Saturday, June 30, 2007
I'm well into the first volume Wiesel's autobiography and have found it to be an amazing and powerful read. I've been amazed with the amount of regret and anguish he still feels over several events from his life (particularly from his childhood), and he does such an incredible job of writing vividly that it's been very easy for me to feel the pain he still feels: not really knowing his father until after they were taken to Auschwitz; wishing that he had taken advantage of those extra times to play with his little sister when she asked instead of sitting under a tree reading his books, and how that all came back so painfully at the instant she, along with his mother and grandmother, were taken straight off the transport and to their deaths; and many others along those lines. He also talks at some length about the struggles he experienced -- still experiences -- with his faith in God, his anger with God, his disappointment in what he perceived as God's inaction at times of crisis, and his overwhelming anger and sorrow that the people who knew what was happening to the Jews in Europe (the pope, world leaders, even other Jews) didn't do more to bring attention to that horror. I still have 2/3 of the book left to read, but I would already give this book a 5 out of 5 for its emotion, its sincerity, and the powerful, overwhelming story it tells.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Half of today's read was the result of a guest op-ed in today's Washington Post about the recent honors accorded Salman Rushdie ("Knighthood for a Literary Lion"). Despite all the coverage of Rushdie in the past twenty years, I had never taken the time to try and read any of his books. After reading the piece in today's Post today, however, I decided to give Satanic Verses and Midnight's Children a shot; after a cursory flip-through of each book, it appears they're going to be challenging, but I'm looking forward to that.
The second half of today's new read was more the result of being compelled to head to the biography section. I intended to see if there was anything available on Orson Welles, whose career has interested me since my recent viewing of the movie RKO 281, the story of the creation of Citizen Kane and the interplay between Welles, William Randolph Hearst, and Hollywood executives (highly recommended, by the way). Instead, Elie Wiesel's All Rivers Run to the Sea -- the first volume of his memoirs -- jumped out at me.
Wiesel is someone who has fascinated me for quite some time, but I have never taken the time to read any of his work. I'm not sure why; perhaps it's because I tend to get so emotionally involved in what I read that I wasn't sure I would be prepared enough for the level of grief, pain and sadness I would be exposed to in his writing. Perhaps it was because that period of history didn't hold any interest for me until now. Or perhaps, I wasn't ready for it then, but I've been led to it now - and the timing means there's a reason I'm supposed to be reading this (and everything else before me right now).
As I move through the book, I'll probably post random thoughts; I'm sure it would engender some great discussion.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage?
His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone.
He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.
He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.
The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man.
Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.
We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, our Heavenly Father is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
White House Budget Director Resigns; Jim Nussle Is Successor
AP - White House budget director Rob Portman is resigning and will be replaced by former Iowa Rep. Jim Nussle, Bush administration officials said Tuesday.
Nussle ran for governor of Iowa last year and was defeated. He has been serving in Iowa as an adviser in former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
The changes were to be announced Tuesday by President Bush.
Portman, who was a six-term congressman from Cincinnati, left his career on Capitol Hill to join the Bush administration two years ago as trade representative and was named budget director a little more than a year ago to replace Josh Bolten when he became White House chief of staff.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Alas, like every great vacation, this one had to end, and we returned this afternoon to laundry, resumes, pre-school, yardwork, and the other things that make up large portions of our days. Hopefully this week will be the week that we get the news for which we're waiting; the prayers are continuing, and we'll see what God has in store for us!
Friday, June 15, 2007
For the next few days, the only sounds will be children playing on the lawn, the conversations between members of our church family, my pen on the pages of my journal, the flipping of pages in a book, and (hopefully) the wind blowing through the trees in this Shenandoah Valley retreat.
Have a great weekend, everyone -- and to all the dads out there, Happy Father's Day!
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
It's nice to have daughters that aren't aware of the stress that A and I are under right now; as a friend told me in an e-mail, the only thing they will remember is that they got to spend some extra fun time with Mommy and Daddy. And despite feeling a bit blue because of the call, it was all okay when I picked up MB at pre-school and she greeted me with a big smile, a beautiful Father's Day painting, and excited shouts to her classmates of, "There's my Daddy!" That was my gift for the day!!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I guess when I have an original thought or something worth posting about, I'll be back. Otherwise, feel free to search the archives!!
Saturday, June 09, 2007
I finally got around to reading it two days ago, and finished just a few minutes ago. Without a doubt, it is one of the most haunting, disturbing, frightening, powerful, emotional, and loving books I have ever read -- and yes, you're going to be hit by each of these as you read it. Despite the fact that it is almost 300 pages, McCarthy's writing style is such that it is a very easy read, and I was able to devour large chunks of the book at each sitting. Not having read any of his other books, I'm not sure how his style has changed or evolved over the years, but I thought that this was a good introduction for me to his work.
I won't summarize it here, hoping instead that you'll go to the bookstore or library and pick up a copy to read. All I will say is that it will hit you hard no matter who you are, but if you are a parent then you'll need to prepare yourself; it's a tremendous story of love between a father and son and shows the great and nearly impossible (and unexpected) lengths to which any parent will go to protect their child. And throughout my reading of the entire book, I only saw one color in my mind -- gray.
If you've read it, please tell me what you thought. I'll be interested in seeing how the movie (someone recently purchased the rights to develop a script from the book) will trasfer McCarthy's words to the screen. For those interested in reading more, this website has a list of reviews of "The Road" from a wide variety of newspapers, and nearly all of them have rated it highly.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Obviously, I'm not directly involved in the whole "rich kid does prison" process, but somehow a storyline of "You Broke the Law -- You've Got 45 Days in Jail -- Okay, Not Really; How about 23 Days -- Okay, We're Letting You Go After 3 Days -- But You Have to Wear an Ankle Bracelet" is a massive cop-out, and shows a total lack of guts on the part of the Los Angeles County sheriff and everyone else who seems more adept at caving to the publicity rather than caving to the need to treat all folks in prison the same and with impartiality. I'm sure there are prisoners who have much more legitimate health problems than the alleged health drama Paris is experiencing, and they remain confined.
Yes, perhaps Paris Hilton really is a troubled young lady like so many we've seen over the years, and perhaps she does need help. But I can't decide if she's just playing the public like a violin, or if she's really that damn stupid. Everyone deserves prayers, but I think in this case we should be praying for the public at large who has to endure all of this garbage -- and particularly when it's garbage like this that knocks legitimate stories off the news. What sort of conversations do they have in the newsrooms at night?
Producer: Okay, what do we want to lead with tonight? Suggestions?
Reporter 1: Well, the administration is ramping up pressure on the Sudanese government and is imposing sanctions.
Reporter 2: The CDC has announced a potential breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes.
Reporter 3: Paris Hilton got drunk last night....
Proudcer: That's our lead!!!!
All of this to say that the Los Angeles Times ran a rather amusing column on what Paris is (or was) thinking while she was in jail. Entitled "The Paris Hilton Prison Diaries," here are some excerpts:
Day 1: Arrived late Sunday night. So tired. Asked if I could check into my room immediately. Quite possibly the rudest concierge I have ever met. I told him he was fired. Not the effect I'd hoped for... What kind of hotel forces you to strip and delouse (maybe Marriott?). Although instead of a robe I got a fabulous orange jumpsuit with a cute number on it. Nothing to do at night. I'm told (as there was, like, no information in my room) that there is no bar or lounge area. I wish I'd brought flats.
Day 5: Gandhi went to prison. So did Martin Luther King, Jr. So did Robert Downey, Jr. and Martha Stewart, Jr. and I think Nelson Mandela, Jr. Mandela was imprisoned for, like, 50 years or something for being black and also for driving an uninsured vehicle, if I'm reading Wikipedia correctly. Nicky often mentions me and Gandhi and how incredibly thin we both are and how she wonders if he used bronzer.
Day 10: There is no TV, no iPod, no cellphone. Just — I hope I'm spelling this right — "boks" or maybe "bowks." Whatever. I took a few from the cart and have been looking at the covers. Then, last night, I looked inside and there are, like, a million words, page after page. Are these new?
Lord, help us all -- and my daughters are on notice that behavior like this won't be tolerated!!
Thursday, June 07, 2007
So God's answer to my prayers for the past several months could be here soon; I just have to be patient and see what His answer is -- to this and to A's ongoing job search.....
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
After I read it, I posted the following comment on her blog -- and I'd be interested in your comments after you've read the column.
Prayer for me has evolved over the course of my life, from the praying every night for my family and friends as a child to the selfish prayers of high school (God, let me pass tomorrow's big test; God, let so-and-so say she'll go out with me), then through a phase where I didn't pray at all, to the current phase in my life where prayer to me is more of a conversation with God. For me, as you alluded in your column, many of the prayers that we say tend to lose meaning after a while because we do them from memory as a part of Sunday services or evening family time.
Not that the answer to my prayers is going to be any different, but I take my prayers to God (when I do pray) as someone who would take a request or a plea for help to a friend or family member. I see God more as someone wanting to be the friend who wants to hear you and help you rather than the friend you're bowing down to. Not the most traditional view, I'm sure, but then again my traditional views have changed as I've gotten older.
So, for this entry, I'm simply putting this out there for you to look at and see what images and thoughts come to your mind.
Monday, June 04, 2007
So what about you??
|Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence|
You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well. An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly. You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view. A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.
But there is hope, and hope, thy name is Gordon Ramsay.
I got hooked on "Hell's Kitchen" when it premiered two years ago, and season three begins tonight. Ramsay is an incredible chef who has a tremendous international reputation, has published some amazing cookbooks, and hosted a few great series which aired (originally) on the BBC and have since been shown on BBC America here in the States. If you ever have the opportunity to see episodes of "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares," I recommend you watch; the premise of the series is that Ramsay travels to different restaurants throughout Britain that are having problems with staffing, food, clientele size, etc. After observing them, he offers suggestions on how to solve all of their problems, and then returns six months later to see if they were even listening to what he had to say. Good stuff -- and my wife is stunned that I love shows about cooking and actually hate to cook!!
In short, I'm disappointed that "Lost" is gone for nearly a year, but Ramsay will help get me through the next few weeks.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Naturally, I got frustrated and said something to the effect of, "I can't sleep at night because of her, and now I can't even sleep during the day because of her" as I was pounding down the stairs to get the juice box prepared for her. My wife heard me, and later on walked up to me, hugged me, and said, "Don't worry -- you're a good father."
I've been thinking about that all afternoon; I really do try to be a good father, but -- as with many things in life -- it gets frustrating at times. Then, I thought about God: how many times has He been awake at night because of our whims? How many times have we wanted something to drink and have asked Him for it repeatedly until we get it? How many times has He tucked us in at night or been patient with us as we try to decide where we're going to sleep/what we're going to do next? How frustrating can we be/are we to Him every day? Even after all of that, He is still a good father to us.
Life really is a series of parables, and perhaps we should all take a bit of time to find the meaning, message, and purpose of these parables.