Oct. 16th, 2017 05:35 pm
lunabee34: (reading by sallymn)
[personal profile] lunabee34
Gospel Gospel by Wilton Barnhardt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me begin with the obligatory statement (seriously, check the other reviews) that Dan Brown wakes at night and cries into his pillow because nothing he's written has come even close to being as good as Gospel.

The novel takes place in the 80s and concerns an aging, male academic and a young, floundering, female grad student on the search for The Gospel of Matthias; the modern day search is interspersed with chapters of the gospel they're trying to find and translate. I read this for the first time as a grad student (somewhere between 2001-2003), and it blew me away. I was studying to convert to Catholicsm at the time, and I'd been reading a lot of Elaine Pagels (gnostic gospels) and hagiographies of saints and the history of Christianity and medieval mystics, and this book was just fascinating. It's heavily footnoted (and while the narrative is fictional as well as the gospel itself, the footnoted information is factual according to the author as is all the currents events stuff happening in the novel and much of the theological conversation the characters have). This was the first time I heard of the cult of Mithra or of Catherine of Siena wearing Jesus's foreskin as a magical wedding ring (naturally, it was invisible to everyone but Catherine).

On re-read, my love for this book is only slightly diminished. The Gospel of Matthias is both hilarious (unintentionally so because Matthias does not get what's happening around him half the time; he's constantly misinterpreting events) and ultimately moving because it's the quest of a man who'd been a minor disciple, only in the presence of Jesus a few time and mostly chosen because he's rich and can bankroll the ministry, to recover his lost faith.

Most of the book is the characters having theological arguments, telling theological dirty jokes, and cataloging all the bizarre anecdata of the Catholic Church. Those parts are still fun.

I like that the book turns the usual narrative about an aging male academic and his female grad student groupie on its head. Dr. O'Hanrahan is full of man pain; he's a womanizer and a drinker, and he lost his wife and kid in tragic accidents, and he's angry and disappointed that he never wrote that bestseller or made a huge mark on the academy despite all his promise--and the whole point of the book is that all his existential angst and nearly all of his problems are of his own making and he's reaping the consequences of his choices. Also, he and Lucy never have a romantic relationship (although the book seems to be going there a couple times, and I started to get nervous on this re-read because I couldn't remember that trajectory).

God gets a voice in this book; he speaks in parentheticals which are amusing and beautiful and full of mercy for his creation. I really like that authorial choice.

Having grown up in the community, I appreciate the depiction of Evangelical Christianity in all its tacky glory at the end of the novel. Considering the times we currently live in, that depiction seems eerily prescient.

I have some issues with the way that Lucy is presented: concerned about her weight and her virginity and etc. I also have some issues with the way race is handled at times. On the whole, I think this book does a good job of presenting multiple points of view about religion, however.

Definitely recommend this book, but it's a time investment at over 700 pages (with lots of eensy footnotes).

View all my reviews

History in both fact and fiction

Oct. 16th, 2017 03:39 pm
alobear: (Default)
[personal profile] alobear
Towards the end of last month, I was struggling in the reading department, finding it difficult to concentrate, and not really taking in what I was reading. So, I used a tactic that has never failed to help with that in the past - I went back to Austen. I took Pride & Prejudice on holiday with me at the end of September, and thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in a book I have to read properly because it deserves nothing less than my full attention. It didn’t disappoint, and it had been long enough since I last read it that it felt almost fresh again.

Not wanting to lose my momentum, I carried straight on with Sense & Sensibility, which I also really enjoyed. I did have some frustration with some of the characters, and some of the plotting felt a bit contrived. I also discovered that my favourite scene from the Emma Thompson/Kate Winslet film version isn’t actually in the book, which was rather embarrassing and, I have to admit, a little disappointing. But it was still Austen and it was still wonderful.

In the audiobook medium, I finished listening to The Broken Earth series by N K Jemisin, with the third volume, The Stone Sky. I’ve struggled with all three of these books to a certain extent, but I’m very glad I persevered. There were some really interesting relationship dynamics, especially with the characters that interact with both the mother and daughter who are at the centre of the story, but separated for most of its length. As with the other books in the series, there were three narrative strands, and my interest was not spread equally across each, and there were some sections that really turned me off. The climax was pretty brutal, as I should have expected, but the ultimate conclusion proved very satisfying, and I was impressed by how everything eventually came together.

The October Wordy Birds Reading Challenge category is a book by an author I have met, and I had a few to choose from. I initially went with The Cut, by Daniel Blythe, which is about a gang of disaffected teenagers doing bad things in a seaside town. The author did a developmental edit of my novel last year, and I met him to discuss it over coffee in Sheffield. But I couldn’t finish it. The protagonist was thoroughly unpleasant with apparently no real excuse for her awful behaviour, and also no real conviction to see it through. There were flashbacks within flashbacks, which made it difficult to keep track of the timeline, I had no sympathy for any of the characters, and therefore very little interest in finding out what happened. So, I moved on to The London Complaint by Geoff Nicholson, which was given to me by the author himself as a prize for a short story competition I won last year. It’s a history of the various complaints that have been made about London by people writing about the city over the last several hundred years. It took me a little while to get into it, because the initial humour wasn’t to my taste, but it contained a lot of really interesting historical facts, and it was interesting to see how certain things have and have not changed in London over time. Overall, it was pleasantly diverting, but nothing special.

The Words In My Hands by Guinevere Glasfurd doesn’t qualify for the Wordy Birds Challenge yet, but I will be meeting the author at a reading retreat in November, which I’m very much looking forward to. The book was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel prize, and tells the story of Helena, a maid in 1600s Amsterdam, who has a relationship with Rene Descartes. It’s based on fact, though most of the details have been created to produce a complete story. Initially, it seemed very similar to Girl With a Pearl Earring, which I read earlier this year, and which has a very similar plot, also based on sketchy historical information about a Dutch household in the 1600s. But Helena’s story is much more developed and more extensive than Griet’s, though the struggles she faces and the life she lives are very similar in some ways. The inequality of the sexes and between people of different classes are very starkly drawn, and the romance aspects felt a bit uncomfortable because of the power differential between Helena and Descartes. The behaviour of Descartes was both unexpected in terms of the support he offered Helena, but also unsatisfying in terms of how far that support extended. Ultimately, it’s a very sad story, and very unfair in a lot of ways, and it was really interesting to read the historical note at the end, which explained how much it was based on fact and historical evidence.

Fandom Loves Puerto Rico

Oct. 16th, 2017 09:06 am
anoyo: (marvel steve this should be interesting)
[personal profile] anoyo
Hey, guys! Just a remind that [community profile] fandomlovespuertorico goes live soon! I've got some buy it now options up there, so go check it out! (And all the other cool people offering stuff.) I'll post again when it does go live, but if you want to big on something, it's always good to check in early!

That said: why, oh why, is it Monday?

Christmas Homecoming Wallpaper

Oct. 15th, 2017 08:27 pm
seshat0120: (Default)
[personal profile] seshat0120
You know me.  I can never resist the urge to play with new pictures so I had to put together a quick wallpaper with the photos from Christmas Homecoming.  I guess you can say this is my first Christmas wallpaper for 2017.  :)


Click on the preview for the full-sized version.

Meme from stolen from [profile] ami_ven

Oct. 15th, 2017 07:42 pm
badfalcon: (Chocolate Covered Strawberries)
[personal profile] badfalcon
Tattoos: *counts* 7 so far and I know I want at least 3 or 4 more.
I have a: bloody pentacle on my upper left arm; 'hope' on my inner upper left arm (just above the elbow) in the style of Raintown's Hope In Trouble Times album; a little red heart on my outer left wrist; blue stars on both inner wrists; the home glyph from Stargate on my outer right wrist; 'love' on my inner upper right arm - mirrors the hope one and is in Emma Steven' handwriting
Surgeries: I had a something on my knee when I was younger to deepen the groove my kneecap runs in. It didnt work and I have a scar that looks like a noughts and crosses game!
Broken bones: fractured and dislocated right knee, disrupted right collar bone, broken left wrist, broken left little finger way too many times
Shot a gun: Yup.
Quit a job: A couple, yes.
Flown on a plane: Yup, about five or six times
100+miles in car: Well. Yeah. I mean, hi, I regularly drive like 280 miles to Glasgow to see Raintown
Gone zip lining: Nope, I don't want to
Watched someone give birth: Nope, and I really hope not to
Watched someone dying: Sadly, so. Both my parents :(
Ridden in an ambulance: Three times, I believe
Been to…
Canada: yup, went to Vancouver
Europe: Hi, I live here. I've also been to Ireland, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Austria, Denmark and Cyprus
Washington D.C: No, but I'd like to
Florida: Yup, I went to Orlando in 2002
Colorado: Nope
Mexico: Nope
Las Vegas: Yup. About 5 times..
Sang karaoke: Yeah, a couple times
Had a pet: I've nearly always had one until I moved into this place
Been downhill skiing: Nope
Gone snowboarding: Nope
Ability to read music: I used to be able to but I've not done so in about 20 years so I doubt I can
Rode a motorcycle: Only on the back
Rode a horse: nope
Stayed in a hospital: A couple times, yes. I was in hospital for months after I was born, for a couple days after the operation on my knee when I was 16, and then a couple days the other year for an upper intestinal infection
Driven a stick shift: Yup
Ride in Police Car: Yup - but I used to WORK for them so...
Driven a Boat: Nope
Eaten Escargot: Nope
Seen a UFO: Nope
Been on a Cruise: Nope
Run out of Gas: Just the once - and it was in a rental car so I didn't know how far I could push it.
Eat Sushi: Are you not aware of my love for Yo! Sushi?
Seen a Ghost: A few times, yes.
lunabee34: (sga: lorne closeup by scifijunkie)
[personal profile] lunabee34
I'm about to have an evening to myself. Josh is taking Emma to Atlanta to watch Markiplier (I have no idea what a live show by a guy who does Let's Plays on Youtube would even look like, but fortunately, I don't have to go!), and I will have this whole evening to devote to conversation.

Ask me a question. Tell me something. *bats eyelashes*

I'll get back to you around 7:30 tonight.

Also, does anybody know how to get your own posts to show up in your friends list on DW? My LJ was set up that way, and I really liked it because I often used my latest post as the marker to start with when I began reading my flist. Any help would be appreciated.

Icons: The Sentinel

Oct. 15th, 2017 08:44 am
stargatesg1971: (jim-blair-brown-tones)
[personal profile] stargatesg1971
Here's some icons I’ve made based on the 'Fool Me Twice, Languages, Poachers, Upside Down, The Trance, Duo, Most Wanted, Multiply ' challenges on ts_icontest. I've included a couple of full size versions of the multiply icons at the end, so you can get the full effect of them as I believe some of it was lost in conversion.

Total Icon Count: 77


Icons Here! )



jd_ficathon: (Default)
Jack/Daniel Ficathon

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