Posted in Readers, Writers Write, Readers Read, Rollers Roll

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite book is in the Chronicles of Narnia series is I often reply whatever book of the series I’m reading at that time, unless of course I’m reading the last battle.

This is mostly due to how greatly I esteem the first 6 books in the series and only marginally due to my opinions of the final installment of C.S. Lewis’s beloved heptalogy. Since this is a review of the aforementioned final installment my opinions will surface soon enough, but first some background may be helpful.

I first became familiar with Narnia while in High school while attending a youth group called Campus Life. Speakers at events would read or tell stories from the books. At some point in the summer of 1980 I purchased my first set of the chronicles and I instantly fell in love with this series and subsequently all of Lewis’s work. This set which I bought back in the Carter administration, went every where with me: college, Russia, South Carolina, and back to Illinois when I returned home to court Amy. This was even the set I used to read to our children (initially in the womb) and the same set my children read themselves. Some of those books are now no longer in existence as while I devour books figuratively, my children seem to devour them literally.

In all that time I generally managed to reread each book every year. This year I decided that I would double down and read each book twice. First I would read the books in the order they were published and secondly I would read them in the order they happen in Narnian history, As my 100 days of summer reading began I was midway through The Last Battle, the final book in the order they were published. On this past Saturday I finished it,

The Last Battle is the last book in the series in either way of ordering them. As I have mentioned it is my least favorite. I’m not exactly sure why this is the case. Many people consider it their most favorite and in my multiple readings of it I have been open minded about improving it’s place in my estimation of it. This has just not happened.

The last battle is the story of the ending of Narnia and in a sense like Jill Pole, a character introduced in the Silver Chair. I hoped Narnia would never come to an end. In that way I may have prejudiced my self to a story chronicling it’s end. There are also parts of the book that if I read theologically I would find myself disagreeing with. However I’m not sure if that’s exactly why I find the book wanting. In fact I’m not even sure if I find the book wanting or it just pales in comparison to the other 6. Because like I said I don’t hate or even dislike The Last Battle, I just don’t regard it the same as I do the other 6.

That being said, I tried as much as possible in this reading to approach The Last Battle with fresh eyes. The past few years I even skipped reading it in my annual Narnia fest, so it would be less familiar to me when I did revisit it.

This approach did work to an extent, and I think I enjoyed the book this time around more than I had in past attempts. There certainly aspects and nuances that I gleaned more from than I had previously. One such aspect I rediscovered was the integral roles Jill and Eustace have in this story. I remember them being in it, but they had an earlier and more prolonged involvement than I had remembered. I thought their part was reduced to the final chapters of the book like the other Friends of Narnia. However much like the Pevinise children in Prince Caspian, Jill and Eustace are called to Narnia for a to provide help in the midst of an already developed narrative and then are very central as the narrative comes to a conclusion.

One aspect I’ve always enjoyed about this book is the role of the dwarves in this book Especially near the end of the book when they are at a feast and all they see is dirt. I have had many such experiences when I have not been able to see the joyous things set before me because they have been obscured by my negative thinking.

I really enjoyed The Last Battle this time around, while it’s still not the best of the Narnia bunch, it still ends the Narnian story in a credible fashion.

If I’m to write a review for all the books I read this summer they will probably need to be shorter , so far I’m on pace to read 26 books this summer and only complete 5 reviews.

Posted in Readers, Summer Reading, Writers Write, Readers Read, Rollers Roll

Summer Reading 2019

In my mind, there are 100 days this summer. A lot of people consider Summer the time between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. I lean that way myself. I also am a numbers guy and in some ways a round numbers guy. And you have to admit one hundred is a pretty round number. So Each year around this time I pronounce a 100 day period near the Memorial Day Weekend and the Labor Day Weekend as my Summer Reading time.

This year it began on Sunday May 25th and will end on September 2nd. During that time I like to spend quite a bit of time reading. My goal is to finish 20 books in 100 days. I also hope to post small reviews of each book that I finish. At the end of the Summer Reading Season, I will add a page to the top pf this blog with all the books I read.

I tend to read multiple books at a time and when May 25th rolled around I was in the process of reading 3 books.. SInce then I have started 2 others. These are in no particular order

The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis, which is a book I own

My Final Word, by Charles Colson, which is a book I just purchased.

Rejoice, Karen Kingsbury,, which I borrowed from the library and reading on my IPAD both courtesy of the Hoopla App.

Abortion by R.C. Sproul, I borrowed this book through inter library loan and will be returning before I can get it finished so I will probably borrow it again later this summer

Restoring All Things, Warren Cole Smith & John Stonestreet,I just purchased this book yesterday and plan to read it to my wife this summer.

I generally don’t purchase a lot of books. I own many books that I have not read yet and several more that I like to reread. I borrow lots of books from libraries.

After 7 days with zero books completed I am not on target to finish any books this summer, let alone 20. However, I just need to finish 2 of the books above in the next 3 days and 3 in the next 8 days to be on track for the Summer. That is definitely a perk of having so many books in progress a t one time.

Do you read a lot during the summer? Do you read more than one book at a time? What are you reading now?

Posted in Readers, Writers Write, Readers Read, Rollers Roll

Is listening the new reading?

I have finished 4 books this week, for a total of 6 books finished this year.  3 of the books I’ve “read” this week are audio books that I listened to mostly on my commutes to and from work and while walking on my breaks and lunches at work.  Does that count as reading?

The same app I got from the library that allows me to “check out” books and listen them on my iPhone also allows  me to check out books and read them on my iPhone.  I love the printed page and am not a big fan of too much screen time.  But it’s hard to argue against the utility of downloading books.  Now if I don’t read or listen to a downloaded book from my library it goes away in 28 days limiting my ability to lose or not return said books to the library.

So for now I am compromising, I am reading some books the old fashioned way and other books I am reading with my ears. To clarify, the old way I was still reading with my ears.  To cut them off and read without them would be almost unheard of.  Oh Van Gogh you didn’t!

Next Time:

I’ll take colonoscopies for 300 Alex.

Posted in Random Acts of Roller, Readers

2016 wow!

Some time ago in the early to mid-80s I made my last New Year’s resolution. I resolved to never make New Year’s resolutions. This was very similar to the time that I gave up Catholicism for Lent. When it was over, since I was no longer Catholic, , I didn’t have to take it up again.

In the same bent, I have not made New Year’s resolutions as such for my entire adult life. Although, every year about this time I begin to think how would like this coming year to be different than the last. I do make resolutions I think we all do. It’s just that I don’t do them around a calendar.

Here is a short list of things I,d like to do more of in 2016 …
Read more books
Blogging
Exercise
Be on the same page as my wife 
in 2016  I,d like to …
 
Read 12 books I own and have not read.
 
Learn how a sailor cusses, so I can decide if I want to cuss like one or not.
 
Finish my nonowrimo novel.
Some things I,d like to do less of in 2016
Deep Sea dumpster diving.
Being passive reaching family and personal goals.
Avoiding unpleasant tasks.
Saying the same thing two different ways in lists.
 
2015 was a good year.  it sometimes seemed there were more downs than ups, more questions than answers.  But each down made me look up to God.  Each question was answered or is being answered by the author and perfect er of my faith. 
I am sure 2016 or as I like to call it two to the fifth three squared seven will  contain change,  disappointment, and grief as all years do .. I also know that it can contain Joy unspeakable, unlimited possibilities, and utter contentment, I wish all these to you and yours in spades or the card suit or garden implement of your choice.
Posted in Readers, Reviews, Writers, YBD

Everybody’s Little Book of Everyday Prayers – A Review

A few weeks ago I received a copy of Everybody’s Little Book of Everyday Prayers by Cynthia MacGregor.  I won the book on Library Thing as part of their Early Reviewers program.  The caveat of receiving the book for free is to review it.

The book is made up of several sections: an introduction,  general prayers,  prayers for specific occasions, and prayers of supplication and thanks. In the introduction, MacGregor shares her ambitious goal of the book …

“This book is for you – whatever your religious affiliation- even if you have no religious affiliation at all. This book is for you, whether you’re a Protestant, Jew or Catholic,   a member of one of the many religions of the world or an unaffiliated believer … This book is for you.

Like I said,  very ambitious.  The problem is the book was not for me.  Nor would I feel good about anyone using it as a guide to praying to God.  I feel bad writing this and wish I felt the book had any utility.  MacGregor is very clear in her introduction that any and all of her prayers could be fashioned to fit someone’s specific belief.  This unfortunately is not true for me.

A prayer from the general prayers section offers a good example of what I mean…

O God you know what is best for me.  You know what is in my heart and what are the things I want in this life for me, for those I love and for this very world itself.  If it is your will, I pray that my wishes and prayers will be granted, but if it is not Your will, then help me to accept my lot in life and Your plan for me, those I hold dear and for all the others whom I pray.

So what’s wrong with that, you might ask? Nothing,  that part is fine. It continues for a few more lines that I mostly agree with and then  …

and may I never rely too heavily on You, but that remember that it is up to me to do whatever I can toward gaining my goals.

What?!!!?!!!?

Didn’t you just say the God knows what is best and knows what is in my heart? To me that means that God is all good and all knowing.  How can we EVER rely too heavily on an all good and all knowing God?

In another prayer in the same section she says   …

“It is said that God created man in His image, yet how dare we assume that we are in any way God-Like?”

The thing is the person who said God was created in His image is actually God, the person this prayer is intended for.

This brings up one of the main issues I have against this book.   In order to appeal to everyone it loses sight of the main reason we pray.  We need God’s help.  The main reason we need God’s help is because we are sinners.  There is no mention of sin in this book, sure it talks about temptation and faults but not sin.  There is no mention of Jesus or a Messiah in this book the Catholics and Christians this book was intended for believe in Jesus and the Jews this book was intended for are still waiting for a Messiah.  When Holidays are mentioned Easter and Passover are not mentioned,  Christmas is only mentioned in prayers for taking down and putting up the Christmas Tree. I understand the author’s desire to be inclusive and not exclusive.  But there is a prayer in the book for paying off your mortgage wasn’t she afraid of offending apartment dwellers?

I hate that I hate this book.  I hoped this book would be written to bring everyone closer to God, but after a careful reading of it, it seems like the author thinks that everyone is okay where they were.  If that was true we would not need to pray.