I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of Bell's Nooma series, and I think I went into the book expecting to not like it. Or maybe I was just cautious.
First impressions: The subtitle of this book is 'Exploring the Endless Connections between Sex and Spirituality.' 'Spirituality'? I would expect a Christian writer not to use words that have the connotations this word does. Spirituality to me (and most other people I've asked about it) is referring to things like Eastern religions, meditation, New Age, etc. Right off the bat it seemed to me like he's trying to appeal to everyone who is interested in any kind of 'spirituality.'
Bell's writing style is much like his speaking style in the Nooma videos. He's quite conversational, which makes the book fairly an easy read. However, he writes in what I call the 'artsy' style of writing, with very short paragraphs and often leaving spaces between individual words which
Like that. It felt like every couple of pages he had some point that apparently could only be made by separating the words in that way. I was going crazy by about page 30. I'm sure it appeals to some people, and as much as I think it should be, page layout style is not a moral issue, so I'll leave that alone for now. ;)
I thought he did have some interesting thoughts on a few issues. His discussion about lust, for example (pg. 72-84), I found very helpful. He discusses Ephesians 4:28 ('Those who are have been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands.') in terms of the need to replace the bad with something good, rather than just trying to stop the bad and fighting the craving.
The writer of Ephesians understands that to tell the thief not to steal and
leave it at that doesn't have a very high chance of being helpful. The
thief will be left with a battle on their hands that will pit them against their
Whatever it is that has its hooks in you, you will never be free from it
until you find something you want more. It's not about getting rid
of desire. It's about giving ourselves to bigger and better and more
I also appreciated several of his comments on marriage in chapters six to eight. He seemed to have a fairly balanced view overall on submission in marriage. I found the chapter seven discussion on the chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy) and the significance and application of this symbolism in Christian marriages particularly useful. He talks about the exclusivity of the marriage relationship and how too many couples today take their issues out from under the 'chuppah' or bring too many people under the 'chuppah' with them - discussing things with other people that really should stay within the marriage relationship, telling everyone else about their problems with their spouse rather than trying to work them out with their spouse as they should.
However, throughout much of the book I had a vague sense of unease at the way he seemed to go out of his way to make the book 'inclusive,' to appeal to those who were not Christians. Even the way he puts all Scripture references in the footnotes at the end of the book rather than immediately following the quote bothered me. Clearly there's nothing inherently wrong with references in footnotes, but it just felt to me like he was hiding it, you know? Obviously I don't think there should be two categories of books: those for Christians and those for non-Christians, and never the two shall meet, but it felt like he was hiding or watering down the Christian beliefs.
His choice of words in several sections also concerned me. He spoke of 'life force' and 'channeling your energies' in a couple of places, which sound very much like New Age, mystic terms. I suppose it's possible that he used these terms quite innocently and didn't mean them in that context, but I can't imagine that neither he nor his editor realized how these and other phrases sounded and didn't change them.
At one point in the book where he is discussing creation and how Eve was created to complete Adam, Bell refers to Genesis 1 as the 'creation poem.' Poem? Sounds to me like he's not taking a literal view of the creation narrative.
One final issue that I had a big problem with. In chapter seven about the chuppah, Bell gives some history on how Jewish weddings were celebrated, including all the wedding guests waiting for the marriage to be consummated before the party really began. Bell says
Which is a bit different than in our culture. Sometimes when a couple
is living together, one of their friends tells them they should make things
right in God's eyes by making their relationship a legal marriage. But
maybe it's already a marriage in God's eyes, and maybe their having sex has
already joined them as man and wife from God's perspective.
This isn't a low view of sex. It's a higher view of sex. It's a
higher view of marriage. It's people living in the reality of the
decisions they've already made.
Again, I think it's possible that he's trying to point out that by sleeping with someone you are giving part of yourself away that is only meant for your marriage partner, and that God only intended the sexual relationship for within marriage. But...that certainly doesn't sound like what he's saying. And there's no disclaimer after this paragraph saying that he believes in marriage and isn't saying that people don't have to get married. He just leaves it. Which can only make me think that maybe he doesn't think people need to get married if they're 'married in God's eyes.'
Overall, this book made me uncomfortable despite it's few thought-provoking sections. It all felt very 'out there' and universalist to me. I do admit that I sometimes have a hard time critically evaluating this type of book and separating the writing style from the content. I am much more a concrete type of person and really don't like the 'airy-fairy' or 'post-modern' style - but that doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong.
Have you read the book? What are your thoughts? (Let's keep it constructive, though, please!)
The kids were playing in there yesterday, and I could hear the door slamming, which usually ends in somebody's fingers or toes or head being squished, so I went to investigate. Little G was the culprit this time, so I reminded him of the rule of no slamming the door when someone's in there.
Moments later, I heard the door slamming again (I know, shocking, they ALWAYS obey the first time, really...). I reminded Little G in a slightly stronger voice that he was not to slam the door. 'But A wants me to!' he protested.
I asked him who was the boss in this house. Right as he's hanging his head and saying "Mommy," I hear a little voice from behind the closed cupboard door:
I think we're going to have our hands full with this one! ;)
I have been feeling really good, almost strangely so, since Baby R was born. Granted, she is a very 'easy' baby generally, but she's still up every three hours at night to eat. I think I would have every right to be exhausted, being a SAHM to three kids and up at night that often, and yet I'm not. I haven't napped since she was maybe eight weeks old, and I can't remember the last time I went to bed before eleven. I quite seriously am claiming this as a miracle and thanking the Lord every day!
However, I think my brain is making up for how good my body feels. I don't feel sleepy or 'foggy' or mentally impaired, but I have been doing the dumbest things lately!
Exhibit 1: I was visiting a friend and was getting all the kids ready to go out the door. I said goodbye, walked out the door holding A's hand, and she balked at going over the doorstep. Right before I was about to drag her along with me, my friend spoke up "ummm, she doesn't have any shoes on..." Right. Shoes.
Exhibit 2: I lead the youth worship team at our church that sings each Wednesday night at Bible Study. Several ladies take turns watching the older kids at our house while I go to church to lead practice. This Wednesday A was having serious problems letting me go, and I had to practically pry her off of me, crying, to get out the door. I got into the van, put it into gear, and realized...I don't have the baby with me! People, she was sitting right by the door! I literally stepped over her to get outside. So then I had to go back into the house and sheepishly grab the carseat and leave once more. (Oh, and of course A was perfectly fine two minutes after I left!)
Exhibit 3: Yesterday afternoon I had a meeting at work and wasn't going to be back in time to pick up Little G from school, so I had another mom pick him up and keep him at her house for a little while until I was back. When I went to pick him up, we ended up visiting in her entranceway for a while. Suddenly in the middle of the conversation I realized that it was my cell phone in my hand, not my keys, and oh my gosh, I think I locked the baby in the van. I practically flew out the door, already trying to remember the number for CAA, calculating how long it had been since she had eaten and what would happen if she woke up crying and pulled the blanket down on herself and suffocated, etc, etc. I got to the van, which was running with the doors unlocked, keys in the ignition. Because I was just picking Little G up. Didn't need to bring the keys in. I went back inside, got Little G and left, quite embarrassed at my very charming display of total panic in front of this woman I hardly know. I can only hope she's been there herself (she does have four kids, so I'm thinking probably!).
I won't subject you to any more examples, lest someone call Child Services on me. Suffice it to say that despite how good I am feeling physically, my brain is clearly not functioning quite up to par. I can only hope it wakes up before I start back to work in November, or I'm afraid there's going to be some funky-looking financial statements coming out of my office!
We bought a treadmill two Christmases ago, and I've definitely used it a bit, although not nearly as much as I would have liked since I've been pregnant or immediately post-partum for about a year of the last year and a half!
This summer I started on the Couch to 5K running program and I'm on Week Six out of nine already. The other day was my biggest challenge yet - the schedule called for jogging for 20 minutes straight with no walking. I was trying to remember the last time I had ran for that long, and came to the conclusion that it might have been never! I know we did the twelve-minute run in junior high, but I don't think I'd ever done more than that. But I did it! I was so proud of myself, and I'm starting to understand the 'runner's high' that people talk about.
I am losing a little bit of weight...it feels like it's very slow, which is probably good since I'm nursing. But my husband encouraged me this week by pointing out that I'm probably building a lot of muscle, which of course weighs more than fat. I know that I'm definitely feeling more in shape, which I guess is the most important! I'm just hoping I can fit into my old jeans sometime soon - I think this pregnancy totally changed my shape or something because I'm only about five or six pounds above what I was before I got pregnant, and yet the button and buttonhole on my jeans are still so far apart they can hardly see each other!
As my life has gotten busier as I've gotten older (and had three children), I find I have less and less time to read. The days of leisurely browsing through the library shelves looking for something that grabs my fancy are long gone, let me tell you!
These days I have to do my browsing virtually - I see what others are reading (either IRL friends, or blogger friends), and then visit my local library's website. I think most libraries are part of a regional library system like ours is here - I simply enter the name of the book I'm looking for, and as long as at least one library in the system has a copy, I can request it. I get a call within a few days that they have books on hold for me, and I can run over and pick them up in just a few minutes. Even if there is a copy at my local library, I do the same thing, saving the time it would take to look for the book on the shelves (and risking the kids getting into things they shouldn't be!).
By using the online library catalog and reserve feature, I can keep up with my reading even though I don't have the time to spend looking at books in the 'actual' library!
Until my kids are old enough to browse quietly alongside me...it works for me!
Five year-old: Let's play Simon Says! Do you know how to play that game?
Mom & Dad: Yes, we know how to play.
Five year-old: OK, first you need someone that stands here and says...
Mom & Dad: Little G! (oops, I mean 'Fictional Boy made up for the purposes of this story'!) We really know how to play already!
Five year-old: Simon says jump up and down.
(Mom & Dad start jumping)
Five year-old: Stop!
(Mom & Dad stop)
Five year-old: (giggling) I didn't say Simon Says - you're out! I knew you didn't know how to play this game!
My main opinion about kids' chores is start them young - helping out the family should be expected. My just turned two year-old sets the table for dinner regularly, and helps clean up her toys most nights (although I admit, sometimes I just don't have the energy to enforce this and do it myself after she's in bed). Along with this is that kids should be responsible for their own things and actions - when something gets spilled (which happens more often than you can imagine, I think they've inherited my clutziness), both the older kids either help me clean it up or clean it on their own - not as punishment, but just as a being responsible for your own actions type of teaching.
Generally I think kids are capable of doing far more in the area of chores than we give them credit for. Yes, it takes some time (and a heap of patience) to teach a two year-old to use the dustbuster or put away cutlery, and yes, it would certainly be faster to do it yourself the first ten times or so, but eventually it will pay off and you will actually be saving time, as well as teaching your kids responsibility and a good work ethic.
Now, in the area of allowance I'm clueless, lol!!! Little G just turned five, so we're just starting to think about this topic. We've mentioned several times in the past year or so that we really need to start doing something to teach him about money and stewardship, but we just haven't figured out what our method will be - I'm hoping to get some great ideas from all the other carnival participants!