May Reads

I've been meaning to post this sooner but have felt unmotivated. But I'm here today and trying to get it done! Some good reads this past month by some of my favorite writers.


THE BHAGAVAD GITA by Eknath Easwaran


Rating:



This ancient book has been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years. Ever since it's found its place there I've wanted to read it. But somehow when I sat in front of my "to be read" shelf, we never had a moment that felt right. Alas, it finally happened as it usually does. And I was glad to read something I'd heard so much about. Although, I must confess it was a bit of a dry read, as is most ancient literature. A key takeaway I had was the emphasis on deed. On performing in a certain manner in order to reach a certain state ("atman" if I recall correctly). There was a heavy focus on selflessness. It's great stuff for morality. I don't deny that acting in such a way is beneficial not only for yourself but the betterment of the human race. The only problem is we aren't like that. At least I'm not. Not always. And it turns reality into an attempt at getting things right in order to find your way out of the repeated life and death cycle that is reincarnation. I'd always thought reincarnation was an idea that was looked forward to as if it was an enjoyable afterlife of sorts. However, upon reading the actual text it appears its a type of punishment or, if not being as strongly worded, another opportunity to succeed (or fail). The actual goal is ascending out of the cycle of life and death, ultimately rising out of repetition. Now, there is plenty more to be said about this book and I recommend you read it for yourself. There are plenty of helpful things to be learned about within it but ultimately doesn't hold much good news in the sense of religiousness. That is if you are looking for relief instead of more work for you to be completing.


The purpose of karma is to teach the consequences of shraddha, so that by trial and error, life after life, the individual soul acquires the kind of faith that leads to fulfillment of life's supreme goal. (pg. 65)


"Death is inevitable for the living; birth is inevitable for the dead." - Krishna (pg. 91)


"Just as a fire is covered by smoke and a mirror is obscured by dust, just as the embryo rests deep within the womb, knowledge is hidden by selfish desire - hidden, Arjuna, by this unquenchable fire for self-satisfaction, the inveterate enemy of the wise." - Krishna (pg. 109)


"THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE IS SUSPENDED FROM ME AS MY NECKLACE OF JEWELS." -Krishna (all caps added by me, pg. 153)


NOIR by Richard Matheson


Rating:



I'm not sure if I've said it on my blog before but Matheson is currently and has been for the past couple years, my favorite fiction writer. After reading almost all of his novels I kept this one containing three of his shorter novels for later. And I was excited to be holding his work in my hands once again. All three stories share the thrilling nature of classic Matheson. The tension builds and builds as you find yourself on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen. There's not waste and no time playing around with useless information. Matheson doesn't over describe or spend time on something unimportant. The novel begins and you are in the thick of it, even if you don't realize it yet. I enjoyed each story and would recommend this to anyone looking for a taste of Matheson. There's also an interesting introduction which taught me a lot of about the writer that I hadn't known. These are some of his earliest works and there's something special about reading a great's early craft.


Through a blur of tears she saw the living room stir gelatinously. (pg. 277)

THE FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING by Robert Farrar Capon


Rating:



If Matheson is my favorite fiction writer, Capon is my favorite non-fiction/theological writer. He has a way of making biblical and theological topics digestible and understandable. Reading his work is like having a conversation with him. I've never read anything like his writing. I suppose it's why I've nearly read all his work! This one felt different than most considering his aim and audience was to reach preachers. He also notes the work could be beneficial to the layperson as well, which I'm here to wholeheartedly agree. If not just for the enticing words Capon pens then to also understand the side of the pastor that most of us don't get to see. I myself spend ample time naysaying preachers with their wild antics, corrupt practices, overhanded authority and unfaithfulness to their wives and churches but this gives you a perspective of perhaps a more respectable side of the what pastors do. Capon talks the theology behind his style of preaching in the first half and then tackles the practical aspects of sermon preparation including tables and visuals from now outdated software in the second half. All around it was another great book by Capon and I'm looking forward to the next couple works I have of his.


I think good preachers should be like bad kids. They ought to be naughty enough to tiptoe up on dozing congregations, steal their bottles of religion pills, spirituality pills, and morality pills, and flush them all down the drain. The church, by and large, has drugged itself into thinking that proper human behavior is the key to its relationship with God. (pg. 14)


Your faith may make a difference to you - to your enjoyment of the divine comedy you're selling tickets to, and to the hilarity of your pitches for it. But it doesn't matter to God. (pg. 28)


As I've said, what Adam and Eve did in the garden was to jury-rig an essentially religious system for getting the management of good and evil out of God's hands and into theirs. (pg. 35)


(there was no religion in Eden when it was under God's management) (pg. 37)


We've concentrated so long on putting fences and signs around Scripture that we've los the ability to play in it. (pg. 38)


In the Bible, "the Word of the Lord" is always Someone speaking to you, not just someone writing memos for you to read at your desk. Indeed, if you glance at the history of reading, you'll find that perusing words silently was a late development: for millennia, people always read aloud (or else they moved their lips to hear the words in their minds). The first recorded instance of our now confirmed habit of reading to ourselves (and lately, of thinking that moving our lips is a sin, or that skimming is a skill worth acquiring) occurred when Augustine observed Anselm of Milan not moving his lips when he read. Our reading to ourselves has brought us to the sorry state where the only place adults are read to out loud anymore is in church. (pg.61)


Okay, at this rate I'm going to be rewriting the entire book here. Just go and read Capon NOW! Next month's reads are going great, I'll write about them soon! Thanks for reading!

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