It is nearly mid-April and I have not given you my reading update for March. So here it is!
Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin is about the school system in America and why it needs to change. The school system, as we know it in America, was largely built in the Industrial Age. Because we are in a new age, and really a new world because of technology, he proposes that our entire method of schooling needs to reflect that change. While I would not concur with all of his conclusions, he made me think about things differently than I had before. I think our education system does need to change, I am just not sure he really has a good plan for how to go about it. But I don’t either, so. It is free, so if you are a parent interested in our school system, it is worth reading. I wrote more of my thoughts after reading his book in the post Is School Killing Our Childrens’ Dreams.
Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith is one of several biographies coming out this year in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s 60th year of reign. Elizabeth, known as Lilibet to her friends and family, lived the first ten years of her life in perfect tranquility. She had all the prestige, honor, and privileges of being in the royal family without the pressure of being next in line for the throne. All of that drastically changed when Elizabeth’s uncle abdicated the throne. After Elizabeth’s father became King, her entire world changed. She was now next in line. Her education requirements increased as her parents sought to make sure that she would be ready to take on the responsibilities as Head of State when her time came. She was briefed on politics, taught French, and taught all the social aspects a queen would need to know.
No one expected, however, that she would become queen so young. Her father’s death just after the end of World War II would put Elizabeth on the throne as a 25 year-old young woman. Elizabeth is a very disciplined woman. She has kept a daily journal since she ascended the throne which, she claims, is as natural as “scrubbing her teeth.” These journals will not be allowed to be seen by anyone until after her death. (Can you imagine the people trying to get their hands on that?) She takes her role as Head of State very seriously and is very cognizant of world politics. She cannot, however, give her opinion too freely. She is the Queen, after all, and can never take sides. I was amazed at how much she learns and is still learning even in her eighties. “At an age when most in her generation had settled into comfortable retirement and narrowing views, the Queen’s unique position required her to broaden her perspective to keep abreast of changes in the culture” (p. 392). She is a well-read, knowledgeable woman.
I really admire Elizabeth. She has been on the throne in a sixty-year period that has seen significant changes in nearly every way. She has not stood back and just observed, but she has actively taken each new step as an opportunity to learn. I saw glimpses of her personality that the public is not usually aware of, such as when one of her courtiers at an official event exclaimed, “Your Majesty, I’m afraid everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong.” Elizabeth’s reply: “Oh good, what fun!”
A life of counting how many steps between pauses to shake hands. Or learning the skill of standing still for hours at a time. Or convincing people to see things your way without ever actually saying exactly what you think. A life of meeting sometimes as many as 600 official engagements in a year. A fairytale life? I don’t think so. The Queen has borne it all with great dignity. I look forward to watching the events of this summer as England celebrates the Queen’s 60th year of reign and hosts the 2012 summer Olympics. Last week I shared Two Lessons from the Life of Queen Elizabeth II. (This book is nearly 600 pages in length. Just so you know. )
Nurturing Creativity: A Guide for Busy Moms by Renee Tougas is a very short ebook that can be read in one or two sittings. This book is not about nurturing creativity in your children, but rather an encouragement for you as a mom to be creative. I do not think of myself as very creative, but she reminded me that creativity takes on many different forms. For some it may be painting or drawing, but many other people find a creative outlet in decorating, cooking, writing, music, photography, designing, etc. I was inspired to practice more creativity. Nothing gets better without practice, right? I was also inspired to play the piano and violin more in front of my children. Now to actually do it. I viewed this little book more as an inspiration than really a guide as the title suggests. She did give practical suggestions throughout, though brief.
Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller was a life-changing read. Keller outlines that caring for the poor, and seeking social reform is not just kind, gracious, or merciful, it is actually pursuing justice. He addresses four groups of people: 1) Those concerned with volunteerism without it letting it affect their personal lives; 2) Those that view doing justice with suspicion; 3) Those who have included social justice along with evangelism, but have neglected important theology; 4) Unbelievers who believe that religion “poisons everything” and is not calling for justice. He also clearly answers people’s common excuses for not pursuing justice such as they will misuse the resources, they got themselves into the problem so they need to get themselves out, they are not utterly desperate, etc. “…the Biblical gospel of Jesus necessarily and powerfully leads to a passion for justice in the world.” I highly recommend this book. It has changed me, and along with his book Ministries of Mercy which I have not read yet, but Brian has, has caused us to have many discussions about how that will look like for our family. Our family must pursue justice. If you want to view the poor, needy, and hurting people in this world differently, than read this. It will open your eyes to the fact that the Gospel calls us to Justice. Generous Justice.
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Have you read any good books lately? Please share in the comments.
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