Monday, June 13, 2005

Guest blog: the Book Meme

This is Beth, the owner of the blog for Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog. Dave tagged me awhile back to post on the book meme that's going around, and I need to start by thanking him for letting me guest blog my reply here since the U2 Sermons blog has defined itself so narrow and objective a topic that a post about my own personal book habits is out of bounds. And...connect them all to U2, Dave? Just watch me.

How many books do I own?: Gaaa. Like 500? Book-buying is a hazard of being a pastor, I'm afraid. A lot of spirituality, liturgy, Bible commentaries, Bibles, and that kind of thing. Also books on culture and sociology, some poetry, a little fiction, books on cooking, books in French.

Last book I bought: "Charles de Foucauld et la fraternité" (I'm in France now, so English books are slim pickings and very pricey), an anthology of early 20th-century French hermit and missionary de Foucauld's writings with commentary. His prayer "Father, I abandon myself into your hands..." was used often at the first congregation I served in seminary and is still a favorite of mine. Forced U2 connection: He had a call to serve the poorest of the poor in Africa and lived a life centered around adoration.

Last book I read (i.e. finished): "The Debt Threat: How Debt Is Destroying the Developing World" by Noreena Hertz. It's about why debt cancellation in the Third World is not only a moral imperative for the West but is also in our best self-interest. The writing is a tad too casual for my taste but the story behind the debt, which I imagine few American readers know, is staggering to read; and overall of course it's a hugely important topic. U2 connection: Not forced at all. There's a Bono blurb on the cover and the first sentence of the book has Bono in it. Even British PhD experts on economic globalization can no longer write on debt or Africa without bringing Bono into it now.

5 books that mean a lot to me:
The Bible particularly Psalms/ Isaiah /2 Corin. U2 connection: Do you have to ask?
The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton's autobiography. Played a key role in my conversion, since it was where I caught the vision of an intellectually and aesthetically coherent faith in Jesus. Forced U2 connection: Merton complained in one of his journals about how hard it was to live the Christian life "with the spiritual equipment of an artist."
Confederacy of Dunces. Just a hilarious novel. Forced U2 connection: I know someone on the @U2 staff who also loves this book. "My valve!"
Bird by Bird. When you come down to it I'm a writer, and this is the best book on writing I know, especially wonderful for its honesty about self-doubt and its Christian aura (made much more explicit in later Lamott works). Forced U2 connection: Like some Irish celebrities we could name, Lamott also uses profanity and is madly in love with Jesus.
The Journey of Desire. I went through the workbook of this last fall in connection with decision to take a year of pilgrimage with my husband. I love the point that the Christian life calls us not to settle for less by either killing our desire or misidentifying its true object. U2 connection: "I Still Haven't Found" happens to be quoted as an epigraph, but in a wider sense the whole topic is one of U2's favorites.

Many thanks again to Dave for being such a good sport about this and letting me appear on IdeaJoy.

1 comment:

Dave King said...

Thanks Beth, any time you need a spot for a NON U2 post.

- Peace