I'm thankful for books. I've been reading steadily so far this year. I just finished Robert Goolrick's novel Heading Out to Wonderful. It's about a mysterious loner who comes to a small Virginia town and befriends a small boy and his parents. He also falls in love with a young married woman; the fact that we sense from the outset that their love is doomed still doesn't prepare us for the violence that occurs. This book has a strong religious undercurrent and is full of Biblical echoes, but I'm not sure that was enough for me to find the book (and particularly the love affair and what it seemed to symbolize) truly satisfying.
I'm also going to join my friend Adriana (who blogs at Classical Quest) this Thursday as she starts up a "synchro-read" of Pride and Prejudice.
A synchro-read is where a bunch of people all read the same book at the
same time. I feel like I should be doing something to prepare: like
learning to like tea (sorry, never happen), saying things like "I am
excessively diverted," or trying on bonnets.
And I think I'm thankful to be having the somewhat strange experience of reading Beth Moore's Believing God and re-reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts at the same time. At first it seems to be such an odd mix. Ann uses earthy, raw images; Beth uses snappy one-liners. Ann talks about the daily grind of parenting; Beth talks about claiming the promises and increasing our personal level of sanctification. I envision Ann with her hands in a bowl of bread dough; I envision Beth with her French manicure wrapped around the handle of a sword (and she's gonna use it!).
I think Beth Moore is the kind of writer whose book would be better appreciated if you heard her read it in person. I've seen her on TV and enjoyed her; the realness of her larger-than-life personality comes through in her live presentations in a way that her books can't quite reproduce. So as we're reading her book in my church women's group, we're constantly saying, "I wish she'd give an example. I wish she'd say what she means by 'Our current practice of faith isn't working' rather than assuming we all agree and implying that it looks the same for all of us." (It's also possible that she's written about her own experience in previous books and doesn't want to repeat all that, but I really do miss personal anecdotes and examples.) If I was watching her present this material I might have an easier time grasping it, whereas with Ann's book I find it easy to sink into the words and feel exactly what she's feeling.
But I think the combination of the two is really helpful -- because actually they are saying very much the same thing in their different styles. Ann's starting point is the poisonous danger of ingratitude, unwillingness to accept what God gives, and lack of trust. ("No, God, we won't take what You give....And God? Thanks for nothing.") And that's exactly what Beth is getting at in her title Believing God: it's one thing to believe in Him, but another to really trust Him and live in faith that He is who He says He is, and I am who He says I am. ("Are the few effects most of us see and experience all Christianity has to offer? Is this it? All we can expect?") So yes -- I am thankful that I'm reading these books together. There must be a reason for it!