Saturday, September 25, 2010

Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith is the third book in the Number One Ladies' Detective Agency, a series about the continued adventures of lady detective, Precious Ramotswe.

This book, and the books before and after, are fantastically charming to me. Mma Ramotswe is a compelling and believable character, as is her friend and assistant, Mma Makutse, and her handsome fiance Mr. J. L. B. Matekone.

In this installment of her several adventures, Mma Ramotswe must investigate the allegations of an important "Government Man" who believes a certain person is trying to poison his brother.

She is also faced with the strange appearance of a little boy who has wandered in from the wilderness, alone, naked, and smelling of... lions?

These as well as the other trials Mma Ramotswe faces in this book with her wit and candor, make the book a fun and refreshing read, with a healthy dose of suspense to keep me enthralled until the very last word. Mr. Smith is a gifted writer, and I adore this book as well as the others in the series!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer 2010

It is hard to believe that it is August already, and school is just around the corner once more. I have been reading a very good book this summer, entitled The Battle for Middle Earth by Fleming Rutledge.

In the book, among many enlightening ideas that Ms. Rutledge puts forth, is the idea that "It is human nature to want to divide up the world into Good and Evil, always with ourselves and our own group on the Good side." And, by extention, putting those who are not like "us", on the Bad side. It is easy to believe oneself to be comfortably justified. Doing so, allows a person not to have to think very deeply, or to examine himself, and his own inner workings, or to admit faults and realize that change is required, or to go through the pain of that needed change, or to understand that his first impulse may not be the best thing to do, or require himself to comprehend that others have worth, ideas, opinions and preferences that are at least as worthy as his own.

It requires work, and often pain, to look at oneself, and admit need for improvement. But it is always worthwhile to do so.

From the book, but quoting Mr. Viggo Mortensen, "The most enlightened beings in Middle-Earth are conscious of the ubiquity of good and evil in neighbors, strangers, adversaries, and most important, themselves. There can be little future in adopting a permanent policy of 'an eye for an eye.' If we were all regularly to put into effect such an inflexible approach, we would all soon be blind, as Gandhi pointed out."

Ms. Rutledge went on to say: "Victor Havel of the Czech Republic, hero of the Velvet Revolution, wrote that during the period of Communist rule it was often impossible to distinguish between those who had collaborated and those who had not; the line, he said, 'did not run clearly between "them" and "us", but through each person.'"

It is futile on many levels, to ruminate on the poor choices, or perceived poor choices of others. For one, no one but God can fully understand and fully judge a person. It's fine, in fact it's necessary to take steps to protect oneself, and if necessary, to avoid people one knows to have made dangerous choices, but it is not our place to condemn and certainly not our place to gloat. We simply do not know enough, and must leave it to God. And gloating, or being either overtly or secretly pleased with someone's shortcoming, or perceived shortcoming, makes the gloater into the monster he wants his enemy to be. For another reason, a person, thinking to set himself up as judge may be making his decisions based on on a faulty premise. In other words, one something that isn't even true. And finally, the only person that any one person has absolute and complete control over, is himself. That is especially true of attitudes and beliefs. While a person may have influence over others, in the end of all things, the only person he can change, is his own self.

One of the main themes of Tolkien's work, according to Ms. Rutledge, was that " is about the universal propensity of human beings (and angels) to fall into evil unless they are aided by..." (And I believe -choose to accept the aid of-) "...power from that 'unseen but ever-present Person."

One of the last things Ms. Rutledge said in the introduction of her book, was "One hallmark of responsible hope is honoring those "Numenoreans" among us, those people in our world who, in spite of their imperfection and - yes - sin, nevertheless, like Tutu and Nelson Mandela, embody the noblest and higest among us. In the presence of such people, the 'finger of God' has intruded into History."

It seems to me, from my experience, that the greatest, (truly greatest) people in the world, people like Mother Teresa, William Wilberforce, Harriet Tubman, the individuals mentioned in the previous paragraph, and others achieved greatness because they were too busy doing good to worry about looking good, or to justify themselves by busily putting themselves (in their own minds) in the "Good" camp while putting opponents in the "Bad". They were just too busy simply doing what was right.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

BIA Officer, Joshua Yazzie: "One of those good people."

I am very sad to write this, but I wanted to, to pay in my small, stumbling way, tribute to a very good, honorable man.
BIA Officer, Joshua Yazzie, someone I didn't know very well, but did cross paths with a few times during the past year, was killed in the line of duty when his car lost control and rolled down a steep embankment while he was responding to a call to assist an ambulance crew with an intoxicated person who had grown violent.

The following is part of an article published in the Vernal Express:

'Curtis Cesspooch, chairman of the Ute Tribe's Business Committee, said he knew Yazzie well enough to know he was a good man with a young family.

"Things that happen in life can be so unexpected, at anytime we can lose good people. Josh was one of those good people," said Cesspooch….

...Ute Tribe emergency management director Misty Bruns called Yazzie "one of the nicest people you would ever meet." He was always fair and professional, and he treated others with respect, she said.

"He was always one of the first people to show up when help was needed," Bruns said...

He is survived by his wife, Jessica; two children, Jaxsen and MaCee; parents Robert and Joan Yazzie; five siblings and many other relatives.'

His obituary can be found here:

Officer Yazzie was a good man, and it is sad to see such a person who has done so much good, taken from the earth. There is a shortage of honorable men in this world, and Officer Yazzie was an honorable man. May he rest in peace.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

True Love.

Most people are familiar with the scene in The Princess Bride where the priest gives a speech before he *attempts* to marry Buttercup and Prince Humperdink. The topic of his speech is "Wuv. Twu wuv." (translated, "Love. True love.") Which causes me to wonder. What exactly is "True love," anyway, and how does one recognize it? Both in her/himself and in others? I'm still trying to figure that out. But I think I have some better ideas than I have before.

Some (not all) earmarks of true love are below. This applies to all sorts of relationships, not just romantic.

* The person respects him/herself.
*The person does not feel a NEED to be with another in order to feel of worth.
*The person is honorable, in that s/he obeys laws, and is honest, etc.
*Along with that, the person does not pretend to have values/standards that are different than what her/his true values/standards are.
*The person does not feel a need to change the essence of who s/he is.
*If change in behavior or attitude is necessary to become a better person, however, the person is willing to make those changes.
*These changes are not made to conform to what another wants, but because they are the right thing to do.
* The person's interest in the other person is not for his/her own selfish gain.

*The person doesn't want others to fail or look bad, and does not feel pleasure when others fail or look bad.

*The person understands that every human being is a son or daughter of God, and has infinite worth.
*The person does not feel a need to tear others down, or to assume the worst about others in order to feel of worth her/himself.
*The person does not tolerate being treated abusively in any way by anyone, and avoids relationships with abusive people as much as possible.

As I wrote before, these indicators are by no means the only ones that show whether true love is present or not. But I think the bottom line is, in order to truly love others, one must first respect herself or himself.

In my books I have tried hard to portray healthy relationships in which real love would be present if the people existed in real life. I hope I have done that.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Far World: Land Keep by J. Scott Savage

The fantastic story that was started with Water Keep continues with Land Keep, with Kyja and Marcus seeking the help of the Land Elementals. Along the way, they meet some new folks, and have some, shall I say, rather educational experiences that help them grow and progress, and become a tighter team than ever.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I could barely put it down. My students have read it as part of their reading, and they enjoyed it, too. They were sad to see the story come to an end, and keep asking me when the third book will come out.

I look forward to the third and fourth books with great anticipation!