February 04, 2006
This book is a collection of short stories on the varieties and vagaries of faith, some being the old classics like Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne and others very contemporary stories, all dealing in some way with the mystery of faith. Obviously some, in my opinion were much better than others but that of course depends on where you're coming from, what you can relate to.
God's Goodness by Majorie Kemper was probably my favorite; a story that stirs an emotional reaction no matter how many times I read or think about it. And it addresses probably more than any of the others the realities of life and how there are no simple answers.
August 15, 2005
The Almond Picker - Simonetta Agnello Hornby
An interesting novel set in Italy really provides an inside look at Italian life in the early 20th century. The story begins with the death of Mennulara, a maid in the service of one of the declining elite Italian families. She, however, held a uniquely powerful position, having for many years been responsible for family business affairs. Her funeral requests and panic over their ignorance of the source and status of the family fortune cause extreme distress for the Alffalipe children who are nothing more than spoiled and stupid adults. Mennularas friendships with Dr. Mendico, the town doctor and Father ----- the priest are the major means by which the story of her life is revealed to us. They seem to be the only people who know what an honest, trustworthy and beautiful person she is.
The incredible ignorance and immaturity of the Alffalipes carries through to the end and although one of them has some insight into the true character of Mennulara as she is remembering her childhood, none of them end up drawing any conclusions that are remotely accurate about her. They blunder through the book and go their destructive way.
April 06, 2005
Zen and the Birds of Appetite - Thomas Merton
Extremely interesting and thought provoking this book it a collection of essays that address Zen from the perspective of a Western Christian. Merton was not typical but a Christian who had a great appreciation and understanding of Zen and believed that the study of Zen only brings the Christian to a deeper level of spiritual experience.
As usual, Merton provides a wealth of knowledge on a difficult subject, very honestly bringin out the similarities between Zen and Christianity.