reading week in review: august 5-12

Selected highlights… Just books this week…

1. Started the fourth book in Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, The Kalahari Typing School for Men. McCall Smith’s novels in this series, if you’re not familiar with them, are simple and delightfully told tales of one Mma Ramotswe, founder and head detective at the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. The novels are set in the nation of Botswana in Africa where the author, a Scot, enjoyed a career as a law professor. I enjoy books that have an “other-worldly” element to them. Not “other-worldly” referring strictly to fantasy novels, but meaning something that is sufficiently cross-cultural to offer a new way of looking at life. These are in that realm–not intensely so, but definitely there. Others, for example, would include The Kite Runner (which I just finished) with its setting in modern Pakistan, and the fantastic novels of Chaim Potok, set in the Hasidic Jewish communities in 20th century New York City–The Chosen, My Name is Asher Lev, and In the Beginning, being excellent examples.

2. I have neglected to include my devotional reading, but I’ve been reading a passage each day from the Gospel of Mark, guided by NT (Tom) Wright’s Mark For Everyone. I’m in the middle of chapter 8 now.

3. Read chapter 10 in Jesus Mean and Wild, by Mark Galli, for a men’s bible study I lead on Wednesday mornings before work. Galli reflects on the story of Jesus quieting the wind and the waves. He calls into question our preoccupation with rushing to the “spiritual messages” within such stories (he indicts himself along with anyone else) and takes a step back to observe that this story displays Jesus’ raw power–both frightening and wondrous to behold to be sure. He presses us on our common practice of explaining away and softening the bible’s language on the “fear of the Lord.” To mitigate our hesitancy, he offers the analogy of fire. Fire has a powerfully attractive quality to it. It has the potential both to sustain life and to take life. Water has the same potential. Surely we can say the same of the Lord, whose raw power brought us into being and sustains us.

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