Book Review, a few, and variious poems from 2007--includes review of book on Mother Theresa

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No one even thinks twice about it My mother always had wallpaper. We'd replace it every spring Only the roadway is light, golden The community where most of the stories take place is called Warm , and Sypolt's character makes the distinction that while fire is hot, ashes are warm, and the narrator's first boyfriend calls Warm a trap and says if he doesn't get out now, he never will.

Mother Theresa Poem

While the experiences and growing and realizations come mostly to the women in the stories, the focus is often on men, as in in "Get Up June" where the narrator's father, "a man of addictions," first drinks too much, then for a while makes money trying out drugs for a drug company. His final addiction is, perhaps predictably but profoundly appropriate, is religion. The narrator's mother at the end says, "'I hope you will not forget the good parts of your daddy One of my favorite stories is "Home Visit," which takes on a clash between the Establishment, as it were— a teacher doing her visits to all the families of her students-- and the student's father.

The family lives in a trailer, of course, and the teacher tries to hide even from herself her contempt for people who live in the trailers. She knows trailers, too: "what it would be like inside, long rooms that always looked a little cramped, a little too full of stuff Sinks leak into the towel cabinets underneath Ceilings grow round brown circles Several of the late stories are about damage to men: In "Wanting a Baby," a woman, pregnant with her dead husband's child, visits his family and feels conflicting emotions about them and her place in a traditional family Other stories are about men damaged by war, mentally and physically.

One has lost his arm in the Middle East and seems to have lost his center as well.

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One, part of another extended, rooted family, goes looking for a white deer to kill, and in the process fills the yard with dead animals. Many of the stories are told in the present tense, but that last story with the dead animals, "Stalking the White Deer," takes an interesting long, retrospective view. The narrator is speaking from old age, or near it, and it is about why she and her husband have stayed together. That staying together, for better or for worse, is a theme we don't write about as much as about spectacular break ups and violence.

Sypolt's collection is about a deep loyalty to people and a place. Her approach is open-eyed and complex, but for all that, no less loyal. Well, I finally understand something about why J. Ballard's work has such depth and magical resonance at the same time there is so much that is ugly, racist, and sexist. Empire of the Sun is the memoir of three years of his childhood and early adolescence in Shanghai during the late second world war when he was separated form his family and interned. The matter of fact details of death and near-starvation, of human brutality and social organization under stress, of survival and exploitation, is stunning.

This was a man whose childhood had a vast stretch on his own. He is smart and lonely and twisted from normal childhood activities, and it is amazing he ended up a mostly constructive adult at all. He admires his Japanese captors and their kamikaze pilots and Zero planes; he creates small spaces of hope for the future, he learns to feed himself first, then serve anyone who can give him something in payment—and sometimes that payment is just a small place in a prison hierarchy.

Some of the adults around him give him some irregular care-- there is a young doctor who insists he do his Latin declensions and algebra homework. There is an occasional extremely random act of kindness, usually food, like the doomed Japanese pilot who gives him a mango. His world view is totally twisted but creatively, humanly, stitched together into a serviceable temporary explanation. His fiction is interesting, but this is amazing. I liked this Guardian review from when it came out. This felt at first like incidents and meditations and slices of life: a body that falls out of a plane; an African boy who seems to have no future and gets involved in a paramilitary group; an African-American family in Brooklyn whose son is a talented singer; a red diaper baby with a rigidly ideological father; an African young woman who struggles successfully to get an education.

The various stories twist around one another, often ending ambiguously with large time frames. Dobrin eschews clever transitions. There is a committed naturalism in the irregular pacing of the stories.

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They aren't experimental, but the reader gets a sense of a very particular sensibility and a world view that weighs actions with deep moral seriousness. The characters wander through their lives: Junius leaves performing but becomes highly successful in the business of music, and then later moves on from that. Kwamboka's determination to acquire a degree and yet not desert her culture is recounted with sensitivity and a kind of sadness.

She goes to the United States and finally back home where she starts a school.

Whatever Mother Says...: A True Story of a Mother, Madness and Murder

Lena wanders through the American landscapes of the nineteen sixties--communes, Greenwich Village happenings, drugs. She withdraws from politics but never loses her deeply leftist mind-set. She really loves books best, though, and becomes a professional librarian. Not all the characters connect, but there are definite connections, often through places. New York is central to all of them; Japan is an epiphany for some characters. Kenya is drawn lovingly as splendid and beautiful but also venal and dangerous.

In the end, it is a deeply satisfying novel that makes no concessions and eventually threads its readers into the braid of its storytelling. This was extremely readable, stylistically excellent, and perhaps too self-consciously artful. There is a character based on Philip Roth with whom Halliday had an affair when she was young. She calls her character Ezra Blazer, and seems to have a crush on him. What she and others such as Kolodiejchuk frame as a mystical night of the soul was the experience of a continuous struggle to suppress irrepressible truth lest a life and a self built upon religious delusion fall apart.

The chalice may have sparkled on the outside, but a look inside told a different story. Toward the end of Come Be My Light , Kolodiejchuk adduces testimonials from others to buttress his case that Mother Teresa was a selfless mystic who underwent a dark night of the soul that was perhaps unique in both nature and duration. Hitchens sees Teresa quite differently, as a relatively simple but egotistical woman who was willingly used by powerful people to support oppressive superstition and abusive power and wealth.

Both marshal facts, if selectively, to support their cases. Perhaps they are both right; perhaps a saint, at least a canonical saint, is simply a person who consistently and fully lives a religious ideology. If so, Mother Teresa is a saint, but so are religiously-inspired suicide bombers. However that turns out, it is likely that the lie will live on. In the eyes of the world, Mother Teresa was a deeply compassionate person who dedicated her life to alleviating the suffering of the very poor.


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The hagiographic efforts of her disciple and advocate, Brian Kolodiejchuk, are clearly intended to support that view. Quakers should know better than to accept the perspective of the world, but in case we, too, are taken in, Christopher Hitchens does us the favor of providing evidence that the light of Christ which Teresa claimed to be for the poor, a light that maintains the grotesquely unjust status quo by congratulating oppressors while urging the poor to gratefully accept injustice and suffering as blessings, is not a light which we would wish to personify or be guided by.

In doing so, he may also raise important questions for us regarding our belief in our own commitment to compassion, justice, and peace: if so, the in- famous atheist has done us doubly good service. In any case, Hitchens has thrown open the lid of yet another whitened sepulcher. For that, we owe him our gratitude. This is really sad, disturbing, bordering on horrific. It also gives me pause in how I think about my own nontheism. I remain committed to that. But there is some very bad theology out there, theology that hurts people, which needs to be criticized.

In this case, despite considered and thoughtful articles like the one above and the work of people like Christopher Hitchens, this lie has worked spectacularly well for Rome. Here in Ireland any mention of the name of this woman is automatically associated with the false image she manufactured. To present the facts would require a budget of resources equal to that which went into propagating the false image in the first place.

Grand lies never kill the truth completely. All it requires is to minimise those who see the truth to the point they are far outnumbered by those who believe the lie. Ratzinger is smirking. Hi George — I enjoyed these posts about Mother Theresa. Fyi, you know me from Homewood Friends, especially your recent adult education sessions on the early Quakers. Thanks, Richard. I was very disappointed with God Is Not Great , which I found, as you did, superficial, sloppy, and puerile.

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Had I paid for the book, I might have been angry. In The Missionary Position , however, I found useful factual information that could be separated from the polemic. Reading for these reviews, I was initially pulling for Mother Teresa, but her own words gave her away: after reading them, I was not much surprised by the ungodly praxis described by Hitchens. You are commenting using your WordPress.

She asked if she could meet me. Dinner was served at a long table strewn with white rose petals and decorated with crystal candlesticks and butterfly napkin rings. Coelho started talking about his mill. I thought about John Lennon. She could pick up a gun and shoot me. I go inside and come back with coffee. I have a way you can die without any pain.

And then I put in a gate. Coelho was born in , in Rio. His father was an engineer, and wanted him to be one, too; his mother was a devout Catholic, and Coelho was sent to a Jesuit school. He hoped to be a writer, and as a teen-ager started hanging out all day at the beach with a troublemaking crowd, the poet among toughs. His parents, believing he had gone crazy, sent him to a mental institution, where, in the course of three stays he ran away twice , he was given electroshock therapy. He also initiated Seixas into the Alternative Society and introduced him to drugs. He was released, and immediately kidnapped by paramilitaries, who accused him of being a guerrilla fighter; they held him for a week and, Coelho told Arias, tortured him by applying shocks to his genitals.

After that, Coelho gave up religion for several years. But the only book he has ever destroyed was one about his two years in the sect. Christina asked him not to publish it. Coelho held various jobs in the music industry, wrote television bio-pics and soap operas, and travelled. In , he and Christina went to Europe. They bought a Mercedes for a thousand dollars from the Indian Embassy in Yugoslavia, and drove it to Germany. They went to Dachau, and Coelho, terrified by what he saw there, had a vision of a man standing before him.

Two months later, in Amsterdam, he saw what he took to be the same person, and approached him. Regnus Agnus Mundi , a society for the study of symbols. Efforts to verify its existence proved futile. Not long after the encounter in Amsterdam, Coelho met J. Meeting J. There were long trips with J. There were long meetings with strange women, and men who had an aura of sensuality about them.

By reaching for the sword, instead of refusing it and waiting for it to be given to him, he has shown that his heart is impure.


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The Master tasks him with walking the Road to Santiago; on the road, he says, Coelho will find his sword. Along the way, a guide, Petrus, appears, and teaches Coelho R. Last year, to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of his walk, he retraced his route by car. I called the signings a blitz. I was Easy Rider. In Milan, Coelho met the Swedish—she had travelled seven hours to the airport in Stockholm to get a flight to Milan—and took her to his hotel.

She was very tall and very thin, with blond hair down to her ribs. That evening, Coelho had a cigarette outside the hotel. He worried that it had been a mistake to invite her. Then his mood changed abruptly. The press officer eyed him nervously. There was a risk that, on such short notice, only a few people would show up—a potential embarrassment for the publishing house.

But Coelho has usually had the opposite problem. In , in Zagreb, three or four thousand people came to get his autograph; one man brandished a gun and threatened to use it if he was denied. When Coelho went to Tehran, in , several hundred people met his plane in the middle of the night. He had spotted a Rizzoli bookstore. You always have to check. I am going to invite them. They looked confounded but pleased, and a translator stepped in to clarify.

Coelho had already moved on. By the end of the night, it was decided: the Swedish would not be coming along to Rome.

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