What is it with me and war history? When I was in high school I read everything I could get my hands on about World War II. Then in college I read World War I poetry, diaries, and other primary sources. Now it's America's great war. I just recently read Jeff Shaara's Gods and Generals and The Last Full Measure. Last year I read his father Michael's The Killer Angels, from which the movie "Gettysburg" was derived. If you have any interest at all in American history I would highly recommend all three books. The Shaara men have done their research, reading countless pages of primary sources in order to put together books that are readable, fascinating, and gripping. The stories span the time period from right before the Civil War until right after it, and offer a balanced, fair view of both sides as well as very clear descriptions of each battle. Told from the perspective of various officers, the books draw you in to the action, making you feel as though you are present for it, and leaving you exhausted from the experience. After reading these books I have a much better understanding of the issues surrounding the Civil War (or, The War Between the States, or, The War of Northern Aggression) and a good grasp of the chronology of the battles and progression of the war, as well as a new appreciation of the horrors of war.
Now I'm reading A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot. I am only a few chapters in, and won't write a full review of it until I'm done, but let me offer you a sample from Chapter Four:
A pastor's wife asked,"When one witnesses a work he has poured his life into 'go up in flames' (especially if he is not culpable) is it the work of Satan or the hand of God?"...When a man or a woman belongs to God (when the branch dwells in the Vine) it is the hand of God at work when the pruning comes, regardless of the second causes. A life's work--what to us is a perfectly good branch, perhaps the only "important" branch--may be cut off. The loss seems a terrible thing, a useless waste. But whose work was it? This is a question I have had to ask a number of times about work which I had thought of as my vocation, my life's work, apparently thrown on the brushpile. Was it not work given by God in the first place, then given back to Him day by day? Jesus said God is the Gardener, the One who takes care of the vines. The hand of the Gardener holds the knife. It is His glory that is at stake when the best grapes are produced, so we need not think He has something personal against us, or has left us wholly to the mercy of His enemy Satan. He is always and forever for us.She goes on to talk of the pain of the pruning process. There is so much Godly wisdom in this book that I can't even begin to cite all the examples. I really need to read this right now, when I have so many unanswered questions about what our family is going through.
On a totally different topic, when Caroline and I were in the public library here last week, I saw a book in the children's section with a title I could not believe. I'm embarassed to even put it on my blog. Let's just say that the author has other books entitled The Day my Butt Went Psycho and Butt Wars:The Final Conflict, whose review on Amazon.com states "Zack Freeman (and his butt) have twice saved the world from total reek-dom. But now the young butt-fighter faces his nastiest challenge yet: Hundreds of thousands of Great White Butts attacking the earth with giant brown blobs are about to cause Buttageddon. In order to stop them, Zack will have to hitch a ride in a time-traveling buttmobile, back to the reign of the prehistoric buttosaurs. Can Zack battle the Tyrannosore-arses, juggle a giant arseteroid, and put the butts-gone-bad back in their place? Or will the entire world be abutterated?"
I don't want to print the other two reviews here. Okay--most of you who know me well know that I'm not the prissiest woman around, and have been known to laugh at jokes about behinds or other mildly crude things. But c'mon people, do 9-12-year-olds (the stated reading audience for these books) really need help getting gross? For one of the books the Amazon site declares that it has the word "butt" on literally every page. Is this necessary? Do we need books that encourage kids to be obsessed with their rears? It might be funny for a page or two, but it isn't what I want my kids reading. There are plenty of other books out there that are funny without being horribly crude. YUCK!
GLUTTONY AS A SPORT
Just a short note expressing my disgust for the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest during which a man named Joey Chestnut ate 66 hot dogs AND BUNS in twelve minutes. Yes, you read that right. 66. With buns. The runner-up ate 63. And the sports channels are treating this "competitive eating" as a true sport. The announcers talk about the "training regimen" the contestants have undergone, and the rivalries between the "top eaters," even discussing the "jaw injury" one of the eaters experienced during "training." Hmmm...I wonder why he has a