Thursday, January 27, 2011

My next endeavours..... reading are "The Jew is not my enemy" by Tarek Fatah and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by William Shakespeare....the book and the DVD.  The former is opening up a new world with unfamiliar stories and names.  In the first few chapters he is tracing the history of anti semitism in Islam.  My next read will be Sir Martin Gilbert's book called I think..."In the  House of Ishmael" the history of the Jews in Muslim lands.  I'm looking forward to "AMND" I haven't seen it for about fifty years I think, and I'm hoping that time and experience will have made it more intelligble as they did for "Hamlet".

Grey days of January......

...just right for reading.  Have finished "The Power and the Glory" and got taken with the story by chapter 3.  The surroundings and the characters are sordid but there are redeeming lights...unexpected instances of human compassion in some of the characters.  The whisky priest is flawed and too despairing but he hasn't entirely given up.  He makes attempts -if feeble- to carry out the work of a priest and he's on the point of despair.  In the end he gives up his life to go to the aid of a dying man, whether out of a resigned acceptance of his fate or a real wish to carry out his priestly duties isn't clear.  Perhaps it's a bit of both.  A sad tale with most likely elements of truth about the situation and the human condition.  At any rate no one knows how they would react in similar situations. The kind actions shine all the brighter because of the darkness.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Peter Pan etc.

I watched "Peter Pan" on DVD hoping for a good children's story.  I remember we put this play on in school years ago. I was supposed to play Peter but Mother Lucy changed her mind about me because she said my voice was too sad.  Here I was a little disappointed in Walt Disney's version.  Too much silliness and too Americanized.  I was never a big fan of cartoons, but I think this is the only version of Peter Pan available.  It's a good children's story and it's a pity he messed around with it. I'm sure children don't need the silliness to be entertained, at least they didn't used to need it.  I wonder too about the message contained in the story, that Never land and escaping from real life are necessary.  Now that I'm old I really believe that dealing with life and getting more involved in day to day realities is the best way to improve things, not escaping from them.  Though I suppose in extreme conditions escape into a fantasy world for a while might give some relief.  At least Wendy realized that she couldn't stay and brought the children back to the real world.  But I wonder which message children would remember.
We also watched episode one and two of the British Drama "The Pallisers" produced in 1974.  It's taken from the book by Anthony Trollope and tells the story of an aristocratic family during the Victorian Era:  young people fall in love, man not suitable (a bit of an adventurer), marriage arranged by adults to carry on the family line and protect their assets.  I think that Plantagenet will make a better husband for Glencora than the man she fancied.  I liked his statement when the old Duke was telling him that he should marry first and then do whatever he pleased:  that marriage means fidelity.  Good for him!  Twenty six episodes and all in the library.   We're looking forward to the next two episodes when they become available.
I also took out the CD of "Peter and the Wolf" by Prokofiev.  I'm trying to learn more about music than just listen to it, and thought I would try here with something simple for children.

Just finished....

...reading "Bonhoeffer" by Eric Metaxas.  I've read it in a week because I can't renew it at the library, there's a waiting list.  It's a very good biography of the German Lutheran Pastor who was involved in forming the Confessional Church in Germany and who entered a plot to assassinate Hitler. It's the first time I've read a book from the inside of Germany in the years leading up to Hitler's coming to power and the reign of the Nazis, and during the Second World War.  There were many involved in the resistance in Germany - something I haven't heard too much about.  It's a gripping story of the fight against an evil man and his regime and it shows very well the difficulty of organizing opposition against evil men who have the power of the state under their control:   deception and fear take over people's lives.  Evil is not a static thing but feeds on itself.  That men and women like Bonhoeffer acted against those in power is a great testimony to the goodness of the human spirit, especially when sustained by faith in God.  The heaviness and sadness of those times is redeemed by their courage.
Now I'm reading "The Power and the Glory" by Graham Greene.  I'm not very far into the story but so far it has no redeeming features.  The characters are all very sad specimens of humanity, and the culture and even the landscape is depressing.  I know very little about the persecution of the Church in Mexico in the thirties.  That's the main reason I decided to read this book, and because it came highly recommended.  Time will tell.......