Posted in theology

Faces, faces

By Elizabeth Prata

I ran a community newspaper. Something that was important was to feature the community in the newspaper. I went around endlessly taking pictures of everything happening. My graphics designer, who had a lot of newspaper experience, said: ‘When you take pictures, get close enough to see their faces. Mamas want to see their babies’ face in the newspaper.’

Maybe because I worked so long and so hard to get lots of faces in the paper, whenever I see a photo of a group and the photographer is standing on the other side of the planet and the people in the pic are the size of a molecule, it drives me crazy. If the people are too far away, you can’t see their face.

Now, here is the next topic about faces. Being on the Autism spectrum, I struggle with faces for a lot of different reasons. One is difficulty in recognizing people. This is a newly released study looking (once again) at how people with ASD struggle to recognize people by face. This work appears in Psychological Bulletin. A conclusion was that:

The researchers identified 112 studies representing over 5,000 participants and compared them using meta-analysis, a process that combines and weighs all evidence so it is objective. They found, on average, over 80% of ASD individuals perform worse than typical individuals on tests of face identity processing. “This impairment likely contributes to ASD-specific difficulties with social interaction, which require the ability to identify social partners as unique individuals,” said Scherf.

Yah, it’s a problem. You know who has no problem with recognizing faces, no matter how far away they are or how unrecognizable? God.

We have a God who sees! Genesis 16:13 says-

Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees me”; for she said, “Have I even seen Him here and lived after He saw me?”

Hagar had run away from Sarah and Abraham. She was alone with her son Ishmael in the wilderness desert, crying, bereft, and about to die. The verse says,

God heard the boy crying; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter with you, Hagar? Do not fear, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Get up, lift up the boy, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” (Genesis 21:17-18) .

No place on earth is too distant for our God in heaven to be able to recognize us. We are not hidden, we are not lost (in the sense of unobserved). We are not unrecognizable to God! He knew Hagar’s name!

We see another instance of God recognizing another person’s face, and his name. Genesis 4:9,15

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”So the Lord said to him, “Therefore whoever kills Cain, vengeance will be taken on him seven times as much.”

But even before that, God, all the way from heaven, speaking to Cain by name, saw His face.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why is your face gloomy? (Genesis 4:6)

Matthew Henry says in his Commentary, "God is here reasoning with Cain, to convince him of the sin and folly of his anger and discontent, and to bring him into a good temper again, that further mischief might be prevented. It is an instance of God’s patience and condescending goodness that he would deal thus tenderly with so bad a man, in so bad an affair. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Thus the father of the prodigal argued the with the elder son (Luke 15:28, etc.), and God with those Israelites who said, The way of the Lord is not equal, Ezekiel 18:25."
Henry continues, "I. God puts Cain himself upon enquiring into the cause of his discontent, and considering whether it were indeed a just cause: Why is thy countenance fallen? Observe, 1. That God takes notice of all our sinful passions and discontents. There is not an angry look, an envious look, nor a fretful look, that escapes his observing eye. 2. That most of our sinful heats and disquietudes would soon vanish before a strict and impartial enquiry into the cause of them."

Source, Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 17). Peabody: Hendrickson.

It is a comfort that God recognizes our face and knows our name. By the same token, it should induce heart trembling, knee knocking fear that no emotion on our face goes unobserved by God. Hagar’s distress in the desert was noted and she was comforted. Cain’s countenance fell into anger and above as M. Henry wrote, God reasons with Cain, i.e. talks him down. He also sees our petulance at our boss, rolled eyes at a parent or friend, jealous eyes coveting a relative’s shiny new X, all noticed by God. He has no trouble recognizing our face, and the emotions on it.

He created us for His glory and for us to enjoy Him, says #1 in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The most supreme moment in all of time, space, and the universe, will be when we see HIM face-to-face!

There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; 4they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. (Revelation 22:3-4).

What will the Lamb look like? Bright in glory and Light, we already know that. Will He be smiling? Solemn? Joyful? How will He look? I am not worried about being able to recognize Him when the time comes, that is for sure. No distance will separate me from His face, no shame will cause me to cover my face. No autism will prevent me from seeing Him for who He is, nor to recognize all the other saints and know them by face. (1 Corinthians 3:12). What a day that will be!

Rejoice in our Savior, praise Him for His creation, His ways, and His tender care of us, despite being on the throne in heaven. He is not too far, He is near.

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)

Posted in theology

Mail Call: What do you think of the TV series The Chosen?

By Elizabeth Prata

I was asked in real life my views on the television series The Chosen, and now an online reader asks. Here is my reply.

The Chosen. End of season 1. The Messiah and disciples walk away from the well, after meeting the woman.

Personally, I have seen all of season 1. I adore The Chosen! Here are reasons why I like it, some cautions, and the 2nd Commandment issue.

The production itself is very close to depicting the real culture of Jesus’ day. The production values are terrific, the series is lush to look at. I’m so happy to have a Christian production that is not embarrassing in its acting, scenery, costumes, or settings! From what I understand, a lot of research and thought went into it.

Where it depicts biblical events, it again for a lot of the screen time, is very close or exactly biblical. They use verses and phrases from the Bible quite often. I have not seen them depict any of the disciples in any way that is contrary to the way they are presented in the Bible (except they made Matthew be on the autism spectrum…why? I dunno). Simon/Peter is impetuous. Andrew is measured. And so on.

Where the Bible doesn’t speak, the narrative is plausible. For example, Nicodemus is portrayed in almost all of season 1. He is shown as compassionate, knowledgeable, but not proud. He is shown to be seeking and open to the miracles of the man he comes to know as Jesus. He is questioning what he knows and doesn’t know. This is plausible because he is seen in John 3 as seeking…he actually was seeking, and it is plausible that he was seeking and questioning before that one night he came to see Jesus.

What I liked about Nicodemus is the show writers vividly depict the tremendous pressure from students and colleagues for Nicodemus to overlook the likelihood of Jesus being the Messiah, the difficulty in shaking off his entire lifestyle and standing in the community for the unknown in following Jesus, and the pleas of his wife to dismiss what he is increasingly coming to believe, so that they can keep their ‘position’. These are all plausible.

No, all this is not in the Bible explicitly but it is generally, and it’s likely it went down that way, given what we do know about Annas and Caiphas and the scribes etc.. Yes, it’s true in one scene that as Nicodemus realized who Jesus was and kneeled before Him, Jesus said ‘You don’t have to do that.’ Jesus accepted worship, He didn’t reject it. That part of the scene was error. What I did like was that Nicodemus took Jesus’ hand, and kissed it, and replied with Psalm 2:2, Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, which was right. I liked that it indicated one place for sure the other Pharisees should have known who Jesus was, or at least should not have ignored scripture in the Old Testament indicating it.

Another character, Mary who was delivered from 7 demons…I loved how they showed her physical and spiritual agony, and the effect of her possession had on the people in her community. It was starkly shown the effect such possession had on the people that loved her as they tried to help her or at least stay out of her way when the demons made her have a fit. The reality of life being demon possessed is startling and different from when you just read it.

It’s emotional. I cry every episode. It’s one thing to read in the Bible about these events, it’s another to see “Jesus” announce to the woman at the well that “I am He”. It’s emotional to see Jesus in Cana standing over the vat of water about to turn it into wine, and realize in his bowed head that he knows this is the beginning of his public ministry, and thus the beginning of the end. This is something that had not occurred to me, but was brought to life by being able to see it depicted. The Chosen doesn’t detract from the Bible nor in my opinion competes with it, but allows us a different accessibility that’s not usually present when reading or hearing, other ways we normally engage with the word of God every day.

So, it’s fairly accurate biblically, as much as a man-made production can be, well-written and produced, and emotional. The latter two are not reasons alone to enjoy something as important as a Bible story, but I have not found anything huge in doctrine to turn me off, knowing and understanding that this is a man-made production interpreting the life of Jesus from the Bible, not a reproduction of the Biblical texts. The emotionality and good production make for pleasant viewing, while I still have my discernment hat on.

Even The Jesus Film, which was solely words from the Bible, nothing filled in, only the Bible as a script, had its detractors due to the 2nd Commandment issue, poor production values, and overall directorial lifelessness. Some people are not happy no matter what the writers do with Biblical material. Ask a KJV-Onlyist.

Concerns:

Mary who was delivered from 7 demons is increasingly shown throughout season 1 in the inner circle. She travels with the men and is shown being very active as almost one of twelve. In fact, she is depicted as initiating the entry of the paralytic through the crowds and up onto the roof. She didn’t. This is not accurate and is an unnecessary change. I hope that the writers don’t bow to pressure to have a woman in a man’s place as this series continues. I’ve only watched season 1. But I do not like Mary’s involvement, which IS a departure from the texts. It’s one thing that may make me abandon the series.

‘Jesus’ talking with the Woman at the Well. This scene/event concludes season 1. Jesus had openly announced Himself as Messiah, saying to her ‘I am He’, (John 4:26).

A few times, a very few, Jesus says things that are not realistic. Simon-Peter is shown to be impulsive, as he actually was, and Jesus and Peter’s wife have a conversation, that “You saw something in Peter before anyone. So did I. That’s what links us.” That is nonsense and something Jesus would never say.

Some critics dislike that Jesus is shown joking or laughing. I have no quarrel with Jesus joking or laughing. He was “fully man”. He was shown in the Bible to be tired, frustrated, hungry, sorrowful … if He is fully man, is it not reasonable to expect he felt the entire gamut of emotions as a man? This would include joy, laughter, happiness. God rejoices in heaven. (Zephaniah 3:17). I have no quarrel with a show depicting Jesus as laughing. He was a man of sorrows, but he was also made like his brothers in ‘every way’ (Hebrews 2:17).

As for the one line that everyone is hollering about, when ‘Jesus’ was joking about Andrew’s inability to dance, the disciples jokingly appealed to Jesus to help him, and Jesus said, ‘There are some things even I cannot do’. It was a joke. Nothing in the remaining context of the entire bulk of all the episodes suggests anything less than Jesus is fully Man-God deity. And remember, Jesus also said He didn’t know the day nor hour of the Second Coming, (Matthew 24:36), and that ‘He GREW in wisdom and stature’.

I am aware of the issues with Dallas Jenkins’ ‘spiritual advisers’- Mormons and Catholics. It says a lot about his discernment to have them on board, or maybe it was a pragmatic or financial decision. I don’t see people decrying Billy Graham who also had Catholics and Jewish rabbis at his Crusades as counselors. Hmmm, crickets on that one! Jenkins’ associations are something to be aware of, putting that nugget in the discernment bucket. I don’t know how much his advisers influenced him but I have not seen anything tremendously disturbing yet. But as with ANY material that isn’t the actual Bible, be discerning and watch and compare.

As far as the critics’ charges that this movie is dangerous in that it causes people to reignite love for scripture or return to church etc, perhaps supplanting actual word of God or using the movie as a substitute, well, devices are used all the time to draw people. VBS, Trunk or Treat, Youth Night pizza parties, Christmas Chorales, movie clips, popular songs, Revival week… churches use various methods all the time to punctuate worship or to draw the drifting. Not all of these methods are good and some are too pragmatic, but just add The Chosen to the pile of ways Christians use material to get the Good News out there. We understand we aren’t to directly worship the Jesus in the movie. We know we aren’t supposed to swap the written word of God for a cinematic experience.

Second Commandment

Yes an actor depicts Jesus but no, I don’t think anyone will bow down to him or worship him. For some, it sears their conscience to view someone portraying Jesus and that is OK, I would not want someone to violate their conscience. For me, it is not an issue. I would not want someone to make me feel seared for having watched a depiction of Jesus. Is it unwise to listen to an audio recording of the Gospel of John, for a human to audibly speak the words that Jesus spoke and us to listen to it? To listen to a voice actor like Max McLean to read Jesus’ words aloud in a podcast devotional? We all have differing levels of quarrel with how far depictions of Jesus go.

Conclusion

I think people and especially parents just need to weigh if they want to watch a show that plausibly fills in gaps where the Bible is silent, and whether they or their kids will absorb it as truth. That could be a danger.

Fads. A lot of times reviews go in fads because people pile on. The outrage against Harry Potter was started by Focus on the Family and since James Dobson had a lot of influence it went far. People piled on, going ‘yeah! yeah, Harry Potter bad!’ without thinking it thru for themselves. Eventually such negativity settles into the culture like cement and it’s hard to shake it. I think the same thing is happening with The Chosen. It is one of the best depictions of Jesus I’ve seen, the material is pretty biblical, there are some quibbles and a few off things as there usually are! but nothing that would warrant people saying ‘it’s heresy!’ like I’ve seen.

Indeed, this is one of the more biblically faithful series I’ve seen, and yet the awful series “The Bible” by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett was actually taught in churches! I’ve heard nothing but crickets from people about that, nor about Noah with Russell Crowe, Exodus: God and Kings by Ridley Scott, and series like The Bible and AD: The Bible Continues etc. They say ‘Ack, it’s just movie/TV! Get over it!” Why the outrage against The Chosen? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s warranted.

Michelle Lesley has a good review of season 1 that is balanced, (her mini-review of part of season 2 is here) one of the few balanced reviews I’ve seen. Todd Friel of Wretched also reviews it.

I put on my discernment hat and go from there. It’s up to any individual person to determine at what point their conscience would be bothered by what they are viewing. Niggles turn into issues that turn into problems that turn into heresy, and at some point discernment tips over from caution to ‘no-go.’ For most of the movies and television shows about biblical material, I tune out early due to a mounting pile of issues with doctrine. In one or two cases I quit because the production was so poor. With The Chosen, I’m still hanging in and I look forward to season 2, hoping I don’t have to abandon it. As with any material based on the word of God, be discerning and realize in grace and patience and love that for each person their tipping point will vary and some will bail earlier than others.

As with any biblical production, use discernment, pay attention to your conscience, and watch out for the kids if you have any that plan to watch, carefully explaining what is interpretive filler and which part is biblical. But parents should do that anyway!

Enjoy The Chosen for what it is and go on with your summer.

Posted in theology

Announcing: The End Time Blog Podcast!

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m not a huge fan of podcasts myself. I prefer to read than listen. That’s the autism speaking. I’m extremely sensitive to sounds or anything auditory. But I recognize that many people are too busy to sit down and read edifying material, but they do have time when they exercise, drive, fold laundry, etc. My goal with my social media is to get as much biblical content in front of women as possible, and if listening is the way to get it there, then I’ll do what it takes. Including broadcasting a podcast.

WordPress hosts my blog. WordPress has recently joined with Anchor FM. Anchor powers 80% of new material on Spotify. Anchor has made it incredibly easy to record a podcast right from my written WordPress blog. So I jumped.

Continue reading “Announcing: The End Time Blog Podcast!”
Posted in encouragement, theology

So now, I’m boasting

We finally went back to work on Monday! Yay! I work in a public elementary school, so that means I’m looking forward to seeing the kids. They will be arriving in a few days.

We are taking this time to learn new procedures and guidelines for keeping the kids and staff safe during this COVID epidemic. The guidelines are in alignment with CDC and are just tremendous for the best safety.

Many different people face different kinds of challenges amid this epidemic. Here’s mine. As Harvard Medical School explains, Continue reading “So now, I’m boasting”

Posted in theology

Confession: My Rotten Attitude

By Elizabeth Prata

‘Eve! You shouldn’t have focused on what you can’t have! You should have focused on what bounty was available to you!’

Sure, that one is easy to spot.

I have food allergies. A lot of them. As I’ve gotten older they have crept in and gotten worse. A near family member is a celiac, and I have had to face a growing intolerance for gluten myself. I have an intolerance with dairy. I have to go on a low FODMAP diet, where certain foods from all food groups, varied and disparate, affect me terribly. It makes sense to go low carb at this stage of my life for heart health reasons. I dislike the texture of most meat.

It’s normal for people on the autism spectrum to have food issues, and I’m no exception. I was disappointed this past summer when I learned the FODMAP issue. These are foods that my body can’t absorb. It’s not just the usual suspects, sugar or carbs, but anything from onions to apples, blackberries to split peas, cauliflower or honey. Blueberries are OK but not more than 10, grapes are OK but not more than 17. And so on.

fruit

I sighed to myself and said often, “I can never have a bagel with lox again. No pizza. Muffins, bread, rolls, spaghetti. No rice, no peaches (I live in the Peach State!). No blackberries – which are my favorite.

Then our church watched American Gospel: Christ Alone. In it, a family is given extended interview time. The wife has serious medical issues. As her issues devolved, she was diagnosed with a condition that forced her to bypass her stomach and inject liquid foods straight into her intestine. She can ever eat again.

Never. Eat. Anything. No food passes her mouth. Ever.

Welp.

I will not complain or sigh or mourn my limited diet. I HAVE a diet. I have, by God’s grace, many items I still enjoy. I love fruits and veggies and there are many of them I still can eat. As for the gluten, there are ever more choices on the shelves for substitutes, which others in my family did not have when they were diagnosed in the late 1990s and early 2000s. So I have that grace as well.

I must look at what I CAN eat, not the forbidden fruit hanging on the tree. Why focus on the forbidden fruit and not the allowable fruit. Duh. I have seen Eve and she is me.

By comparison, the garden of God’s delights is large, and it contains not only food, but many joys and comforts. I need to look at those and not at what I can’t have.

Because He really has given me everything.

Posted in reading, theology

2020 Christian Reading Challenge: My Big, Fat Book List!

By Elizabeth Prata

I love to read. But as much as I love it, my fleshly sinful nature will rear up to divert me from any wholesome activity, even one I love. My eyes tire more quickly too as I’ve gotten older so I struggle against the pull to just watch TV. I motivate myself to maintain this important habit in a number of ways. One of them is doing Tim Challies’ Christian Reading Challenge for 2020. He sets out a four-tiered list of themes to match with books you choose. You also choose the pace at which you want to read them. I chose Avid Level, reading 1 book every two weeks. His list is below. You can see the themes. Continue reading “2020 Christian Reading Challenge: My Big, Fat Book List!”

Posted in reading, theology

Challies Reading Challenge 2019: How did I do?

By Elizabeth Prata

Since it’s year-end and I’m concluding the Challies Christian Reading Challenge, the next couple of days will be about books and bookish things. I already wrote about a Bible Reading Plan.

I like a challenge. I like to have goals. I need them in order to stay on track and be productive. I like Reagan Rose’s Redeeming Productivity blog and podcasts, “A Christian Approach to Getting Stuff Done”. Otherwise I’d melt into a puddle of TV-watching couch potato with a melting brain to match! I recommend Rose’s blog and podcast, they’re great.

Here’s my reading progress for 2019, as I get ready for another Christian Reading Challenge for 2020: Continue reading “Challies Reading Challenge 2019: How did I do?”

Posted in love, theology

What is love?

By Elizabeth Prata

I don’t like writing about myself and I never talk about my internal emotions and thoughts. I’d really rather die than talk about what’s going on inside me. But I have to this time, because it’s about Jesus.

As a woman who grew up in a difficult circumstance, I learned to rely only on myself and to be strongly independent and self-sufficient, and have been so for 50 years (since I was 8). Yet when I was given the grace of salvation 15 years ago, I learned also that the Lord wants me to share my burdens and to interlock in mutual submission with others in caring relationships. I don’t know how to do this, it’s literally beyond my life experience and my emotional capacity. But with God all things are possible.

I am learning His lessons about trusting Him in sharing burdens and loving others- as well as accepting love from others. My prayers are being answered day by day, His glory is being shown- through all of my different families- Twitter tweeps, School family, Church body in a huge and impactful way.

Life before salvation and outside of church, was a bewildering swirl of relationships between others…not knowing how to break in or even particularly wanting to:

relationships1b
I still have difficulty with socializing and developing or maintaining relationships. It’s not a matter of trying harder or willpower or shyness. It’s irritating when people try to sympathize by saying “I’m shy too” when it’s literally a matter of different brain wiring, and not behavior modification. I know they are trying to be nice, but it’s a totally wrong thing to say.

Though my brain is made differently, nothing is too difficult for God. Through the incessant work of the Holy Spirit, like water eventually wears through stone, the glory of God that is shown through my friends, after 5 decades and a loving set of families the Lord has given me, we have this:

relationships2b
I still don’t know the “how” of it. But I can feel the love. I love you back.

The important thing is to keep persevering.

persevere
Further Resources:

RC Sproul lectures: Love

19 Secrets Autistic People…(what not to say)

14 Things not to say to an Autistic Person (I’ve actually had someone say #11 to my face, except it was phrased more rudely)

Love for the Long Haul: The Autism Pastor

Posted in book review, theology

Book Review Shots: Updates on books read and to-read

By Elizabeth Prata

Time for a reading update!

I am on summer break from my job in an elementary school. I’m a teacher’s aide, now called “para-professional.” I enjoy summer break enormously and one of the ways I try to ‘redem the time’ is to catch up on some quality reading.

I set aside a bunch of books to read, and a schedule to read them in. Here’s the list of books and my short reviews of each.

  • Bible
  • Biblical Doctrine, John MacArthur et al
  • Competing Spectacles, Tony Reinke
  • Her Husband’s Crown, Sara Leone
  • Idols of a Mother’s Heart, Christina Fox
  • In a Different Key: Story of Autism, John Donovan
  • Internet Inferno, John Michael Beasley
  • It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis
  • Life of David, RC Sproul (lectures)
  • Lit!, Tony Reinke
  • Margaret Paton Letters from South Seas, Margaret Paton
  • Phantom Rickshaw & Other Eerie Stories, Rudyard Kipling
  • Selina Countess of Huntingdon, Faith Cook
  • The Believer’s Joy, Robert M’Cheyne
  • Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennet, Ed
  • Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens

I have added a few books to my original list:

Empty Nest, What’s Next by Michele Howe
Mayflower by Nathanial Philbrick
Life of Moses by James Boice

I decided to read Internet Inferno again even though I finished it, it’s THAT GOOD.
Books I’ve finished:

I mentioned that Beasley’s Internet Inferno is good. He applies the warnings and commands of James about the tongue to our practices and behavior online. Very clear writing and excellent application of the verses. Highly recommended.

The Phantom ‘Rickshaw & other Eerie Tales, is a collection of short stories by Rudyard Kipling, first published in 1888. I always try to include a literary classic in my summer list, and this book was it. I’d found it in a vintage store for $1 and was delighted to try a Kipling. #TrueConfession: I’ve never read The Jungle Book or any other Kipling.

Kipling is no doubt a literary giant and a master storyteller. He is so good in fact, that this eerie set of stories made me highly uncomfortable and creeped me out. I stopped reading the book at the story about the living dead, it was vivid and put pictures in my mind I didn’t want to carry with me. However, the stories are well-done so if you’re less sensitive than me I recommend the book. It’s little known so you might have difficulty finding it.

It Can’t Happen Here is a Sinclair Lewis political novel written in 1935. It’s about just how easily a representative democracy (ours) can become a dictatorship. Last summer I’d read Lewis’ Elmer Gantry, (1927) which turned out to be the best book I ever read on religious hypocrisy. Talk about chilling, Kipling has nothing on creeping you out. Lewis definitively captured the emptiness and evil of a Christ-less convert turned celebrity pastor. The book was long and a bit of a slog, but I kept with it and I was glad I did. The book still haunts me.

It Can’t Happen Here is also a slog, but try as I might I couldn’t get through it. Lewis’ language is terrific, his turns of phrase and word pictures are unmatched. It’s just that there is so much of it. The story slows down and suffers because it seems Lewis was more entranced with his artful turns of phrase than just telling a good story. Gantry was a masterpiece, Happen Here, sadly, isn’t. I took it off my ‘currently reading shelf.’ Maybe next year.

FMI on 4 Lewis books that are better than It Can’t Happen Here

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (2018) was a ‘can’t put down book’. It’s everything a well-written, gripping, emotional novel should be. I raced through it. When I wasn’t reading it, I wished I was. Recommended.

I reviewed Her Husband’s Crown earlier this summer. It was just a 42 page book, a small pamphlet really. It’s a practical bundle of advice aimed at pastors’ wives but applicable to any women who is a member of a church. Recommended.

My Bible reading right now is through Proverbs, which, being wisdom books, coincide nicely with Lit!, Competing Spectacles, and Internet Inferno.

Ladies, don’t feel bad about reading books, even novels. Sometimes I get a twinge, thinking that if I have this time shouldn’t I devote it totally to the Lord, and read only the Bible and theological books. Are novels, or even historical fiction, taking away time I could better redeem? Tony Reinke in Lit! answers that. And because I agree with him, lol, I’ll post his bullet points here.

  • Fictional literature can help us explore abstract human experiences
  • Fictional literature can deepen our appreciation for concrete human experience
  • Fictional literature expands our range of experiences
  • Fictional literature provides beauty and creativity to be enjoyed

In Owens’ Crawdads book I thoroughly enjoyed her atmospheric descriptions of the Low Country, the marshes, estuary, and ocean of South Carolina, and the lushness of her language. The scenery reminded me of a fond memory I have of anchoring our sailboat in the Georgia marshes and hearing the rushes shake as the tide turned, and the owls hooting under the moonlight.

As for the remaining books on my list that I’ve begun already, I am enjoying them to greater and lesser degrees. I grade them all from a B to A+. More to come as I progress through each book.

Happy Summer Reading!

summer reading

Posted in summer reading, theology

2019 Summer Reading Schedule: My most ambitious ever?

By Elizabeth Prata

I work in education as a teacher’s aide. That means I get summers off. At this stage of my life I enjoy the time off more than the money. Yes, I get paid through the summer, but it’s pro-rated. I live for 12 months on a 9-month salary. They just stretch it out. Which means I really stretch it out.

But as I said, the time is important to me. I live frugally and simply. I have all I need. I’ve been blessed to have had many experiences in my life that would cover many lifetimes. So I have zero to complain about. I have all I need and more.

As a single person I am ever mindful of Paul’s admonition to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16) and to remain anxious for things of the Lord since I have no husband and I am not anxious for things of the world-

And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:34-35).

I have an opportunity to secure my undivided attention to the Lord. Yay!

But I’m lazy. Waaah.

Given half a chance, I’ll secure my undivided attention upon myself.

More than one school vacation or summer break has gone by, both before and after becoming a Christian, where I had grand plans for home or garden improvement projects, or craft projects, or reading through my piles of books, and none of it got done.

A few years ago I put two and two together and finally acknowledged that I’m on the autism spectrum. Autistic people typically have a poor sense of time and difficulties with time management (because executive function is impaired). At school I’ve got an excellent sense of time because the day is broken into segments to the minute. My day is neatly prescribed for me.

But like in tug of war, if you let go of the rope you tumble, when the school year ends and I’ve let go of the rope, I’m in free fall. Time here in this life on earth is a finite product, a discrete thing. In May I think I have all the time in the world to start reading and then suddenly it’s July 30 and I have to go back to work. All I’d accomplished is navel gazing.

Is that why the Lord made me a single person? I think not.

Anyway, I created a schedule. I replicated my days and weeks at school by making them segmented. I piled up the books I want to read, divided the pages into number of pages to read weekly, interspersed Bible reading and devotionals, and voila, I have something tangible to keep me on track.

I’m not rigid about it, it’s a tool, not a ball and chain.

This year’s schedule is a lot more ambitious than last year’s. Last year I read 8 books along with my personal Bible reading, Dr Abner Chou theology lectures, and Systematic Theology lessons.

This year I topped out at 14 books, personal Bible reading, devotional reading, systematic theology reading, and lectures from Ligonier (to be decided). I’m almost done with Sproul’s lectures on Life of David so I’ll buy another series this Friday at teh Ligonier $5 sale. They are usually 24 minutes long and there are about 9 to 12 lectures in the series on average.

I stalled out on my annual Bible Reading plan, but I’m looking forward to resuming. It’s organized by chronological authorship, earliest book to the latest book.

I do not have any trips planned. My cats are sick and need to go to the vet, so the timing is a blessing in that I can staying close to home to watch them, or get an appointment at any time of day.

For other hobbies, I bought a set of watercolor markers at school from the pop up shop, so I’ll do some crafting. Evenings I’ll be read-ed out, lol, so movies or TV for me. I will make a photo expedition or two, but gracious sakes, the temps have suddenly shot up to the upper 90s all of a sudden and are predicted to be that way for this week and next. This is unusual. I hope it cools down some so I can pound the pavement at the Golden Hour to get some cityscapes. I’m not THAT dedicated to my photography hobby to go to the city in hundred degree weather just to amble around and get pictures.

Here are some ideas for inspiration on a 365 photo series (A Photo a Day). I did a picture a day last year, testing my creativity to snap something just from around and within my very tiny environs here in the apartment and the yard. I might make a theme this year. Maybe “Metal.”

I’m not tied to the reading schedule, as I said, it’s a tool to help me make sure I’m doing the most for the Lord I can do. So, if something comes along in terms of fellowship, I’ll take it. Otherwise, I refuse to be a slug! Saturday and Sunday of the first two days of summer vacation are booked. Saturday is a wedding and Sunday is church and then I’ll start the Reading program on Monday. Monday is a good day to start things, isn’t it? 😉

books summer
The one on top is Kipling’s Stories, the slim one you can’t see under Competing Spectacles is
Her Husband’s Crown, just 48 pages. A pamphlet, really.

books list

books schedule chart

books2
The books at home on the bookshelf next to my kitchen table. Too ambitious? We’ll see

VoV is Valley of Vision
II is Internet Inferno
Com is Competing Spectacles
Key is In a Different Key: The Story of Autism