Thursday, August 03, 2006

Beach Reading II: The Verdict

We're heading out tomorrow, though I should post one more time before we leave. Sami and I are doing most of the packing tonight before bed. I came downstairs a few moments ago, into my basement office/study/library, to finally choose the books I'm taking with me (I think). As soon as I finish typing this, I'm packing the books mentioned here, which will hopefully finalize my decision.

Anyway, here's what I've decided, unless I change my mind sometime before the van finally pulls out of our driveway after Sami gets home from work tomorrow.

Lee, Harper; To Kill a Mockingbird. I saw this sitting on my much neglected "Fiction" bookshelf, and just had to bring it. I've read it so many times that I know the story, and many of the lines, by heart. But Sami just told me that she didn't know what she was going to read at the beach, and when I saw this I thought of her. If I don't read it, maybe she will. Also, Tom is sure to point out, the play based on this book produced a great coincidence. Our senior year of high school both Henry Clay and Lafayette, two public high schools in Fayette County, put on the play. Henry Clay did it first, casting me as Boo Radley. Lafayette then performed it later in the year, after Tom had transferred there for reasons beyond my understanding (he transferred in the final semester of his senior year!), casting him, my identical twin, as Boo Radley. I say he overacted the part, he says I underacted it. Anyway, it is a timeless classic that deserves to be dusted off from time to time. Easy to read, and it gets even better with age.

Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre; Christianity and Evolution. A collection of essays unpublished in his lifetime. Written by a Jesuit and a scientist, many of these essays concern the relationship between science and religion. Every time I read Teilhard de Chardin, I get about twenty pages in and then completely lose focus. He is such a dense writer and such a complex thinker, I'm ashamed to admit that I can't keep up. But the essays in this book are reasonably short, so I figure that by the time I've lost focus I'll have about finished the essay I'm reading, and won't have to keep up with his argument any longer. The key essay, "The God of Evolution," looks at the theological implications of Darwin's theory and subsequent scientific findings. In short, it casts a new vision of God, using the revelatory nature of science to help aid the theology. Not for those obsessed with orthodoxy, but a must read for anyone who wishes to see the way in which science pushes religion, and vice versa.

Griffith-Jones, Robin; The Four Witnesses. The lone holdover from my earlier list, I picked this book because I'll be preaching again at the end of the month, and would like to have some fresh thoughts on the Gospels. My last series on the Gospels was a look at how Marcus Borg's theory of Jesus' shifting of the focus of religion from purity to compassion informs our reading of some stories in Mark. I'm not sure that this book will yield such sweet fruit, but you never know.

Alexander, Lloyd; The Chronicles of Prydain. This isn't a single book, but a set of books which helped define my childhood. Before I read Lewis or L'Engle or Tolkien, or even Bradbury or Asimov or MacDonald, I read these books by Lloyd Alexander. Based in part on Welsh mythology, The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King follow the adventures of an Assistant Pig-Keeper named Taran, as he wanders through the mythical land of Prydain, trying to find himself. Taran dreams of being a hero, only to have his dreams dashed by the ignoble reality of armed conflict. Broken, he his redeemed, the story of humanity. These books, which are responsible for the darkest Disney cartoon ever, helped me dream the dreams that made my childhood tolerable. I'm taking them with me to the beach, because I re-read them every five years or so, and it is about that time.


Princess Pinky said...

So you takingTo Kill a Mockingbird had nothing to do with me mentioning to you in the comments on this blog that I was taking that book?

Just admit it, Pinky is your inspiration!

Sandalstraps said...

Pinky rules my world. I just do what the voices her hypnotic pink put in my head tell me to do.