Friday, May 20, 2011

This week, I got a Kindle. It is just every bit as spiffy as I wanted it to be, which was good since I had the stomach flu and just laid around after work all week. It is a wonderful little piece of equipment and I can see my reading (as well as my book costs) increasing. It doesn’t feel like you’re reading a computer. The first night when I had accidentally skipped too many pages forward, it felt like it would if I’d grabbed too many pages in a book. I wasn’t even thinking about it and reached out with my left hand to correct the situation, only pausing when I realized there wasn’t a page to flip back. That is how engrossed in the reading one can be, which is a true shock to someone who thought I needed a physical book to get that involved in the plot!

The first book I read was Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. This was an outstanding book. Simply great. I gave it a perfect rating at Amazon. It is the true story of the lone survivor of a four man SEAL team sent in to Afghanistan. It is brutally honest and entirely brutal on top of being an engaging and compelling read. I will no doubt think of it often.

One particular portion has been on my mind – the decision to shoot or release some unarmed herdsmen that had found them. Militarily, he discusses how killing them is the only clear option. He references how they are all Christians though and that seems to be a problem. He goes on to blame the liberal media for his final decision, his vote, the one that would change the mission entirely and his life. The question of morality has been on my mind of late for a variety of topics so this was added to the pile of situations to ponder. It isn’t a new situation – they asked this of us in ROTC as a hypothetical situation.

It is of course harder to go from a hypothetical situation to real life; even if one finds it easy to decide on the moral course of action on paper, it is frequently difficult to put that into action when everybody else and even your “common sense” tells you something different. We can be quite good at confusing ourselves.

I try to remember that when I think of the victims of abortion, who I think include many of the young mothers. I can state objectively abortion is an intrinsic evil, a sin against God. But I’ve never been pregnant. And even if I was, I’ve never been in a situation where a pregnancy could even be perceived as impossible to manage. The poor woman in crisis could easily be overwhelmed and unsupported and placed in a perfect position to succumb to the lie that human wisdom and ability is superior to God’s.

The second book I read was Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Grace: My Spiritual Journey in Opus Dei by Scott Hahn. Scott Hahn is my favorite author to read in Christian non-fiction. He is clear and follows a logical thought pattern my brain can follow. This book is about his experiences in joining Opus Dei, the organization most people know of from fictionalized tales in the media. Oh, I’m sure they have their problems, but if you end up the subject of a major Hollywood movie, lies are sure to abound. Anyway, I did enjoy the book, but not as much as some of his others.

One thing I did take from the book is from a chapter called “Turn Up the Romance,” though the part I took away had little to do with the romance. When he converted to Catholicism after being a Protestant minister, it created some tension with his very intelligent and very not Catholic wife. He explained he spent hours researching all the different information so they could have conversations about their differences, but remained frustrated it wasn’t working and she no longer seemed interested in hearing about Catholicism. His friends advised him to drop the theology and turn up the romance, meaning stop arguing with her and just start loving her.

I’m not married so have no one to immediately apply that part to, but he said that after it worked he started doing the same thing with friends and coworkers as well. Yes, it is good to know all the theology and detailed reasons for everything we believe, but that’s not actually what wins people to either Catholicism or Christianity. It certainly is not what makes or sustains relationships. I have found if all I focus on in a friendship is the differences, be they in religion or any other topic, the friendship surely struggles. This doesn’t mean we agree with someone else’s false doctrine or assume that all truths are created equal – it just means we spend more time focusing on love and service than on the scholarly arguments behind our disagreements. The focus is on relationships.

He talks about relationships and their importance elsewhere. “In true friendship, we have the freedom to speak a word of correction or even reproof. In the wake of prayer, we have the ability to say it in a diplomatic way. Truth can move mountains without employing rhetorical explosions.”

He also talks about praying for our friends who do not know Jesus while we continue to serve them in love. He quoted St Josemaria, “Most of our apostolate, then, will be invisible. Our friends might someday glimpse the tip of the iceberg – maybe. In heaven, however, they’ll know our love in its very depths.”

I think my next read will be So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore, which appears to be aimed at telling women why we just need God to validate our existence and make us worthwhile. Nothing else on the planet can do that for us. I already know that, but it is so good to be reminded.

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