Books: Les Misérables

January 17, 2015

One of the books in my want-to-read-someday list has long by Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. I had heard and read about the characters and Javert and Jean Valjean, and the theological lessons about law and grace one could see reflected in their very different lives. I wanted to read it for myself.

But it’s such a very long novel. I wondered how I would ever manage to finish it. Then after having read Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame during Christmas break a year ago, I decided that this winter during Christmas break I would tackle Les Misérables.

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Books: Vanishing Grace

December 24, 2014

Almost twenty years ago I read a new book by Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing about Grace? It was one of the best Christian books I had ever read, and I wrote a review on the website of an internet bookseller I had recently discovered (but most people had probably not heard of), Since then I have enthusiastically recommended the book to others.

So when I saw recently that Yancey had written a follow-up, Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News?, I was eager to read it. I chose to request it from the library, however, rather than order my own copy, as few books have turned out to live up to their glowing reviews as well as What’s So Amazing about Grace?

And while I wanted Yancey’s new book to be as good as the other, I just didn’t find it nearly as compelling. It asks some good questions, and could start some good discussions. But if I wanted to help someone understand grace I’d still recommend the first book. And if I wanted to lead a discussion I’d recommend the first book, and then ask some of the questions raised in this book, without necessarily spending a lot of time on Yancey’s answers.

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March 28, 2013

Yours is the glory. Ours is the shame,
that made in Your image, we turned away
and acted so unlike You.

The Word made flesh, Jesus came,
bearing Your image. He showed the way
(made the way, is the Way)
to life as Your people.

Humbly grateful, we come in His name,
restored to Your image, to walk in Your way.
By grace we become holy.

What’s in a middle name?

November 8, 2008

I was certainly not thankful for my middle name when I was growing up. To begin with, it seemed pretty pointless. The only time I used it was for making a deposit at the bank, when I had to write the full name on the account, which was my father’s name followed by the words “trustee for” then my name. They didn’t make deposit slips big enough for all that, especially in a child’s handwriting.

Writing it in cursive was even worse. If I wasn’t careful, the capital G turned out like an S, and I never liked the cursive r. (Unfortunately I had one in my last name too.) It was much easier to just leave out my middle name. What did Grace mean anyway? One of those singsong table prayers we used to read out of a book before eating when I was little? It meant something at church, something about God, but it really wasn’t talked about that I can remember in the church we grew up in.

And if it had something to do with gracefulness, it certainly had nothing to do with me. I’m not quite uncoordinated enough to be called clumsy, but I do collect bruises from bumping into walls and furniture and getting hands or legs caught in doors. I’m not sure I even knew the word “gracious” (other than when it came between goodness and an exclamation point), but if I did I would have known that didn’t describe me either.

Then I learned, at age fourteen, what it meant to become a Christian by admitting I was a sinner and receiving the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus’ dying for my sins. That was what grace was about, I was taught, and to help us remember they taught the acrostic God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. So I learned to give thanks for God’s grace – but it still didn’t seem appropriate to have it as a middle name.

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