Wednesday, July 13, 2016

From My Commonplace: On Remembering

So my summer reading recently took a detour when I decided to revisit Carolyn Weber's Surprised by Oxford, a favorite from a couple of years ago.  Surprised by Oxford is a compelling memoir of the author's journey to embracing the Christian faith while studying literature at Oxford University in England.   I love this book on so many levels.  I was raised in a Christian family and never went through any significant period of doubt and questioning, so I appreciate being able to see through the lens of someone who did have to grapple with those questions.  I love the literary references.  I love the thread of romance that runs through it.  And: England. Oxford.  Come now.  Now I want to go.   But I can't, so maybe I'll just dust off Paradise Lost and finish it instead.
There are so very many great quotes in this book.  I can't quote them all….but I hope you'll bear with me if I spend the next few Commonplace posts reflecting on a few of them.
" ' Despair is the greatest sin,' Dr Nuttham finally responded slowly.  It involves forgetting that God is there.  Forgetting that He is good and that all He is and does extends from and works towards this perfect goodness.  That doesn't mean that he allows evil or creates it, or perpetuates it.  That's our entwinement.  Rather, He uses our evil towards His good.  We all need forms of remembering this first great love…writing, reading, creating, being." (p.62)
~ Carolyn Weber, Surprised by Oxford
It is pretty easy to be tempted to despair in this day and age, isn't it?  This world is sometimes – no, often -- a sad and messy place.  
I love the reminder here that we need "forms of remembering" – writing, reading, creating, being.   Literature.  Poetry.  Music.  Art.   We need those things.
Lynn Bruce talked about this in her session at the Ambleside conference in Texas back in May.   This is what I have scribbled in my notes:
"We get to walk alongside our children as the scroll of wonders unfolds.  We can hold to the riches of this wide and generous education through no-matter-what life throws at us.  It was the poetry, the literature, the music that came back and pulled Lynn through her cancer diagnosis [a diagnosis that, in her case, is not going away.  Lynn has been living with cancer for the last 8 or 9 years.  Every day is both a struggle and a gift for her.]  Our children will have struggles – we are giving them a gift.  We are shoring up our children with goodness, truth, and beauty."
We are giving them something to remember – something to be an alternative to despair.
(Here is another great article on this topic that someone shared on Facebook the other day, one that expresses this truth more eloquently that I can.)

My Bookbag This Week:
Devotional: Galatians with the Paul for Everyone Commentary (NT Wright)
The Daily Office Lectionary Readings and Prayers from The Trinity Mission
 Theological: You Are What You Love (Smith)
AO Book Discussion Group: I Promessi Sposi (Manzoni)
On Education: Parents and Children (Charlotte Mason)
Personal Choice: A Morbid Taste for Bones (Peters)
Poetry: Paradise Lost (Milton)
With my Hubby: Emma (Austen)
Family Read-Aloud Literature: Little Britches (Moody)
*I am also reading Charlotte Mason's Volume 6 for a local CM book club, but these meetings are infrequent, and it is my third – or fourth? – pass through it and so I just read the brief section assigned as our meetings come up. 
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  1. That sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to add it to my (very long!) TBR list.

    1. I hear you on the (very long) TBR list - but this one is well worth it!

  2. Our pastor quotes from that book on occasion. I haven't read it yet though. I didn't realize you came to the Ambleside conference in May -you were close to me! Have you blogged about it and I missed it?? Yes we all need to remember first loves and beauty.

    1. Yes, I was at the Conference in May. I didn't blog about it extensively, but it's coming out here and there in my writing as I've continued to mull over it - evidence above. I did most a few photos here: Sorry to have missed you!

  3. This book has been on my wish list for a couple of years, Jen. I'm even more interested in reading it now. Soon:).

    1. I am SUCH a bad influence on you. Your coffee habits AND your book habits. :P (But then, what better things are there than books and coffee?!)

    2. Did your parents every imagine that you could be a bad influence on anyone, Jen? The thought makes me smile:).

    3. Ha! I've have had the lifelong reputation of being the quintessential 'good girl', so it is rather amusing to think of me as being a bad influence. But hey, the things you never knew you never knew about someone....:D

    4. How did I know that was the case?:) I love it!