Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Words I Don't Know: Royal Edition II

innate (adj.):  existing in one from birth; inborn; native.
expedient (adj.): tending to promote some proposed or desired object; fit or suitable for the purpose; proper under the circumstances.
xenophobia (n.):  an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange.
clemency (n.):  an act or deed showing mercy or leniency.
autocratic (adj.):  tyrannical; domineering. 
canaille (n.): riffraff; rabble.
coxcomb (n.):  a conceited, foolish dandy; pretentious fop.
martinet (n.): someone who stubbornly adheres to methods or rules.
licentious (adj.):  sexually unrestrained; lascivious; libertine; lewd.
extricate (v.):  to free or release from entanglement; disengage: to extricate someone from a dangerous situation.

Definitions from dictionary.com

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Words I Don't Know: Royal Edition I

Good news:  I found my WIDK for A Treasury of Royal Scandals!  There were a lot of words I don't know because I just have a high school diploma and must be an idiot.  Anyway, less about my shortcomings, more about unusual words.

obstinacy (n.):  unyielding or stubborn adherence to one's purpose, opinion, etc.
capitulation (n.):  a list of the headings or main divisions of a subject; a summary or enumeration.
monomania (n.):  an inordinate or obsessive zeal for or interest in a single thing, idea, subject, or the like.
timorous (adj.):  Fearful.
mettle (n.): courage and fortitude.  
execrable (adj.):  utterly detestable.
effusion (n.):  an unrestrained expression.
arriviste (adj.):  a person who has recently acquired unaccustomed status, wealth, or success, especially by dubious means and without earning concomitant esteem.
sagacious (adj.): having or showing acute mental discernment and keen practical sense; shrewd.
precocious (adj.):  unusually advanced or mature in development, especially mental development.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: The Shack

     The Shack is either a bold lie or an extraordinary truth.  I like to believe it's the latter, but that's for each reader to decide on their own.  Either way, it's an excellent story.

     It begins after the murder of Mack's youngest daughter, Missy.  Missy was a vibrant, happy young girl, and her family loved her very much.  Sadly, that didn't save her from being kidnapped, violated, and murdered on a family camping trip.  Various members of the family secretly blame themselves, but none more than Mack.  "The Great Sadness" descends upon him, and there is nothing he can do to shake it.  It is a heavy blanket enshrouding his heart.

     It is a particularly wintry day in the midst of Mack's sorrow that he receives the most peculiar letter-- from "Papa".  His abusive, alcoholic father has been dead for years, but the letter still upsets him.  What kind of sick joke is this?  Who would do such a thing?  Perhaps... his daughter's killer?  Mack wonders, is the killer trying to lure him back to the shack?  To the site of his daughter's murder?

     Then Mack realizes something else-- "Papa" is the name his wife, Nan, uses to refer to G-d.  Could it be that G-d is calling him to the shack, to the place of his darkest, deepest pain?  The thought is crushing, infuriating... but intriguing.  Mack can't stop thinking about it.  The words are seared into his mind, but he holds his tongue.  With Nan and the remaining Phillips children away for the weekend, he sneaks on up to the shack.  Only his close friend, Willy, knows where he's gone.

     The shack is the same as last he saw it... Mack thinks.  He waits for awhile, then, disappointed, heads back to the car.

     That's when things begin to change.  Suddenly it is spring, the shack is beautiful, and there are delicious smells coming from the kitchen.  Inside is G-d, and "He" is not at all what Mack expected.  What follows is a weekend of questions, buried emotions, and understanding.  Mack learns that everything he knows, everything he thinks about G-d and humanity is false.  All his beliefs are based not on truth, but on stereotypes and the presumptuous ideas of others.  The greatest thing coming from this weekend, the greatest gift of all, is one of many things Mack has been praying for...

     One of my personal favorite things about The Shack:  it answers one of the most basic questions that people have-- "Why does G-d let bad things happen?"  The simple answer:  we let things happen.  At the beginning of Creation, in Eden, humanity walked with G-d.  There was a close relationship, a strong love, everything we needed.  What we thought we needed:  independence.  We took it, we ate the fruit and decided that we didn't need G-d.  So we have created the rift by demanding our freedom.  And with our freedom came all the chaos, the pain and suffering of the world.  This is our doing, and yet we get angry at G-d for giving us exactly what we wanted. 

     The Shack is not one of my favorites, but it is an excellent rainy day read.  If you're looking for answers, here is the book that asks the questions. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy October!

     So it's the first day of October, which is my favorite month.  A lot of exciting things are happening this month, including the results of the poll.  Thanks to everybody that voted; here's what I'll be reading:
  1. A Treasury of Royal Scandals 
  2. The Secret Life of Laslo, Count Dracula
  3. The Druid King 
     I'm sure my mother is pretty pleased since she forced upon me  loaned me two of the three books.  Also, something that I think is really cool will be starting this weekend.  It will be ongoing throughout the month in honor of Halloween, so keep checking back.  Happy reading!