Friday, October 22, 2010

A.D. New Orleans after the Deluge

A.D. New Orleans after the Deluge by Josh Neufeld is a graphic novel based on real people and events. expresses it well: "A.D. is a sterling example of comics with a social consciousness, and is exactly the kind of thing we need to keep the human dimension of this unimaginable disaster and its ongoing aftermath in the public eye."

I haven't really read any graphic novels before and not many comics in a while and didn't know where to begin, so I asked for some recommendations and this was first on the list. I was so impressed, I didn't even know literature like this existed. It really shows the truth of "a picture is worth a thousand words" with the way it shows the storm, the flooded areas, etc. The graphics are expressive, but not too crowded, they have just enough detail. I love that we see the experience hurricane Katrina from different perspectives through different people. The only thing I would have liked more is if the stories would have come together somehow. It was great that the author found someone with a comic collection to base one of the sub-stories on, especially fitting for the medium. The two page spreads that are spread throughout the book are great as well. So I had a great experience with my first graphic novel.

(50 books in 2010 count: 41)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sometimes, re-reading a book is a good thing

I don't usually re-read books a second time, especially if I didn't like them that much the first time around. But Grace Community Church that I attend while here in the D.C. area was offering discussion groups based on the book, so I gave it a shot. I liked the book much more the second time around. Maybe I was used to the author's style a little and could focus more on the parts I liked? Maybe I had a bit of a different perspective from attending this church? Maybe it was just the prospect of being able to discuss the book with others? I don't know what it was, but I'm glad I re-read the book.

This time around I could relate more to the person who didn't like Christianity, but wanted to believe Jesus was the Son of God (p. 115). We need to love each other, so we can learn we are lovable (p. 146). This is probably especially important for people who didn't grow up in a loving family. The soul needs to interact with other people to be healthy (p. 154). Self-addiction (p. 182) is a big problem. The author gives Zaccheus as an example. The affection of Christ, not the brutality of a town, healed Zaccheus (p. 183). Which goes back to the importance of loving each other. Jesus was loving and kind to Zaccheus and helped him change that way, where all the rejection of the people in town couldn't change him.

We all believe things we cannot explain, You cannot be a Christian without being a mystic (p. 202). I've felt a similar way, sometimes, Christianity seems like a fairy tale, the story is so amazing, but the really amazing thing is that it's really true, not make believe like all the other stories.
If you see Christianity as religion or ritual, it's a false gospel (p. 203). The problem with the Christian culture around us is that we tend to use love as a commodity, like money. (p. 218). But instead it's a free gift. We need to give love not withholding it (p. 220). Many of us need to develop their ability to receive love as well (p. 226).

These are just a few of the nuggets of wisdom that I found in the book this time around. It turns out in discussing the book that many of us "got it" the first time reading it. For one of us it even gave her a break-through in understanding Jesus' love for her with her heart instead of just in her head for the first time.

(50 books in 2010 count: 40)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What if? 2 too boring

What If? 2 by Robert Cowley on 4 audio tapes, abridged for audio.

From the Publisher

There is no surer way to feel the danger or the good fortune of our collective past than to contemplate those moments when the world's future hung in the balance. Our brightest historians speculate on some of these intriguing crossroads and the ways in which our lives might have been changed for the better -- or the worse.

These unabridged essays range across the full span of history. Geoffrey Parker describes ramifications that might have included a divided Reformation movement, a strengthened Catholic leadership, and no European settlements in the Americas. And Caleb Carr argues that we could have been spared the horrific last six months of World War II in Europe if Eisenhower had seized his chance to destroy the Nazis in the fall of 1944.

This could have been so much more interesting. Most of the descriptions of what if stopped just when it started to become interesting. Or they were too abstract.
I can't comment about the details of most of them, because I didn't know enough about the original events to say how the what if scenarios could have been described in a more interesting way.

The first one, though, was about what if Jesus hadn't died when he said he would, but had lived until he had died at an old age. The author of that essay seemed to think that it would be considered blasphemous to imagine this, but in fact, it's even kind of addressed in the Bible. See 1 Corinthians 15:14 "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." There are so many things that could have been addressed, e.g. it is generally believed that without Jesus' death and resurrection, Christianity wouldn't have all developed like it did, but may have slowly died out. The author of the essay in the book, though, seems to believe that Constantine would still have made it the state religion and church fathers would still have met in the 4th century to discuss things the way they did in reality.

In general, I would have expected a descriptions of some exciting differences but in the abstract high level way the essays were written, even for the "what if the potato hadn't been introduced into Europe" you couldn't imagine the consequences too well.

Books finished today

I kind of finished three books today.

Moominpappa's Memoirs by Tove Jansson. I had received this one in a book ray. It was so much fun to read Moominpappa's Memoirs, about his childhood and his adventures, and the friends he made. At the end we even find out how he met Moominmamma! I enjoyed the drawings so much as well. I had known the Moomins from the comic strips, but this was the first non-comic about the Moomins that I've read.

Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson. I decided to join a book club like swap about this book on swap-bot. This is a Christian suspense novel, I'd say it is more like a mystery novel, though. I really liked it. Maybe I'll post some questions I answered about it later.

What If? 2 By Robert Cowley (abridged for audio). This wasn't as interesting as I would have hoped. More about this in the next entry.

In September, I also read A Mercy by Toni Morrison for the Bookrossing in DC book club.

(50 books in 2010: 38)