Monday, October 7, 2019

Let's Bust a Recap : Humility

This little book on humility by Charles Joseph Mahaney was published in 2005 and is less than 200 pages long making it a very manageable read. It made it onto my 2019 book list when I asked my husband to recommend a few of our top shelf books for my list. (The top shelf of our home library contains the majority of our non-fiction spiritual or theological works organized alphabetically by authors' last names—I have a very long way to go to get through our top shelf books.) He ultimately pulled three books he thought I should prioritize, and I ended up putting them all on my list. Humility: True Greatness is the first one I've tackled this year.

Mahaney divides this book into three parts and gives the following explanation for his structuring of the book in the introduction:
"In the first part we'll learn that, no matter our age or vocation, humility is our greatest friend and pride our greatest enemy. In part two we'll discover that genuine humility requires a radical redefinition of success. We'll learn from Jesus Christ as He teaches His disciples the nature of true greatness, and why this greatness is attainable only through His death on the cross for sinners like you and me. Finally, in part three we'll get very practical. We'll examine how to cultivate humility and weaken pride each and every day."
Humility is certainly a difficult topic to write on. By choosing to do so, you're bound to open yourself up to the criticism that it must take an awfully proud—and therefore unqualified—person to claim to be an authority on the subject of humility, and the author very clearly spelled out his concern about this in the opening pages of the book. I actually found this to be a little off-putting and found myself being hypercritical as I began this book and in reading the first two parts especially. I believe it's important to think critically when reading anything, particularly theological topics I'm seeking to apply in my personal life, but it was humbling for me as a reader to have to put the book down and ask God to forgive my prideful, critical attitude toward Mahaney and to show me what He would have me learn from this book. (Whether this makes the application value of a book on humility vs. pride phenomenal or abysmal would be a great subject of debate.)

While I do think Mahaney inserted himself more than necessary into this book, he handled the topic thoroughly and Biblically and I found this book to be a helpful exhortation overall. The real value of the book, in my opinion, is found in the third section where he delivers practical ways to cultivate humility in our daily lives. He explains each method comprehensively throughout this section and then includes a list at the end of the books containing the practices he just finished detailing—the kind of list you could tape on your bathroom mirror or copy down in your journal to help you implement his suggestions. This list alone was worth the book.

The only thing I would have added is a similar list of all the books Mahaney referenced and recommended throughout his own book. It certainly wouldn't be difficult to go back through and make that list yourself, but it definitely would have paired nicely with his list of suggestions to cultivate humility. 

All in all, I would recommend reading Humility. I know I personally have to battle pride in my own life, and I think it's a sin every human struggles with to some degree. Reading this book was helpful to me in my ongoing quest to put the sin of pride to death in my own life, and I hope it helps you too if you decide to read it.

What's your best tactic to kill pride and cultivate humility?

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

A Word for Wednesday

"In racing, they say that your car goes where your eyes go.
The driver who cannot tear his eyes away from the wall as he spins out of control will meet that wall;
 the driver who looks down the track as he feels his tires break free will regain control of his vehicle.
 Your car goes were your eyes go."

~from The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein~

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Word for Wednesday

"This is a rule of racing: No race has ever been won in the first corner; many have been lost there."

~from The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein~

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

A Word for Wednesday

"If all experienced God in the same way and returned Him an identical worship,
the song of the Church triumphant would have no symphony,
it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note.
Aristotle has told us that a city is a unity of unlikes,
and St Paul that a body is a unity of different members.
Heaven is a city, and a Body, because the blessed remain eternally different:
a society, because each has something to tell the others—fresh and ever fresh news of the 'My God' whom each finds in Him whom all praise as 'Our God'."

~from The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis~

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Word for Wednesday

"The mould in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key:
and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock.
Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit
a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance,
or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions.
For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved,
but you—you, the individual reader, John Stubbs or Janet Smith.
Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him and not another's.
All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction.
The Brocken spectre 'looked to every man like his first love', because she was a cheat.
But God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love.
Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand."

~from The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis~

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A Word for Wednesday

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: 
it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

~from The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis~

Monday, August 19, 2019

Let's Bust a Recap : My Bedtime Anytime Storybook

My Bedtime Anytime Storybook is a collection of short stories for children written by V. Gilbert Beers that was published in 1992 and gifted to my siblings and me back in 1995. As the self-proclaimed book hoarder collector of the family, I claimed this book for my personal library after we all grew up, and this summer I read the whole thing out loud to the almost-three-year-old that haunts this place. Each day before naptime, we'd visit our colorful friends to supposedly be entertained and learn valuable moral lessons about forgiveness, helpfulness, working together, sharing, pride, etcetera etcetera. 

The stories feature the little adventures and scuffles of six animal friends: McWhiskers the mouse (quite obviously the author's favorite character and the most virtuous of the bunch), Bru the bruin bear (the one who has the most lessons to learn but never seems to actually learn them), Puddles the blue hippo, Tux the penguin, KaWally the koala bear, and PJ the zebra (all of whom are definitely secondary characters to McWhiskers and Bru). While the book is well-intentioned and the stories have the potential to teach good lessons, the moral is often vague and overshadowed by other bad characteristics displayed by the characters in the story. For example, we may be reading a story about Bru and his pridefulness, and in the process of Bru learning how wrong it is to be proud, all the other characters get angry, yell at him, even call him names. While we get the hazy impression that pridefulness is wrong, we never read anything about anger or unkindness or see Bru's friends apologize to him for their own moral missteps. The endings are extremely weak and fail to drive the moral lesson home, and on top of that, the stories are largely forgettable. 

The biggest selling point is definitely the colorful, cartoonish illustrations by Tim O'Connor that draw the eye on every page and is what I remember being attracted to as a child flipping through this book. But that hardly makes up for the poor content of the stories. While this book wasn't terrible and there were a few stories that I liked, overall I'd recommend skipping My Bedtime Anytime Storybook. There is certainly better material out there particularly if you're looking for something to help teach your children Christian values. 

What's your favorite read-aloud storybook?