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Something Other Than God – Another Not-Really-A-Review

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I have mentioned before that Jennifer Fulwiler, the host of 7 Quick Takes Friday wrote a book about her conversion story. It is titled Something Other Than God, and it is totally not about something other than God. It is about Jennifer’s conversion story, brilliantry written, with just the right amount of humour to make it enjoyable for a non-believer like me. This post is about the book, but it’s also not about this book, but more like my relationship with it.

As some of you know, I took the exact opposite journey as Jennifer Fulwiler did: From Catholicism and other brands of Christianity to a very pleasant state of non-G-d-believing-humanist-Jewishness. I always have to wonder what would inspire someone to choose to limit their world view rather than expand it.

One of the first things that struck me in the author’s journey is an existential crisis she experienced as an atheist. And this is where I started to not being able to relate. For me, not believing in a god (most of the time) or in an afterlife (ever) doesn’t seem bleak or awful. We are part of an eternal cycle, where our goal is to leave the world a bit better than it was when we arrived, to enjoy life and help others to enjoy it as well, and to raise the next generation and advance our species as much as we can, each to his or her best ability. When we die, unlike those fossils so wonderfully described in the book, we will dissolve into something that will keep the living organizations nurished–if we are lucky, we become stardust eventually. There is nothing awful about the nothing that follows this life if we realize that we’ll live on in our children, or if we don’t have any, we’ll live on in the community we shaped with our presence.

I had to take two bigger breaks in reading the book fairly early on. One was when the author described her post-partum experiences, and the road to her discovery that she could no longer be an atheist. I realized that the sense of self importance (we, our children and ouselves just cannot become nothing, we must matter in the eternal scheme of things, no, it just can’t be that my fate and my child’s fate is the same as any other living thing’s on this planet) is behind the conversion of every single former atheist I know–and she is no exception. I had to stop here first, because I expected something… more. I also expected something more logical.

The second stop came a few pages later when quoting Moreland about something that is both historically and theologically questionalbe. It started with referring to Jesus as a rabbi, and escalated from there. But after that, putting on my “I won’t freak out at every inaccuracy Christianity has been promoting” hat, I could proceed.

On page 25 the author described her fellow college students:

To be at the library and see students talking about Jesus like he was sitting next to them, then notice their advanced physics and biomedical engineering books stacked on the table, was to be reminded that the truth about life was bad enough that it could drive even intelligent people to a state of delusional insanity.

Fulwiler, Jennifer ( ). Something Other Than God (Kindle Locations 365-367). . Kindle Edition.

For the rest of the book I had very similar feelings about the author herself: I was sometimes horrified that her percieved truth through her personal values could drive her to a state of delusional insanity. I realized that I could relate to her story even less than I expected–but at the same time I really enjoyed reading about it.

There were some unintentionally funny parts, like about the failure rate of contraception, when, erm, yeah, I’m an NFP is sooooo reliable baby. So are the three kids after me. There are some parts that i found I could relate to, though never have had the exact same experience–her writing about an uncle who died way too young or when faced with the challenges of growing their family.

I rarely run into books by BNBs (big name bloggers) where the style of the blogger translates well into book writing. In Jennifer Fulwilers case this happened, seemingly effortlessly. From her blog posts we know that it wasn’t all that effortless as it seems. It was entertaining, and I guess, for Christian readers, it must be uplifting.

I recommended the book to several Catholic friends, three of whom actually bought it, and two of them absolutely loved it. My non-Catholic mother-would-be-in-law-if-Israel-had-same-sex-marriage read it in one afternoon. My very Catholic cousin in Ireland thinks this book would be a wonderful evangelization tool. Two of my happily atheist friends read the book on my couch and strongly disagree with that: this book uses arguements and references most of us have encountered before, and those of us who are comfortable with our role in the universe will be unmoved by these. However, they are perfect to strengthen one’s already existing faith and bury doubts.

All in all, I’d recommend this book for cradle Catholics who wonder how someone would come to join their faith, to converts who want to nod along to the shared experiences, to believers and non-believers who want to read a good and frank biography of a young family finding their path to their percieved truth.

7 Quick Takes 2

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— 1 —

I’m playing around with layouts for this blog. I had the previous theme for it for over two years, and I might go back to it, but for now, I am trying this layout. Never mind, I just can’t live without sidebars. Of course I need to create a logo file to actually show my blog title, and have to get used to the various features, but I kind of like it. Let me know what you think of it! Currently I’m in love with the simplicity, but I’m annoyed at hw it handles media + thumbnails.

— 2 —

I found a crochet pattern that I’d really like.  Never mind, I bought it. Be afraid, be very afraid, the owl totes are coming! Because of my casted arm, I am slowing down on my crochet, as it is becoming oncreasingly difficult to work for an extended period with the muscle loss. Nevertheless, I might make at least one owl over the weekend.

— 3 —

I decided that I will attempt to walk 1 km twice a week in the new year. I know it might not seem much, but it is a challenge for me. It’s week 2 now, and I’ve walked three times so far. I’m excited to get this exercise in, and I hope to build some strength and stamina in the coming months. Maybe when I hit one year post transplant, I’ll be ready to increase the distance or the frequency of my walks. I prefer to walk outside, but I am considering getting a second hand treadmill for our basement. But that has to wait till after I get home from Rome…

— 4 —

…because in May or June Kevin and I are going to Rome, Italy. I am already hoping to be in shape for the Jewish Rome walking tour, scheduled to last around 3 hours, and can’t wait to see all the Ancient Roman ruins. I do have a special interest in the Roman Empire as well as the Jewish history of Europe, so it will be a great opportunity to finally see Rome from that POV. I’ve done the pilgrimage and Christian tourism aspects, have seen most Renaissance masterpieces tourists usually see (an then some), visited the Vatican and stuff… so now it will be a tour of Rome through the eyes of the Jewish tourist. 🙂

— 5 —

Vatican to train more exoprcists. I have several thoughts on that, but can I just say, that “The Exorcism School” would make a good book title. I could imagine it either as a horror novel, a thriller, or a real life account of Catholic exorcism. Maybe one of those coffee table books, like “The Mormons”, where photographers follow the lives of the exorcists. I think I’d buy any of them.

— 6 —

Mentioning books, I’m reading  Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett. My all time favourite Discworld novel is Small Gods, but this one is up on top of the list as well. I love the wizards! Of course I also like cheeses and pickles. And I’m reluctant to get involved in team sposts. Yep, I’d make a pretty good Discworld wizard, I think.

— 7 —

On Rosh HaShanah (Jewish new year) I gave up pork and non-kosher seafood for the year. Of course I had to pick a year that has 385 days. Anyway, on January 1 I decided not to purchase Coca Cola products till the end of the Sochi Olympics. It’s my way of boycotting the Putin regime and its trampling of human rights. I am very much tempted to (temporarily) rename the blog to Kosher7Up. What do you think?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Reading Revisited

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I had great hopes for 2013 when it came to reading. I had an extensive reading list planned, but alas, only a fraction of my plans have been fulfilled. I had hoped to read 25 books in 2013, and I'm far from the YTD target of 17 books even if I count the four shorts I read as separate books.

I do eealize that this year has not been very good for reading, and it still continues to be challenge, but I'm happy to report I'm back to actually reading for pleasure. Slow it might be, but I'm reading and I keep adding to my list of books to read. That is one reason why it shocked me to see on an infographic that 30ish percent of US high school graduates will never read a book for the rest of their lives.

So what are they doing?

A while back P came to me, claiming to be bored. The others were playing “post apocalyptic world”, and he was bored with the game. I told him to spice it up and go along with the no electrocity theme by grabbing a book and reading while the others run around chasing aliens, zombies and terrorists. Shortly afterwards Justin was bored playing cowboys, so he got the same advice. Men of the Wild West, contrary to popular belief, were actually readers. What else could they do for entertainment?

Sometimes the concept of reading for entertainment escapes the younger generations, because they are, we are so used to having TV, computs and game consoles at our fingertips for our entertainment. However, not all is lost. They, we can learn. One of my non-reader teens started to enjoy books when he finished his Star Trek series and he suddenly found himself missing Captain Picard and his crew. So he first started reading Star Trek novels, graduating to other science fiction and fantasy books. He still doesn't like most Classics or contemporary literature, but he enjoys books.

I might prove that I am absolutely not cool, but I got to a point in my life where I read more e-books than paper ones, and I actually like doing so. I am of the millenial generation, and instant gratification is my thing. I hop on to Amazon, choose the book, and it's on my Kindle, also known as Sunny, within minutes. I usually spend my affiliates earning on my own book purchases–and you can enable me by using one of the links on the right leading back to Amazon to make Amazon purchases–and even though Amazon sells Kindle books at ahigher price to Israelis than to Americans, not having to pay for shipping is so worth it. And not having to store the books. And not havingto dust them. Did I mention I get them instantly?

Of course, walking by Alexandra or Ulpius or Libri in Budapest I could not resist going in and waste hours looking hrough their summer sales and regular books. I couldn't resist buying a few, either. Because,you know, paper or e-paper, I like to read.

 

A Reading Update (and lots of links)

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I know, I know, February passed without any updates to the reading blog, but I am just about to write two reviews. Or maybe three. I am almost done with Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and finished Richard Castle’s Derrick Storm Shorts, and I’m about to start The Complete Father Brown Mysteriesby G.K. Chesterton. Currently the Kindle book I linked is only 99 cents on Amazon! I also grabbed Perfect Me (Perfection Labs) for free, and it’s still free for Prime members and $2.99 for the rest of us. I first heard about this book from The Bluest Butterfly, and apparently it is supposed to read like Douglas Adams’ books. We shall see.

I have to admit that I haven’t really had a paper book in my hands this year. I have been making use of the Kindle App on my tablet, the Kindle software on my laptop and the Kindle Cloud on other computers. Briefly I got to use Yonah’s first, old Kindle, but unfortunately it gave up the ghost at two years old. Turns out one too many coffee spills can kill even a Kindle. What a bummer. Kevin had a local shop look at it, but honestly, it would cost more to fix it than buy a new e-reader. Especially when there is a giveaway going on for a Kindle on Leah’s adoption blog, where for a $10 donation and some FB or blog shout outs you can win a Kindle, too. They have the other fundraiser continuing as well. The Kindle is not part of the original fundraiser, because it was donated to them after the other fundraiser began. If you are in Europe, and can wait, and you happen to win, I’m fairly sure that something can be worked out with Leah so that she can send it to you while she is in Europe for the adoption, reducing shipping fees.

Now, I might have a lot of reading time coming up in the next few weeks. I’m kind of excited about that! So many books to read… Grandpa P is coming in a few weeks, and asked the kids what he should bring. “Books,” was the answer. The middles committed to a book a week program at their school: every school week they read a book. Some shorter, some longer. They share books, and they frequent the library and are now discovering the joys of e-books. Noa finished a novel in Armenian, and I couldn’t be happier and prouder of her! While the twins don’t remember any Armenian, Noa’s hard work and dedication helps her keep her native language.

So what are you reading these days?

Books, TV and Rain

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It’s been a rainy, stormy week in Tel Aviv. There was flooding! This hasn’t happened in over a decade. My kids’ schools are closed, Kevin’s work is canceled for the rest of the week because of whatever reason, and…

…and part of our basement is under water.

When Kevin told me, my first reaction was, “Oh my gosh, what about the book shelves?!” I have to admit my voice had some edge of panic. The book shelves! All the books down there! And my Stargate DVD collection!

Then Kevin told me, “Don’t worry, the only things damaged are the old couch. Oh, and the Playstation is shot.”

The old leather couch. The Playstation. I hated both. We will have to replace them, though, but I’m relieved. It’s not the books.

Even though this past year I really didn’t read as much as I used to, reading and the love of books is important in our family. All but two of my middle and older children are readers and those two will not say no to a book that most of their siblings recommend to them. Now that my older boys are in the IDF/university I often hear the complaint from them that they don’t have the time to read for fun. Because reading can be fun!

One of the things I often find myself and my kids doing is that the TV is on, and they are sitting on the couch with a book. When I ask them what’s going on with the show on TV they can tell me, and at the same time they can continue reading… maybe not as fast as if they don’t pay any attention to the TV, but their understanding and the retention of what they read is marvelous, considering that they are also waiting to find out who killed the blonde girl.

One of my non-bookworms is Itai. It’s not surprising, considering that he is dyslexic. Reading van be frustrating for him, but I found him reading more and more online. He mostly reads to gather information, because he is absolutely curious about the world. Wikipedia is a favourite place for him to hang out online.

We have several TV shows we like to watch. Some are family affairs. Some only appeal to some of of us.  Some watch our shows in English, some in Hebrew, Russian or Hungarian. Simply because we can. Actually, the dubbed versions of the shows are good language practice.

So… there is rain, rain, rain in TA. But the books are safe for now.

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