Thursday, October 30, 2008
Winner of Bon Appetit!
Here is your sequence:
Timestamp: 2008-10-31 03:03:40 UTC
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
An Irishwoman's Tale by Patti Lacy
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Patti Lacy graduated from Baylor University in 1977 with a B.S. in education. She taught at Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois, until she retired in 2006 to pursue writing full time. She has two grown children with her husband, Alan, and lives in Illinois.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Far away from her Irish home, Mary Freeman begins to adapt to life in Midwest America, but family turmoil and her own haunting memories threaten to ruin her future.
A shattered cup. Cheap tea. Bitter voices asking what's to be done with the "little eejit." Mary, an impetuous Irishwoman, won't face the haunting memories--until her daughter's crisis propels her back to County Clare. There, in a rocky cliffside home, Mary learns from former neighbors why God tore her from Ireland forty-five years earlier. As she begins to glimpse His sovereign plan, Mary is finally able to bury a dysfunctional past and begin to heal. Irish folk songs and sayings add color to the narrative.
Watch the Book Trailer:
If you would like to read the first chapter of , go HERE
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
What's On Your Nightstand? October 28, 2008 Edition
Easy Entertaining for Beginners by Patricia Mendez
Publisher: Maple Heights Press (August 1, 2008)
Monday, October 27, 2008
Dangerous Heart by Tracey Bateman
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tracey Bateman published her first novel in 2000 and has been busy ever since. There are two other books in the Westward Hearts Series, Defiant Heart (#1) and Distant Heart (#2)
She learned to write by writing, and improved by listening to critique partners and editors. She has sold over 30 books in six years.
She became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers in the early months of its inception in 2000 and served as president for a year.
Tracey loves Sci-fi, Lifetime movies, and Days of Our Lives (this is out of a 21 year habit of watching, rather than enjoyment of current storylines).
She has been married to her husband Rusty for 18 years, has four kids, and lives in Lebanon, Missouri.
ABOUT THE BOOK
For the past seven years, Ginger Freeman has had one goal: find Grant Kelley and make him pay for allowing her brother to die. Growing up motherless with a father who leads an outlaw gang, Ginger isn’t exactly peaches and cream. So when she finally tracks down Grant on a wagon train headed west, she figured providence had stepped in and given her the chance she’s been waiting for.
On the wagon train, finally surrounded by a sense of family and under the nurturing eye of Toni Rodde, Ginger begins to lose her rough edges. She’s made friends for the first time and has become part of something bigger than revenge. Not only has her heart softened toward people in general, but God has become a reality she never understood before. And watching Grant doctor the pioneers, she’s realized she can’t just kill him and leave the train without medical care. Putting her anger aside, before long, Ginger’s a functioning part of the group.
But when the outlaw gang, headed by her pa, shows up and infiltrates the wagon train, she is forced to question her decision. Only self-sacrifice and her new relationship with God can make things right. But it might also means she loses everything she’s begun to hold dear.
If you would like to read from the first chapter of Dangerous Heart, go HERE
My Review: This was a sweet conclusion to the Westward Hearts trilogy. I would definitely read the books in order. I read books two and three. This was a satisfying conclusion to all the characters stories including the ones from previous books in the series. Recommended for fans of historical fiction especially western/prairie.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Sunday Salon October 26, 2008
* I did not accomplish much reading today.
* My grandmother called and wanted us to take her christmas shopping so we did. It was a lovely day here where I live in the Deep South.
* I am still reading Cyndere's Midnight by Jeffrey Overstreet.
* It is really good but I am having a hard time focusing.
* I keep thinking about everything I need to do and should be doing versus reading and I feel guilty. I have an overactive consience.
* I had many goals as far as reading goes for this week but after showing my Dad my tires and he said I need new one; I am now thinking of how to work as much overtime as possible to raise money for the tires and brakes.
* Hopefully I will still accomplish some of my reading goals. :)
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Less the Dead by Tim Downs
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tim Downs is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Indiana University. After graduation in 1976 he created a comic strip, Downstown, which was syndicated by Universal Press Syndicate until 1986. His cartooning has appeared in more than a hundred major newspapers worldwide.
His first book, a work of non-fiction, was awarded the Gold Medallion Award in 2000. His first novel, Shoofly Pie, was awarded the Angel Award in 2004, and his third novel, PlagueMaker, was awarded the Christy Award for best suspense novel of 2007. First The Dead, the third book in this Bug Man series came out earlier this year.
Tim lives in Cary, North Carolina, with his wife Joy.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Some secrets just won't stay buried.
When strange bones surface on a U.S. senator's property, the FBI enlists forensic entomologist Nick Polchak to investigate the forgotten graveyard. Polchak's orders are simple: figure out the mess.
But Polchak, known as the "Bug Man" because of his knowledge of insects and their interaction with the dead, senses darker secrets buried beneath the soil.
Secrets that could derail the senator's presidential bid.
Secrets buried in the history of a quaint Virginia town.
Secrets someone is willing to kill to protect.
With the help of a mysterious local woman named Alena and her uncanny cadaver dogs, Polchak sets out to dig up the truth.
But with a desperate killer hot on his trail, he'll be lucky to wind up anything less than dead.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Less Than Dead, go HERE
My Review: I loved this book. I love all the Bug Man books. You do not have to read the previous books in the series for this one to make sense. Although there is some history between Nick and the first lead FBI investigator that came from another book. Good history not bad and not essential so you're okay even though I recommend all the books. This is probably the most well crafted of all the books. It is a great mystery/suspense book. The characters are interesting and unique as is the plot. I was drawn into the book and I did not want to put it down. Although published by a Christian publisher there is not anything religious in the book. Even though it is still a great book. Anybody would love this book. I highly recommend it. :)
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Winner The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
Here is your sequence:
Timestamp: 2008-10-22 01:11:09 UTC
Ripple Effect by Paul Mccusker
It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!
Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
Paul McCusker is the author of The Mill House, Epiphany, The Faded Flower and several Adventures in Odyssey programs. Winner of the Peabody Award for his radio drama on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for Focus on the Family, he lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and two children.
List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Jeff looked up at her. He’d been absentmindedly swirling his straw in his malted milkshake while she complained about her parents, which she had been doing for the past half hour. “You’re what?”
“You weren’t listening, were you?”
“I was too.”
“Then what did I say?” Elizabeth tucked a loose strand of her long brown hair behind her ear so it wouldn’t fall into the puddle of ketchup next to her fries.
“You were complaining about how your mom and dad drive you crazy because your dad embarrassed you last night while you and Melissa Morgan were doing your history homework. And your dad lectured you for twenty minutes about . . . about . . .” He was stumped.
“Chris-tian symbolism in the King Arthur legends,” Elizabeth said.
“Yeah, except that you and Melissa were supposed to be studying the . . . um — ”
“Right, and Melissa finally made up an excuse to go home, and you were embarrassed and mad at your dad — ”
“As usual,” she said and savaged another french fry.
Jeff gave a sigh of relief. Elizabeth’s pop quizzes were a lot tougher than anything they gave him at school. But it was hard for him to listen when she griped about her parents. Not having any parents of his own, Jeff didn’t connect when Elizabeth went on and on about hers.
“Then what did I say?” she asked.
He was mid-suck on his straw and nearly blew the contents back into the glass. “Huh?”
“What did I say after that?”
“You said . . . uh . . .” He coughed, then glanced around the Fawlt Line Diner, hoping for inspiration or a way to change the subject. His eye was dazzled by the endless chrome, beveled mirrors, worn red upholstery, and checkered floor tiles. And it boasted Alice Dempsey, the world’s oldest living waitress, dressed in her paper cap and red-striped uniform with white apron.
She had seen Jeff look up and now hustled over to their booth. She arrived smelling like burnt hamburgers and chewed her gum loudly. “You kids want anything else?”
Rescued, Jeff thought. “No, thank you,” he said.
She cracked an internal bubble on her gum and dropped the check on the edge of the table. “See you tomorrow,” Alice said.
“No, you won’t,” Elizabeth said under her breath. “I won’t be here.”
As she walked off, Alice shot a curious look back at Elizabeth. She was old, but she wasn’t deaf.
“Take it easy,” Jeff said to Elizabeth.
“I’m going to run away,” she said, heavy rebuke in her tone. “If you’d been listening — ”
“Aw, c’mon, Bits — ” Jeff began. He’d called her “Bits” for as long as either of them could remember, all the way back to first grade. “It’s not that bad.”
“You try living with my mom and dad, and tell me it’s not that bad.”
“I know your folks,” Jeff said. “They’re a little quirky, that’s all.”
“Quirky! They’re just plain weird. They’re clueless about life in the real world. Did you know that my dad went to church last Sunday with his shirt on inside out?”
“And wearing his bedroom slippers?”
Jeff smiled. Yeah, that’s Alan Forde, all right, he thought.
“Don’t you dare smile,” Elizabeth threatened, pointing a french fry at him. “It’s not funny. His slippers are grass stained. Do you know why?”
“Because he does his gardening in his bedroom slippers.”
Elizabeth threw up her hands. “That’s right! He doesn’t care. He doesn’t care how he looks, what -people think of him, or anything! And my mom doesn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed for him. She thinks he’s adorable! They’re weird.”
“They’re just . . . themselves. They’re — ”
Elizabeth threw herself against the back of the red vinyl bench and groaned. “You don’t understand.”
“Sure I do!” Jeff said. “Your parents are no worse than Malcolm.” Malcolm Dubbs was Jeff’s father’s cousin, on the English side of the family, and had been Jeff’s guardian since his parents had died five years ago in a plane crash. As the last adult of the Dubbs family line, he came from England to take over the family fortune and estate. “He’s quirky.”
“But that’s different. Malcolm is nice and sensitive and has that wonderful English accent,” Elizabeth said, nearly swooning. Jeff’s cousin was a heartthrob among some of the girls.
“Don’t get yourself all worked up,” Jeff said.
“My parents just go on and on about things I don’t care about,” she continued. “And if I hear the life-can’t-be-taken-too-seriously-because-it’s-just-a-small-part-of-a-bigger-picture lecture one more time, I’ll go out of my mind.”
Again Jeff restrained his smile. He knew that lecture well. Except his cousin Malcolm summarized the same idea in the phrase “the eternal perspective.” All it meant was that there was a lot more to life than what we can see or experience with our senses. This world is a temporary stop on a journey to a truer, more real reality, he’d say — an eternal reality. “Look, your parents see things differently from most -people. That’s all,” Jeff said, determined not to turn this gripe session into an Olympic event.
“They’re from another planet,” Elizabeth said. “Sometimes I think this whole town is. Haven’t you figured it out yet?”
“I like Fawlt Line,” Jeff said softly, afraid Elizabeth’s complaints might offend some of the other regulars at the diner.
“Everybody’s so . . . so oblivious! Nobody even seems to notice how strange this place is.”
Jeff shrugged. “It’s just a town, Bits. Every town has its quirks.”
“Is that your word of the day?” Elizabeth snapped. “These aren’t just quirks, Jeffrey.”
Jeff rolled his eyes. When she resorted to calling him Jeffrey, there was no reasoning with her. He rubbed the side of his face and absentmindedly pushed his fingers through his wavy black hair.
“What about Helen?” Elizabeth challenged him.
“Which Helen? You mean the volunteer at the information booth in the mall? That Helen?”
“I mean Helen the volunteer at the information booth in the mall who thinks she’s psychic. That’s who I mean.” Elizabeth leaned over the Formica tabletop. Jeff moved her plate of fries and ketchup to one side. “She won’t let you speak until she guesses what you’re going to ask. And she’s never right!”
“Our only life insurance agent has been dead for six years.”
“Yeah, but — ”
“And there’s Walter Keenan. He’s a professional proofreader for park bench ads! He wanders around, making -people move out of the way so he can do his job.” Her voice was a shrill whisper.
“Ben Hearn only pays him to do that because he feels sorry for him. You know old Walter hasn’t been the same since that shaving accident.”
“But I heard he just got a job doing the same thing at a tattoo parlor!”
“I’m sure tattooists want to make sure their spelling is correct.”
Elizabeth groaned and shook her head. “It’s like Mayberry trapped in the Twilight Zone. I thought you’d understand. I thought you knew how nuts this town is.” Elizabeth locked her gaze onto Jeff’s.
He gazed back at her and, suddenly, the image of her large brown eyes, the faint freckles on her upturned nose, her full lips, made him want to kiss her. He wasn’t sure why — they’d been friends for so long that she’d probably laugh at him if he ever actually did it — but the urge was still there.
“It’s not such a bad place,” he managed to say.
“I’ve had enough of this town,” she said. “Of my parents. Of all the weirdness. I’m fifteen years old and I wanna be a normal kid with normal problems. Are you coming with me or not?”
Jeff cocked an eyebrow. “To where?”
“To wherever I run away to,” she replied. “I’m serious about this, Jeff. I’m getting all my money together and going somewhere normal. We can take your Volkswagen and — ”
“Listen, Bits,” Jeff interrupted, “I know how you feel. But we can’t just run away. Where would we go? What would we do?”
“And who are you all of a sudden: Mr. Responsibility? You never know where you’re going or what you’re doing. You’re our very own Huck Finn.”
“Not according to Mr. Vidler.”
“Mr. Vidler said that?” Jeff asked defensively, wondering why their English teacher would be talking about him to Elizabeth.
“He says it’s because you don’t have parents, and Malcolm doesn’t care what you do.”
Jeff grunted. He didn’t like the idea of Mr. Vidler discussing him like that. And Malcolm certainly cared a great deal about what he did.
Elizabeth continued. “So why should you care where we go or what we do? Let’s just get out of here.”
“But, Bits, it’s stupid and — ”
“No! I’m not listening to you,” Elizabeth shouted and hit the tabletop with the palms of her hands. Silence washed over the diner like a wave as everyone turned to look.
“Keep it down, will you?” Jeff whispered fiercely.
“Either you go with me, or stay here and rot in this town. It’s up to you.”
Jeff looked away. It was unusual for them to argue. And when they did, it was usually Jeff who gave in. Like now. “I don’t know,” he said quietly.
Elizabeth also softened her tone. “If you’re going, then meet me at the Old Saw Mill by the edge of the river tonight at ten.” She paused, then added, “I’m going whether you come with me or not.”
My Review: I loved this book. I did not know what to expect as it is not what I normally read. I was pleasantly surprised. It grabbed me and held my attention through the whole book. As soon as I finished I went to Amazon and put book two on my wish list. It is appropriate for teens and this adult liked it too. :)
Monday, October 20, 2008
Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd (AND GIVEAWAY)
Lexi Stuart is risking it all. Saying au revoir to the security of home, her job, and could-be boyfriend Dan, Lexi embarks on a culinary adventure in France to fulfill her life dream of becoming a pastry chef.As she settles into her new home in the village of Presque le Chateau to study and work in a local bakery, her twenty-something optimism meets resistance in the seemingly crusty nature of the people and culture around her.
I loved this book and I loved the first book Let Them Eat Cake. This is a great series. There is one more book coming next year. I don't want to wait until then to find out what Lexi does next but I guess I will have too. I laughed many times throughout the series. Sandra Byrd has created some cool characters that I am invested in. Not to mention interesting locations and plots. The first book is in Seattle and the second is France. The second book can be read without the first but I do not recommend doing that as you will miss the background and a great book. I highly recommend both these books! And I have a copy of Bon Appetit to give away so leave me a comment! :)
Murder on The Ol' Bunions by S. Dionne Moore
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
SAndra has been writing for years with historicals being her main focus. By the time she had a polished manuscript in hand, historicals were unpopular. She didn't give up though and decided to try her hand at writing a mystery. A cozy mystery.
Her first book, Murder on The Ol' Bunions , released in April of 2008. Book two of the LaTisha Barnhart Mystery series, Polly Dent Loses Grip, and book three, Eat, Drink and Be Buried will follow in April 2009 and 2010, respectively.
She's almost always running a contest, so drop by her Website, you just might win a free gift!
ABOUT THE BOOK
LaTisha Barnhart’s bunions tell her something’s afoot as she delves deeper into the murder of her former employee, Marion Peters. When LaTisha becomes a suspect, the ante is upped, and she is determined to clear her name and find the culprit.
She’s burping Mark Hamm’s bad cooking to investigate his beef with Marion. . .getting her hair styled at a high falutin’ beauty parlor to see what has Regina Rogane in a snarl. . .playing self-appointed matchmaker between the local chief and a prime suspect. . .and thinking Payton O’Mahney’s music store lease might be the reason he’s singing out of tune when discussion of Marion’s murder arises. LaTisha’s thinking she just might use the reward money to get her bunions surgically removed. But she’s got to catch the crook first.
Small town intrigue, a delightful, vivid cast, and a well-crafted mystery make S. Dionne Moore’s debut novel a must-read! I loved it!~Susan May Warren~Award-winning author of Reclaiming Nick
“S. Dionne Moore has the rare quality of pulling together great characters and compelling plots.”
~Kelly Klepfer~ www.novelreviews.blogspot.com
If you would like to HEAR the first chapter, go HERE and click on the bookcover trailer box!
If you would like to READ, the first chapter of Murder on The Ol' Bunions , go HERE.
My Review: I have heard many good things about this book. I am sorry to say that I did not enjoy it. Here are links to two people who did like it.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Sunday Salon October 19, 2008
* I read a lot of books this weekend due to my participation in the 24 hour Read-a-thon. I read 4 whole books for it and parts of two others. Then today I finished the one I read part of and it was great.
* I read a total of 1157 pages for the Read-a-thon. I slept for 7 hours.
* Here is a list of the books I read for the Read-a-thon:
1. Finished A Cut Above by Ginny Aiken
2. A Matter of the Heart by Patricia Davids
3. Ripple Effect by Paul Mccusker
4. Less the Dead by Tim Downs
5. Dangerous Heart by Tracey Bateman
6. The first 98 pages of Back to Life by Kristin Billerbeck
* I liked all of them. My favorite is probably Less the Dead by Tim Downs. I love his bug man series. My official review will be on Wednesday. But I will say that although his books are published by a Christian company there is very little religion in them. By the way he writes mysteries/suspense. His main character is a forensic entomologist who is less than normal.
*I finished Back to Life this morning. I love Kristin Billerbeck. She writes Christian Chick Lit. Although in her books there are always deeper themes without being overwhelming not just your regular chick lit. Her book What a Girl Wants is one of my favorites.
* Next I will be reading Multiple Blessings by Jon and Kate Gosselin with Beth Carson. They have the hit show Jon and Kate Plus Eight. They had one set of twins then a set of sextuplets. They are so cute. :)
* Fiction I will be reading Cyndere's Midnight by Jefferey Overstreet. The first novel in the series is Aurelia's Colors. It was beautiful. I can't wait to read the second. :)
* I had 45 hours at work this past week. What's bad is that there is still tons of work to do. I work in medical records as a file clerk right now and we have three people total. That is one head who does doctor office requests for records, lawyers, insurance companies, the patient themselves etc., one runner/mail, and me the file clerk. We are dying. The CEO keeps saying we don't need more people. We can't take a day off or get sick or finish all the work. There are 10 doctors and a NP. Help me!
* The end to this kinda long post. lol I hope everyone has a great week :)
End of Event Meme
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Less the Dead by Tim Downs
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? Yes
5. How many books did you read?Finished one, read 4 whole ones and part of another
6. What were the names of the books you read?
1. Finished A Cut Above by Ginny Aiken
2. A Matter of the Heart by Patricia Davids
3. Ripple Effect by Paul Mccusker
4. Less the Dead by Tim Downs
5. Dangerous Heart by Tracey Bateman
6. The first 98 pages of Back to Life by Kristin Billerbeck
7. Which book did you enjoy most?
Ripple Effect and Less the Dead
8. Which did you enjoy least? A Cut Above
9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? NA
10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Yes as a reader
My Last Two Hours
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Update Fourteen (maybe)
From the Back Cover
For the past seven years, Ginger Freeman has had one goal: find Grant Kelley and make him pay for allowing her brother to die. Growing up motherless with a father who leads an outlaw gang, Ginger isn’t exactly peaches and cream. So when she finally tracks down Grant on a wagon train headed west, she figured providence had stepped in and given her the chance she’s been waiting for. On the wagon train, finally surrounded by a sense of family and under the nurturing eye of Toni Rodde, Ginger begins to lose her rough edges. She’s made friends for the first time and has become part of something bigger than revenge. Not only has her heart softened toward people in general, but God has become a reality she never understood before. And watching Grant doctor the pioneers, she’s realized she can’t just kill him and leave the train without medical care. Putting her anger aside, before long, Ginger’s a functioning part of the group.But when the outlaw gang, headed by her pa, shows up and infiltrates the wagon train, she is forced to question her decision. Only self-sacrifice and her new relationship with God can make things right. But it might also means she loses everything she’s begun to hold dear.
Update Eleven and Twelve
Mid Event Survey
1. What are you reading right now?
I just finished Less the Dead by Tim Downs. Next I am reading Dangerous Heart by Tracey Bateman
2. How many books have you read so far? 3 and part of another one
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Multiple Blessings by Jon & Kate Gosselin and Beth Carson, By Reason of Insanity by Randy Singer
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
No, I am very fortunate to be single and have no children
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
I have had a few interruptions. My cats won't leave me alone. They want to be petted. I love on them while I am reading. Eating has taken up a bit of time. I ordered a pizza from Papa Johns. People (my mother and father) will not quit calling me on the phone. I live with my sister and she woke up at 4 so she has been a little distracting. I just tell all of them I am trying to read. I am doing a read a thon. :)
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
Not really anything. I did it last time too.
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Not a one. :)
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? Nothing so far
9. Are you getting tired yet? A little
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered? Not really.
Updates Nine and Ten
About the book:
SOME SECRETS JUST WON’T STAY BURIED
When strange bones surface on a U.S. senator's property, the FBI enlists forensic entomologist Nick Polchak to investigate the forgotten graveyard. Polchak's orders are simple: figure out the mess. But Polchak, known as the "Bug Man" because of his knowledge of insects and their interaction with the dead, senses darker secrets buried beneath the soil--secrets that could derail the senator's presidential bid; secrets buried in the history of a quaint Virginia town; secrets someone is willing to kill to protect. With the help of a mysterious local woman named Alena and her uncanny cadaver dogs, Polchak sets out to dig up the truth. But with a desperate killer hot on his trail, he'll be lucky to wind up anything less than dead.
Update Eight: My eighth hour
Update Seven: My seventh hour
Update Six: My sixth hour
Update Five: My hour five
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
Update Four: My fourth hour
Update Three: My third hour
Update Two: My second hour
Update One: My first hour
Start of 24 hour Read-a-thon
Where are you reading from today?
Mostly my bed, sometimes the couch in the living room
3 facts about me …
* I live with my sister and 3 cats
* I have always read lots and loved it.
* I get super excited when the mail comes every day
How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
too many to count
Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
Not a specific goal but I do have a stack of review books I need to read
If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
If you need to sleep take a short break. Last year I slept for 7 hours and though that count down on my reading time I was actually awake for it.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
24 hour Read-a-Thon hosted by Dewey
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The Rook by Steven James
Special Agent Patrick Bowers is about to uncover the military's darkest secret . . . and his own dark past.
While investigating a series of baffling fires in San Diego, Special Agent Patrick Bowers is drawn into a deadly web of intrigue where nothing is as it appears to be. With a killer on the loose and one of the world's most deadly devices missing, Bowers is caught in a race against time to stop a criminal mastermind's trap before it closes around the people he loves.
Full of fast-paced action and mind-bending plot twists, The Rook is an adrenaline-laced page-turner that will hold you captive until the very end.
Praise for The Rook
"James ratchets up the thrills and chills, the twists and turns, and our connections with the characters. This is first-class suspense, with threads of wisdom tying it all together. I'm panting for the next book already."--Eric Wilson, author of A Shred of Truth and Expiration Date
"James's ability to use modern, up-to-date investigative techniques to solve his criminal mysteries places him at the forefront of current mystery writers. [This is] a book you hate to put down even when you reach the end."--E. Cleon Glaze, retired FBI agent
"Steven James does it again! The Rook is a riveting nail-biter that takes the reader on a wild ride of suspense, thrill, and danger. James seamlessly combines the edginess of contemporary crime-solving stories with the real world struggles of romance, broken families, loss, and honor."--John Thurman, counselor and radio personality
"Steven James has certainly done his homework. His level of detail and knowledge in the area of the military characters is superb. . . . [They] almost come to life as you read his books. I could not put this one down! Top-notch work."--LT Robert Bess, US Naval Special Warfare/Naval Special Operations
"Sophomore slump? Fuhgeddaboutit. In his second thriller about FBI criminologist Patrick Bowers, James delivers the caffeinated plot twists and intriguing characterizations that made The Pawn a welcome addition to the suspense genre. In this installment, Bowers is called to San Diego to investigate a rash of fires, but he begins to suspect that a seemingly random kidnapping and suicide may be related to the arson attacks. As Bowers digs deeper, he uncovers a chilling biotech conspiracy. Fans of CSI and Law & Order will enjoy the police work and forensics, but this jacked-up read feels more like an explosive episode of 24; it's a wild ride with a shocking conclusion."--Publishers Weekly starred review
A Beautiful Fall by Chris Coppernoll
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Chris Coppernoll is the founder of Soul2Soul Ministries, with his interviews with Christian artists airing weekly on 650 radio outlets in thirty countries. He has conducted hundreds of interviews on faith issues with personalities such as Amy Grant, Max Lucado, Michael W. Smith, and Kathie Lee Gifford. He also serves as a Deacon at The People’s Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and is currently working toward a Masters in Ministry Leadership degree through Rockbridge Seminary.
His "Inspirations" column is published monthly in the mid Michigan newspaper, The Jackson Citizen Patriot.
Chris Coppernoll is the author of four other books including Soul2Soul, Secrets of a Faith Well Lived, and God's Calling. Providence, his first novel, is his fourth book.
ABOUT THE BOOK
High-powered Boston attorney Emma Madison is celebrating her latest courtroom victory when she gets a call from a number she doesn't recognize. Area code 803 home. Juneberry, South Carolina eight hundred miles, twelve years, and a lifetime away from Boston. Emma's father has had a serious heart attack. Emma rushes to his bedside, and a weekend trip threatens to become an extended stay. She has to work fast to arrange the affairs of his small-town law practice so she can return to her life and career in Boston.
And then Michael Evans shows up. They'd shared hopes, dreams, and a passionate love as young college students during a long-ago summer. But Emma walked away from Michael and from Juneberry to finish college and start a new life. Michael has never forgotten her.
Enveloped in the warmth of family and small-town life and discovering that she still cares for Michael Emma knows she'll have to make a choice between the career she's worked so hard to build and the love she left behind.
If you would like to read the first chapter of A Beautiful Fall, go HERE
My Review: Overall this was a good book. My only problems were that everything worked out perfectly for everybody and the plot line is not unique. Career girl from small town makes it big in big city but is called home due to family emergency then realizes it is not so bad after all and ends up coming back. There were many cliches in this book. BUT his writing is good and beautiful. I am not going to make any recommendations either way. :)
A Purple State of Mind: Finding Middle Ground in a Divided Culture by Craig Detweiler
It's the 15th, time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Non~FIRST will be merging with FIRST Wild Card Tours on January 1, 2009...if interested in joining, click HERE!)
Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2008)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Craig Detweiler (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is codirector of the Reel Spirituality Institute and associate professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. He has written scripts for numerous Hollywood films, and his comedic documentary, Purple State of Mind (www.purplestateofmind.com), debuted in 2008. He has been featured in the New York Times, on CNN, and on NPR and is the coauthor of A Matrix of Meanings. Barry Taylor (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary), adjunct professor of popular culture and theology at Fuller, is a professional musician, painter, and the leader of New Ground, an alternative worship gathering in Los Angeles.
List Price: 13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (July 1, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
How did the culture war begin? Was there a clear winner? Or did it devolve into a long, costly stalemate? What can we learn from the battle? Perhaps we are not as polarized as we presume. Political parties and pundits strive to distinguish themselves from the competition in the starkest possible terms. We use rhetoric to rail against one another while our core positions may involve only a slight divergence. We may be hardly separated rather than deeply divided. Can we move from an adolescent mind-set, shouting across the religious and political divide, into something more thoughtful, productive, and mature?
As a witness to the sixties and seventies, I’ve seen how destructive we can be—even toward ourselves. I’ve also lived through the comparative comfort of the Reagan era in the eighties. He turned back the clock to a prosperous vision of America before the social upheavals of the sixties. Can we uphold the vigorous freedom of the sixties alongside the rigorous responsibility of the fifties?
A purple state of mind pushes past the either/or squabbles of an earlier era. It adopts a both/and approach to following God and interacting with the world. It builds bridges rather than burning them. It seeks common ground rather than points of division. A purple state of mind attains maturity by knowing when and where to apply biblical truths to our blind spots.
John: I think this should be a candid discussion.
Craig: I want it to be first and foremost an honest conversation. Straightforward. Tell the truth. Nothing held back.
Were you alive when President John F. Kennedy was shot? While the world wailed, I was warm in my mother’s womb. She was in the doctor’s office, awaiting a checkup on my status. I was born two months after Kennedy was assassinated. I arrived after the initial shockwave, the outpouring of grief, and the confusion as to why such tragedy happens. But we all continue to wrestle with the conflicts that erupted in the wake of Kennedy’s death.
I entered a world on fire. Throughout my childhood, there were riots in the streets, protests on campuses, scenes from Vietnam in the news. My parents attempted to shield me from much of the conflict, turning me on to Mr. Rogers rather than Walter Cronkite. Yet the palpable conflicts over civil rights, free speech, and the war draft spilled into newspapers, televisions, and casual conversations. The struggle for civil rights was more than a century in the making. Leaders like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were as patient as possible, given their long walk to freedom. Yet the positive steps created by the Civil Rights Act still moved too slowly for those trapped in the inner city. Riots in Watts and Detroit set cities ablaze. The mistakes of the Vietnam War constitute their own painful book. As images of the war filtered into our living rooms, resentment toward our leaders grew. Chaos reigned among protestors inside and outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
I knew my dad hated the protestors, but I didn’t know why. Something about their appearance bugged him. It may have been their long hair, their scanty clothes, and their flagrant disregard of authority. The hippies seemed equally frustrated by people like my father. They were complaining about the man, the system, anyone over 30. Why were the protestors so angry? What was all the shouting about? A generation gap emerged over the war in Vietnam. The students were ostensibly resisting the draft. They did not want to serve in an endless, misguided war in Southeast Asia.
Behind the political policies were distinct lifestyle choices. The hippies were celebrating free love, plentiful drugs, and raucous rock music. My father was wondering what happened to hard work, paying taxes, and civic responsibility. Teenagers embraced freedom while adults trumpeted responsibility. These dueling notions of the American identity exploded into a full-blown culture war that has been raging ever since. Reporter Ronald Brownstein calls this second civil war “the great sorting out.”
A purple state of mind appreciates the competing ideals that launched the culture war. It recognizes the patriotism that resides behind both visions. It remembers how much capital was created by responsible citizenship in the fifties. It also celebrates the ingenuity unleashed in the freedom-loving sixties. We learned valuable lessons from both eras. A purple state of mind borrows from both, combining freedom and responsibility.
The Fifties Versus the Sixties
I have lived my entire life in the shadow of the 1960s. I’ve heard the stirring speeches of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. I’ve mourned the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in Dion’s song, “Abraham, Martin, and John.” I’ve been taken to the Vietnam War in Apocalypse Now. How many television specials have I seen that retrace the upheavals of 1968? Rolling Stone magazine commemorates Woodstock or the Summer of Love every single year! Was it the best of times or the worst of times? Forty years on, we’re still locked in an adolescent debate. We see it in the childish name-calling of Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter on the right or MoveOn.org and Daily Kos on the left.
Every American presidential election since the sixties has essentially been a referendum on that painful era. There were no clear winners in Vietnam. Like Rambo, we’re still fighting. It is a dark era in American history most of us would rather not review (even though we must learn those lessons so we stop repeating them). The fissure generated in Vietnam lies behind our conflicted feelings over the war in Iraq. We can’t talk rationally as a nation about important issues because of deep-seated, unresolved family dynamics. If you prefer the comparative calm of the fifties, then you know how to vote. If you uphold the progressive hopes of the sixties, then it is clear which candidate represents you. The only problem with this pattern is that many of us missed the fifties and the sixties. We’re ready to move on, to live in this moment, to meet today’s challenges rather than to relive yesterday’s news.
Living with this conflict is comparable to listening to our parents argue. We’ve heard all the lines, all the rhetoric, and all the old grudges. We can recite them from memory, and we’ve been exhausted by the gridlock. We haven’t bothered to speak up because we know our parents were too busy arguing to listen. The shouting match showed no signs of abating, so we let the circus pass us by. Instead of joining the conversation, we elected to start our own companies, clubs, and churches. The creative brain drain from civic activities has been well documented. Those who were turned off by the partisan rancor eventually turned off the pundits on TV. We are on the Internet instead, arguing about the minutia that remains distinctly ours—music, movies, television, shopping. We don’t want to be superficial. But with no creative political options, we opt out. If we hope to engage the next generation in public life, then this culture war, rooted in bitter recriminations, must stop. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must call a cease-fire.
Those of us who’ve inherited this war have seen enough casualties. John Marks and I were born at the end of the baby boom and the beginning of Generation X. We understand the majority position and empathize with the minorities who’ve been sidelined by the sheer size of the opposition. Consider this book an effort to bridge the generation gap. I’m here to help those over fifty understand what is coming. I stand between the baby boomers and their children, brokering a truce. As a professor, I’ve invested heavily in Generation Y, hoping that they will enact enough changes to make room for my children—Generation Z!
Seek wisdom, not knowledge.
Knowledge is of the past; wisdom is of the future.
Native American PROVERB
I recount our recent history in an effort to fill in gaps in our understanding. We must comprehend where we’ve been if we hope to figure out where we’re going. I’ve seen the abuses of power represented by Watergate. The special prosecutor’s hearings interrupted hours of my favorite TV cartoons. (Did you realize that Hillary Clinton was part of the legal team investigating Nixon’s White House? Republicans have struggled with her for a looooong time!) I watched Nixon’s sad wave goodbye on the White House lawn. I also understand the faith embodied by the first “born again” president, Jimmy Carter. His Southern Baptist beliefs led him to broker peace in the Middle East. Yet I also endured the 444 days of the Iranian hostage crisis that accompanied his peaceful negotiations. After such international embarrassment, Americans desperately wanted to return to the fifties era of strength and power. Ronald Reagan played the part of forceful leader resisting the Soviet Union. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism was a victory for freedom around the world.
Unresolved tensions about Vietnam, drugs, and the sixties fueled the vitriol hurled at the Clintons and the Bushes. Bill Clinton strapped on the mantle of President Kennedy, declaring himself “A Man from Hope.” His appearance playing saxophone on The Arsenio Hall Show sent a clear signal that he embraced civil rights. As “entertainer in chief,” Clinton demonstrated a mastery of the electronic medium. His obfuscations about inhaling marijuana and dalliances with White House intern Monica Lewinsky also sparked latent fears of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. (Did you realize that Monica’s famous blue dress was found in her mother’s apartment—in the Watergate complex?) To his detractors, Clinton represented too much freedom and not enough presidential responsibility. The impeachment proceedings against him were a recapitulation and payback for the embarrassment borne by the Nixon administration.
George W. Bush represented a return to the fifties. He may have engaged in alcohol abuse or cocaine use, but Bush confessed his sins and seemed genuinely contrite. He experienced the dangers of too much personal freedom and welcomed the responsibility he found in his newfound faith. While Clinton parsed verbs, Bush offered plain-spoken surety. He distanced himself from his patrician upbringing, adopting a Texas rancher lifestyle as a populist alternative. To those tired of Clinton’s libertinism and excess, Bush offered a down-home throwback: cowboy boots and pickup trucks.
Yet all the tough talk in the world seemed insufficient in dealing with a nearly unseen enemy. How could a band of terrorists bring down the World Trade Center? They used our strengths against us, hijacking our own planes. They crashed into our most impressive symbols of financial prowess and military might. September 11, 2001, humbled and angered us. We marched into the Middle East with unprecedented firepower. Afghanistan fell almost without resistance. We submitted Iraq to “shock and awe.” Unfortunately, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda proved they could not only run but also hide. We attacked nations, but our enemies were individuals. American technology ended up undermined by insurgents with homemade bombs. We terrorized others with torture at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. We operated like a powerful empire but proved incapable of ferreting out an ideology. We desperately need leaders who can protect freedoms while serving as responsible world citizens. Such nuance has been lost in our prolonged and pointless culture war.
The next generation admires the civic responsibility of the fifties and the progressive art and music of the sixties. They have embraced a both/and view but have been alienated by either/or debates. A purple state of mind embraces freedom and responsibility. It takes the best of history but leaves the worst excesses (on both sides) behind. It blows away the purple haze hanging over our past. This chapter highlights key moments that got us into this mess. It will offer tangible proposals for moving on with maturity.
Nixon Versus Kennedy
For almost 50 years, we have been sorting out the choices represented by the first televised presidential debate, Republican Richard M. Nixon versus Democrat John F. Kennedy. On September 26, 1960, Vice President Nixon and Senator Kennedy squared off under the moderation of ABC’s Howard K. Smith. Over 80 million viewers tuned into the debate, which pitted Nixon’s experience (eight years as Eisenhower’s vice-president) against Kennedy’s comparative youth (one term as a U.S. senator). Both candidates offered hawkish opposition to the Communist threat represented by the Soviet Union. They debated issues of national debt, farm subsidies, welfare, and health care that continue to be unresolved. They drew distinctions about the role of government to stimulate economic growth. But Nixon and Kennedy diverged most significantly in style rather than substance.
Kennedy arrived at the debates looking tan, rested, and energetic. Nixon looked haggard, having recently fought off the flu. He refused to don makeup, figuring his forceful words would rule the day. Those who listened to the debate on the radio found Nixon the victor. Yet those watching the debate on tiny black-and-white televisions saw something else. They saw Nixon sweat while Kennedy smiled. Although Nixon was only five years older than Kennedy, his demeanor seemed comparatively ancient in outlook and energy. Nixon’s noticeable five-o’clock shadow didn’t help either.
Nixon learned the connections between style and substance too late in the campaign. Makeup covered his beard in three subsequent television debates. But Kennedy gained just enough confidence and votes to capture the closest general election of the twentieth century. Just one-tenth of 1 percent of votes separated Kennedy from Nixon. Americans have remained almost equally divided ever since.
The legacy of John F. Kennedy remains remarkably hopeful and progressive. Consider the optimism behind his war on poverty. Having watched the Russians beat Americans into orbit, Kennedy redefined the terms of the space race. How much chutzpah did it take to engage in a race to the moon? His version of American government looks almost absurdly hopeful in hindsight.
When Richard Nixon campaigned for president in 1968 (and for reelection in 1972), he promised an alternative to the vexing Vietnam War. Nixon expanded the Cold War efforts to include Cambodia and Laos. He presented a stronger America that refused to be intimidated. At the same time, Nixon engaged in a remarkable array of diplomatic missions to China and the Soviet Union. He met his adversaries face-to-face, winning surprising concessions and forging unexpected alliances.
Behind their policies, presidents Kennedy and Nixon represented divergent attitudes toward profound social change within America. The Kennedy years brought glamour to the White House. Entertainers like Marilyn Monroe sang sultry birthday greetings to President Kennedy. An air of celebration could also be read as a reign of permissiveness. A Democratic administration presided over the explosion of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Progressive politics coincided with experimentation and unrest. The Nixon presidency offered a return to law and order. Freedom took a backseat to responsibility. In 1971, President Nixon identified drug abuse as public enemy number one in the United States. He created the Special Action Office for Drug Abuse Prevention (it became the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1973). We’ve been fighting America’s longest war, the war on drugs, ever since.
Jimi Hendrix’ song “Purple Haze” epitomizes the fuzzy grasp of reality that accompanied drug experimentation in the sixties. The title allegedly arose from a powerful batch of LSD served to Hendrix by Owsley Stanley. Some have also attributed it to a strain of purple marijuana. Hendrix said the inspiration arrived in a dream. Whatever the derivation, “Purple Haze” is rooted in altered states of consciousness. Released in 1967, “Purple Haze” served as the psychedelic anthem for San Francisco’s summer of love. The key to the song’s eerie sound is harmonic dissonance. Jimi’s guitar is tuned in B-flat, while Noel Redding’s bass plays E octaves. Such discordant sounds matched the era perfectly. A clash of cultures resulted in something jarring and new. Jimi didn’t just play rock music, he offered the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Consider the transcendent promises contained in his phrase, “’Scuse me while I kiss the sky.” Some heard it as a sexual provocation, a pledge to kiss a guy. But the sound made it clear that his sights were set in the great beyond. At his seminal appearance at the Monterey Pop Festival, Jimi transported the crowd to a higher state of consciousness. He demonstrated the otherworldly power of raw feedback, playing his guitar behind, above, and beyond himself. Hendrix stepped into the role of sexual shaman, licking, caressing, and stroking guttural sounds from his Stratocaster. In setting his guitar on fire during “Wild Thing,” Hendrix offered his gifts to the rock gods. It is an incantation, sacrificing his most precious possessions to the altar of altered states.
Unfortunately, Jimi’s life ended up in a similar state of self-immolation, falling to pieces just as suddenly and tragically. The Experience Music Project in Seattle serves as a permanent archive for all things Hendrix. EMP founder Paul Allen spent part of his Microsoft millions acquiring Hendrix memorabilia, bringing it back to Jimi’s hometown of Seattle. It is a memorial to a musical messiah. The hall dedicated to Jimi is fittingly called “Sky Church.”
To others, “Purple Haze” demonstrated a world utterly adrift. The idyllic visions of Woodstock were undercut by the horrific murder at Altamont. With Hell’s Angels serving as security, 1969’s other free concert (at Altamont Speedway in Northern California) ended in death rather than musical bliss. Every time Rolling Stone magazine presents another rosy retrospective of the sixties, I wonder why it refuses to acknowledge the dark side of psychedelia. How can it hold up Hendrix, Joplin, and Jim Morrison as departed saints, when they are also exhibits A, B, and C in the perils of drug abuse? They were amazing and stupid at the same time. Great talents squandered by excess. So when parents who lived through the worst of the sixties attempt to spare their children the same amount of destructive experimentation, I applaud. “Just say no” arose from painful, lived experience. It may have been simplistic, but it was preferable to self-destruction.
Recent films like Drugstore Cowboy, Trainspotting, and Requiem for a Dream capture both the allure and the demolition of drugs. They provide an audio-visual approximation of a drug trip. Their images are intoxicating and attractive—the ultimate music videos. Yet their message is clear: Despite the attraction, do not be deceived—drugs will kill you. They serve as cautionary tales for a stylish era. Today’s students have largely learned from the painful past. Rates of teenage pregnancies, drug use, and violence have hit 40-year lows. The parents from a turbulent era raised remarkably respectful, well-behaved kids. Demographers Neil Howe and William Strauss noted the surprising generational shift:
Boomers started out as the objects of loosening child standards in an era of conformist adults. Millennials are starting out as the objects of tightening child standards in an era of non-conformists adults. By the time the last Millennials come of age, they could become…the cleanest-cut young adults in living memory.
To a large degree, Generation Y has embraced the family values of the 1950s. But its rebellion remains wrapped in the profane packages of the 1960s.
Consider the violent, R-rated film Fight Club (1999). It is a scathing critique of consumer culture and middle-class values. We follow Jack, the bored protagonist, on a brutal slide into an underworld of macho self-abuse. Jack longs for genuine feeling, even if he must shed blood to achieve it. So while Jack may be a mild-mannered bureaucrat by day, he rallies his friends for bare-knuckled bar fights at night. Fight Club unleashes the fragile postmodern male id with frightening results. What begins as an invigorating alternative devolves into Project Mayhem, a prescient precursor to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Schizophrenia leads to destructive nihilism.
This is contrasted by the diagnosis offered by the toughest puncher in the club, Tyler Durden. He summarizes the isolation of a generation raised in affluence rather than upheaval:
Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy s— we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war…our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very p— off.
When I showed Fight Club to a class of undergraduate students, they nodded in recognition. They connected with Tyler’s frustration. During a class discussion afterward, a student announced, “We’re rebels.” When I asked what they were rebelling against, he said, “Our parents.” is all sounded more than vaguely familiar, so I pushed further. “What does that look like?” The students answered, “We don’t want to be like our parents. Drinking. Doing drugs. Getting lots of divorces…we’re rebels!” e most rebellious behavior imaginable? Abstinence!
While baby boomers harrumph about presidential candidates’ ancient drug use, their children are begging for them to grow up. Parents complain to MTV about Britney Spears’ kiss with Madonna. Switchboards light up from viewers shocked by Janet Jackson’s nipple slip during the Super Bowl halftime show. Yet the next generation lets out a collective yawn. They’ve already seen it, done it, or dismissed it. They identify with the band Weezer, which recorded a song titled “Tired of Sex.” They are ready to move on, past the provocation to more substantive issues. Rivers Cuomo of Weezer asks, “Oh, why can’t I be making love come true?”
A New Conversation
Craig: My introduction to what it meant to follow Jesus was to be a laughingstock. It meant bad hair, bad makeup, and bad TV. Is this what I signed up for? This whole tension of red state and blue state, this is the tension that I live with—how do I own my own people who so make me cringe on a regular basis? This nomenclature of left and right, red and blue is not helpful right now.
John: It’s not meant to be helpful. It’s meant to do exactly what it does. I’m not happy with what people on the traditional left, or Democrats, say is their worldview. I honestly don’t know if they have one. I’m as weary as anybody in this country of the politically correct dialogue, which basically says, “I’m a victim and you’re not. No, I’m a victim and you’re not.” It’s useless. It’s done. It’s dead. Postmodernism is dead. All those answers on the secular side are basically dead.
John Marks and I stand between generations. We are old enough to understand the boomers’ intra-generational issues, yet we’re still young enough to identify with the discontent of those who followed. We embarked on a purple state of mind because we’re desperate for a new paradigm, hungering for a different set of talking points. We each risked alienating our constituencies. Coming from evangelical Christianity, I am part of the fifties tribe, which is struggling to protect home and hearth. As a journalist, John Marks identifies with the political left and their tattered ideals. We both find ourselves embarrassed by those we represent. I ask how God’s people could have turned Jesus into a hater. John questions why allegedly free-thinking people are so close-minded when it comes to religion. A purple state of mind tries the patience of both sides. It runs the risk of disloyalty for the sake of a larger goal.
We must put the past behind us. We can no longer afford to be divided over issues of sexuality and drug use when global crises demand our attention. To lead the world, we must get past our adolescent fixation on who did what to whom. The rumor mills that trumped up charges against the Clintons in Whitewater or George W. Bush with evasion of the Vietnam War have done nothing but distract us. How much negative energy has been expended on investigations that went nowhere? We’ve been busy digging up dirt when we should have been building roads and schools. We tore down a government in Iraq rather than solidifying our own ability to lead by example. Shame on us for obsessing over the past instead of investing in the future. No wonder voters in 2008 longed for change.
The Gospel According to Austin Powers
Our desperate need for freedom and responsibility rests in the seemingly contradictory letters of the apostle Paul. He applied his godly advice in a unique way for the audience he was addressing. To Corinthian Christians navigating a libertine culture, he preached caution. Corinth was noted for temples dedicated to Apollo and Aphrodite. Worship at these temples often included sex with temple prostitutes. They were thought to serve as conduits for the divine. An intimate sexual encounter on temple grounds was comparable to an experience with the gods. So imagine how confused early Corinthian Christians may have been about what constituted proper worship of Christ. Their understanding of Christian freedom knew no bounds. Paul urged the Corinthian church to exercise spiritual discipline, to get their house in order. He insisted they “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). To those who claimed, “Everything is permissible,” Paul responded with a chastening, “Everything is not beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23).
In Corinth, even eating meat could involve idolatrous activity. The local cults of Apollo and Aphrodite controlled so much of the public consciousness and economy that new believers were encouraged to examine the sources of their food supply. Food sacrificed to idols may not be contaminated physically, but Paul challenged the Corinthian to demonstrate sensitivity toward those who may have confused or conflated eating with idolatry. Paul urges the Corinthian believers to take responsibility for their Christian brothers and sisters. To a chaotic church, he preaches order, propriety, and maturity.
Yet to the uptight church in Galatia, Paul preaches freedom. The new believers clung too closely to their Jewish roots. Perhaps out of fear of persecution, the local church leaders insisted that new Christians adopt the rigorous (old) rules of Hebraic law. Gentile converts were expected to get circumcised according to Jewish ritual. Paul considers such attempts to bind people to ancient purity laws as a threat to the gospel of grace. He insists, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). He begged the Galatian Christians to loosen up, to relax their standards in the name of Christ.
Was Paul contradicting himself? By no means! In each letter, he concludes with an appeal to love. To the legally minded Galatians, Paul summarizes the law in a single command, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). To the battling Corinthians who confused sex with love, Paul spells out the attitudes and actions that constitute love. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4). He preaches freedom to Galatia and responsibility to Corinth because they each need to apply the message in a unique way.
Unfortunately, we often fail to identify our particular blind spots. Legalistic churches will often reiterate the call to purity given to the Corinthians. Lax churches will return to Paul’s letter to the Galatians to justify more license. Those who need freedom cling to responsibility. Christians who need to learn responsibility insist upon the freedom Paul grants to Galatia. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery urges us toward maturity. In the comedic conclusion, Austin gets the drop on a surprised Dr. Evil. But Evil remains unflappable and punches Austin’s buttons: “We’re not so different, you and I. However, isn’t it ironic that the very things that you stand for—free love, swinging parties—are all now, in the nineties, considered to be evil?” Austin retorts, “No, man, what we swingers were rebelling against is uptight squares like you whose bag was money and world domination. We were innocent, man. If we’d known the consequences of our sexual liberation we would have done things differently, but the spirit would have remained the same. It’s freedom, baby, yeah!” Austin Powers connects wisdom, experience, and the spirit all in one interrelated package. Dr. Evil offers a challenge: “Face it—freedom failed.” With the sounds of the sixties anthem “What the World Needs Now Is Love” playing in the background, Austin concludes, “No man, freedom didn’t fail. Right now we’ve got freedom and responsibility. It’s a very groovy time.” Even sassy movie stars can capture profound truths.
It is not freedom versus responsibility. It is not the law and order of the Republican Party or the liberal policies of the Democratic Party. We need a strong military to defend our freedoms. We need unregulated markets to encourage innovation. We need social agencies to check our greed and support “the least of these.” We must find freedom and responsibility between the parties. We must learn to listen to Paul’s competing calls. Christian maturity incorporates the whole of scripture and applies it to an integrated life. We must be aware of our history. We must recognize how we’ve become so divided. We must grow up as a nation, moving on to freedom and responsibility rather than dragging each other into ancient history. The radical claims of Paul continue to challenge us. Libertines may need to give up some freedoms for the health of others. Conservatives may need to unwind enough for the Spirit to enter in.
Adolescence is an experiment in self-governance. It is about identifying your own strengths and weaknesses, learning to moderate. Sometimes we fall on our faces from too much excess. At other times, we shrink back from opportunities we should have seized. Highly responsible people may sprint to early success and wake up 20 years later, wondering what all the compliance wrought. They will long for freedom. Those raised in a borderless environment will have to find a roadmap that shows where the blind curves and dangerous precipices are located. Maturity arises when those maps have been internalized, when familiarity with biblical wisdom coincides with personal experience. We appreciate the gift of freedom, but we also recognize when enough is enough. Only with our house in order can we begin to focus outwardly. We do not merely play thought police, checking and correcting others. Rather, we take on the deeper challenge of walking beside others, inviting them to join us on the journey. It’s a very groovy time.
I have not finished the book. Here is a link to review by Kim at Window to My World.
Classics Club Spin 18
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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of re...
My Classics Club Spin List for August This is a hodgepodge of books left on my list I made in 2017 for the Classics Club. Tomorrow the clu...