Thanks to Jen at Conversiondiary.com for hosting. This quick takess is a list of some favorite books I've read recently and some not so recently...
So I have definitely been on a reading kick. This past week I finished, I Kissed Dating Goodbye at the recommendation of our parish deacon. We will be using it to supplement the Theology of the Body for Teens class materials in the fall. Been a really good and interesting book to read. It was written by a young 21 year old man who later went on to become a pastor for a non-denominational Christian church, get married and has three children. The book centers around his decision not to date until he was ready to commit to marriage. I'm not sure how the kids will take this, although it is not required reading. We will be using the parts of the book that give ideas and tips for what they should focus on other than finding a girlfriend or boyfriend. It basically calls for honoring time as singledom as a time for building deep friendships, preparing for your future and strengthening your relationship with God. All great things I think. Thinking back to the problems I had when dating, I wonder what my reaction would have been if I had come across this book. I probably would have taken some of it as good ideas, but probably not have held off on dating until I was ready for marriage. Great ideas though and I hope our teens can see how it can be helpful.
Quite a while back, the RN who taught us the Creighton Method of Naturally Family Planning recommended The Good News About Sex and Marriage. At the time we had not yet learned about Theology of the Body and we were not as fervent about learning more about the church's teachings. So, I didn't purchase this wonderful gem until a few years ago and have not read it from cover to cover, although I think the only part I have yet to read is on celibacy and the priesthood. But what I love about it is the question and answer format of the book. It is something that you usually cannot find in a bookstore and has to be special ordered, but if you happen into a Catholic bookstore, it should be there. It covers the basics about the Church's teachings on sexuality, from pre-marital sex, to same sex marriage, to contraception. It is an easy read and as the subtitle says, it provides: "Answers to Your Honest Questions about Catholic Teaching." There is a resources section in the back that provides listings for things ranging from "For Troubled Marriages" to "Post-Abortion Healing" referrals. There is also an index so that if you wanted to look up "tubal ligation," "intimacy," or "foreplay" you can quickly go to the sections that cover these topics.
Bad Girls of the Bible is a book that my husband bought me - can't remember if it was a birthday present or some other occasion - but what a FUN book to read. It goes through ten different "bad girls" in ten chapters. Each chapter starts with a modern day rendition of the bad girl and then goes through the bad girl's decisions and how it relates to us and our society today. Each chapter ends with a "What Lessons Can We Learn" set of questions and a "Good Girl Thoughts Worth Considering." And at the back of the book there is a study guide with scripture quotes to go with each "bad girl." The first "bad girl," Eve really drew me in. Quite possibly my favorite part of this first chapter was when the author showed us that not only did Adam blame Eve for his sin, he actually blamed the Lord!!! I'm sorry, but how ballsy is that?!?! And of course Eve was not far behind him in the blame game.
In Genesis 3:12 we read, "The man said, 'The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
And Genesis 3:13-14 "The Lord God said to the woman, 'What is this you have done?' The woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate." The devil made me do it!!! The first time of many that God heard that one! Way to go Eve!!!
After having learned about Theology of the Body (TOB) in a four week presentation at my church, I was eager to learn more about this amazing teaching. So I bought Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West. I was told, and shown through the course of the presentation, that Christopher West brings us to a better understanding through everyday language and personal experience. I was definitely right in buying this easy to read cliff notes version of TOB. Pope John Paul II was a brillant man and at the time, I was in no way ready to read his actual 129 Wednesday audiences where he reflected on these important church teachings. As a side note, it is probably time for me to take a look at the actual text of John Paul II's talks. For anyone unfamiliar with what I mean when I say "Theology of the Body," basically TOB is the study of God as revealed through the human body. TOB was presented by Pope John Paul II during 129 Wednesday audiences, between the years 1979 and 1984. His reflections are based on Scripture (especially the Gospels, St. Paul and the Book of Genesis), and contain a wonderful vision of the human person. Oddly enough, right after I finished this book by Christopher West and I was wondering to myself how I could help to spread this important message, our church was seeking volunteers to go through training to teach Theology of the Body for Teens in confirmation preparation. I was both scared and excited to teach the Catholic church's views on sexuality. YIKES! But God works in mysterious and wonderful ways!
At the presenation where we learned about teaching TOB for Teens, I bought the book Life-Giving Love: Embracing God's Beautiful Design for Marriage by Kimberly Hahn. Having heard Scott Hahn's CD talk about his conversion to Catholicism from his life as a devout Protestant, I was curious to read this book by his wife on marriage. I read this one a while back and don't recall all the details, so I'm not sure I can give a really great review of this one. In this book, Kimberly Hahn brings us back to God as the One who designed marriage in the first place. She points out God's plan for the family as revealed in the teachings of the Catholic Church. There is an interesting story of how she went from contracepting within her marriage to realizing the errors in her thinking on contraception from an unlikely source: an ethics class at seminary where she was supposed to study the issue of abortion and create a presentation for teens teaching the truth about and the value of all life. She makes quite a u-turn. She covers topics of infertility and miscarriage in this book as well. A great book for those who are married, or for those who are single as well, covering the topic of marriage and what it means for a number of other important issues we face today. I may have to reread this one again soon. There are parts in this book that I recall about her c-sections and miscarriages that were incredible and I found them to be very moving.
Ok, so the next book I am about to read is The Lamb's Supper by Scott Hahn (Although I also just noticed in my cleaning another book by Kimberly Hahn that I may read first - again on marriage. I started reading the first chapter tonight, but I think it will have to wait until after Scott Hahn's book.) I cannot review this book as I have not yet read it, well, ok, except for the first chapter. I am hoping that his view and experience of the Mass will enlighten me and enrich my experience of the Mass. These days I am just finally coming to an appreciation of transsubstantiation and am eager to see how he links the book of Revelation to the Catholic experience of Mass. Maybe when I finish the book I will already have written or will write some blog posts about things I've learned.
The Bible is the Word of God, after all, so I would be remiss to not mention the book I read on a daily basis. I am working at humbly letting the Word of God transform my life. Just recently someone pointed out that the Bible is just "A story, a book, a novel. ..It is a work of FICTION and not a road map for how to live your life." I see it as a very valuable road map; I see it as the Word of God. Most days when I read the gospel or other scripture passage for the day, there is something that speaks to my heart. It almost always shows me something new I should work on or provides me some comfort. I'm glad that I've come to see that reading scripture is a useful daily practice and that it isn't just some book.