November Thoughts

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Successfully completing NaBloPoMo this month means a lot of random thoughts got translated into posts. That’s made it a real mix this month.

There is of course the stuff of a vicar’s life and work.  Some of that applies to all of us: growing older, significant birthdays and holidays.  This being November, there was a particular focus on Remembrance in this World War I centenary year, as well as a nod to the coming season.  Also in the vicar’s line of work, I’ve shared my blogging so far through the Old Testament book of Jeremiah (the weeping prophet) 7 chapters to date.  But Jeremiah is a long book, so this journey will continue through December and well into the New Year.  Staying with the biblical theme, this month saw the creation of a new occasional biblical quote feature for ‘Words from the Word’.

The book lover in me prompted quite a few different posts this month.  In particular, there was the Nonfiction November challenge which encouraged posts summarising my year in nonfiction, the nonfiction category I’d love to become an expert in, and diversity in nonfiction.  An inevitable outcome of this wonderful challenge was an even longer TBR nonfiction list.

Some other great weekly reading challenges led me to blog about my recent and current reading, a brilliant new book find and a few thoughts on books vs e-readers.

But it’s not all been about books – sharing other passions and concerns via the blog is, for me, an important part of journalling life’s journey – as is sharing events of importance to others in the global blogging community. And with a daily blogging challenge like NaBloPoMo underway, there have also been a few posts that connect with that experience.

So, overall, it’s been a busy and varied blogging month here at More thoughts, Vicar.  And how about you? What thoughts have you most enjoyed sharing this month?

NaBloPoMo experience

imageWell, I made it – and no one is more surprised than I am!  I’ve managed a post a day for the whole of November, so I can say I completed the NaBloPoMo challenge – and tomorrow’s is already written in case anyone thinks I’m being a bit hasty here!  It was a close call at times with a few ‘just before midnight’ posts.  But, looking back at those, it’s easy to see that it was always about a lack of blogging time rather than a lack of ideas to write posts about.  In fact, one major outcome of this month of daily blogging is the huge number of draft posts I now have lined up and an even longer list of ideas of things to wrote posts about.

I’ve loved getting back into a daily writing habit.  Often I’ve only spent 10 or 20 minutes getting the day’s post published, though I have also used spare time now and again for longer, or more complex, posts (it still takes me ages to get images into posts – the technical wizadry of blogging still eludes me though I have definitely improved from my own very low starting point!)

There have been some days when I’ve been frustrated that I had something timely to write about but no time for the writing and it wasn’t always material that could be published days later.  In the first week or so I felt the tyranny of having to post each day – and hit a particular low with my 10-second aside on 12 November!

Skimming back through the month’s posts – you can read a summary of them here – I notice just how much book blogging I’ve been doing.  I joined in with several book challenges which certainly helped me write quick posts on some time-challenged days.  I did begin to wonder if I should make the blog a specialist book blog – there’s certainly a huge global community of them to join out there (and lots of really great ones too).

But then I also have to recognise that my blog is what it says on the tin – it’s a place where I journal life’s journey.  Books always have been, and always will be, a big part of my life – but there’s more to me than just books. So I’m not surprised that a month of daily blogging leaves me with a great mix of posts covering all the different aspects of and interests in my life.

I thought I might blog my way through Jeremiah, but by day 4 I realised there were other thoughts I wanted to share as well as the biblical ones.  Post-NaBloPoMo, I’m wondering about a Word on Wednesdays biblical feature as the place to blog my way through different books of the Bible.  The month – and its need for a post each day – led me to the impromptu creation of a Words from the Word mini-feature.  I used it twice on days when time was lacking for a longer post.  Over time, these bible thoughts – both longer posts and shorter quotes – would become a wonderful (to me!) collection of my Bible study and meditation.

Overall, it’s been good to do the challenge during a busy working month as I can see what’s possible and what’s not in terms of finding the time to blog.

Most of all, I love that, after nearly three months of blogging, I feel I have now begun to create an online journal, and thoughts, experiences and ideas have found a permanent home out there.  I’m still not sure about whether I’m here to attract followers but am amazed to have 66 of them now.  It’s a great encouragement that people have found and read my eclectic mix of posts and have taken the time to comment and to follow.  I’ve found this connecting with the wider blogging community a real (and quite unexpected) joy, so I must be less of hermit than I thought myself to be.

One thing’s for sure – this vicar won’t be blogging every day of December – but the insights from NaBloPoMo will carry me forward as I continue to develop my blog.

How was your November NaBloPoMo experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.

 

 

Jeremiah 7

Same old, same old!  The people are still being disobedient and so we find Jeremiah still proclaiming God’s judgement on the nation.  There really is a bit of a theme going on through the early chapters of this book, isn’t there?

And, perhaps it’s just me, but it feels a bit uncomfortable hearing the same message and the same accusations over and over again.  I wonder if the command to ‘Amend your ways!’ just gets a little too close to the bone – hence my discomfort as I read this chapter?

Jeremiah is delivering these words from the spot where the Lord has told him to stand and speak: ‘in the gate of the Lord’s house’ – indeed at least one commentator (Brueggemann) calls this chapter ‘Jeremiah’s Temple Sermon’.  Picturing him standing there, calling out this challenge to God’s people as they bustle past on their way into the Lord’s house doing their level best not to see or hear what’s going on, I feel his pain as prophet and feel myself accused.  It certainly adds a new and a more personal dimension to the well-known words that follow:

“Has this house , which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your sight?”

The Lord refers them back to what happened to their ancestors in Shiloh (the northern shrine where Samuel served that was destroyed: 1 Sam 3-4).  The people are warned that the same fate now awaits the temple and themselves.  Yet it would have been unthinkable to them that what happened at Shiloh could happen to them.  But it’s all here, loud and clear (except they’re not listening) – they will be cast out of God’s sight and his anger and his wrath will be poured out and will burn and not be quenched (verse 20).  The corpses of this people will be food for the birds of the air, and for the animals of the earth (verse 33), God will bring an end to the sound of mirth and gladness, and the land shall become waste (verse 34).  Gulp!  This really is not good news, but, then, they aren’t listening anyway.

God assures Jeremiah once again that he’ll speak all these words but that no one will listen to him – no wonder he is our ‘weeping prophet’ – what a miserable ministry he has!

What are we to draw from a horror story like this one? Although it begins with a positive invitation from the Lord to enter the temple, to worship and to repent, so much of it speaks of God’s wrath and judgement – poured out in unspeakably appalling actions – death and destruction all around. How do we find God’s love in such words and deeds?  And, as we approach the coming Advent season – where do we glimpse any light in the darkness, or hope for the future? It all sounds so desolate, bringing us only – presumably like Jeremiah – to weep and to despair.

 

Thankful thoughts

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In recent years, many US customs have made their way over the pond to the UK. Hallowe’en is one that comes to mind and tomorrow is to be Black Friday in many of our stores – on a regular working weekday – an interesting concept!

Sadly, the celebration of Thanksgiving is not one of our American imports, although awareness is growing over here, so that may change in the future.  imageI found this canned pumpkin in the local supermarket last week – not the squash alongside – my husband grew those on his allotment. Canned pumpkin is a first for me, but I’m not baking a pumpkin pie for tonight’s meal because most of the family are out on a normal busy workday/school day Thursday evening.

I used the word ‘sadly’ in the paragraph above because it seems to me that being thankful and showing gratitude for all that we do have is a wonderful tradition that should spread far and wide.

As my working day draws to a close, I want to note a few things I’m very thankful for today: family and friends, a house to call home, well-paid work that enables us to provide for our family’s needs, some holidays and other treats, and the opportunity to help others in financial need.  But today, because of how the working day has turned out, I’m particularly grateful for those who encouraged me in my Christian faith – and especially for those who encouraged me as I explored my sense of being called into ordained ministry.

How about you – whatever your nationality – what are you thankful for today?

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Nonfiction November: New to my TBR

imageIt’s the final week of the Nonfiction November challenge and this week’s topic – New to my TBR – is being hosted by Katie over at Doing Dewey. Participants are invited to list the new nonfiction books that have been added to their TBR lists during Nonfiction November.

Just as I predicted in my post for Week One of this challenge, one of the main outcomes of joining in with Nonfiction November is that my TBR list is even longer than it already was. I’m afraid I can’t link to the blogs where I first came across these books because I didn’t note them down at the time. Also, with some of these new-to-me books, they are recommendations I’ve come across again and again, so I know they’re books I need to read.

It’s been a great challenge and has reminded me just how much I love reading nonfiction and why.  And it’s brought even more possible reads onto my radar than I knew about before.  Great challenge – thanks to all who have hosted it and taken part!

Here’s the top ten list of new TBRs I’ve identified for now:

Lingo: A Language Spotter’s Guide to Europe by Gaston Dorren and Alison Edwards. This one is top of my TBR list now. I can’t think of a better read than a book that ‘combines linguistics and cultural history … and takes us on an intriguing tour of the continent’.

Trip of the tongue: Cross-country Travels in Search of America’s Languages by Elizabeth Little. Another take on languages but this time it’s a ‘language-themed road trip across America’ taking in native American languages, the creoles of the Deep South and various of the languages more recent immigrants brought with them.

Secret Classrooms: An Untold Story of the Cold War by Geoffrey Elliott and Harold Shukman. Here we read the story of the Joint Services School for Linguists which pushed 5000 British National Servicemen through intensive training in Russian so as to meet the needs of Britain’s signals intelligence operations.  As someone whose own learning of Russian began in the Cold War years, I think this will be a fascinating insight into our recent history.

The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall by Mary Elise Sarotte. This book, written by a prize-winning historian, tells the unlikely story of the unexpected, and certainly unplanned, opening of the Berlin Wall on the night of 9 November 1989.

The Underground Girls of Kabul: The Hidden Lives of Afghan Girls Disguised as Boys by Jenny Nordberg.  The title and subtitle say it all here.  I’m just fascinated to read the experience of living life in permanent disguise.

A Long Way Gone: The True Story of a Child Soldier by Ishmael Beah.  Another true story memoir, but this one is the story of a boy from Sierra Leone in West Africa who fought in the war there as a 12-year-old boy.

First Darling of the Morning: Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood by Thrity Umrigar.  Another childhood on another continent – a girl growing up in 1960s and 1970s Bombay/Mumbai.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and the Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi.  This is an Iranian childhood – through the eyes of the author who was 10 at the time of the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.  Social history is another interest for me so I know I’ll enjoy this Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s account of the migration of black citizens from the South who fled to the northern and western cities in search of a better life.

I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago by Hape Kerkeling.  I’m fascinated by the El Camino experience and would love to walk it myself some day, though back problems make that unlikely.  So I’ll settle for this translation of one German man’s pilgrimage across the Pyrenees to the Spanish shrine of St James in Santiago de Compostela.

I can see some common themes in this list that are typical of my reading habits – a fascination with languages and linguistics, an interest in history, spirituality and faith, and a love of real-life memoirs by people from different countries and cultures. It’s a typical list for me, but I would still want to argue that, in the spirit of Week Three of this nonfiction challenge, there’s nevertheless a good bit of diversity in the books that have made my top ten here.  I realise it’s more heavily weighted towards female authors.  I did have another male childhood memoir – Take this Man by Brando Skyhorse (the fascinating-sounding story of a young boy of Mexican parentage growing up in California under the guise of Native American ancestry) – but it just lost out in the final cut to keep the list down to ten.  The full TBR list – out of sight here – still contains this one and many others!

So, these are the top ten nonfiction reads I’ve discovered during Nonfiction November. Any thoughts on this list?  Have you read any or all of the books I’ve chosen here?  And what do you think I should read when I’ve finished this lot?!