Tag Archives: classics

Classic Monday: Avoidance + Confession

So, I haven’t done a Classic Monday post the past few weeks.  Why?  Because I feel pressured every time I look at the pretty, vintage copy of The Big Fisherman laying on my nightstand, inviting me to crack its spine and dive in–which I do.  The problem is, there are so many other things to read, too!

Here’s a confession: for as much as I love reading, I’m a slow reader.  And an ADD one at that…I struggle with books that don’t move quickly enough and I have a terrible habit of starting too many books at a time.

How does any of that relate to Classic Mondays?  I had all of these grand delusions intentions about reading a classics chapter every day, finishing four classics this year, etc.  But I never factored in my reading ADD or Pookie’s playtime needs.

And I don’t want to skimp on playtime because I feel guilty!

So, I come to you, my reader friend, with a new goal: if I read a chapter a week and finish just one classic this year, I will feel successful.

Phew, with that off my chest I can share with you about chapter 10!

Voldi meets a bunch of Romans and Lloyd C. Douglas philosophizes about Roman culture, with accurate predictions (through the guise of characters) about the downfall of Rome.  It was fascinating and I understand where he was going, but it wasn’t executed to the best of his ability, in my humble opinion.

Then Voldi goes on his way, traveling toward Galilee with a tip from a Roman: he should seek Ben Zadok, the lawyer who got Fara her job in the palace, so I’m sure Voldi and Fara will soon be reunited..though the way their paths cross should be interesting.

Voldi passes through Nazareth, where the food, the people, and the surroundings are unappetizing and unwelcoming.  But he does meet with a farrier who tells him about Jesus as a child.  I like the way Douglas portrays Jesus in his youth; Jesus is said to have been shy around adults but eager to tell other children about a wonderful country where

there was no winter and no darkness–and the rivers never dried or overflowed–and nobody was ever sick–and nobody died–and nobody wept.  And everyone loved the King….The country was at peace.  There were no soldiers, no forts, no prisons, no alms-houses.  Everyone had some work to do, but not for money.  There wasn’t any money.  No one was rich; no one was poor.  And flowers grew everywhere and always–but nobody gathered them (278, 279).

Doesn’t that sound like the place to be?  One day, one day…


Classic Monday: Fishie Update!

Classic Mondays are posts about whatever classic work of literature I happen to be reading at the time. Mostly, this is for my own benefit as a “reading log” of sorts, but those who need a little help through these sometimes-intimidating books or want to know more about them before diving in may find these posts useful. But be warned: full disclosure and lots of spoilers ahead!

FINALLY, right?  I’ve been itching to read The Big Fisherman and to write about it for awhile, but circumstances are a real pain in the patoot.  Anyway, I read chapters eight and nine, so here goes:

In chapter eight, Fara begins work at the palace.  She gets along with others easily, and the work is enjoyable.  Then she learns that John the Baptist is being held prisoner there.  She offers to take him his meals, and they are able to speak openly once again; she is even able to offer him time in the sun, which he has not seen in weeks or more.  She tells him about seeing the Carpenter, that he speaks of peace and love rather than overthrowing the government and wrath as John had expected.  John sends her to see him again, telling her to say that John the Baptist wonders if he is the one or should he look for another (sound familiar?).

Simon also went to see the Carpenter, yet again.  Simon is living on his boat, his head racing.  He is convinced that he will befriend the Carpenter and offer to keep the masses from piling on him so.  The Carpenter has something else in mind: Simon sees him on the beach and joins him there.  The Carpenter tells him to follow and though Simon admits how sinful he is, the Carpenter simply says

“I have come to save sinners, my son” (225).

Goosebumps, no?  Simon follows him along the beach and they collect James and John, the sons of Zebedee.

And then, we go back to Voldi.  Have I mentioned Voldi yet?  I didn’t pay much attention to him in the beginning, and I was ready to dismiss him again.  But he gets into a thrilling battle with a horse thief while searching for Fara, and I couldn’t help but enjoy following his storyline.  You see, Voldi is in love with Fara and knows that she set out to kill her father.  He is determined to find her and is hot on the trail.  Then he meets up with a Roman aristocrat and they strike up a friendship in which Voldi bares all.

But here’s the kicker: the Roman is on his way to pick up Antipas the Tetrarch, Fara’s father.  And Voldi gets to come along.

And so the plot thickens!

P.S. I would love to hear from anybody else reading a classic…whatcha reading?

Classic Monday: Fishie, chapter 7!

Classic Mondays are posts about whatever classic work of literature I happen to be reading at the time. I shoot for reading five chapters a week (one per weekday), then share what I have read here. Mostly, this is for my own benefit as a “reading log” of sorts,but those who need a little help through these sometimes-intimidating books or want to know more about them before diving in may find these posts useful. But be warned: full disclosure and lots of spoilers ahead!

Well, I really didn’t expect to be able to write today: my family was supposed to be in-state to visit a culinary school my little brother is interested in (oh to have a chef in the family–I can hardly wait!), and we were going to join them in that city for a little hotel getaway.

Blizzard of 08

And then they got snowed in.  And our getaway went Poof.  So long.  Sayonara.  No pool time, along-with-the-hubster time, no visit-with-mom time, no dinner out, no free continental breakfast.

Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

Blog instead.

So, chapter seven of The Big Fisherman is all I got through this week, but it was pretty good.

The beginning follows Fara on a visit to the home of David, the Sadducee who suspects who she is.  Alone in the garden, she confesses everything to him–even her plans to kill Antipas the Tetrach, her father.  David advises against it, stating that it is impossible…unless she were to work at the palace.  Later, we find out that she has taken a position there at David’s urging (so it’s obvious he’s not a huge fan of Antipas–though the book shows that nobody is).  Hannah worries about Fara because the palace is such a morally compromised place, and that is all we see of Fara for now.

Simon has once again gone in search of the Carpenter (that is, Jesus), and his heart seems to be changing: when he sees the crippled and lame who are searching for Jesus, Simon hopes that He is the real deal because he pities them.  And doesn’t every follower of Christ know this feeling?  The deep-down heart change that can’t be explained until Jesus grabs hold?

While Simon is trying to find Jesus, he has a brush with a prince: Joseph of Arimathea.  The author portrays him as young and arrogant, angry at Simon when he alludes to the fact that the Carpenter pities the rich.  Joseph and his men follow the crowd, too, to listen.

The way the author describes Jesus’ preaching is reason alone to read this book.  If you haven’t already gotten the hint from my previous posts, you must read this book.  Anyway…as the sermon draws to a close, a woman asks Simon to help get her blind daughter to Jesus to be healed.  The crowd is too thick, so Simon takes the girl in his arms and pushes through.  He sees Jesus face-to-face for the first time and the author’s description gave me chills:

“And now–now–at last–he stood face to face with the strange man of Nazareth, close enough to have touched him….He looked down into a pair of tranquil, steady, earnestly inquiring eyes.  They held him fast; they brightened with a friendly smile, almost as if two long-time companions were meeting after a separation….

It was such a gentle gesture that it seemed like a caress when Jesus laid his hand lightly upon the little girl’s eyes….At the touch of Jesus’ hand, she relaxed and drew a babyish sigh of relief and reassurance.  Simon’s eyes suddenly swam blindingly as Jesus’ forearm rested on his own.  It was a strange sensation.  he knew now what it was that had suddenly soothed the child and freed her of her fears.

Jesus was praying.  He had closed his eyes, and was praying in a soft voice barely above a whisper.  His prayer was made to his “Father,” and it was as if they two were closeted together in some secret place.  In a tone of intimate companionship and confidence he asked his Father to give this little one her sight, for it was through no fault of hers that she could not see.  Then–and there was a note of sadness and longing in his voice–he prayed that all men everywhere, groping in the shadows, might be led into the bright sunshine of his Father’s love….

Simon thought he couldn’t bear it–when it happened.  He gasped involuntarily and stifled a sob.  The incredible thing had happened!  It was impossible–but it had actually happened!  Jesus had gently moved his hand from the child’s eyes and…she had slowly raised her wondering eyes to his–and smiled.  Then, turning her head, she gazed bewilderedly into Simon’s face; and, seeing his tears, her own little eyes overflowed.

As I said before, you must read this book.  And even the haughty Joseph of Arimathea was amazed by the things he saw.  As the story gets better and better, you can bet I’ll have more chapters to report on next Monday!

{photo credit}

“Life in the barn…”

Life in the barn was very good–night and day,

winter and summer, spring and fall, dull days and bright days.

It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur,

this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese,

the changing seasons, the heat of the sun,

the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness

of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure,

and the glory of everything.

–E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

Classic Monday: Fishy, take two

Classic Mondays are posts about whatever classic work of literature I happen to be reading at the time. I shoot for reading five chapters a week (one per weekday), then share what I have read here. Mostly, this is for my own benefit as a “reading log” of sorts,but those who need a little help through these sometimes-intimidating books or want to know more about them before diving in may find these posts useful. But be warned: full disclosure and lots of spoilers ahead!

While I had every intention of reading farther in The Big Fisherman, I only managed to read one chapter last week.  And it reminded me why classics can be difficult to slog through sometimes: there’s an insane amount of detail.

And this chapter was sort of a snoozefest.

For example, in chapter 6, we spent several pages inside Simon’s head, listening to his internal monologue, a long litany of every problem in his life.  Every.single.problem.  And all of said problems had already been explained in the story’s more active points.

But, aside from Simon’s ranting while slumped against a tree, we were able to see Fara’s (or maybe we should say Esther because that is the false name she is using) first interaction with her father, the Tetrarch.  The Tetrarch is leaving Galilee for his annual trip to Rome for the winter.  It’s the Day of Atonement, a day for forgiveness and repentance and somberness and this guy is having a parade.  Ridiculous.

Anyway, Fara is watching the procession and a guard insists she come speak to the Tetrarch.  Luckily, the wise Sadducee who had previously shown interest in Fara’s background jumps in and whisks her away, alerting Fara to the fact that David (the Sadducee) suspects something of her.

I wish I had more to report, but that’s really all that happened–hoping I squeeze in more classics-time this week!

{photo credit}

Classic Monday: The Big Fisherman

Classic Mondays are posts about whatever classic work of literature I happen to be reading at the time.  I shoot for reading five chapters a week (one per weekday), then share what I have read here.  Mostly, this is for my own benefit as a “reading log” of sorts,but those who need a little help through these sometimes-intimidating books or want to know more about them before diving in may find these posts useful.  But be warned: full disclosure and lots of spoilers ahead!

Lloyd C. Douglas is best-known for his masterpiece The Robe, but the Professor assures me that The Big Fisherman is even better.

Admittedly, I struggled with the beginning of this little-known work, but as the Professor raves about it, I pressed on; by the third-or-so chapter (where we begin to meet well-known figures), I was hooked, too.

Our story begins with the marriage/political union of a Israelite prince and Arabian princess. Though the Israelites and Arabians strongly dislike one another, the union is supposed to be positive for both people groups.  Naturally, the youngsters are unhappy with the arrangement and though the princess bears a daughter, she is sent back to Arabia, much to the shame of herself and her people.

What then of the baby, Fara, who is half-Jew, half-Arabian, and not acceptable anywhere?  She is raised to be happy but lonely and vows to avenge the people of Arabia by killing her father.  After her mother dies, Fara disguises herself as a boy and races off into the night on horseback, headed toward Israel and her father the Tetrarch.

This is where it starts to get interesting!  The cutting-off-of-the-hair-and-dressing-like-a-boy reminded me of the Disney film Mulan, so I sat up a little straighter and read more carefully.  Then when a man calls Fara “daughter” and tells her he can see through her facade, I read even more closely: the man was John the Baptist!  The author’s portrayal of John the Baptist draws the reader into the character; he is warm and compassionate and highly intuitive, but he is also still human because he expresses great shock when he learns just who Fara is.  She even confides in him, telling him of her mission.  He tries gently to dissuade her but more importantly implores her to hear the Carpenter speak before she goes about her mission.

Here, we leave Fara and become acquainted with the Big Fisherman, that is Simon (who becomes Peter).  Simon is not overly educated, but he is a good businessman, very strong, and much respected (or perhaps feared).  Again, the biblical character is very human; the author takes great care to present him as flawed but likable and–most important–three-dimensional.  He shows kindness to a stray camel boy who shows up with John (yes, John the son of Zebedee) but is more eager to hear John’s account of the Carpenter, whom he went to see speak the previous day.

Simon and the other fishermen listen hungrily to John’s report, but they are not satisfied with it: they want to hear that he is a crackpot, not that he spoke with great authority or innovatively about the hopelessness of possessions over peace.  But when John says that he saw a crippled man walk, Simon and the others become incredibly hostile, leading to a fight between John and Simon that leaves them not speaking.  Simon shows further compassion on the camel boy by sending him onto his mother-in-law’s home to stay the night.

The mother-in-law, Naomi, insists on a bath and clean clothes for the camel boy.  Though the boy is hesitant, he eventually hands over the items, and an astonished Naomi finds ladies’ undergarments beneath the dirty, boyish clothes! I must admit…I was surprised, too!   I had become so engrossed in the story of the fisherman, I was completely taken off-guard by the return of our heroine.  Naomi promises to keep Fara’s female identity a secret, but she asks David (a Sadducee who comes by occasionally to speak with Simon) what the markings on the undergarments mean and gives the game away.  David leaves pondering things–though he has not said outright that he knows who Fara is–and Naomi worries that she has done the wrong thing.

Meanwhile, Simon has gone in search of the Carpenter himself.  He is drawn to the speech he hears but resists.  Then, there is a great scuffle as a man takes his boy to be healed and the crowd closes in on him as Jesus leaves the place where He had been speaking.  The boy does not walk perfectly, but the man thinks that perhaps his body needs time to warm up to full use of the leg.  Simon remains skeptical at the end of chapter five.

And that’s it for now!  Tune in next Monday {or at the rate I’m going, Tuesday again!} to find out what happens next!

Non-Fiction Titles 2011

I mentioned in my New Year’s Resolution post that I plan to read four classics, twelve non-fiction books, and 44 just-for-fun books this year.

{Why 44?  I like nice, round numbers.}

In past years, I’ve made long lists of books that sounded great but weren’t readily accessible to me because…well, they cost money.  And money for books, I ain’t got.

So here is my 2011 all-available-at-the-library, non-fiction list:

January: DebtFree U :: Bissonnette

February: Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever :: Fox

March: Open Heart, Open Home :: Mains

April: Surprised by Hope :: Wright

May: Your Baby and Child :: Leach

June: Empire of Liberty :: Wood

July: Steady Days :: Martin

August: How to Survive Without a Salary :: Wood

September: The Well-Educated Mind :: Bauer

October: Bonhoeffer :: Metaxas

November: How Children Learn :: Holt

December: The Family Dinner :: David

My classics choices were based on books on our shelves just waiting to be read: The Big Fisherman, Wives and Daughters (which I’m halfway through but put down and now have to wait for Professor to finish), Oliver Twist, and Ben-Hur.  Should be a fun year! :D