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A review of Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life by Kathleen Norris.
Acedia, in case you didn’t know, is a word that fourth-century Christian monks used to describe a temptation that’s difficult to translate into modern English. The word has been used in lots of ways and contexts since, although it’s fallen out of common use: it’s closely allied to, though not identical with, the Deadly Sin of Sloth, and attempts to explain the concept in a modern context relate acedia to: boredom, laziness, ennui, even depression.
Donald Miller’s Searching for God Knows What begins with an anecdote that sums up some of what I like best and what I like least in his writing. In this opening story, Miller attends a Christian writers’ workshop. His analysis of the other conference attendees and speakers (whom he describes as “Very small people ... mostly women”) is funny, but also annoyingly patronizing and chauvinistic, as in the following passage:
The Faith Club, by Ranya Idilby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner, is a book I’d heard about for awhile and was anxious to read. It’s the story of three women — one Muslim, one Jewish, one Christian — who began meeting together to talk about their three faiths, to explore differences and find common ground.
In reviewing this book, I’ll resist the temptation to tell you the story of how the author, Nathan Brown, made me buy it, and the story of his deep discontent with the book’s title and the sunflower on the cover, and even the completely irrelevant story of how he ran a red light, got a ticket, and had to take a breathalyzer test while driving me around Perth. I’ll cut straight to the heart of the matter: it’s an engaging, well-written, thought-provoking book, and you should read it.
I’ve been involved with Pathfinders on and off all my life. That’s Pathfinders, the international youth organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for boys and girls aged 10-15, not be confused with Pathfinders, the level of Girl Guides for ages 12-14.
Testament is a gorgeously written re-telling of the story of Jesus of Nazareth — not the story of the divine Son of God, but of a compelling and complex human being in first-century Galilee. The story is told in four parts from the perspective of four different characters — Judas Iscariot, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus, and an extra-Biblical character of the author’s own invention, Simon of Gergesa.
A.J. Jacob’s The Year of Living Biblically is one of the books I was “saving” for Lent, knowing that I’d enjoy it. In case you haven’t heard of it (and you probably have, because it’s getting a lot of hype), it’s Jacobs’ story of the year he spent trying to follow every precept and rule in the Bible as literally as he possibly could.