Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One of my friends told me about The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian and I went online right away to put in an interlibrary loan request for it. It arrived quickly!
The Leisure Seeker is the story of an octogenarian couple who flee from doctors and concerned (adult) children to go on one last vacation in their RV, ‘The Leisure Seeker’.
I finished the book quickly, sitting outside in my sky-chair underneath beautiful blue skies on a glorious 75 degree Saturday in southern Wisconsin.
Ella, the main character has cancer and her husband John has Alzheimer’s. She plans their get-away as they trace Rt. 66 from Detroit to Disneyland to try to recall some of their best-loved memories and actually live a little rather than wither away till death.
I think she has it right. I sure hope I will have the guts to figure out a way to do something other than wait for our kids and doctors to helicopter over us in our final years.
The pharmaceutical companies and medical profession have figured out how to prolong life, but not how to make it dignified or worthwhile. We see it with our parents who are in their nineties. Old age can be awful! You’d better be stubbornly committed to breathing at all costs if you want to live beyond the normal working capacity of your vital limbs and organs. The boredom and inability to do anything about it would be the worst part, I think.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

This Book is Overdue! : How librarians and cybrarians can save us all by Marilyn Johnson

If you are a librarian, you may find this book funny, insightful, and gratifying. If you are not a librarian, you will probably not make it through to the end.

Since I am a librarian, I resonated with the author’s description of librarians as: curious, with wide-ranging knowledge, organizational aptitude, analytical aptitude, discretion and computer savvy. She generalizes librarians as adhering to these values: truth, free speech, universal literacy, the desire to help, and belief that free and ready access to reliable information is the foundation of democracy.

In praise of librarians, Johnson writes that “they enable those without money or education to read and learn the same things as the billionaire and the Ph.D”… “in tough times, a librarian is a terrible thing to waste.” (p 8)

Johnson quotes E.J. Josey: “Information justice is a human rights issue; the public library must remain ‘the people’s university’.”

The major theme that carried Johnson through months of research for this book was the concern that digital information is ethereal. “We can copy the same piece of information in endless files… and yet, whole chapters of contemporary history are disappearing into the ether as emails get trashed and web-pages are taken down and people die without sharing their passwords.” (p 12) She hunted down her heroes – archival librarians who are attempting to save pieces of culture that we know are valuable, though no-one other than these few librarians are investing in their salvation.

She also points out the new ways that libraries are serving the public in this digital age – through loaning all kinds of digital formats of media, by checking out Kindles, GPS devices, laptops, holding Blackberry Bootcamp, posting podcast interviews with authors, staff-written reviews, using Twitter, Facebook, Meebo, etc. to meet the needs of the 21st century patrons.

Johnson asks “What’s the difference between a library and a storehouse of books? A library has specialists in acquisition who know enough about a field to stock a collection that illuminates and explains it. A librarian is not concerned with a collection for its own sake, but for the experience people have when they interact with it.”

Let’s keep libraries and librarians around for awhile!

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

If the Church Were Christian: discovering the values of Jesus by Philip Gulley

Harper Collins, 2010

If the Church Were Christian:

1 Jesus would be a model for living rather than an object for worship

2 Affirming our potential would be more important than condemning our brokenness

3 Reconciliation would be valued over judgment

4 Gracious behavior would be more important than right belief

5 Inviting questions would be valued more than supplying answers

6 Encouraging personal exploration would be more important than communal uniformity

7 Meeting needs would be more important than maintaining institutions

8 Peace would be more important than power

9 It would care more about love and less about sex

10 This life would be more important than the afterlife

These are the chapter titles in this provocative book by Quaker pastor, Philip Gulley.

I have read several of Gulley’s fiction novels about life in the small town of Harmony, Indiana and enjoyed them immensely. Throughout those novels I found several of these questions – not stated so blatantly, but woven into the fabric of the stories themselves.

Although I am glad to have read this non-fiction title by Gulley, my preference still lies in seeking the answers to life’s questions through story. Like medicine, life lessons always go down easier when they are coated with a bit of sugar.

Do I agree with Gulley’s premise? … Wholeheartedly! If only those of us who claim to be Christians would actually live with Jesus as our role model on a daily basis!

I wish Gulley would come to visit my home church – he would find a community of faith that works pretty hard to live up to the model of church that is described by those ten questions.

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