Monday, December 13, 2004

Finished Books 

Well, since I've been home I've finished two books so far, so the relaxation thing is going pretty well. Yes, Susie, I know, I'm a dork and read too much. In the novel department, I wrapped up Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Seville Communion. It was really, really good (though I think it suffered a little on account of the translator who needs a longer list of adjectives with which to work). His descriptions were so real, bringing Seville right off the pages. The story was that of a Catholic priest sent to investigate some suspicious circumstances at the Seville parish church, Our Lady of the Tears. Someone had hacked into the Pope's computer and left a message begging for help because someone was trying to destroy the church. Now, as much as I like stories that display the sanctimonious and politically corrupt nature of the higher up Roman Catholic hierarchy, Perez-Reverte resisted as much as he could from portraying them that way. Sure, they had their flaws and character idiosyncracies, but they were fairly portrayed. None of the characters fit into an easily definable role of good or bad; no one was really free from the stain of corruption and sins (greed, lust, lying, and pride all feature prominently). They were just a bunch of real people mixed up in an all too real situation, which made it an enjoyable read. The descriptions of the emotions of the main clergy character were so amazing - "a lone pawn fighting his own personal battles in a forgotten corner of the chess board" - that I was often able to identify with. Anyway, I'd reccommend to seminarians and non-seminarians both - an enjoyable read and a pretty interesting mystery.

Next on the docket is Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth; figured I'd stick with the church theme for now. This epic novel is about the construction of a cathedral and all the people who work on it. Apparently, there is to be quite a dose of intrigue, greed, and suspense, but on page 12 as I am, I've only met a mason named Tom who has none of those qualities.

With regard to non-fiction, I finished Jeff Lee's introduction to the Book of Common Prayer, Opening the Prayer Book. It was quite good, I thought. When discussing it with my professor of Liturgics, she asked if I thought it would be helpful to read it in Liturgy class because I said after reading it, I understand a lot more of what we discussed in Liturgy better. I said, yes, I thought it probably would be helpful. She responded by saying the reason she hadn't assigned it was because she felt it was a bit too basic. I said, yes, it was, but in a good way. As much as my youth gives me energy and being right out of college gives me good study habits and academic training, I am still a young Episcopalian, despite the fact that I'm a cradle one. This all means that when it comes to experience in the tradition, I've probably only got about 10 years worth of time in which I really payed attention in church. So, this book, helped me to understand a lot of the things we do much better that someone with more time spent in the traditions and practices might have picked up intuitively. Next in this department I intend to read Vicki Black's book called Welcome to the Church Year: An Introduction to the Seasons of the Episcopal Church. This will also help me in understanding the tradition that someone with 5o+ years of experience in the Episcopal church will just have in their blood. It's a fairly short one, so should be a quick read.

Now, on to a dilemma for which I'm seeking advice. On Sunday I will be attending a friend of mine's Ordination to the Priesthood - the soon to be Fr. Douglas Scharf. It will be the first of several I attend, I'm sure, but I do not know what to bring as a gift. So, to those out there with more experience in this department than I, what makes a good ordination gift for a new priest about 27 years old?



A mason named Tom who lacks intrigue, greed and suspense? Intriguing.

ZAX out,

P.S.: You can e-mail me, for the time being, at jsbeal@cox.net - I'd love to hear from you about that thing.

By Blogger BrotherBeal, at 12:31 PM  

I've been told I'm difficult to shop for. For me, the best gift would be cash that doesn't go into the discretionary account so that I can purchase whatever I might need when I discover, "Oh, I need that." ie, clergy shirts, books, stoles, whatever.

By Blogger Reverend Ref +, at 1:22 PM  

No gift advice, but please tell Doug and Shannon hello for me. It's been years since I've seen them.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:23 PM  

Cash, or a gift certificate to a clergy supply place-- Almy or some such-- seems to be well received.

Books are always good.

However, a gift doesn't need to be specifically clerical in nature. My buddy Mark is a Scrabble addict; so when he was ordained last year, we got him a nice game set. I told him it came under the heading of relaxation and self-care. (^_^)

By Blogger Jane Ellen+, at 4:49 PM  

Well Ryan, in these situations I find it helpful to ask myself "What would I like if I were ____ (being newly ordained)".

Perhaps a nice set of cufflinks to go with a clerical french cuff shirt?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:59 PM  

Far be it from me to denigrate your love of books... in fact, it came in handy this weekend! My mother-in-law runs the Cathedral bookstore in Detroit, and was showing me her list of new books... the N.T. Wright book you've been talking about was on there. I told her that a couple of Seabury folks were quite excited about it, and she was glad for the reference :)

By Blogger Susie, at 10:33 PM  

Ryan, I also loved that PILLARS book. Plus I plan you give you that book on vestments, the ultimate work on RAIMENT FOR THE LORDS SERVICE. Do you know the series of six books that deal with the fictional diocese in England called Starbridge ( Salesbury thinly disguised) by Susan Horwatch? They are wonderful reading for a Church of England scholar. The first is called "Glittering Images". I think you will be hooked. See you Sunday, Tom

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:44 PM  

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