Tuesday, December 2, 2014

This week: saints of war

Dear readers:

What a week passed these last few days! In the United States, we celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, and therein followed three days of bedlam as people acted like chimpanzees descending on a pile of fruit for Black Friday stores.  How people can simultaneously be thankful while spend the day eagerly dwelling on how much they want this or that once the stores open at six is beyond me.  The month's end also saw the conclusion of NaNoWriMo, which I completed again albeit at a limping pace.

Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent, the start of those four weeks of anticipation before Christmas. Traditionally it's a time of penitence as people remember the preparation of Mary for the birth of her child, and orthodox Christians likewise prepare for the second coming of Christ. Personally, penitence in the weeks approaching Christmas is a hard sell, but I appreciate the season considering my own horror at the triumph of consumerism over every aspect of human lives, and look to honor the spirit of Advent in some way. I'm ordering an interlibrary loan on Being Consumed,  and have checked out a collection of Advent meditations by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

More immediately, I'm reading a biographical novel of Joan of Arc by Samuel Clemens (of all people!), and then...well, who knows? I've changed my Great War reading plans for this month up a bit; since reviews of the Christmas truce novel I was thinking about are so poor, I'll be reading about the British home front instead.  Reviews are pending for a handful of books, including a collection of short stories by Wendell Berry  and a work in southern history. I probably won't be commenting on A Fatal Advent, a murder mystery I picked up yesterday. Someone keeps stealing things and lethally whacking people on the head with Scotch tape dispensers in an Anglican church, and at the last the main character walks in on the perpetrator threatening another character with murder. There's no sleuthing and the only thing of interest is the main character's occupation:  though ordained, she works as a counselor attached to the church.

My hope for myself and you is that we all stay grounded in what will come a frenetic season of shopping, partying, and other activities.  Good luck!


  1. You cover a lot of book territory in this commentary. Two items caught my attention. First, the mystery by Isabelle Holland whom I know from her great short novel, The Man Without a Face. It sounds like the mystery did not impress you.
    Secondly, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: have you read (or considered reading) his biography by Eric Metaxus?

  2. I enjoyed the mystery's setting, but it was quite anticlimatic. As I mentioned, there's no actual sleuthing; the main character just walks into a room where the baddie is threatening another innocent. I picked this up just for the title.

    As for Bonhoeffer, this is the first thing relating to him I've ever looked at. I'm increasingly interested in the man given that German read I did a month or so back, about religious authorities vs. the Nazi state. When I start for a biography of him, though, I'll look for that one first.


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