Sunday, January 08, 2006

bookish meme

Here's a little questionnaire I stumbled across when browsing blogs. I haven't done a "meme" in quite some time and thought it would be fun to fill out. Enjoy!

How many books do I own?

Er, I really have no idea. The book collection is scattered over the entire house, boxes of books stored away in the garage and attic and hidden on countless bookcases. But I suppose to make this simple, I might just count the books on the two bookshelves in my room, so here it goes...*Rushes back after counting all those on the bookshelves and taken from the bookshelves and left about on the floor, desk, bed, and endtable* 50, exactly.

An unfortunate habit with me: when I read a book and then have to attend to something else, I don't put the book back on my bookshelf but leave it wherever I have been reading. I suppose I really should start putting them back on my bookshelves--that way I wouldn't have to dig through piles to find the book I want. ;)

What's the last book I bought?

I haven't been to the bookstore in some time, most unfortunately, but the library is different. So, I'll change this to what books I've recently checked out of the library:

[a] Charles Williams, The Place of the Lion (Pellegrini & Cudahy 1951);

[b] Roger Hall, You're Stepping on my Cloak and Dagger (WW Norton & Company Inc.1957);

Katie Beth recommended the one above. :)

[c] Jane Austen, Emma (Oxford University Press 1995);

[d] Bennett A. Cerf and Van H. Cartmell, Sixteen Famous British Plays (Random House 1943).

What's the last book I read?

I'm in the middle of reading (and should soon finish) The Place of the Lion listed above.

Books I have recently finished:

[1] Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

[2] Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare (just finished it this afternoon...)

[3] Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas (well, I read excerpts here and there...)

[4] Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

[5] The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe

Here is a good site for more information about Poe and his writing.

What are the five books that mean the most to me?

This is the most difficult question of the bunch and, I must say, I'm sure I've left out several important ones. However, I think I'll just list the following (in no particular order) and please understand that this list is far from complete:

[1] Athanasius, On the Incarnation. Wow, this book is just amazing and brilliant. I don't believe I'll ever be finished lauding its praises since I first read it in GB2 last year. Athanasius' logic is stunning and profound; the book gives you a deep sense of the power and holiness of God. I recommend this to all Christians. Find the edition with the introduction by C. S. Lewis. Excellent. (If you like Athanasius, also read Anselm's Proslogium, Monologium, and Cur Deus Homo. Ooh, and Augustine's Confessions and The City of God.)

[2] G. K. Chesterton, especially The Man Who Was Thursday, but most any Chesterton will do. If you haven't discovered him yet, do so. He's an amazing writer and his stories are quite thought-provoking. Also lumped here are writers like C. S. Lewis (his Narnia series but also Till We Have Faces, The Screwtape Letters, Pilgrim's Regress), MacDonald (Lilith and must get my hands on a copy of Phantastes), and let's not forget dear old Tolkien. ;)

[3] Beowulf. This stirring epic was written by an unkown Anglo-Saxon bard. I need to read it again, but it's haunted me ever since my father read it aloud to my brother and I one December in front of a crackling fire with the winter wind whistling outside. Other good epics are, naturally, Homer's two (The Iliad and The Odyssey), Virgil's Aeneid, Chesterton's The Ballad of the White Horse, and I'll probably add Spenser's Fairy Queene here when I read it this April in GB.

[4] Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. I couldn't end this list without mentioning Dickens. He's been one of my favorite authors for quite some time and I believe TTC is my favorite novel of his. I love the Christian themes: themes of sacrifice, redemption, selflessness. Very moving.

[5] I'm going to leave this one open. I'm sure I'll have something to fill it with in the future. :) I can't wait to read Calvin's Institutes, Milton's Paradise Lost, Dante's Divine Comedy this following semester. I'm sure they'll make it on here.

And that's that. ^_^


Posted by Nicole Bianchi at 3:16 PM |

Saturday, January 07, 2006

stars in the universe

2 Colossians 3: 13, 16, 18

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away...But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away...And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

meditations on manalive

In Chesterton's sometimes shocking--but altogether humorous and enthralling--novel, Manalive, we meet a man called Innocent Smith. A man who enters the pages like the great "wind that [sprang] high in the west, like a wave of unreasonable happiness." He thrusts himself upon the lives of several boarders in a boarding house and no one is the same again. "In a million holes and corners it refreshed a man like a flagon, and astonished him like a blow. In the inmost chambers of intricate and embowered houses it woke like a domestic explosion."

Innocent Smith is that explosion. He shatters the laws of convention, but never breaks the Law. Instead, he turns everything on its head. He sees the world with awe and innocence. He travels round the world, just so he might come home again. After all, is not "home" really the destination of all our travels? Do we not always wish that we might come home again?

Why can't we all be Innocent Smiths in the world? Why can't we all embrace that vibrant Chestertonian (which is actually a quite Christian) view of the world? And what is this view but to appreciate the life that God has given us. Innocent Smith has a strange hobby of threatening pessimistic professors with guns. When one professor says that men would be better off dead, Innocent quickly replies that he will help by shooting him. Of course, he never does: it is merely a ploy to show the professor how precious life truly is. And eventually he gets the professor to renounce all his previous ideas and see the world as Smith sees it.

Sometimes people can be too grave, too solemn, too serious. This is exactly what C. S. Lewis condemned in An Experiment in Criticism. He speaks of how we have raised up "a breed of young men as solemn as the brutes." He goes on to point out how such a class can't possibly enjoy literature or know the meaning and intent of what they read; I wonder how they can even enjoy life or know what their meaning and purpose in life is.

For how can we be solemn and bleak, when we are praising God? Death has been conquered. We are sharers in everlasting life.

Philippians 2: 14-16

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.

How can we be shining stars when we appear like everyone else? But when we smile, when we are kind, when we love life, when we love God and praise Him for all He has done, when we "glorify God and enjoy him forever," then we shall be stars. We will no longer blend into the dark of night: we will stand out, shimmering in a light that cannot be hidden.

In many ways, Manalive cannot be taken entirely seriously. We are not to threaten professors with guns, break into our own houses, journey round the world, but we are to see life as Smith sees it.

"But, manalive!" began Inglewood in exasperation.
"That's right! That's right!" came with a roar out of the rocking tree; "that's my real name." And he broke a branch, and one or two autumn leaves fluttered away across the moon.

We are manalive as well. No longer are we dead. Sometimes we forget that. We forget all that God has done for us and all that He is. Let us pray that this does not happen often, because it is too great a thing to be forgotten. It is our very life.

Ephesians 2: 4-5

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.

The American Chesterton Society has an essay on their site about Manalive. It concludes:

So, is Innocent Smith really G.K. Chesterton? Well, let me say this: this novel is Chesterton’s most practical and least theoretical book. This is the book on how to live Chesterton. I have found that people either love this book or are neutral about it. There is no hating it. And if you are neutral about it, well, you need to go have a picnic on the roof.

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Posted by Nicole Bianchi at 10:13 PM |

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