Friday, June 29, 2007

Classic Literature

All throughout college and seminary, I always expressed a desire to have free time to read some of classic works of literature. I promised myself that once I was done with school, I would certainly devote time to this. Well, I am happy to report that I am taking active measures to fulfill this goal. I have compiled a list of 100 great pieces of literature and I hope to get through the list in the next 3-5 years. I have put the list below in case you were curious about what I will be reading.

I started on the list and it is already paying off huge dividends. I am currently reading "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn. This thought provoking book recounts American history with special attention given to the voice the oppressed. For example, the first part of the book focuses on the colonization and settlement of America through the eyes of the Native Americans. A quote in the first chapter has been rolling around in my head since I read it: "The cry of the poor is not always just, but if you don't listen to it, you will never know what justice is."

Good Stuff!

  1. A People’s History of the United States Howard Zinn
  2. The Wind Up Bird Chronicles Haruki Murakami
  3. The New York Trilogy Paul Auster
  4. The Crying of Lot 49 Thomas Pynchon
  5. Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien
  6. Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
  7. Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
  8. Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell
  9. One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  10. The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger
  11. Crime and Punishment Dostoevsky
  12. On the Road Kerouac
  13. Alice in Wonderland Carrol
  14. Brothers Karamozov Dostoevsky
  15. The Age of Innocence Wharton
  16. Don Quixote Cervantes
  17. Perfume Suskind
  18. Ulysses Joyce
  19. Anna Karenina Tolstoy
  20. Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor
  21. Cry the Beloved Country Paton
  22. Dracula Stoker
  23. The Eagles Die Marek
  24. Emotionally Weird Atkinson
  25. The Handmaid’s Tale Atwood
  26. Infinite Jest Wallace
  27. Kitchen Yoshimoto
  28. London Fields Amis
  29. Moise and the World of Reason Williams
  30. Movie Wars Rosenbaum
  31. Paradise Lost Milton
  32. Persuasion Austen
  33. Tortilla Curtain Boyle
  34. Visions of Excess Bataille
  35. Where the Wild Things Are Sendak
  36. Wild Sheep Chase Murakami
  37. Beloved Morrison
  38. Counterfeiters Gide
  39. The Bell Jar Plath
  40. Blind Owl Hedayat
  41. Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe
  42. The Count of Monte Cristo Dumas
  43. Dealing With Dragons Wrede
  44. The Earthsea Trilogy Le Guin
  45. The Ecology of Fear Davis
  46. Franny and Zooey Salinger
  47. History of the Peloponnesian War Thucydides
  48. How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Alvarez
  49. Kabuki: Circle of Blood Mack & Jiang
  50. Of Human Bondage Maugham
  51. The Satanic Verses Rushdie
  52. The Sheltering Sky Bowles
  53. Tristam Shandy Sterne
  54. Well of Loneliness Hall
  55. Wicked Pavilion Powell
  56. Collected Stories of V.S. Pritchett
  57. War and Peace Tolstoy
  58. Babel 17 Delany
  59. Dora Freud
  60. Empire Falls Russo
  61. For Whom the Bell Tolls Hemingway
  62. Girl in Landscape Letham
  63. Goodbye to All That Graves
  64. Ham on Rye Bukowski
  65. Life Like
  66. Mao II Delillo
  67. Random Family Leblanc
  68. Revolutionary Road Yates
  69. The Stranger Camus
  70. Humboldt’s Gift Bellow
  71. White Noise Delillo
  72. Atlas Shrugged Rand
  73. Bastard Out of Carolina Allison
  74. Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills Bukowski
  75. Delta of Venus Nin
  76. Fast Food Nation Schlosser
  77. Ficciones Borges
  78. Go Ask Alice Anonymous
  79. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Adams
  80. Iliad Homer
  81. On Photography Sontag
  82. Republic Plato
  83. Shockproof Sydney Skate Meaker
  84. Society of the Spectacle Debord
  85. Strangers in Paradise Moore
  86. The Sun Also Rises Hemingway
  87. A Wrinkle In Time L’Engle
  88. Dubliners Joyce
  89. The Breakfast of Champions Vonnegut
  90. No Logo Klein
  91. Aeneid Virgil
  92. Ariel Plath
  93. Charlotte’s Web White
  94. Curious George Learns the Alphabet Rey
  95. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute Paley
  96. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter McCullers
  97. Henry VIII Shakespeare
  98. I, Claudius Graves
  99. The Lost Continent Bryson
  100. Master and Margarita Bulgakov

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Bible in 1 Year

Well, I did it. Last night I put the finishing touches on my quest to read through the Bible in 2007. It really helped to clear my reading list and to just focus on reading the Bible. I have a few comments/reflections on my journey these past six months.

  • Reading through it has left me amazed at the breadth and scope of this amazing piece of writing. I really believe that if you took an infinite number of interpreters/commentators and gave them an infinite amount of time with the Bible, they still would not be able to uncover all that is contained within the text. The Bible really mirrors God in this way.
  • I am convinced more than ever that the Bible should not be read alone. At the very least, you need to look at books that interpret the Bible to at least have some other voices to offer insight. I think it is a wonderful idea to read the Bible in a group setting, particularly in a diverse group. We really must assume a posture of humility when approaching the Bible.
  • The thing that stuck out to me the most in this reading was the marriage metaphor between God and God's people. Perhaps this is because I ended with the OT prophets and Revelation, but it just seemed like over and over again this metaphor kept popping up. Along the same lines, "prostitute" was a common term used describe the people of God in their relationship to God.
Even though I have completed reading the Bible, it is not as if I will put it back on the shelf to collect dust. The Bible is not really a book in this sense - where you only read it once because that is all you need to read it. I would now like to focus on studying specific parts of the Bible. I think I may start with Jonah. When reading it through, I was really surprised by its brevity. It is only 4 short chapters long. I think in my mind it was always this huge epic story that was presented to me in Sunday School as a young kid, so I just assumed it was longer than it was. But, even though it is short, I really think that there is a lot there.

Looking forward to continuing to wrestle with the Good Book.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bullet Holes and Baseballs

There are so many aspects of our society that I find completely unacceptable. In order to keep things organized, I am going to create a list. This list is based on previous posts, so look through my blog archives to find why I find the items on this list unacceptable.

1. Wearing a cell phone on your hip
2. The idea that a nice smile is the "normal" way to pose for a photograph
3. People who cut to the front of a traffic back-up when they know they need to get over
4. Local TV Newspeople
5. Confirmational Reactionist
6. Wearing a blue tooth headset as a fashion accessory

Well, I have a few things to add to this list.

Putting bullet hole stickers on your car. Come on, seriously? I cannot possibly imagine why anyone in their right mind would do this. Are there seriously people in this country who think it is humorous to pretend like your car got shot up? Or perhaps they think it will make them look cool and tough? For the majority of people, their vehicle is one of their largest assets. Why in the world would you intentionally do anything to reduce the value of one of your greatest assets? Putting bullet hole stickers on your car not only decreases your car's value, it also makes your car look ridiculous and calls into question your mental stability. Please do not do this.

Placing a fake baseball on your car that gives the allusion that it has shattered your window. Doing this is right up there with bullet holes. In fact, doing this is basically the less-ghetto form of placing bullet hole stickers on your car. I can just imagine someone trying to show off to his friends his new gag: "Hey guys, check it out. It totally looks like a baseball shattered my car window and I was too lazy to do anything about it, but guess what? It's fake! I am serious! Don't you think it is awesome!"
I am not sure what is more tragic: that people are actually doing these things to their cars, or that we live in a country where people are making money off of selling garbage like this.

Friday, June 22, 2007


I have had the privilege of witnessing some pretty amazing things so far in my young career as a minister. One of the more memorable experiences came during the summer of 2004. I was providing the pastoral care for a Nazarene church in Durham, NC. Through a random set of circumstances I met Jana Sheets and her husband Eric. They had moved to this area from Florida with the hopes of Jana receiving a lung transplant at Duke.

Receiving a lung transplant is wild enough, but Jana's case was further complicated by the fact that she had a rare disease (lymphangiomatosis) and no one with her disease had ever received an organ transplant. I will never forget the day I walked into the ICU shortly after she received her new lungs. Tons of machines were hooked up to her body and she was covered by a blanket of wires. The first thought that went through my mind is "there is no way this girl is going to make it." I said a prayer over her and then proceeded to have a long conversation with Eric.

I visited Jana several times a week over the next few months. There were so many instances where things look dark, but she gradually improved and slowly regained her strength. Finally, after several grueling months, Jana left that hospital on her own strength. But, it was not really her own strength. Jana was merely embodying the strength that could only come from God. Throughout the whole ordeal, I was blown away by her faith (a faith so contagious her husband Eric caught it), and there is no doubt that I witnessed a miracle.

Eric and Jana still live in the the Raleigh/Durham area (B
ahama to be exact), and they have become dear friends to Laura and I. Jana will probably never be free of her disease in this lifetime, but she is living her life as best as she is able. Every time I am around Jana, I am reminded of the sanctity of life and how precious each day is.

I am reflecting on this because recently a newspaper in Jana's hometown in New York did a write up on her. You can find that story with more details about her journey here.

Below is a recent picture of Eric and Jana.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Welcome Steve!

Many of you who check this blog also know my friends Tony & Angie Metz (you know, the ones who bought the minivan). Well, I am happy to announce that last Sunday Angie gave birth to Steve Lucas Metz. I thought you might want to see a picture of the little guy. Also, Tony has started a blog to chronicle his life. You can find a link to it in my "Other Blogs" section. Thanks for making me an uncle Tony & Angie!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Blue Tooth

In a previous post, I mentioned that I finally broke down and got a cell phone. Even though I was unable to resist this evil piece of technology, I did make a rule that I would never wear my cell phone on my hip. Well, I feel that I need to make an addendum to this rule (FYI: at some point I plan to release an entire Manifesto on cell phone etiquette, be looking for that in the future).

Lately I have noticed that it has become fashionable and trendy to wear your blue tooth receiver as an accessory, as some sort of giant earring. I am sure it starts innocently with someone forgetting that they still have the receiver in their ear, but at some point, people are coming to conclusion that it is acceptable and even cool to leave the receiver in their ear even though they are not using their cell phone. I want to be one of the first people to publicly declare that not only does it make you look like an idiot, it is unacceptable. I have come up with at least two reasons why I will never wear a blue tooth receiver in my ear as a fashion accessory.

1. It makes you look like you are trying too hard to be cool.

2. It makes you look too much like Lando Calrissian's aide, Lobot, in The Empire Strikes Back.

The resemblance is striking, is it not? Please spread the word that this is not cool, and please feel free to punch me in the stomach if you ever see me doing this.