dostoevsky | dostoyevsky

Your choice.

Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I think it took me about a week to get through this book. Luckily, it’s separated into seven parts, and I tried to get through one each day. Dostoevsky is an interesting read. My friend PJ really enjoys this guy. But PJ gets him. I don’t think I completely follow everything he’s trying to get across. So it’s a good discussion book for me. It was an interesting story. I discovered something from my smart friend . . . apparently the book was written during a very political time, so Dostoevsky couldn’t name places. In the book, instead of the actual street or town name, it will say T— Street or K— Place. I thought it was weird at first, but now I learned something new. Excellent.

My reading list somehow continues to grow. It’s a little frustrating. But at least I have a 4-hour plane ride coming up on Monday. I’m going to try to make it through Pride and Prejudice and The Irresistible Revolution before camp starts.

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
Love to Eat, Hate to Eat
by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Attributes of God
(vol. 1 and 2) by A.W. Tozer
When People are Big and God is Small by Edward Welch
When I Don’t Desire God (How to Fight for Joy) by John Piper
The Divine Conspiracy by Willard
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (again)
Not Even a Hint by Joshua Harris (again)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

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if music was colorful . . .

Blue Like Jazz
Donald Miller

Yes please. I finished this book in less than a day. Beautiful. I don’t agree with everything that Miller says, but I love his use of provocative statements and the fact that I was caused to think. Miller has a great writing style and is very human in his book.

I was challenged to love people last summer by a friend and have failed miserably in the past year. I’ve only just come to realize how royally I’ve messed everything up in the past week or so. I have many apologies to make. It’s frustrating for me because it’s even hard for me to love the people who are supposed to automatically be included in that love thing. It’s easy to see how I’m not loving members of my family. When you love other people, relationships just run more smoothly. Not that love is the easy answer to all your problems. No. But love is the basis of all things. If I can learn to love, I can erase most of my relational stress. There’s no excuse for my lack of love. It’s a choice, and I’ve been choosing not to love.

Miller was describing a point in his life where he didn’t want to be around people. He was frustrated by everything. Um, yes. That’s me. And it was all because of selfishness. It is because of selfishness. And it’s because of pride.

It seem that at the heart of all these huge battles I’m having are two extremely basic things: love and humility.

Please take a moment to read just one of the parts that I can relate to.

For a very long time, I could not understand why some people have no trouble accepting the grace of God while others experience immense difficulty. I counted myself as one of the ones who had trouble. I would hear about grace, read about grace, and even sing about grace, but accepting grace is an action I could not understand. It seemed wrong to me not to have to pay for my sin, not to feel guilty about it or kick myself around. More than that, grace did not seem like the thing I was looking for. It was too easy. I wanted to feel as though I earned my forgiveness, as though God and I were buddies doing favors for each other.

Enlightenment came in an unexpected place: a grocery store. I was on my way over Mount Hood to spend some time in the high desert with a few friends. I was driving alone and decided to stop in at Safeway to pick up some provisions for the weekend. While standing in line at the checkout counter, the lady in front of me pulled out food stamps to pay for her groceries. I had never seen food stamps before. They were more colorful than I imagined and looked more like money than stamps. It was obvious as she unfolded the currency that she, I, and the checkout girl were quite uncomfortable with the interaction. I wished there was something I could do. I wished I could pay for her groceries myself, but to do so would have been to cause a greater scene. The checkout girl quickly performed her job, signing and verifying a few documents, then filed the lady through the line. The woman never lifted her head as she organized her bags of groceries and set them into her cart. She walked away from the checkout stand in the sort of stiff movements a person uses when they know they are being watched.

On the drive over the mountain that afternoon, I realized that it was not the woman who should be pitied, it was me. Somehow I had come to believe that because a person is in need, they are candidates for sympathy, not just charity. It was not that I wanted to buy her groceries, the government was already doing that. I wanted to buy her dignity. And yet, by judging her, I was the one taking her dignity away.

I wonder what it would be like to use food stamps for a month. I wonder how that would feel, standing in line at the grocery store, pulling from my wallet the bright currency of poverty, feeling the probing eyes of the customers as they studied my clothes and the items in my cart: frozen pizza, name-brand milk, coffee. I would want to explain to them that I have a good job and make good money.

I love to give charity, but I don’t want to be charity. This is why I have so much trouble with grace.

A few years ago I was listing prayer requests to a friend. As I listed my requests, I mentioned many of my friends and family but never spoke about my personal problems. My friend candidly asked me to reveal my own struggles, but I told him no, that my problems weren’t that bad. My friend answered quickly, in the voice of a confident teacher, “Don, you are not above the charity of God.” In that instant he revealed my motives were not noble, they were prideful. It wasn’t that I cared about my friends more than myself, it was that I believed I was above the grace of God.

Like Rick, I am too prideful to accept the grace of God. It isn’t that I want to earn my own way to give something to God, it’s that I want to earn my own way so I won’t be charity.

As I drove over the mountain that afternoon, realizing I was too proud to receive God’s grace, I was humbled. Who am I to think myself above God’s charity? And why would I forsake the riches of God’s righteousness for the dung of my own ego?

Sometimes it’s discouraging to look back and wonder if I’ve made much progress over the past year. It’s encouraging to realize that there are areas I need to change in my life. It’s encouraging to know that everything is possible with God. It’s amazing to think that one day this struggle will be over. I will stand in the presence of Perfectness. And in that day, I will be like Him.

design. yum.

And at this moment, I’m wishing I was at the National Stationery Show in NYC. My face is one of jealousy right now.

But ! I found some wonderful site that has great slides from the NSS. It made my face light up. Please partake. It’s yummy! From design*sponge . . .

Also, here are a few links in order to make your day more design friendly.

nantaka joy – Ok, so the site isn’t up yet, but you may want to frequent this later. Great stuff in the show!
HAMMERPRESS – Letterpress goodies. I wanted to eat them up.
Studio Olivine – More letterpress goodies. Although the size of their examples leaves much to be desired.
Night Owl Paper Goods – Fun letterpress ideas. You can even buy some cards for yourself!

I even put a couple of these links in my blogroll. Make sure to check out design*sponge which is where I found most of these!

that unfortunate thing.

I think society has doomed me to a hopeless view of love. I know a few people who don’t allow their kids to read romance novels [even the tame ones] because of the way love is portrayed.

Maybe I’ve set myself up to expect too much out of men. I mean, really . . . where are you going to find a Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightley? Are they only in alive in the books? And of course, characters like those come from the mind of a woman. Ok, ok . . . Nicholas Sparks and Shakespeare have done their share of damaging my expectations as well, although honestly, I wouldn’t want a Romeo. Didn’t those characters have to be modeled after someone?

Yeah. Probably not. Not just one person, anyways. Is that why we love to read so much? Because we can find people who are what we want them to be? The perfect friend, the perfect companion?

Mr. Darcy was far from perfect. He was proud and rude. He ruined the possibility of happiness for others when it seemed to contradict with his social standards. But he redeemed himself. He set everything right. He went far beyond what anyone expected of him without getting credit for any of it. And he did it for love. What could be nobler?

Mr. Knightley . . . he was just perfect from the beginning.

So where does a girl go to find these people? Seriously . . . you guys would be fighting off women if you took a few pointers from these characters. I don’t think we’re really that hard to please. We only demand perfection. And I put the blame on the shoulders of media.

That’s probably not fair. Never have these authors claimed to write the truth. It’s clearly labeled as fiction.

It’s my fault if I believe it.

pursuing

The Pursuit of God
A.W. Tozer

I’ll be honest. I had a very hard time concentrating while reading this book. I’m not really sure why. It was a struggle, but towards the end, I really started to be able to get the words that were on the pages. I don’t even think it’s a confusing writing style at all. I’ve mentioned before that my reading comprehension is awful . . . probably because I have a hard time concentrating. There’s circular reasoning for you.

My favorite part comes on page 90. Tozer makes an excellent point in his statement,

“Someone may fear that we are magnifying private religion out of all proportion, that the ‘us’ of the New Testament is being displaced by a selfish ‘I.’ Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified. The body becomes stronger as its members become healthier. The whole church of God gains when the members that compose it begin to seek a better and a higher life.”

Yes, please. Why do we preach unity among ourselves and come up with every possible way to accomplish that unity when it’s as simple as looking to Jesus? If my life is in line with God, and your life is in line with God, we’re unified for the same purpose. Granted, we’ll probably still have different standards, but the Christian life isn’t about me living in agreement with you. It’s about both of us living in agreement with God.

If you want any more, you’ll have to read the book yourself!

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Love to Eat, Hate to Eat
by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Attributes of God
(vol. 1 and 2) by A.W. Tozer
When People are Big and God is Small by Edward Welch
When I Don’t Desire God (How to Fight for Joy) by John Piper
The Divine Conspiracy by Willard
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (again)
Not Even a Hint by Joshua Harris (again)

modesty

What is Modesty
Michelle Brock

I’ll be honest. I probably wouldn’t have read this except for the fact that it’s my required reading for camp this summer. Modesty viewed from a different perspective. There were definitely some good points in the book that aren’t argued often of modesty. Modesty isn’t just covering up your body . . . no, modesty also deals with being fashionable. Gasp. Yes. It’s true. To be modest you need to be appropriate to the occasion and all that. It would be immodest to wear jeans and a t-shirt to a wedding . . . in the same way that it would be immodest to wear a wedding dress to paint your house. Anyways, it’s a decent book. The writing style wasn’t very strong, but I can’t say much.

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Love to Eat, Hate to Eat
by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Attributes of God
(vol. 1 and 2) by A.W. Tozer
When People are Big and God is Small by Edward Welch
Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
When I Don’t Desire God (How to Fight for Joy) by John Piper
The Divine Conspiracy by Willard
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (again)
Not Even a Hint by Joshua Harris (again)

expansion

Reading (in my opinion) expands a person. It’s good on all fronts.

Emma
by Jane Austen

Ok. Delightful story, of course. You can gain the same knowledge by watching the movie and spend a lot less time. The last 80 pages in the book were given 6 minutes in the movie . . . which was plenty. The movie only changes slight details (and cuts out some parts not completely pertinent to the plot). I will always be on the watch for my Mr. Knightley.

Updated reading list: 
The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Love to Eat, Hate to Eat by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Attributes of God (vol. 1 and 2) by A.W. Tozer
What is Modesty by Michelle Brock
When People are Big and God is Small by Edward Welch
Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
When I Don’t Desire God (How to Fight for Joy) by John Piper
The Divine Conspiracy by Willard
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (again)
Not Even a Hint by Joshua Harris (again)