Actually, to be fair to myself, of the five books I bought, only two and a half are for myself. One was a nice small-format book of lectures and discussions by Alexander Men' entitled On Christ and the Church. The other was a favorite Anthony Bloom book, On Meeting, that I had given away and hadn't been able to replace since. And of course now I'll have to do all my highlighting and underlining over again. But what a delight it was to lay hands on that cherished book once again.
In my first visit to the store, thirty-some years ago, I bought a Norwegian-Russian dictionary, which I still have. Today I bought another dictionary, a Russian-English dictionary of criminal jargon. This is the half-book in my count--I half bought it for myself and half as a gift. Since I can't cut the book in half, stay tuned to see whether it does become a gift or stays with me.
The other two books really are for someone else--they're books to help French speakers learn Russian. I don't qualify. It's interesting to be somewhere where I'm dependent on someone else (my son Luke, here on a research fellowship) to communicate. I feel almost as helpless here as I was in Mongolia.
That is, I would feel almost as helpless, were it not for the high proportion of English speakers. And I've not run into that famous "attitude" toward English-speaking visitors. Quite the contrary. Yesterday, I had a great experience with a taxi driver as we jointly searched for the Fedex dropoff point nearest the airport. He spoke no English, but he was from Poland, and we got by with a combination of Polish and Russian, and a lot of humor.
Now that I'm reminiscing about bookstores and books, this might be a good place to mention Mark Hatfield. A Republican, Hatfield was a two-term governor of Oregon and served in the U.S. Senate for thirty years. As a Christian politician, he held seamless-garment views--opposing war, capital punishment, and abortion.
I first heard about Hatfield when I was still living in Canada, more than a a third of a century before becoming a resident of Oregon. I knew that he was a rare species: a Republican senator who opposed the war in Viet Nam. I was working in an Anglican bookstore at the time, so I was able to get my hands on his book Between a Rock and a Hard Place as soon as it was published. He wrote so eloquently--not just about Viet Nam, but also about the seductions of power and the dangers of civil religion--that as soon as I finished the book, I wrote him a letter of appreciation. Not only was I not in his constituency, I wasn't even in his country, so I didn't expect to hear from him. But I did, and that thoughtful reply from him is still in my files back in Oregon.
After a long illness, Mark Hatfield died last month. Here are two worthwhile tributes--first, Christianity Today reprinted an excellent mid-career interview with Hatfield from 1982, six years after Between a Rock was published. Second, a tribute from Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, who served in the senator's office for eight years before entering on his ecumenical and denominational career.
"The lasting legacy of Lesslie Newbigin"
According to Newbigin, the public truth of the gospel has been reduced to a personal message about the otherworldly future of the individual person. He believed, however, that the gospel is a message about the goal of cosmic history. In the death of Jesus God dealt with the evil of the whole world, and in his resurrection the renewing power of a renewed creation broke into history. This restored creation will one-day fill the whole earth and all of history will culminate in the kingdom of God. If this is true, Newbigin argues, the Gospel is not a private message. It is news about the goal of universal history, the cosmic completion of God’s purpose to restore his original creational intentions for the whole creation and all of human life."I have power," says the pastor of Germantown Mennonite Church, Philadelphia. "I took it on as my cause to love the hell right out of him, and to remember that even angry, racist, fearful people needed Jesus."
Julia Bacha: "Pay attention to nonviolence" in the Middle East--specifically in Gaza and the West Bank.
And Christian Peacemakers invite you and me to their 25th anniversary Peacemakers Congress. Theme: "Re-imagining Partnerships for Peacemaking." Reba Place Church, Evanston, Illinois, USA, October 13-16, 2011.
Rupert Murdoch as "Bible mogul." And ... "Blogosphere abuzz over Murdoch as 'Bible Mogul'."
Two stories about "innocent Norway" that should be read together: "Norwegians more trusting after July 22" and "Tighter security around cabinet ministers."
"The National Religious Campaign Against Torture Speaks Out on Cheney’s Memoir."
"Examining a labor hero's death"--new evidence of Joe Hill's innocence.
David "Honeyboy" Edwards, 1915-2011.
Ron "In A Blue Mood" W comments on a new edition of one of the greatest blues albums ever recorded: Hoodoo Man Blues.
Sample: --you can hear the Leslie speaker's effect on Buddy Guy's sound, as Ron W mentions in his review of this disk.
Two versions of "Mean Woman Blues".... and I'd love to know which you like better (or as the case may be, dislike less).