All from an early morning in October of 2007. There are more I took that day, but these are the best.
As you can tell from the title, this is #2 in a series about my spiritual journey. The first post in this series isn’t labelled, but you’ll find it here.
Belief-O-Matic is an online quiz at the Beliefnet website. It claims to be able to tell you, based on your answers to 20 questions, what religion you should practice, or at least learn more about. It’s mostly for fun. The questions are based on stated beliefs of many religious groups, and although some of the questions seem to have vague or incomplete answers, it can give you a pretty good idea of what religions match what you believe. I take it every 6-8 months, just to see how things are. Surprisingly (or maybe not), my results are pretty consistent. A few groups always make it into the top 5, with the #1 spot being 1 of 2 groups. The bottom groups are always pretty similar, too. I guess my beliefs are pretty consistent after all. Anyway, here’s the results from yesterday: Continue reading
It’s a little early. I usually do this in January of the new year, but my list is getting a little long. So here’s the best books I’ve read in 2014, all rated 5 stars:
- Longbourn (Jo Baker, finished 22 January) The same time, family and a lot of the same locations as Pride and Prejudice, but a completely different perspective. An excellent book, and an enlightening perspective on life as lived by the serving classes in early 19th century England. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
- The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life (Noble Smith, finished 6 February) What can we learn from the Hobbits and Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring? Quite a lot, it seems. If you’ve always wanted to live a simpler life and you love Hobbits, then this is the book or you.
- The Mark of a Man (Maggie Lee, finished 16 March) Peril and intrigue in medieval Britain. This is an excellent M/M novel involving a young man and the soldier who is charged with arresting him and bringing him in. Dark forces are at work behind the scenes.
- The Magpie Lord (K.J. Charles, finished 1 April) Magic and steampunk. Another M/M novel involving a man called back from China to take possession of the family estate after the suicides of his father and older brother, and the magic practitioner who tries to save him.
- A Case of Possession (K.J. Charles, finished 2 April) The follow up to The Magpie Lord. This time with giant rats and Chinese sorcerers.
- The Cat’s Table (Michael Ondaatje, finished 20 May) This is the story of a 12-year-old boy who is sent by ship from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to England in the 1950’s to be reunited with his mother. A coming-of-age story that is beautifully written, with a poet’s voice. Quite simply, unforgettable.
- The Templar Legacy (Steve Berry, finished 30 May) This and The Alexandria Link are part of Berry’s Cotton Malone series. Exciting adventures that keep you up reading them long after you should be asleep.
- The Alexandria Link (Steve Berry, finished 31 May)
- Mrs. Queen Takes the Train (William Kuhn, finished 25 June) The Queen, now in her mid-80’s, is feeling a little down in the years since 1995. Feeling the need for a little cheering up, she slips out of Buckingham Palace and goes on an incognito trip to Scotland. Her happiest moments that she recalls were on the royal yacht Britannia, which is now a tourist attraction. Once she’s discovered missing, various people start looking for her, palace staff, a young Englishman of Indian descent. Overall, an excellent book, and one I will enjoy reading again. If you have any interest in the House of Windsor, or even how people who have spent their entire lives in the public eye cope with the attention and stress, you’ll love this book.
- The Keeper of Lost Causes (Jussi Adler-Olsen, finished 13 July) Set in Copenhagen, this title begins a series of Scandinavian police procedurals that rivals anything written in the USA. Easily the equal of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If you follow the Scandinavian crime books that are so popular recently, this is a must read.
- Rotters (Carl R. Cart, finished 13 August) Honestly, I enjoyed this book very much. It’s the first zombie book I’ve come across that tries to provide a scientific rationale for the creatures. And it actually makes sense. I won’t go into the details, that would spoil it for you. The author clearly knows his biology and his military. I could wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone interested in military thrillers, or zombie books. If I have one complaint about this book, it’s that the dialogue seems a little formal and stilted. It’s not written in a casual style I’m used to, and since I read with my ears as much as my eyes, it throws me off some. Still, I would gladly recommend this book.
- Not a Creature Was Stirring (Jane Haddam, finished 4 September) The first book in Haddam’s Gregor Demarkian series of mysteries. Demarkian, described as “the Armenian-American Poirot,” is a retired FBI serial killer profiler putting his skills to use as a private consultant. When he’s not dealing with his quirky neighbors and friends in his old neighborhood. The early books in this series have been out of print, but are being re-released by Mysterious Press. Well worth the effort of tracking them down.
I love books. I read a lot. Of course, working in a library, I get most of my books from there. But with my tastes in reading material, I can’t always get what I want to read from the library. Even though I order our fiction and eBooks. So I’m always looking for good places to get books. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of money, so I’m always looking for bargains, too. Here’s some of my favorite places to get good deals, especially on eBooks. Some people don’t like eBoosk, but for me, they’re a lot easier to read and carry around. Continue reading
I’ll admit. I don’t watch a lot of movies anymore. There’s probably lots of reasons. It’s too expensive to go to the theater, I don’t have as much time anymore, I would rather read a book than watch it, you get the idea. But overall, one reason stands out: No one is making the movies that I want to see. I know, it’s a pretty common complaint, and public tastes change. I shouldn’t expect the film industry to spend millions making movies that appeal to me. But that’s the way it is. So what movies do I like? Continue reading
I was browsing new blogs earlier today, and I found an interesting post about iTunes U on Rottin’ in Denmark. By the way, if you’re looking for some interesting perspectives on the world at large, this is a good blog to follow. Anyway, There was a reference in this post to a site I had never heard of: Coursera. I’m always looking for new places to take some online courses, so I clicked the link. Continue reading
So much of our lives in western culture are defined by the number four: four seasons, four horsemen of the Apocalypse, four ages (infancy, youth, adulthood, old age), the Final Four in college basketball. I could go on and on.
A lot of this is strictly cultural. After all, if we lived in another part of the world, we might only recognize two seasons (wet/dry, hot/cool). Why only four horsemen? There are a lot more horrible things out there than conquest, war, famine, and death.
Why isn’t five to be a more natural number? After all, we have five fingers on each hand. It’s how we learn to count. Or ten. Most of the major western languages use a decimal system of counting, and the metric system of measurement used in most of the world is based on ten. Still, four is one of the most commonly used numbers in our culture. For some of us, it’s even more important. Continue reading
Well, I took the plunge. I signed up for the Ultimate Blog Challenge for October. In a way, it’s kind of scary. I’ve never done something like this before, deciding to write something here every day for a month. What happens if I run out of things to say? Granted, that’s not likely. I can talk a lot when I want to. I guess the real question is what do I do if I run out of things to write? That’s completely different. So anyway, I need to do 31 blog posts during the month of October. Who knows what I’ll write about? There are some posts I need to do followups on, more music posts I have in mind, maybe some creative writing. It should be interesting. I’m looking forward to it.
The song Somewhere Over the Rainbow is one of my absolute favorite songs. It seems sad and hopeful at the same time. I listen to it every tme I feel like I need a lift. Here’s a collection of some great versions. first, the classic Judy Garland version from The Wizard of Oz (1939). Continue reading
I feel like talking about my spiritual journey, this being Easter weekend, and all. It’s been interesting so far, with more yet to come (I hope!), so I’ll be doing this in stages. Today, it’s the early part of the journey: my younger years.
I was raised in the United Methodist church. Well, technically, I guess the first part was in the Methodist church, since it was pre-merger. I grew up in a small town in southern Indiana, and it was a fairly small congregation, in a small white-frame church building. For the longest time, until a Church of Christ congregation arrived, it was the only church in town. Even though it wasn’t that big, it was pretty active. Church camps, Bible studies, revivals, various holiday gatherings, we had it all. I remember the music was excellent. There was a lot of great singers who went to that church, including my mother. My father was choir leader, and he has a strong musical background. He played in a jazz group before we moved out of the city. We even had good pianists and organists. There really was a lot of talent in that church!
Anyway, along came adolescence, and I was having some issues. I finally decided I wasn’t going to that church, and I was lucky that my parents didn’t push the issue. I was learning more about other Christian denominations and world religions, and I wasn’t comfortable with a lot of the Methodist theology. That’s where my spiritual journey really began. Through the years, I’ve kept up with what the United Methodist church is doing (although that congregation no longer exists), but I’ve never really felt any need to attend a Methodist church. Apparently, none of the rest of my family has, either. My parents started going to a Disciples of Christ congregation when they move back north (probably a better fit for my mother, who was raised Southern Baptist). My brother’s family goes to a non-denominational congregation of some sort. As for me? Well, that’s what this whole thing’s about. I’ll tell more about that in a future article.