Category Archives: Books

Bookstores Like Libraries

Tonight I noticed that a large section of the populous doesn’t understand my ideals. I’m working on a paper for one of my graphic design classes and I’ve been having some difficulty finding information. I tracked down a new book online that looked like it would be helpful, and found a bookstore that carried the book. I went to the bookstore, got the book, and sat down with my notebook to read the opening pages. The coffee shop area of the bookstore I was sitting in was crowded with forty-somethings. A forty-something band was playing in the corner. There wasn’t a person under thirty in sight, besides me and my fiance. As I copied notes from this book I could feel every eye in the place looking over me disapprovingly. Apparently I’m supposed to buy the $75 book for four pages worth of information. Everyone else in that section of the store had a book they were reading–of course they intended to purchase the book when they got up to leave. I returned my $75 book to the front desk where they had held it on reserve for me. A large section of the populous doesn’t understand this cheap college student mentality. If I had the money I’d buy all sorts of books. But I don’t, so pardon me while I browse the shelves and copy down a few notes. Bookstores should be more like libraries. You can take the book home and read it, but you don’t have to keep it.

The Screwtape Letters

Do you believe in angels? Do you believe in demons? Images are conjured up of beautifully shining, winged beings, and wickedly ugly, black little demons. Cartoonish fairy tales. Yet they do exist. Understanding more about them is certainly a difficult task, but I’d urge you to read C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. If his account of demons is anything close to reality, it’s pretty frightening. Imagine a diabolical fiend harassing you at every step, always trying to make you trip and fall that much farther from the truth. It’s really kind of scary to think that they could be messing with your mind like that. But then you also forget that the almighty power of God is also watching you every step of the way. It’s just frightening to think that a demon could be playing tricks with your mind like that. It really makes you think twice. It’s kind of like one of those conspiracy movies. You’d have to read the book to understand, I won’t try and recapitulate Lewis again.

Experiences as a Yo-Yoing Street Performer

Life is hard on the streets. A hard days work for a hard day’s money. For everybody but me! I spent the day yo-yoing at the corner of Michigan and Pearson in downtown Chicago. But it’s not all fun and games. I did have to figure out the Chicago Transit Authority bus system, which is never an easy thing to figure out. But you know what I learned? It’s almost faster to walk. After waiting for the bus, and then considering that the bus stops at every stinkin’ corner, it takes just as much time to walk. I also earned myself a few cuts and bruises today. You think yo-yo’s are nice, safe toys, do ya? Well, I got news for you. I usually wrap three of my fingers to save them from string burns and blisters, and today I had to bandage a fourth. I also managed to bruise the palm of my hand. And as if the yo-yo wasn’t giving me enough trouble, I was hustled by a group of kids. They were determined to show me how good they could yo-yo, and were adamant that I pay them for their trouble. Kids. But to be serious, I did receive a few comments that me stop and think. One lady described my yo-yoing as, “real pretty,” which I think says a lot for the yo-yo itself (I can assure you the sweaty kid attached to the yo-yo wasn’t too pretty). Another kid asked what I was majoring in (the sign on my box says, “College Student”). I replied, “Writing.” He tossed a buck in my box and said, “Well write me a book.”

I’m also still loving the public transportation system here in Chicago. Rather than fight traffic for over an hour, I curl up with a book on the Metra. I’ve been reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Rather than try to recapitulate what Lewis said and really mess it up, I’m just going to tell you to go read his book. It’s a very practical, very honest, and very logical defense of Christianity. Sometimes it’s a little too logical for me, but if you can wade through the deep mental waters, he says some very powerful stuff. Add it to your summer reading list. Oh wait, it is summer. Silly me. Go pick up the book now and read it.

Mere Christianity and Attractive Women

My third day of cooking, and the dorm is still standing. Aw yeah.

Today I began reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. I got through the preface and the first chapter (not even 15 pages), and already it’s Daily Ponderings worthy. C.S. Lewis was talking about how there are definite moral standards in different cultures that are relatively the same. People have debated how many wives you should have, not whether you should be true to one woman. People have debated who to consider most before yourself, your family, your country, or your friends? But no culture values selfishness. However, I look at today’s generation, and I can’t help but wonder. Selfishness may not be valued, but it is accepted. And few people see the need to be faithful to the opposite sex. Times they are a changin’ Mr. Lewis.

How sad is it that because girls don’t look just like some swimsuit model, they don’t think they’re attractive. They don’t think they’re sexy. Let me tell you, a woman is a woman. No amount of plastic surgery, silicone implants, liposuction, or computer graphics will ever change the way God made men and women and how they’re attracted to each other. The standard of beauty has already been set, and man’s cover model perfectionism can never change it. Now if only the rest of the planet would realize that.

The Rule of St. Benedict

The following is a collection of quotes from a book I’m reading for one of my classes. It’s the Rule of St. Benedict, a 1500 year-old classic. A lot of the quotes I took were from the commentator’s comments. I included the page numbers from the version I have, if that will be of any help (some people who read these ponderings are actually in this class, so it will help them): “The Rule of St. Benedict: Insights for the Ages” by Joan Chittister, The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992

“Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.” (St. Benedict, 19)

Those are Benedict’s introductory words. It sounds like wise advice from a father. Something I wish I could say about my ponderings. ;) The rest of these quotes seem to echo what I was talking about yesterday. It’s kind of odd how that happens, although I doubt it’s a coincidence.

Continue reading The Rule of St. Benedict

Gerald McGrew

“Yes… that’s what I’d do,” said young Gerald McGrew.

“I’d make a few changes If I ran the zoo.” (If I Ran the Zoo, by Dr. Seuss)

Tonight I read a bunch of stories by the master of children’s writing, Dr. Seuss. Yep, I went to the bookstore, sat in the kid’s section and read children’s books. Don’t laugh. Everyone should try it sometime. The funny thing is that I was there around 11:00 p.m. and a little girl was there with her Dad. She was probably five or six, but I don’t understand how she was still going that late at night. She read books out loud to herself and talked to herself, totally enthralled by all the books. Too bad her Dad was engrossed in his newspaper. It was kind of an odd sight. You don’t expect to share the children’s section of a bookstore with a little kid at 11:00 p.m. She must be getting ready for college a little early.

Anyway, I was rather impressed by young Gerald. He had quite an imagination. But more than that, he had a vision. He had a dream. He knew what he would do to that boring old zoo. If only Gerald was given a chance. How many of us have dreams like that? I wish I did. Can you dream of dreams? I suppose it comes to my mind so readily because I’m at a spot in life where you either chase your dreams, or spend your life wishing you had. It seems like only young people think they can change the world and still have the guts to try. I guess I’m one of those people, and I’m still waiting to see if I have the guts.

On a totally unrelated tangent (or is it?), I heard these words in a song today, and they really resonated with me:

“But tonight I’m so lonely / Just put your arms around me / And tell me that you love me so much / I’m tired of seeking slowly / Lately I’ve been crazy / Maybe I’m just getting out of touch / Now I’m holding on / ‘Till the night is gone” (Put Your Arms Around Me, by All Star United)

Dr. Seuss’ Birthday

seuss.gifToday is Dr. Seuss’ birthday. He’d be turning 95 if he were still alive today. Throughout my life I don’t think Dr. Seuss has really played any kind of big role at all. I don’t remember reading a ton of his books as a kid and I don’t think he had any profound impact on me. Although I do remember reading “If I Ran the Zoo” in kindergarten and I loved it. But a certain friend of mine who happens to be an Elementary Education major has opened my eyes to the wonderful world of Dr. Seuss. The old doctor has said some amazingly profound things. The best part is that all of it is said in the wonderful language of children. It’s wacky rhymes and silly made up words that only kids could love. You don’t have to have a doctorate to understand it. So knowing that, I present a few quotes from the good doctor:

“Marvin K. Mooney! Don’t you know the time has come to go, Go, GO!” (Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now)

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.” (The Lorax)

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” (Horton Hears a Who)

“Left foot. Right foot. Feet, feet, feet. Oh how many, many feet you meet.” (The Foot Book)

He even provides some wise advice, “You must not hop on Pop.” (Hop on Pop)

“If you never did, you should. These things are fun, and fun is good.” (?)

Unfortunately, that little sampling fails to even touch on the amazing world of Dr. Seuss. Do your self a favor and go find one of his books and read it. It won’t take you very long, and you won’t have to think very hard. Remember being a kid again, and gaze at the cool pictures (I heard an old man say “cool” today. I couldn’t help but smile.). If you can, I highly suggest you read a Seuss book to a child. But if a child can’t be found, your immediate friends will do.

“Adults are just obsolete children.” (Dr. Seuss)

The Sacrifice of the Hmong People

In one of my classes we’ve been reading a book about a Hmong family (The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman) and their clash with American culture through the illness of their daughter. Even though it’s one of those obnoxious books you have to read for a class, it’s been rather eye opening. We have to do a service learning project with some Hmong people in the Twin Cities, so there are actually practical applications to this. What amazes me the most is how little people know about the Hmong. For example, I’m typing this in Word 97, and the spell checker doesn’t recognize “Hmong” as a word.

Continue reading The Sacrifice of the Hmong People