Ayr Mont in the Snow
Friday Fun Song: "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us" - Sparks

My Non-Lenten Lenten Reading

A long post that I came up with while walking today.  Let's see how much of it I can remember...

Besides remembering, I have a problem with the title.  If I title this "My Lenten Reading," people who want spiritual inspiration are going to be greatly disappointed, and the people who want to read about science fiction, fantasy, Norse Mythology, and reading Heinlein again after many years (and a feminist daughter) might miss a post by thinking this will be spiritually inspirational.  Or spiritually pushy.  Which I don't think I am, and this certainly isn't. 

Hence the title.

Every year, when I'm thinking of what to do, Lenten-wise, I keep thinking of things until I come up with something that "seems" right at the time.  I know, this isn't analytical, but it's the way I go about it. 

Where I did end up, this year, was to cut back on my computer time (that's the "giving up" part) and to read more instead.  I also decided that what I will read in that time will be books that either my kids have enjoyed or ones they intend to read.  That's the part that doesn't really feel Lenten because they're all good books.  However, there have been a few days when I was tired, didn't want to read, and wanted to "vegitate" on the computer instead.  I read anyway.

WoadtoWuin I started with Woad to Wuin, the second volume in Peter David's "Sir Apropos of Nothing" trilogy.  It's intense and gory, and it makes the first volume (post here) seem light and cheery.  Older son and daughter have both also been reading the trilogy.  I realized that this actually goes along with my morning, devotional reading - there's a lot of slaughtering in the book of Judges, and Woad to Wuin gives a possible picture of what those battles may have been like. 

The book of Judges is not one of Daughter's favorites.  I'm not too crazy about it either with all the slaughtering.  And, what are you supposed to learn from the story of Jephthah, besides "Be careful what you promise"?  Today, I did enjoy the story of Sampson's parents (Judges, chapter 13).  The angel tells his mother that she will bear a son.  She tells her husband who prays that the angel could return and tell them how to raise the boy.  After the angel returns and they receive the instructions, the husband tells the angel that they will prepare a kid  for him.  The angel says they should sacrifice it to the Lord.  When they do so and the angel ascends in the flame from the altar, the husband says that they will surely die for they have seen the Lord.  His wife, in a very matter of fact fashion, replies:  "If the Lord had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have let us hear things like this at this time" (Judges 13:23).

StrangerinaStrangeLand After Woad to Wuin, I started rereading Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land.  I really enjoyed this the first few times I read it, but that was a long time ago.  Daughter didn't like the one Heinlein she's read, Starman Jones.  Since he's been one of my favorite authors for a long time, I was hoping that Stranger would be more interesting to her than his juveniles (books he wrote for boys).  Part of the problem with Starman Jones was that she did not like the way he wrote women.  They were interesting, but he never gave them anything to do.  After modern science fiction, particularly Starbuck and the other female characters in Battlestar Galactica, it's certainly more difficult to read science fiction where women are in the background.

Unfortunately, rereading "Stranger" with this in mind, I realized that daughter probably wouldn't like it either.  It's got a great cast of female characters... who cook (offscreen), organize, type, take care of babies (offscreen), have lots of sex (fade out), kiss well, but are basically secondary.   Jill, who gets the plot rolling, turns secondary in a few chapters.  Most of the serious discussions are among men.  I'm still enjoying the book, and older son will probably read it, but I have to agree that daughter probably would be irritated.

On daughter's recommendation, I'm also reading The Full Spectrum.  That was part of the "Can I Be a Christian?" post that I mentioned (which may or may not get written).  One story in there is of a teen growing in the conviction she should be ordained (and also becoming certain about other areas of her life).  I've read other stories of people's convictions that God has a particular destiny for them, like ordination, or of people who know that they have certain spiritual gifts from God, and I don't really understand either.  I just kind of go day to day trying to do what God wants me to, but I've never had the feeling that there was some grander scheme that I should be aiming for or that I'm part of. 

NorseMyths Younger son and I have been reading about the Vikings so last week I got out Mary Pope Osborne's, Favorite Norse Myths, and I started reading it to him this week.  We were reading about Odin's quest for the secret runes (which give one magic powers over nature).   Since "the price of great knowledge was great suffering," he hung himself for nine days on the World Tree with his own sword in  his side (p. 10).*  This reminded me of many things, in other faiths, that are similar to Lent - fasting or other sacrifices in order to purify oneself.

But this, along with last Sunday's reading about Jesus praying for 40 days in the desert, led me to another question.  In long periods of prayer and fasting... well... what do you do?  Talk to God for all that time?  Talk at God?  Petitions?  I'm not that wordy a person.  Okay, this post is getting long, but you're the one who decided to read this far (I'm never quite sure why).  I would never go on at this length if we were having a face to face conversation because I might be boring you.   Getting back to lengthy prayers - do you sit quietly with God?  Do you get distracted?  I do have certain times for prayer, but mostly I just talk to God during the day. 

I feel that I shouldn't have even written that last sentence.  It's way too casual and not formal or intentional enough. 

I've also been reading Blue Like Jazz in the mornings as part of my devotional reading.  I like parts of this, and really don't care for others.  I almost put the book down after the first chapter.  He talks about, as a child, having spent some of his Christmas money on something for himself and therefore not getting his mother as nice a present as he had intended.  He concludes the chapter by telling about his family sitting happily at Christmas dinner and not realizing that they were eating with Hitler - himself. 

That's taking things way too seriously, and that's part of the problem I have with Lent.  It's very easy to take Lenten observances so seriously that you feel you've done something horrible by having a sip of diet Coke, or a taste of sugar, or forgetting your devotional reading (I get to it eventually - but I'm trying to start the day with it). 

Next on my list:  Holes, The Picture of Dorian Gray (a favorite of daughter's), and A Tale of Two Cities.

* I realize the Christian parallel in this.  C.S. Lewis once wrote an essay about how that sort of thing doesn't surprise him.  If you believe something is true, you'd expect it to show up in various places. 



If you're looking for a Heinlein book for Daughter, You might want to have her read "Friday." One of the few Heinlein novels where the main character is female. "The Number of the Beast" also has two very strong female characters, though the epilogue will be very confusing to anyone who hasn't read most of Heinlein's other stories.


I'm snickering over daughter's reaction to Heinlein. I have the exact same response. Why do all of his women have a libido exactly like that of a man? How can he imagine the universes that he does and be so unimaginative when it comes to the opposite sex? I mean, really. He was married. How much do you think he knew about his wife?

M Light

Alex: She might try that one. I remember enjoying it. I'm not sure I ever read "The Number of the Beast" so I'll have to take a look at that one.

Karen-in-law: I read somewhere that actually many of the women in his later books (long after "Stranger") were modeled after his wife - beautiful, opinionated redheads. He was writing "Stranger" in the 50's - maybe he learned more after that (grin).

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