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Book 26

  1. Pohl, Frederik — Gateway (278 pages)
  2. Clement, Hal — Mission of Gravity (193 pages)
  3. Benford, Gregory — Timescape (499 pages)
  4. O'Hare, Mick (editor) — Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze? and 114 Other Questions (232 pages)
  5. Dos Passos, John — Number One (218 pages)
  6. Heller, Joseph — Catch-22 (457 pages)
  7. St. John of the Cross — Dark Night of the Soul (119 pages)
  8. Day, Dorothy — The Long Loneliness (286 pages)
  9. Allen, Ted, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez — Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab 5's Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better, and Living Better (250 pages)
  10. Whittemore, Carroll E., ed. (William Duncan, illus.) — Symbols of the Church (59 pages)
  11. Hardy, Thomas — Jude the Obscure (507 pages)
  12. Lee, Harper — To Kill a Mockingbird (278 pages)
  13. Mann, Thomas (Helen T. Lowe-Porter, transl.) — Death in Venice (73 pages)
  14. Kempis, Thomas à — The Imitation of Christ (165 pages)
  15. West, Canon Edward N. — Outward Signs: The Language of Christian Symbolism (232 pages)
  16. Alexander, Lloyd — The High King (253 pages)
  17. Bellairs, John — St. Fidgeta & Other Parodies (84 pages)
  18. Endo, Shusaku — Silence (300 pages)
  19. Moorcock, Michael — Behold the Man (137 pages)
  20. Pouncey, Peter — Rules for Old Men Waiting (208 pages)
  21. Davies, Robertson — Tempest-Tost (The Salterton Trilogy) (235 pages)
  22. Davies, Robertson — Leaven of Malice (The Salterton Trilogy) (218 pages)
  23. Davies, Robertson — A Mixture of Frailties (The Salterton Trilogy) (311 pages)
  24. Austen, Jane — Pride and Prejudice (274 pages)
  25. Murakami, Haruki — Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (400 pages)
  26. Burrows, Ruth, O.C.D. — Essence of Prayer (210 pages)

Page count: 6,476 of targeted 12,500.

No, I haven't suddenly become a speed reader, blowing through 210 pages in a couple of hours! For the last several weeks I've been reading three books concurrently. It's just coincidence that I finished two of them on the same day. (I doubt I'll finish the third until December.)

My friend Kevin (he of smuggling fame) and I have been talking about Ruth Burrows' book for some time. I had asked his opinion on religiously-oriented materials to read and mentioned some possibilities. He recommended this book which had recently been recommended to him. He then sent it along as part of his gift to me a few weeks ago.

Essence of Prayer is, as the name implies, about prayer. It aims to clear up misconceptions about prayer, chiefly that prayer is something we do. (Prayer is simply acknowledging our relationship to God, that of child to parent, unworthy person to complete and unconditional Love, and allowing ourselves to receive that Love.) Burrows, a Carmelite nun, refers extensively to the Bible, Old and New Testaments, to the lives and writings of Saints and mystics (principally John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and Thérèse of Lisieux), and to the traditions and daily life of Carmelite communities to illustrate her message about prayer. She writes lucidly, elegantly, humbly, and compassionately and is a joy to read.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 12th, 2007 03:54 am (UTC)
Prayer is something I do which has nothing whatever to do with any relationship to any supreme being or deity. It is, rather, a mental exercise, a form of directed meditation that I do to calm my mind and order my priorities. I try to express my appreciation for the life I've been given without making any requests in return. But don't assume, as I expect you will, that any lack of relationship to some god makes my prayer any less valid ... or any less valuable than prayer directed to your God.
Aug. 12th, 2007 08:57 am (UTC)
Re: Prayer
You like to define words in your own way and then make declarations built on your definitions. Fine, if you want to call your directed meditation prayer, do so, but don't expect anyone to understand you when you say one thing to mean another unless you explain your context, as you did in this comment.

But don't assume, as I expect you will, that any lack of relationship to some god makes my prayer any less valid ... or any less valuable than prayer directed to your God.

I'm not in the habit showing disrespect towards other people's beliefs, as your comment seems to imply. I do know that what you call prayer is less valuable to me, which is to be expected considering my religious beliefs, but I am in no position to judge its value to you. That you would even make such a statement indicates that you don't know me half as well as you think you do … or that you're hurt or upset because of my comments in the other thread.

This is a book report. The purpose was to give the gist of what the book is about and state my opinion as to its worth. This post is public, as all my book reports are, and it is not the place to trade barbs back and forth or start a discussion about religious beliefs.
Aug. 13th, 2007 12:20 am (UTC)
Re: Prayer
Yet when I reported on a paper presented in my Creative Writing class, without expressing my opinion concerning its worth, you started a long, tedious, to me incomprehensible tirade on the mis-definition of 'heresy' and the church's involvement in actions against heretics.
Aug. 13th, 2007 06:43 am (UTC)
Re: Prayer
I don't know how it is difficult to comprehend that the statement, "The Catholic Church has, for most of its history, advocated the killing of free thinkers," is objectionable to Catholics. It is besmearing and demonstrably untrue.
Aug. 13th, 2007 11:46 am (UTC)
Re: Prayer
Yet when I reported on a paper presented in my Creative Writing class, without expressing my opinion concerning its worth

Please clarify. My post bashed the paper's opinion and its unchallenged acceptance as examples of the pervasiveness of anti-Catholic sentiment in our society. When I attacked the paper as being unscholarly because it reached inaccurate conclusions on the strength of faulty data, you claimed the statements were yours, not the paper's. So which is it? Are you reporting the paper's statements about heresy and the Church, or are the assertions yours?

And can you not comprehend how such statements (whether one's own or simply accepted from others without challenge) reinforce an atmosphere of misunderstanding and perhaps even hostility towards Catholics? The effect of the two statements combined ("The Catholic Church has advocated the killing of free thinkers for almost all of its history.") is to imply that if one is a "good Catholic" one must by definition be a docile, mindless drone, that Catholicism is anti-intellectual and worse. I don't feel you posted the statements out of malice towards Catholicism. Perhaps the view expressed by the statement resonates with your own, but if so I would attribute that to an incomplete understanding of the subject, not to maliciousness. (I grant no such benefit to the paper.) That doesn't make the sentiment expressed any less anti-Catholic.
Aug. 13th, 2007 07:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Prayer
I doubt that it applies only to Catholics, but "... to imply that if one is a good Catholic one must by definition be a docile, mindless drone, that Catholicism is anti-intellectual and worse," is a pretty good summarization of the situation through history and, in many cases, even today. Certainly the current Pope seems headed in that direction. Well, perhaps not by definition.

Such mindlessness is not exclusive to religions, though it shows up there often. You also find it in the military, in business and in organizations elsewhere.
Aug. 13th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Prayer
So, which am I, a bad Catholic or a mindless drone?

No, that is not a "pretty good summarization," no better than any broad generalization of any class of people. And that's the exact sort of generalization that engenders bigotry.

BTW, have you bothered to read anything of the Pope's. You must know I wasn't a fan of his becoming Pope, but he has surprised quite a few people.

(Or do you simply slap the label "mindless" on anyone who disagrees with you or isn't to your liking?)
Aug. 13th, 2007 09:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Prayer
Which are you? They are not necessarily mutually exclusive, so it is possible to be both. I have no basis for determining if you are a bad Catholic, so I'll have to let that one go.

When we enter preschool, kindergarten or elementary school, we are taught to follow instructions mindlessly and to avoid creativity and forming of our own opinions. They are pretty merciless about beating creativity and free thinking out of kids, so it is pretty rare for a spark to remain until adulthood, where it is both rewarded and punished, with emphasis on the latter. Suppressing creativity is so much easier than encouraging it!

The almost universal attempts to discourage the forming of independent opinions -- or even to think about publicly expressed official guidelines -- has, throughout much of history [any history] been expressed as a desire that the heretics / free thinkers / creative people die, especially at the hands of those in charge of thinking. To find these ideas expressed even by Catholic saints shouldn't surprise anybody, not even you.

I don't read much of what the Pope writes because he and I have almost nothing in common. I do try to keep up with his official actions and they do, in this case, seem to be leading backwards, towards increased Church authority and decreased freedom by anybody, churchgoer or otherwise. None of his backwards moves have particularly surprised me.

As for "mindless," I follow a variation of Sturgeon's Law: ninety percent of everybody is mindless with respect to some aspect of living. It doesn't necessarily refer to religion even though there is a tendency among the religious to express their mindlessness in very high voices. That makes them easy victims and sets up sympathizers to proclaim that any perceived criticism is bigotry. Also, discussion of religion -- not exclusively -- triggers instant polarization that blocks any possibility of rational thought. In other words, some topics provoke strong opinions without rational thought being involved, a form of instant mindlessness.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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