A Balzac Translation

Funny thing… both these books are the same but they have completely different translations for their endings. Makes me wish I would have read the top one instead. What do you think?

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The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty

As a student of the American Civil War I realized to my shame that I have not one book about the African American experience. Studying military strategy and the life of soldiers kept me from really SEEING this special part of the story. So I thought I would pick up a book. Of course there are plenty of books out there about race, and I hope to read some of those too, but for the beginning of my journey I thought I would start with food. I found this serendipitously while searching for colonial history and thought it would be perfect. Michael W. Twitty is a culinary and cultural historian, he’s a TED fellow and speaker and has appeared on/in NPR, The Guardian, and has been a participant in many talks abroad.

“As he takes us through his ancestral culinary history, Twitty suggests that healing may come from embracing the discomfort of the Southern past. Along the way, he reveals a truth that is more than skin deep—the power that food has to bring the kin of the enslaved and their former slaveholders to the table, where they can discover the real America together.” — Harper Collins (publisher). It has excellent reviews. I’m so excited to begin my journey here!

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The Book of Revelation

I’ve been looking forward to sharing this book. For many, the book of Revelation is one of the most frightening books of the Bible. I too was afraid to read it thinking it would destroy my faith out of fear. But I read it…carefully…and was fascinated by it. It is one of my favorite books now, because it is so colorful, dripping with allegory, and Jesus is alive & speaks again, so I’m immediately inspired. There is so much to study and make out if this book.

We have the Apostle John who has seen a vision of Christ and is told to write down all he will soon see as a prophecy of things to come. “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.” ( Revelation 1:17)

This quote said by Christ sums up everything: He said this to His faithful servant, John, someone who meditated and gazed on the face of Christ consistently, in everything he did and Christ tells him to not be afraid (because to you, John—we could insert) I am the First and the Last. We must begin our faith with Christ and continue our faith with Christ throughout our days, make Him first and make Him last, the first thought in the morning and the last thought at night. Make Christ and His truth your everyday, and you should not be afraid of anything you read in Revelation (or life’s trials), but only be in awe and marvel at the mystery of it yet to be truly understood

The Book of Esther

In what simple way is God calling you to act that would draw you closer to Him? For me it was spending a year to read and study the Bible. .

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These are my own contemplative thoughts. If you disagree with the below that’s ok! .

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Before Christ, in the Old Testament, under the old covenant, only priests were allowed near the altar, and they acted as the mediators between God and man. The book of Esther is symbolic to this as it describes her standing in the inner court in front of the king’s hall. The king sees Queen Esther just outside his inner court, HE FINDS FAVOR IN HER (a statement we read often in scripture when God’s relationship to his people is discussed) and holds out his scepter to her as a sign that it is ok to approach him. She moves towards him and touches the very tip of his scepter, a sign of her obedience and humility. To me her approach is like those hoping to come to God either for the first time or after a long hiatus. We have to approach with humility and an open heart, yet we do not have to be pure, or holy, or of a certain worldly stature. We are allowed to come as we are. Esther, who despite knowing she was doing something against the man-made laws of the day said she would approach the king to save her people the Jews from being slaughtered, “even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” In this statement she showed her bravery. This kind of bravery is what God wants to see from us, wants us to cut through all the worldly “laws” like our own expectations, guilt, rules, etc., right to Him. And He will find favor in us for this—we will become his special students in that moment, He will take us under His wing and show us wonderful miracles and bless us tremendously, especially show us how to find His kind of joy in this life if we keep our eyes open to Him. .

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The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross

I like to follow the breadcrumbs of authors I admire. If an author quotes another or happens to really like a certain book or person then I investigate whomever they suggest. St. John of the Cross is one of those breadcrumbs. I’m so excited to read his work. This book is 800 pages, not exactly something I can take to bed with me, however the task of reading it at my desk will feel very much like a joyful study. His writing is often quoted by some of the most inspiring theologians of all time including Thomas Merton and Saint Therese of Lisieux, so I’ve been looking forward to reading his work for a while now. Can’t wait to dive in!

Tears Today

For months I did my own personal study on tears, because I was crying everyday for various reasons, mostly for other people. Not really knowing what would come of it, I began journaling my experience and realized that my tears for others and tears for my family were a form of contemplative prayer for them. I confided in a priest, telling her that I was crying a lot and, for example, I wept over the story of Jesus learning that his beloved friend, John the Baptist, was beheaded. I wept for John and I wept for Jesus. The priest just blinked at me and she said, “but weeping for someone is not doing anything to help them.” I said “surely my weeping is felt in heaven and my tears are cast upwards as a prayer and shed back down to earth as a blessing of love for whom I am weeping.” I said this in so many words, and as I spoke I realized for the first time that my weeping was prayer. These days when all we CAN do is pray and weep, surely our tears are blessed. It is OK to cry. Tears heal us in so many ways. They are a prayer for your people and a blessing for you. .

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The book of First Kings

I have no authority to teach you, these are only my own contemplative thoughts. You might disagree and that’s OK. .

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So they wanted a king, eh? Ok, give them a king.

And so, the Israelites got their wish. They rejected God as their king and asked for a human king. These human kings committed mistake after mistake(because they are not perfect), and it made me want to pull my hair out reading both first kings and second kings, because these guys witnessed some of God’s greatest miracles but then would reject God soon after. How could they do this?

It would be so easy and here’s why, and this is where my philosophy comes in: this ‘world’ is a heavy place—literally we are pulled by its gravity, held captive by it in many ways. We are getting heavy doses of worldly, secular stuff every day which keeps us tangled and confused. God will hand us a miracle today, but tomorrow we forget when someone cuts us off or a neighbor does something irritating. This is why the journey with God, completely and wholly without influence from the world—the place btw that lives and breaths around us and where most of us only see with our human eyes and the place we must move in daily—can be so difficult. We must try to see beyond the cloudy ether of this world. So, I almost sympathize with the terrible kings in these books, I too have been like them. The way with God is a way of constant discipline and much praying in silence to sometimes only receive silence in return. However, I think the key to setting ourselves free from worldly captivity is to establish a routine where we spend some time with God each day. Designating a time for you and God to be together, have coffee, talk, contemplate, just think about Him each day ( but try not to leave him completely behind, let Him remain in the back of your mind, carry Him with you) and watch the miracles unfold. At the very least (which is everything) it will lead you on the path to His gift of inner peace and joy. You’ll see. 🙂

The a story of a Soul by Saint Therese of Lisieux

The Story of a Soul was written by Saint Therese of Lisieux before her death in 1897 at 24 years of age. In it she talks about her “little way” of doing everything with great love. After she died this memoir was passed from hand to hand from priests to nuns and even the Pope, and was eventually published. It was a great read for anyone interested in her. She writes that she will send flowers from heaven (blessings) to anyone who prays for her. She is one of the only Saints to be photographed and one of the only doctors of the church because of her “little way”, an obtainable path toward virtue for all. She is very special to me.

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