Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Missing Gospel

A few months ago we read a travelogue (The sex lives of cannibals) and in a way, I kind of expected it to be like this book.  Not in terms of content, but I was expecting something that could be laugh out loud funny, with researched undertones.  I found the former to be bit of a let down, and this book was a really pleasant surprise.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  In some ways, it ended too soon for my liking, and even the epilogue wrapped up too quickly.  I am familiar with the bible, and have read a wide range of topics.  I am no expert, but I know what rings true for me.  In some ways this book is heretical, and other ways, so grounded and such an unique take on such an important religious idea/topic/person that it is not one to be taken lightly.

This is the story of Levi, also known as Biff, that is the best friend of Joshua, son of Mary and Joseph whom would be later known as Jesus Christ.  Much has been made of Christ's life after he turns 30, but not a lot has been made of his life up until that point.  Remove the religious aspect of this novel, and this is a coming of age novel of two young boys.  How Biff and Joshua bond, the bonds of their friendship, and how they grow and mature together.  At this times, this is laugh out loud funny.  At times, I really had to pause and to reflect upon what I was learning.  Who knows what parts could be accurate (and this book is not trying to be accurate), but there are some ideas buried in here that make a lot of sense.

Regardless of whether or not you are religious, Joshua as a person is very likeable in this book.  This novel brings the person behind the name and the religion to life as a person that made mistakes and wanted to learn, and reminds you of the basic and simple values that he preached (compassion, humility, love for your fellow humans, etc). I have some ideas about religion, and that there is no one true path, rather the path that is unique to yourself as you discover the god/love/divine spark within and this book nicely fits in there, somewhere.  I will keep this one on my bookshelf for a future look and it is well worth the time between its covers.  You WILL laugh, and you will hopefully get something out of this as well.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Back 40

I really value getting out in to nature.  When your kids are young, and there are a few barriers to actually covering ground by foot, we haven't been out in the wild as much as I would like.  One unexpected bonus of our move, is that we are getting out in to nature more all the time.  Ultimately we are closer to the back 40 than we are to the city now.  Whether it is a walk out on the local dykes, or to the parks, our out further in to the woods, we are getting out more.

In the move I somehow lost our kiddie backpack, and although a lot of the trails we have been traveling are pretty smooth, we haven't been taking the wagon anymore for the Don.  We have been out to Golden Ears, and to Kanaka, and a few parts in between, and I must admit, I have wondered how the Don would do.  Well, he has blown away all of my expectations and he has been amazing.  Today in the woods, it wasn't him that fell, it was me.  It wasn't him that was whining about being tired, it was his brother (I must admit, I just about lost it laughing when C-man dropped to the ground and kicked his legs in the air and told me how tired he was). 

 I am so proud of them both.  I am also so happy to be outdoors more.  It feels like I have been waiting to get back out in the woods for a long time.  Next year, way more camping.  This year, more Sunday hikes, more outdoor adventures.  This is a great trend!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Alone, in a classroom

This is the second novel that I have read by Hay, and I have enjoyed both.  This isn't a quick read that sweeps you off of your feet until you turn the last page, rather it is a story that unfolds and pull you along by it's current.  There are poetic passages that are a joy to read - thoughts that I want to earmark in my library copy, or jot down as a future reference.  There are some truths that Hay quietly nails. 

The one criticism I have of this novel is that it can be really disjointed at times.  I had to wonder whom the story was about at certain points, and whether or not we were in Saskatchewan, and back in the Ottawa Valley.  Some parts of this novel I enjoyed more, and some parts I thought were a bit odd.  All in all, a very satisfying read that I suspect will stay with me.

I read a comment that likened Hay to Margaret Laurence or Alice Munro, in which their novels elevate ordinary lives in to extraordinary stories.  I would agree with this - this isn't a novel of sweeping events, this is a novel of interwoven lives and families.  Some details are sparse, and others are richly described. 

Aside from reading and trying to capture an opinion, I am finally on a bit of a break.  Holidays are somewhat disjointed this year, and this officially a "staycation".  I am thrilled about it - I am happy to explore our local parks and beaches, and see these things through my kids eyes.  It is strange moving back to a place you knew as a kid, sprouted wings from, flew away from, only to come back to roost.  I have grown, as has our new home town.  Today we are going to head out to a spray park out in the valley.  One close to a place I lived 25 years ago.  I hope that that mozzies are not too terrible, since I know it is near the river and in the woods.  I am enjoying the first moments of the day - the quiet before everyone is going and wants to move.  My coffee is warm, and the morning is perfectly cool.  I love the fleeting moments during the heat of summer when the weather is amazing, but the mornings start off with a bit of a chill and you know it is a matter of time before everything is almost oppressively hot.