Thursday, November 08, 2007

Part of the current pile

An Intimate Look at the Night Sky
by Chet Raymo

"It is breathtaking simply to be here," wrote the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Breathtaking to stand under a starry sky and look deeply into the universe of galaxies. Breathtaking to participate in the constantly changing drama of the night sky. Star watching at its best is a total experience, involving all of the senses - the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and tactile sensations of the night. It is this complete immersion into darkness and light, informed by knowledge, open to mystery, that renews our intimacy with the cosmos.
Thank you, . Nothing like getting rid of books I don't want and getting a beautiful hardcover book like this.

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor

"What'll it be?" O'Reilly stood at a sideboard that bore cut-glass decanters and ranks of glasses.

"Small sherry, please." Barry sat in a big armchair. O'Reilly's upstairs sitting room was comfortably furnished. Three Milliken watercolours of game birds adorned the wall over a wide fireplace. Two walls were hidden by floor-to-ceiling bookcases. From Barry's quick appraisal of the titles - from Plato's Republic, Caesar's De Bello Gallica, Winnie-The-Pooh and its Latin translation Winnie Ille Pu, to the collected works of Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, and Leslie Charteris's The Saint books - O'Reilly's reading tastes were wide ranging.
Old doctor trains new doctor. Definite reminders of James Harriot and Sigfried, with people instead of animals. You must be able to tolerate a helping of salty language to be able to relax and enjoy this.

Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline by Lauren Winner

It is now going on seven years since I converted from Judaism to Christianity, and I am still in that blissed-out newlywed stage in which you can't believe your good fortune and you know that this person (in this case Jesus) whom you have chosen (or, in this case, who has chosen you) is the best person on the whole planet and you wouldn't take all the tea in China or a winning Lotto ticket or even a nice country estate in exchange.

Still, I miss my Jewish ways. I miss the rhythms and routines that drew the sacred down into the everyday. I miss Sabbaths on which I actually rested....

This is a book about those things I miss. It is about Sabbaths and weddings and burials and prayers, rituals Jews and Christians both observe...It is, to be blunt, about spiritual practices that Jews do better. It is, to be blunter, about Christian practices that would be enriched, that would be thicker and more vibrant, if we took a few lessons from Judaism.
I've heard about Lauren Winner's writing for years, and often find her articles in Books and Culture to be favorites, but I just started reading her books. Girl Meets God was terrific, so I searched out a copy of Mudhouse Sabbath to add to my reading pile. I am not disappointed. Intense and thoughtful, Winner writes like someone I would love to meet at the Mudhouse for lattes and conversation that I am sure would make me laugh and make me squirm.

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