Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Jack! STRONG coffee!

So says Tea Leoni to Nicolas Cage in The Family Man when they are awakened by their children all too early on Christmas morning. So I feel today.

Andy is still sick, although he appears to be on the mend. His fever has gone down considerably. Neither Elise nor I have shown signs of having caught it yet, thankfully.

I was just thinking. Why is it so hard to get through really long books? I just glanced at the bookshelf next to me and saw both The Brothers Karamazov and The Brothers K - which I know sound like the same book, but they are not. Both books are well over 600 pages, the first one over 700. Long books by most standards. I usually read a book of average length - about 350 pages is what I would consider average, at least for the books that I typically read - in about two weeks. I'm not a particularly slow reader, but I'm not fast, either, and I don't read for very long each day, or even read at all every day. So it takes me a while to get through a book. But if I read a 350 page book in two weeks, wouldn't it stand to reason that I should be able to read The Brothers Karamazov in a month? One would think. Hmm.

I'm reading easy books right now. The Little House series, as mentioned earlier, and now a series by Beverly Lewis. I think the series is called Daughters of Abram, but I could be wrong about that. It is about the women in an Amish family. The book itself is rather fluffy. The friend who lent it to me described it as "a trashy novel without the sex", which was a rather apt description. Seems that is what most Christian fiction is these days. It's sad, really, because there is room for depth. Apparently Christian publishing houses have the same low standards that most secular ones have. However, the book does describe the Amish lifestyle in some detail, which I enjoy. I have always had a great respect for and interest in the Amish culture. What a fascinating group of people! And it is interesting to read these books parallel with the Little House books. The books are set nearly 100 years apart, yet many of the domestic details described are almost identical - farming, keeping house, canning and preserving, sewing. Reading books that describe such things always makes me want to - oh, I don't know - churn butter. It usually also makes me ashamed of my housekeeping skills. Caroline Ingalls would be appalled at the mess in my living room this morning. And then reading about the Amish girls filling their hope chests made me want to embroider pillowcases. I'm much more likely to do that than to churn butter.

As appealing as such traditional domesticity and farm life is to me, I do not fool myself into wishing I had been born into an earlier era. First of all, if I had, I would be dead now. (Let's not get into the relativity of time.) Second of all, I really do love my dishwasher, washer and dryer, refrigerator, car, and local grocery store. I like that I can grow vegetables (theoretically, people!) and make jam and sew quilts because those things are enjoyable, not because my family's survival and livelihood depends on them. But reading about that way of life does inspire me to live simply and to pay attention to the way I live. It makes me want to be conservative in my consumption of goods and careful about the way I spend my time. And it makes me realize that every generation in Christian history, with few exceptions, considers previous generations to have lived by a higher standard of morality and a simpler means of sustenance than the current generation. We all think our parents and grandparents lived in simpler times. Our children and grandchildren will think the same of us. And it may be true, to an extent, but we have to remember that there is nothing new under the sun. If we feel that our lives are too complicated, or we are too reliant on modern conveniences, or morality is now relative, we cannot blame those things on the time in which we live. The Christian standard has never been any easier to live by than it is today. There may have been times when good behavior was encouraged and rewarded by society more than it is today, but holiness has always been countercultural and has always been contrary to human nature. I do not believe that God makes allowances for us based on the times in which we live. "Oh, well, so long as everybody else was doing it..." Yeah. I don't think so.

No comments: