Tag Archives: Christian

The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

As a speed reader, I think one of my greatest weaknesses comes from how fast I digest information. No sooner have I read something worth chewing over than I’ve moved on to something else. So, when I find an author who forces me to stop and ponder, I value that author immensely.

C.S. Lewis has always been one of those authors. I picked up The Weight of Glory, which is a sermon he wrote, about three weeks ago and have yet to get any farther than the first paragraph. There is just so much to unpack. Here is how it starts: 

“If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Christians of old, he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love.”

If you haven’t read the sermon already, I highly recommend checking it out and reading along with me! It is 9 pages long and available as a pdf here.

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Church Family

Especially lately, I often feel like my frustrations with Thailand keep snowballing into bigger and bigger drama where I just throw up my hands up in exasperation and count the days till I get to go home. But you know, there is one area where I have no frustration and only gratitude. One area I probably don’t talk about enough on this blog: my church family. 

I am so grateful for my spiritual family at Calvary Baptist Church in Bangkok. They’ve been my strength, support, and encouragement this semester. From opening my eyes to the plights of the countless refugees in Thailand to filling my Wednesday night with laughter and fellowship, this church has served as a rock in an often stormy and confusing environment. 

I’m often inclined to make sweeping statements like, “I only have 3 friends in Bangkok.” Which is true if I look at the students I connected with at school. But if you look at the people I see every Sunday and Wednesday, the people I talk and laugh and eat with, the people who get me out of my apartment and out of my head, I must have easily 3 dozen friends!

I have friends from the Philippines, from Vietnam, from China, from Japan, from Australia. Friends from the U.S. and, yes, even from Thailand! I am so blessed to have had these last three months with them. I will miss their fellowship more than anything when I leave. 

It is easy for me to focus on the negatives: a taxi driver who ripped me off, a class presentation gone wrong, the perpetual stink of sewer in the air. But woven throughout my experience this semester, God’s love came pouring out through His church. I cannot imagine this experience out them. And I cannot wait for the day when every tongue, every tribe, and every nation will gather and we will experience even better fellowship for all eternity. 


Multi-Lingual Telephone

Did you ever play the game telephone? Everyone sits in a long line and the person at one end tries to send a message to the person at the other end, but usually it gets terribly convoluted along the way? 

Today I went to a Chinese church and that is how it felt. 

The pastor spoke in Mandarin. A Vietnamese guy then turned and translated in English to my friend whose native language is Karen.* She then turned, giggling, to explain it to me. 

I think the sermon was about the Holy Spirit.

The only part I did understand was a video of an Indian man with a heavy Australian accent talking about Pakistani refugees. Quite interesting. 

Overall a strange but fun experience. 

 

*I apologize if Karen is not actually a language. She is Karen. I’m assuming her native language is Karen as well, but the internet tells me the Karen people speak at least 3 different types of languages depending on where they originate so I’m not sure “Karen” is a language. 


2018 Reading Challenge: My 5 Star Reviews, Part 1

I read 255 books in 2018! Here are some of the best:

Confessions by Saint Augustine

Augustine of Hippo is one of the great church fathers of the Christian faith. Confessions is his memoir, testimony, and prayer to God. It is beautiful and difficult. I should have read it long ago. But honestly, even at 25 I felt intimidated and pretentious picking up a book by a church father. Imagine 15-year-old me doing it. But 15-year-olds should read this book. And 25-year-olds. And 85-year-olds. Augustine is not as scary as he sounds. Confessions is an incredibly readable and beautiful book. It is a love letter to God. I found it challenging and profound; I will definitely be coming back. This is one of those books that calls for multiple re-reads.

The Ugly Duckling by A.A. Milne

To read the synopsis is to know the entire plot of this one-act play: a king and queen want to get their ugly daughter married, so they have her beautiful serving maid take her place when a prince comes calling. Little do they guess the prince decides to try the same ruse! Though short, this is a very sweet story and an immediate favorite. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye (a favorite children’s book of mine) does a fun job retelling it. Very good for a quick read.

Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth by James Cross Giblin

With a title like “Good Brother, Bad Brother” I expected a picture book aimed at children. Then, when the book arrived, I realized it was 244 pages and not aimed at children at all. This is a full-fledge biography! I went through a phase in high school where I was all things obsessed with the Lincoln assassination and this book landed on my to-read list courtesy of that obsession. My memory has dimmed somewhat as to the actual assassination but this book’s focus on Edwin Booth filled in many fascinating details I’d either forgotten or never knew. Edwin was himself a remarkable man forced to forever live in the shadow of his infamous brother. This biography does an excellent job showing Edwin in a positive light (his acting, overcoming alcoholism, love for his daughter) while also not shying away from his flaws (failed theater, failed marriage, etc.) I definitely recommend this one as a fascinating look at John Wilkes Booth’s brother and as the biography of a remarkable actor basically forgotten by history.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, JR. by Clayborne Carson

A fascinating book and great audio with snip-its from Martin Luther King Jr.’s actual speeches. I especially liked what it had to say about organizing. It contains good tips, such as: pick a target, don’t protest generally. (Very Saul Alinsky.) Like most people, I assume, I am most familiar with MLK’s work in the South and was fascinated to learn about his efforts in Chicago. His methods and goals seem to have shifted at that point and perhaps not been as effective. It left me wanting to learn more.

Mr. Malcolm’s List by Suzanne Allain

So, you read Jane Austen. And she’s great! Classic, even. But possibly not an author you want to curl up with on a rainy afternoon. Then you discover Georgette Heyer. She is romantic and clean and everything you were looking for. However, eventually you run out of Heyer and you can only re-read those books so many times. (Trust me, I know.) Where do you turn next? I recommend Suzanne Allain. From a technical standpoint, Mr. Malcolm’s List isn’t a perfect book by a long shot. It plays fast and loose with historical detail (all that first-name calling!) and comfortably relies on some scandalous behavior. But It. Is. So. Fun! And best of all, it fills that Regency craving without causing you to blush. I found it unexpectedly funny and sweet. While reading it, I often flipped back to re-read scenes just for the pleasure of it. Quite a delightful book.

Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff

Speaking of funny…Stuff Christians Like caused me to laugh so hard that people kept staring at me on the bus. I seriously could not keep it in. The book gently satirizes many parts of Christian culture we take for granted. Though the book is starting to feel ever so slightly dated, I was continually delighted by how dead-on accurate it was. It also ends on a more serious note, combining humor and grace in a way that leaves the book more than just another funny read. It has depth. Mostly, though, I recommend it for a good laugh!


Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas

Elijah and I have been listening to Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. So far, we have been unimpressed. We don’t really like the guy reading and the bio about George Washington kind of annoyed us. 

Because of this, I was hesitant to pick up Seven Women. In fact, I was kind of regretting my spur-of-the-moment decision to buy it a few weeks ago. What if I hated it? What if it started out as bad as Seven Men

I was packing up my books this morning and decided to give the first chapter or so a try. If I really disliked it, I could banish it to the basement with all the others. However, I was pleasantly surprised! Not only did I enjoy Seven Women, I read it all basically in one go. 

The seven women covered in the book are Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa. While all the biographies were interesting, I particularly enjoyed learning about Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, and Maria Skobtsova. I like how different each woman was, yet at the same time how “great” they all were. Susanna was a stay at home mom, Hannah More and Rosa Parks were political activists, and Maria Skobtsova and Mother Teresa were nuns. 

I recommend this book as a great compilation of faithful, Christian women. It was truly encouraging and inspiring. I hope Seven Men turns out to be just as good!