Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Reading and keeping weekly update - 2/11/17

The end of last week was very full, and many of my books sat neglected. However, since this is the first of these kind of posts, I have some things to share by way of introductions.

Summa of the Summa - St. Thomas Aquinas/Peter Kreeft
I was pretty excited to start this book, looking to stretch my intellectual life (believe me, there is a lot of potential here - nobody will every accuse me of being too intellectual!). I'm on Question One, The Nature and Extent of Sacred Doctrine. With just a bit of study, I was able to understand articles one and two and I thought, well, maybe philosophy isn't so hard after all. Article three, however, has brought me back to reality as I have struggled to understand what St. Thomas is saying in this short text. My total lack of any philosophy knowledge is a hindrance now and will likely continue to be. How did I graduate high school and college with no formal study in philosophy? Peter Kreeft says I shouldn't approach the Summa without some working knowledge of philosophy; he recommended Aristotle for Everybody by Mortimer Adler. I bought it because he told me to but I thought, perhaps, I could get away with not reading it after my success with articles one and two. Rethinking that.

Tuck Everlasting - Natalie Babbit
I like to read well-written children's literature and this has been recommended by people whose opinions I respect. This was not a good week to start something new, though, due to the busy-ness of things so I haven't ventured past the prologue. And frankly, I think I needed some time to recover from the conclusion of Oliver Twist. My first Dickens novel was better than I had wished, but it was intense and affected me greatly. I don't know how much more mistreatment of Oliver I could have taken. I loved this paragraph near the end the book:

How Mr. Brownlow went on, from day to day, filling the mind of his adopted child with stores of knowledge, and becoming attached to him, more and more, as his nature developed itself and showed the thriving seeds of all he wished him to become - how he traced in him new traits of his early friend, that awakened in his own bosom old remembrances, melancholy and yet sweet and soothing - how the two orphans, tried by adversity, remembered its lessons in mercy to others, and mutual love and fervent thanks to Him who had protected and preserved them - these are all matters which need not to be told. I have said that they were truly happy; and without strong affection, and humanity of heart, and gratitude to that Being whose code is Mercy, and whose great attribute is Benevolence to all things that breathe, true happiness can never be attained. p. 404

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art - Madeleine L'Engle
It was at least a couple of years ago when I heard of this book and it interested me enough to buy it. I finally decided to pull it off the shelf as my creative impulses have been awakened and renewed lately. She writes about creativity from a Christian perspective and since I like to be creative and to think deeply about everything, I've been enjoying it so far. Since it's not a Catholic book, I know she may explore and have ideas that veer from what I believe, but I know that anything true and good comes from God, no matter the human source, and interestingly enough, she makes a similar point in the book when she says:

But even when one denies God, to serve music, or painting, or words is a religious activity, whether or not the conscious mind is willing to accept that fact. Basically there can be no categories such as "religious" art and "secular" art, because all true art is incarnational, and therefore "religious." p. 25 (bold emphasis mine)

The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady - Edith Holden
I am not so much reading this book more than enjoying it as I would a cup of hot tea at the end of the day. Formatted as a diary, the author shares nature sketches, poems, and observations of her life in England. It's providing inspiration for me as I work toward nature sketching more and I have tabbed a few poems to copy into my Poetry notebook. Here is one from William Wordsworth:

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things
We murder to dissect.
Enough of Science and of Art
Close up these barren leaves,
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

Walking with God: A Journey through the Bible - Tim Gray/Jeff Cavins
I have been reading this book for a looooong time. It is so dense, and on every page I am tabbing something with my post-it notes (see here for the way I keep track of ideas in books). In addition to reading the daily Mass readings most days, I began setting aside time a few times a week for the boys and me to read our respective Bibles, around 15 minutes or so at a time. I have been using that time to continue reading this book. I got so hung up in the section on Egypt and Exodus because I was learning something new on every page plus it is so foundational and, well, the post-it notes are kind of out of control there. But it is so very good for giving the overview of salvation history. When I have a minute, I'm working on transferring my tabbed notes to my Bible notes binder.

With my kids (We read more than what I share here; I am only noting those books that I am particularly connecting to):

St. Patrick's Summer - Marigold Hunt
I do not know of too many books like this that are able to catechize well in the context of a story. Probably a bit beyond my 8yo, but not too far beyond for him to take in the ideas and allow them to mature in due time. My 11yo is at a good age for this book. And I am learning right alongside them, absolutely. A story in which two children, guided by St. Patrick, meet with different spiritual figures from the past and learn many tenets of our Catholic faith.

The War in Vietnam - Robert Lawson
I hated history in school. Too many names, dates, and facts to remember that I never could grasp the story behind them all. Certainly, this book has its share of names, dates, and facts (and they are important) but I can now focus on the bigger picture and how it fits into the bigger story. Discussing it with my son is great, too, as I can tap into his love of history. This is a book for youth, but I have found that books like this make history accessible for someone like me who wants to learn, but is not interested in a 500-page tome on the intricacies of the Vietnam War. I just want to know the basics about the major players and some of the hows and whys. This is helping me do that.


  1. Found your blog via Celeste's Keeping link-up. Good to have another 'new face.' I totally get your comments on Aquinas and the intellectual stretch. I haven't read any of his books but I have a couple of other authors on the go at present and they are hard work.

  2. Thank you for your note, Carol! I missed doing an update last week so have not shared in this space that I have set the Summa of the Summa aside for now. I am delving into Aristotle for Everybody and I think that is going to help me a lot. I will most definitely return to the Summa. Thank you for connecting with me.

    Yours in Christ,

  3. Found your blog through Joyous Lessons too. I recently received Aristotle for Everybody too as a gift and will follow your ideas with a Summa of the Summa. Recently my need to learn and be able to articulate myself better has increased.

    We also loved St Patrick's Summer last year as a read aloud.

  4. Hi Lucy,
    Thank you for your note! It sounds like we have similar tastes in some of our books - love that. :) Aristotle for Everybody has been very good for me - I am not terribly far in yet, but I can see that it's going to lay a good foundation. Please keep in touch!

    Yours in Christ,

  5. Lots of meaty, thoughtful reading on your list!

    We read Oliver Twist this past term, and I agree with you that it was an emotional challenge -- more for me than for my kids, I think. But then there are those glimpses like the quote you shared about Mr. Brownlow that really had me thinking about education and parenting in a fresh and inspired way. They made up for the difficult bits but that doesn't mean the book wasn't still painful!

    We read St. Patrick's Summer in Morning Basket a couple years ago and really liked it. I think we'll have a second go-round soon for my next batch of kids. :)

    Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Celeste -
      This is long overdue, but thank you for your comment. I so enjoy your blog and am so happy to have you stop by here!