Monday, September 13, 2010

The prodigal who didn't quite make it home

Rembrandt's Parable of the Prodigal Son  has the returnee resting his young, shaved head on his father's chest while the father's great rich cloak covers him -- an anguished baby, sleeping at last.  Marilynne Robinson's returning prodigal comes home to his father, is welcomed and loved, wants to love back, tries to love back, but never yet settles his head on his father's breast.

We try to love -- we fail to love -- we lose hope of ever loving -- yet in the trying and failing and losing hope love itself arrives: a hesitant presence. Nothing happens in this book: two letters, plenty of meals, a lot of gardening, a couple of visits to church, some games of scrabble.Yet breathing gets a little hard in the final few pages.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


My family didn't get this at all when I enthusiastically shared how I now had access to the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the definitive guide to the largest language in the known universe, and it hides behind a paywall. But I found I can access it for free by using my library card -- our local library subscribes to it.

So now when I want to look up:




as I needed to two days ago or discover whether the word 'luck' is derived from the word 'Lucifer,' I can. (It isn't).

It's like getting the keys to the linguistic universe. What a resource. What a discovery. So why do my family look at me so strangely?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

David Lloyd: Teach yourself small business accounting

Dead simple, comprehensive, believable and jargon-free, I found this book empowering and freeing. Bases all your accounting on your monthly business bank statement, perfect for small business owners who'd rather be doing something else but want to stay legal and in control.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Robert Johnstone: James

Of course any publisher that decides to call itself 'Banner of Truth' asks for a custard pie to be applied somewhere. I do not think Christian-based groups are at their strongest when making the grand claims.

However, if I stop making reverse-sanctimonious comments on the publisher's name, I have to admit that the BoT supplied me with free books when I was much younger, and those, among others of their titles, have nourished my soul.

This is a lovely book. All it does is unbolt the Epistle of James, lay it all out on the garage floor, and then pick up each piece and tell you what it does. The author preached these sermons long before he became a university professor, when he was based at the little fishing port of Abroath, nearly 150 years ago.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

John Polkinghorne: Belief in God in an Age of Science

No doubt the most illuminating book I have ever read on the subject, John Polkinghorne steers a reasonable and rational course between the extremists (Dawkins and the creationists) whose noise usually drowns out all else. He is a physicist and a theologian, and a winner I think of the Templeton Prize for progress in religion, the Nobel Prize in God.