4. Winter Tales – George Mackay Brown. An excellent collection of wintry-themed stories from Orkney’s most prominent writer.
  5. The Penguin Book of Russian Short Stories – David Richards (editor). It’s been a few years since I read this collection. I used to keep it in the car, so that I had something to read whenever I was going somewhere or had to wait for something/someone. One of my favourite Russian short stories, The Nose by Nikolay Gogol, is included in this one.
  6. Love Your Crooked Neighbour: Thoughts on Breath, Bread, Breasts and Brokenness – Ron Ferguson. I really enjoyed this collection of sermons, articles, and a short story. It also has an Orkney connection, as the author was the minister of St Magnus Cathedral at the tie of its publication. He also wrote a great biography on George Mackay Brown, which is worth checking out.
  7. The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup – Matt Weiland (Editor), Sean Wilsey (Editor). This collection came out just before the 2006 World Cup and included 32 stories – one on each of the nations who participated that year. Each story has a different writer. Among them are Nick Hornby (England) and the USA (Dave Eggers).
  8. The Cat’s Pajamas – Ray Bradbury. I think that Ray Bradbury was one of the best short story writers of all time. I could’ve half-filled this list with collections of his that I’ve read, but I include this one as my favourite. Highlights of this collection include The House and A Careful Man Dies.
  9. Things As They Are – Guy Vanderhaeghe. I discovered this author, who is from Saskatchewan, when I lived in there about 20 years ago. My favourites here were King Walsh and Teacher.
  10. In from the Cuithes – Howie Firth (Editor). This is a great anthology of writing from Orkney. There are too many favourites in this one to single any out.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Books on My Spring TBR (March 20)

TTT-Big2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Top Ten Book on My Spring TBR’. The following are all books that I would like to read eventually. By putting them on my Spring TBR I’m hoping that I’ll get to them sooner rather than later.

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  1. Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer – Richard Rohr
  2. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – Mitch Albom
  3. Rosie – Anne Lamott
  4. Where’s My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived – Daniel H. Wilson
  5. The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem – Marcus J. Borg & John Dominic Crossan
  6. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  7. Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit – Henri J.M. Nouwen
  8. Monster (The Dark Missions of Edgar Brim #2) – Shane Peacock
  9. In the First Circle – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  10. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

Some of these have been on previous TBR lists, others are ones I picked up fairly recently, but really want to read soon. Monster is a review copy from LibraryThing, so I should read it soon. The Last Week is one I’m going to read next week for Holy Week. The rest I’ll do my best to get to soon, although I may be distracted by other shiny books instead!

Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts (Feb 28)

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‘Bookish (and not so bookish) thoughts’ is hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous. It’s just a round-up of bookish and other things from the previous week or so. Share a link there if you want to participate.

1. It’s been over a month since I posted anything here. Although February is the shortest month, this year it seems to have just dragged on. A very close friend of ours – the Godfather of our children – passed away at the end of January. Although he had been ill for quite a while, it still came as a shock to us. He was one of my first Canadian friends and was also born in the UK. Because he had also immigrated to Canada from there, he was able to help me a lot as I transitioned to Canadian life 24 years ago. He will be sadly missed by us all.

2. Although I bought a fair number of books this month, for a number of reasons my reading was pretty poor. I only managed to finish three books. Hopefully I’ll get back on track soon, as my TBR pile just continues to grow. Some of my reading challenges for the year should help me to get going again.

3. Last weekend saw my ninth anniversary of becoming vegetarian. I can honestly say that it was one of the best things I did and I often wonder why I didn’t do it sooner.

4. I binge-watched the first two seasons of Fargo during the last moth or so and am hoping that season three will appear on Netflix soon. Meanwhile, I’m looking for something else to binge-watch. I managed to watch a few movies during the month, the best being Black Panther, which we saw in the theatre last weekend.

5. We’re into the third week of Lent and for the first time in a few years I didn’t write a post about how I intend to follow it this year. I was away on Ash Wednesday and I just couldn’t get my mind around it. I’m keeping it fairly low key this year, but the things I’m doing have been quite helpful so far.

6. I still have a $50 Indigo/Chapters card from Christmas burning a hole in my pocket. Each time I’ve been to Chapters lately there have been too many choices and I have come away empty-handed. There are a couple of books I’m waiting to be released, as well as a couple of others that I’m waiting to come down in price. It’s not like I don’t have enough books to keep me going anyway!

7. I’m hoping that Spring is just around the corner. Winter seems to have dragged on this year. It hasn’t been particularly bad, although there were a few vicious storms, but it just seems to have felt so long. We have no big plans for Summer this year, although we will be having some family visiting, which is something to look forward to. Also, our daughter will be home for the summer after finishing her first year at university, which will be something else to look forward to.

Top Ten Tuesday – Great Books I Read…But Can’t Really Remember (Jan 23)

TTT-Big2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Books I Really Liked but Can’t Remember Anything/Much About.’ I read a lot of books, but after a while I sometimes forget a lot about them. Some are probably forgettable anyway, but others are great reads. It’s a little frustrating not remembering the ones that I really liked. I’d love to reread some of them at some point, but with an ever-growing TBR pile this is not always possible. Anyway, here are ten books that I know I really enjoyed at the time, but sad to say can’t remember enough about:

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  1. London: The Novel – Edward Rutherfurd
  2. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
  3. The Man Who Was Thursday – G.K. Chesterton
  4. The Samurai – Shusaku Endo
  5. How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization – Franklin Foer
  6. How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It
    – Arthur Herman
  7. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard
  8. Enough: Contentment in an Age of Excess – Will Samson
  9. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell
  10. Red Moon Rising: How 24-7 Prayer Is Awakening a Generation – Pete Greig & Dave Roberts

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Meant to Read in 2017, But Never Did (Jan 9)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To (and totally plan to get to in 2018!!)’ All of the following books appeared on at least one of my many TBR lists last year. I managed to start a few of them, but none of them were anywhere near finished! I’d like to think that I’d manage to get them read this year, but I hope I haven’t cursed them by putting them on another list like this!

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  1. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – Mitch Albom. I’ve had this one for a couple of years or more and enjoyed all his other books, so I’m not sure why I’ve left this one unread for so long.
  2. Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina – Michael Casey. It’s over three years since I purchased this book about lectio divina. I really looked forward to reading it at the time, but it still remains unread.
  3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay – J.K. Rowling. I got this round about the time the movie came out. I loved the movie, but haven’t picked this up yet. I’m sure it wouldn’t be a long read. Maybe I’ll save it for this year’s Savvy Readathon.
  4. The Complete Robot – Isaac Asimov. I started reading this one, was enjoying it, then got distracted by other books. The fact that it is a collection of short stories means that I’ll be able to pick up easily from where I left off.
  5. A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 – Joseph Loconte. I received this one a couple of Christmas’s ago and had great intentions of quickly getting into it. Hopefully I’ll do just that soon, especially as it’s a book about two of my favourite writers.
  6. Convictions Matter: The Function of Salvation Army Doctrines – Ray Harris. I’ve started this one a couple of times, but on each occasion I’ve never gotten that far. This will be the year that I keep on going!
  7. The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) – Stephen King. I read The Gunslinger earlier on last year with the intention of at least reading this book, the second Dark Tower book, before the end of the year. I’d even thought I might get round to book three. Lots of people have told me it’s a great series, so I need to try and get on with reading more of it.
  8. In the First Circle – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I’ve written about my failure to read this on a fair number of occasions. I’m determined to get it read this year.
  9. Bradbury Speaks: Too Soon from the Cave, Too Far from the Stars – Ray Bradbury. This collection of autobiographical essays has sat unread on my shelf for too long. I know it’s one that I’ll enjoy, so I need to read it soon.
  10. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon. I promised my wife that I’d read this one, so I started it last summer. I got to about page 100 and neglected to finish it. I’m not sure why, because I was kind of enjoying it. I’ll try to get back to it soon, although when I do I may have to restart it. I’ll see how much of what I read I can actually remember!

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Top Ten Tuesday – Favourite 2017 Reads (Dec 12)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017’. The following, in no particular order, are the ten books I enjoyed the most (so far) this year, but I still haven’t decided which one was the best:

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  1. Wenjack – Joseph Boyden
  2. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World – Henri J.M. Nouwen
  3. 84, Charing Cross Road – Helene Hanff
  4. Letters from Father Christmas – J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living – Rob Bell
  6. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love So Much More – Janet Mock
  7. Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science – Mike McHargue
  8. Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism – Deborah Jian Lee
  9. The Marvels – Brian Selznick
  10. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins

Top Ten Tuesday – Winter TBR (November 28)

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR.’ Some of these are books I’ve had for too long, while others are ones I recently acquired. What they all have in common is that I’d like to get them read at some point in the near future!

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1. Everything Belongs – Richard Rohr. This one has been sitting on my shelf for over 3 years now, so it’s time. It comes highly recommended and I’m looking forward to finally reading it.

2. Blue Gold – Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos. I’m slowly working my way through the various Clive Cussler series. This is the next one I have to read in the NUMA Files series.

3. Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality – J. Philip Newell. This is one of the best books on Celtic Spirituality out there. I started it once before, but never got back to it and it got lost among other books during our move a couple of years ago.

4. The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming – Henri J.M. Nouwen. I received this for Christmas a couple of years ago and it just seemed to get stuck on the back burner. I always enjoy reading Nouwen and know this will not be an exception to that.

5. Nutshell – Ian McEwan. I picked this one up at a recent library book sale. I’m fascinated by the idea of a mystery story told from the perspective of an unborn child.

6. Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina – Michael Casey. This is another book that I’ve had for too long unread on my shelf. It was recommended to me at least three years ago, so it’s time I got round to reading it.

7. A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18 – Joseph Loconte. This one was also a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. I never grow tired of reading about Tolkien or Lewis, so this should be one I enjoy.

8. A Season to Dance – Patricia Beal. I won this book in a blog giveaway recently. I don’t know much about it, but I’d like to give it a try soon.

9. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins. I picked this up for a dollar at a thrift store recently. I figured that if I’m going to watch the movie, I should really read the book first.

10. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon. My wife love the Outlander books. I promised that I’d at least try the first one and see what all the fuss is about. I started reading it before the summer, but got distracted by other books. I need to get back to it and get it finished this winter.

The problem with lists like these is that I rarely get them accomplished. Even if I manage half of these in the next few months I’ll be happy. We’ll see how it goes anyway.

Top Ten Tuesday – Fall TBR List (September 19)

It’s been a while, but it’s time to get back to this. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a different topic is posted inviting the participants to come up with a list of ten things to do with the topic.

This week’s topic is ‘Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR List.’ Some of these I’ve had for a while; others I bought quite recently. Hopefully I’ll manage to get a few of these read before Christmas. Time will tell!

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  1. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics – Carlo Rovelli
  2. Child of All Nations – Irmgard Keun
  3. My Brother My Sister – Molly Haskell
  4. On a Raven’s Wing: New Tales in Honor of Edgar Allan Poe – ed. Stuart M. Kaminsky
  5. The Divine Magician: The Disappearance of Religion and the Discovery of Faith – Peter Rollins
  6. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction – Eugene Peterson
  7. God in the Alley – Greg Paul
  8. The Divine Conspiracy – Dallas Willard
  9. The Wind Through the Keyhole – Stephen King
  10. A Tale of Two Cities (Graphic Novel) – David Zane Mairowitz, Robert Deas, Ryuta Osada (Illustrator)

WWW Wednesday (June 7)

WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Here is what you have to do to participate:

Answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments section the host page for others to look at.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading:

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I’m currently reading these two books:

  1. Star Wars: Heroes For a New Hope by Mark Waid (Writer), Charles Soule (Writer), Gerry Duggan (Writer), Terry Dodson (Penciler), Rachel Dodson (Inker), Alex Maleev (Artist), Phil Noto (Artist), Jordie Bellaire (Colourist) , Paul Mounts(Colour Artist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (Letterer) – I borrowed this graphic novel from the library. It contains three different stories, following Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, and Chewbacca after the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. It looks promising and I hope to get through it in the next few days.
  2. Convictions Matter: The Function of Salvation Army Doctrines by Ray Harris – I bought this one about three years ago when it first came out. I started it, but never got back to it. So I’ve restarted it now. It will probably take me a little while to get it read as I’d like to complete the reflection exercises at the end of each chapter too, plus it’s not really a book that you can rush through.

Recently Finished:

I finished the following books this week:

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  1. Boxers (Boxers & Saints #1) – Gene Luen Yang. This was a decent graphic novel telling the story of the Boxer Rebellion from the point of view of a young peasant who joins the rebellion.
  2. Saints (Boxers & Saints #2) – Gene Luen Yang. This graphic novel is a companion to Boxers, telling the story from the viewpoint of a young Chinese girl who converted to Christianity. Reading this one right after the first one helped me to understand the story from both sides.
  3. Are You Seeing Me? – Darren Groth. This was a book I received through Early Reviewers at LibraryThing. It was quite a fairly moving and, at times, humorous read, telling the story of twins from Australia travelling to BC and Seattle on a journey where they discover more than they expected to.

Up Next:

These are the same two that I mentioned last week and are both books that I also received from Early Reviewers at LibraryThing. Maybe I’ll get round to them before next week’s post!

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  1. Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan
  2. Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

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It’s all about love…

Image result for love god love neighbourI normally just use this blog for things pertaining to books, movies, sport, and other daily kinds of mundane fun things, but I feel the need to do something different today.

I think that the events in Manchester this week, along with the aftermath, have probably brought me to this, although it’s been on my mind for much longer.

It all boils down to this – our world needs more love. There is too much hatred and it comes from all sides everywhere and is not monopolized by any one group, nation, religion, or whatever tribe people align themselves with. There are fundamentalists everywhere, who will do anything, to the point of killing innocents, to make themselves heard. History repeats itself over and over again with the same results. I don’t pretend to understand everything, or have the solution to all the woes of the world, but our world could definitely use more love, along with some understanding.

Each day I read posts on Facebook and the social media platforms where people argue about everything and everything, where there often seems to be too much shouting and very little listening. Things often turn nasty when someone doesn’t agree with another person’s thoughts or ideas. It would be a boring world if we always agreed with each other, but why do differences of opinion often have to cause cessations of friendships or resort to name-calling, or worse. People often try to hide behind freedom of speech, but this freedom comes with responsibility and doesn’t mean that anyone has the right to continually put down others or destroy their character. It’s not wrong to disagree with another person over something, but it is crossing the line when the disagreement takes a personal turn. C.S. Lewis always enjoyed a good debate and had no problem disagreeing with others on a variety of matters, but he never allowed such disagreements to lead to personal acrimony (for a good article on this read C.S. Lewis and the Art of Disagreement).

It seems lately, though, that some issues have become more polarizing than others. One only need to mention the name ‘Trump’ and things can soon get out of hand. Some claim he is God’s chosen man, others say there’s no way he can be, and then the barbs start flying and things often get out of hand. By the way, from where I’m sitting, I can see no evidence that he could have been specially chosen by God. First of all, such a claim doesn’t seem scriptural to me, and secondly, his life certainly does not reflect it, in my opinion. Nothing that he has done so far as the leader of one of the most powerful nations on earth has persuaded me otherwise. In fact, with each passing day it seems like his actions take him further and further away from the possibility of there being any reflection in his life of being a follower of Jesus. Even this week at the NATO meetings in Europe Trump has shown himself to be an ignorant boor, as he pushed himself to the front like a spoiled schoolboy, in the process shoving Dusko Markovic, the Prime Minister of Montenegro and leader of NATO, aside, then beaming like an imbecile when he got to the front. This shows a severe lack of respect and dignity, and is behaviour that belittles the position he was elected to. It’s hard to imagine Jesus behaving like this.

There are two key passages in scripture which point to the conclusions that I have come to. The first one is in Matthew 22 where one of the experts in the Law asks Jesus what the greatest commandment is. Jesus replies: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” If someone fails to follow these commandments then everything else they do negates any claims they may have to be a follower of Jesus. There is very little love for anyone but himself in the way that Trump shows himself on the world stage.

The second passage that comes to mind is in Matthew 25 where Jesus talks about the separation of those who have fed the hungry, given water to the thirsty, clothed the naked, looked after the sick, and visited the imprisoned from those who have failed to do that. To those who did these things he says: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Then he invites them into their inheritance. However, to those who have failed to do this things he says: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Later he adds “I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Most of the proposals Trump has made so far will do little or nothing for the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, or imprisoned (i.e. the poor), so how can he be God’s chosen if he fails to follow the commands of God?

Basically, what I am saying is that it’s all about love, but not love of self before all else. If you are in doubt about the importance of this love thing, then take a few minutes to read the first letter of John. There’s enough in there to confirm, and add to, what I’ve already said. It’s not easy and I know there are times when I’ve fallen short in the commands to love, but I have to pick myself up and try again.

We live in a very broken world, but let’s not add any more hatred to it. Instead endeavour to follow the commands to love. In the end love will win. It may not seem like that at times, but it will.

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