Monday, June 29, 2009

Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl

I really enjoyed Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson. From the beginning it draws you into it, with very descriptive language and random thoughts surprisingly strung together in a coherent manner.
This book begins with the author comparing this world as we know it to a carnival. It goes on to explore this world, especially the insect kingdom and the earth itself. The author invites us to truly marvel at the vastness of our universe and to appreciate and thank the God who made it all. He mentions the fact that what holds the world together is truly the breath of God, and that if He so chose all things would cease to be.
This book contains some wonderful descriptive language and some wonderful, memorable images and phrases. The book is peppered with the author's imaginary conversations with the great thinkers of the past. An example: "Jean-Paul Sarte, in his play No Exit: Hell is other people. A writer for Wired modified that slightly: Hell is other people's music." (p.168) It also contains some wonderful images of God and some wonderful names for Him--the Poet, the Painter, etc.
This book is a wonderfully vivid experience, and it helped me see God and His creation with a new, clearer focus. I would recommend it to anyone who believes in God or is struggling with their faith.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hormonal rant

Today is one of those days that I wish I could just get in my car and never come back home. My nephew and grandnephew have been gone for the last 3 days, but returned this afternoon. Of course they went down to the lake behind our house and my nephew promptly got drunk and passed out, leaving my 7-year-old grandnephew unattended. Sadly this is not an unusual occurrence. I feel hormonal, weepy, and drained, and because of sinuses/allergies, my throat is sore. Also everything I eat seems to be giving me diarrhea.
I had to run to the store again this morning because I needed more cranberry juice (I'm trying to ward off a UTI). Also at the grocery store I found a little coffee grinder for $10--six dollars cheaper than the cheapest one Wal-mart had. I also got a nice cup of Pike Place Roast from Starbuck's. I am 31 years old and I think that I am really starting to love coffee.
As usual during this time of the month, I hate even the sound of my nephew and grandnephew in this house. I thought that maybe the way my sister died would've shocked my nephew enough to stop his destructive behavior, but that doesn't seem to be what is happening. The real victim, however, is his son.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A great book

I have to say that I love David Gregory's book The Next Level. (His previous works, Dinner With A Perfect Stranger & A Day With A Perfect Stranger are great, too.) It is a story, really a parable, about a young man, Logan, who goes to work at a company called Universal Systems, Inc. His job there is to go from level to level (there are five) and determine what each level's greatest problem is. As he does so he discovers how differently people can interpret things, and how far off the truth people can be led because of little rumors. He first meets the director of the company, and reports directly to him as he diagnoses each level.
Each level seems to represent a belief system somewhere in the world.
On the first level, noone is really working for the company; they spend their time at work doing their own thing, working on things that have nothing to do with their job. I think this level represents those people in the world who don't subscribe to any particular belief set.
On level two, the employees have a very strict level of conduct, regulating even the kind of furniture polish used and the number of candies employees are allowed to have at their desks. Their adherence to these rules consumes much of their time and they do not do much work either. I think this represents those people who subscribe to a belief set but get so caught up in the don'ts in their religion that they forget to do the dos. An example is the Pharisees in the New Testament. Also there is an international division of this level that helps a great many people overseas.
On the third level, there are five major departments and eight minor ones. Logan meets with the managers of the five major departments and gets very varied answers from them about the whole purpose of the company and their work. I think this level represents the religions of the world other than Biblical Christianity and possibly Judaism, although the argument could be made that Level Two applies to the Jewish faith. Each department seems to symbolize Islam, New Age teaching, Buddhism, etc. Because they disagree on the overall purpose of the company, they are unable to work together toward a common goal, and also are working to please themselves, not the company.
On level four, the environment is nicer--they have coffee bars, nicer workstations, etc. They are aware of the owners of company and are trying to please them. Yet they are still working mostly to please themselves; i.e, they want to do what THEY want, not what their bosses want. I believe this represents a good portion of Christianity, who try to fit God's plans and desires into theirs, not the other way around.
As a bonus assignment Logan assesses Level Five, where people work exclusively with the Director, his father the Shareholder, and the Advocate. Those who work here basically go down to the other levels and help other people by doing menial tasks such as filing, cleaning etc. Here on this level Logan sees displayed the companies true product: self-giving love. It was first displayed by the Shareholder and Director, then they were joined by others in the company. Also mentioned is a sacrifice made by the Director: he was framed by a former employee for a crime he did not commit, yet he allowed himself to be found guilty to keep the company afloat.
I believe the characters of the Shareholder, Director and Advocate throughout the book represent the members of the Trinity. The one Logan interacts with most is the Director, who represents the person of Christ. The Advocate is the company's chief counsel, and fills a troubleshooting role, representing the Spirit. The Shareholder is the Director's father, and represents the Father. The real secret of level five is that the people who work there have learned to have the Shareholder and Director's outlook on things, and they work for their goals. This makes them the happiest and most profitable group in the company.
In the end Logan is offered a job on any level he wishes, including the fifth.
I think this is a wonderful parable and it really makes you think about how people in the world believe.

Monday, June 22, 2009

For once it is peaceful and quiet here at our house; my nephew and grandnephew have gone to visit his dad for a few days. I have been reading some books I bought last week today and knitting a little on a shawl I'm making. I'm also trying to ward off another UTI and what feels like a sinus infection.
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