Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spartacus

I just finished reading Spartacus, by Howard Fast just a few moments ago...wow, what a compelling look into humanity, particularly into Roman civilzation and slavery.

I must first say I never have seen the Kirk Douglas/Lawrence Olivier movie, produced in the 60's. I picked up the book only because I saw it on the shelf labeled staff picks at the Orem Library and thought it would be intresting. It was.

The beginning is a bit slow--the author does need to set the tone and he does so compellingly. I was a bit embarrased in the protrayals of homosexuality, but realized the author is attempting to show a facet of the Roman decadene. He dives into the society, unapologetically, and thankfully his narrative is not in the least bit as dry as a history lesson. In fact the method of delivery, one of retrospect and memory counterposed with live action (and delivered vis-a-vis by several charaters) is refreshing.

We see both sides of the coin of slavery, and I realized from the introduction, that Fast wrote it partially as allegory for our modern day "Romanesque country", America. He was considered to be one who fraternized with Communists, and was even imprisioned by the FBI in the 50's. If anything for me, this lent a more natural feel to the book.

My words are mere comments, the language and spell of the book stand on their own. The internal dialogue of David the Jew, the internal dialogue of Spartacus, and the transformation of Gracchus all were quite fantastic.

If I may sum up a master work in a few terse words I will say the book is compelling. It compells one to consider the vastness of the Roman empire which was built by generations of slaves. It paintes clearly the hundreds of years of conquest, of enforcing Roman law and order, and of the supression required to build up an empire. Rome destroyed millions of people to make itself.

This is truly an amazing work, and not in the least amoral (as I had initially thought--I do believe the author cast some moments quite luridly to peoperly set tone for the type of people we were reading about). Per the author, FDR apparently reused to allow it to be published, as the author was labeled a Communist, and he had some ulterior motive. I will admit the message of the story is a bit idealogical, a sort of "run away and join a commune and sing koombaiyah and share everything" feel to it, but the other message is quite clear. Man is meant to be free. And for that picture, the book is exceptional.

-Jay

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Summer Reading Part Deux

More summer books!

First I'll list the completed ones since the last book posting:

Artemis Fowl and The Lost Colony by Eoin Colfer
The Wolf Hunt by Gillian Bradshaw (a real gem of a book, based on a 12th century poem by Marie de France)
The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen
The Sand Reckoner by Gillian Bradshaw (fiction, based on the life of that illuminated Greek mathematician Archimedes)
The King of Elflands Daughter by Lord Dunsany (fantasy fiction written very early in the genre's infancy--the work has been compared to "drinking a fine wine")

Next I'll list the ones I'm still reading, but not in situ (hah!):

Synagogue by HA Meek (scrapped reading it 8/4)

Finally the yet to start titles:

Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret by Obert Skye
Teracotta Summer by Gillian Bradshaw (correction, not Gillian, but Anne, and I scrapped reading it 8/4)
Spartacus by Howard Fast
Harry Potter and the half Blood Prince by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

What are you reading these hot muggy days?

-Jay

My Soul's Declaration of Security

If it is to be, it is up to me. I will not shirk responsibility. I will not leave my family. I will stand at my post, and accept my calling--husband, father, son, friend. I will live my life and be exceptional. I feel that God has marked me to do something that will bless my life and the lives of all my family. If I will heed the spirit, and do what I feel to be Gods will for me, then he will make something of the clay of me, the essence and mean and material of what makes me, me. I will not go quietly into that dark night! I will stand and allow my Heavenly Father to shape me into something exceptional. I choose to do my best, that when the scythe comes whistling through the grass with a sound of dread, I may stand tall and know that I am more than I am here, this flesh and organ and hope. I have in me the clay taken by the gods from the amphorae—one handful of good and one of ill, yet tempered by the spark of the spirit, the One True God’s spirit in me.

I am not afraid of love. I am not afraid of loving others, allowing then to come so very close to my heart and hurt it and hurt me. Christ was the one who showed me that I don’t have to be afraid, that this body of dust and motes will be resurrected. That all sin stems from pride—foolishness over lust, greed, selfishness, fear, untruth. If I know that I can fight it with love, what can stand in my way?

If I am truly open as Heavenly Father sees me, if I allow all men to see God through my eyes, how shall I act? Can I reflect His image?

I was born to greatness. Heavenly Father expects a certain success from me, both temporally and spiritually. If I lie to myself, and think "drifing through life" is the answer God has for me, I will miss out on these things. I will not know the joys He has for me now, and in the eternities to come. I am laying the foundation of a mighty work in my own life. In my former life, I laid these stones in spirit, now it is time to physically wrestle them into place, to chip at them with sore and bloodied hands, to shape them, form them from their rounded worn faces into the ashlar which will strenghten and shore up genera of my people—reaching infinitely far forward, and streching equidistant back. My Father in Heaven desires for me to become a steward who knows who He is, who myself is, and to excel using this knowledge and the talents He gave me.

I know in my heart that Heavenly Father, knowing what his children would do and face, gave each of us a soul like a satchel. As we came to earth, he handed us our bodies (and this with our spirirt makes up the soul), and a carefully selected knot of problems. We took these, along with the gifts he gave also (those that we may have learned in that premortal realm, and those we would be allowed to learn here). “These” he said to each of us, blessing us as we were to go “are the things in your life that will make you great. Go to, and forget Me, my son Jay, knowing that you are a child of God the allmighty. Go and grow to be like Me, now you are like Me almost, yet unexperienced and untried. Go to, I will lead you back to me. I have prepared a way for all men to return to my presence. Using these gifts and these problems equally will teach you how you can return to me. I know the beginning from the end, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the way the truth and the light. Your Elder Brother, whom you have loved and known these aeons shall speak for me, as My intermediary. He is also your advocate with me. Yet, I will not leave you comfortless, for I will send you the Holy Ghost, a lamp unto your feet. Go to now, go to your birth and to your forgetfulness. This life will be one where darkness will blind you, passions will dull you, appetites will feel unslaked, and hope replaced by despair—yet, if you will, you can find a glimpse of your Heavenly Home, if you seek me out. Seek me and you shall find me, as the compass turns to the true north, so shall ye find me. If you look towards me in everything, not just when you have need, I will lead you.

Go to, with these problems to juxtapose your talents and enlarge your capacity. These things which the world calls odious will you call blessings when we meet again.” In my minds eye I can see him hugging me and weeping, knowing that some of his children will never understand, that I might not understand, and that even his valliant ones, the warriors, could even lose hope and fail. Yet I know He loves each one of us, and He loves me, and he wants me to choose and to grow. And so I grow.

I choose to this day be exceptional. I choose to make my life into something that He would be proud of—when the mists of darkness enshroud my minds eye, when the crippling niggles of self doubt assuage me, when the winds and waves toss and threaten to sink me, I can feel inside of me a voice commanding me to “Be still!”

I am a child of God. He knows me. He knows what I can be, he knows my wealth and my potential, greater than all the treasures of the earth. I was bought for, paid for my the blood and life of the Son of God! Lo, each of us was bought by the life of the Son of God. Even if we don’t believe it, even if our hope is dead, and our passions are biting us oh so fiercely. You and I are known. We were sent here not to fail, but to be great. Our Father, our spiritual genetic sire, created us. We have greatness all throughout ourselves! It is so much a part of us--as much a part of the self as one's own leg or arm. It is a limb we may never recognize, never develop and exercise. But it is there.

We were not created when two rocks struck together, we didn’t ooze out of the primordial slime. We were spiritually begotten, and we wear a veil that witholds our sight from the presence of Heaven, which is in reality all around us.

Our Father wants us to succeed in becoming even like He is. His hope and love and desire is for this. Oh my Father, thou that dwellest in the high and glorious place, let me feel thy love and thy hope for me, one of your sons, this day and every day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Confession of a Reading Mind

I have been devouring some books these past four weeks, and wanted to post a quasi-log here.I will not be posting my thoughts of each work beyond a paragraph or so. Sorry, my analysis is not going to be logged verbatim here. I will however, as I said mention a brief synopsis of each book

So far read in the past month:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone by JK Rowling (All her HP books are very good!)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
Hary Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
The Spaces in Between by Rory Stewart (Excellent, read below posting)
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (Best EH book, period)
Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer (Good ideas here, similar flavor to Foundation by Asimov, or to Ender by Card)
Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo by Obrett Skye (Excellent first two chapters, felt somewhat fragmentary. His descriptions of the characters were well worth the read)
Kokopelli's Flue by Will Hobbs (Very nice story, told in a first person, felt like recapitulation or an oral epic)

If you look at my titles, you just might be wondering what the heck I am trying to do here.
I am working for a ballance between the informative and the adolescent, in effort to condition my own mind for the opportunity of creating my own work of fiction (of which I am currently working, there...the cat's officially out of the bag). I have grandiose dreams, an amazing spouse, a true passion for literary works, and a burning desire to just see these darned dreams come to fruition. Between that, and the feeling that the hand of destiny and opportunity is on me, I feel like I am going to succeed. I have convinced three folks, who posess excellent critical thinking skills, into being my pressing proofers--they will have their red pencils sharpened and one or both of their eyes beady in preperation. Thank you Melissa, Lynn and Kara for being my guinea pigs.

For the other two-point-five of you who read my blog, I can promise a copy when it has been kneaded out into somehting worthy. Till then, I am off this damnable internet (save for an occasional trip to find a synonym) to hammer out some more of the tin of my book.

-Jay

PS

Please post up what you've been reading this summer!!

-Jay