Sacred Music Friday: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, at Royal Albert Hall, London

Kindle books are not paperbacks

I have been reading books pretty much exclusively on my iPad Kindle app for quite some time now. I really enjoy having one single device for all of my evening reading and browsing. After I have read our real, live physical newspapers, that is.

Most books are available for the Kindle at pretty much the same time as the hardcover shows up. That’s good. The Kindle price is generally lower than the hardcover price. That, too, is good. When the paperback comes out, however, the Kindle price does not go down. That’s not so good.

To be sure, there are plenty of Kindle deals to be had. I subscribe to both the Early Bird Books and the Book Riot email lists, which offer deep discounts on selected titles. Indeed, I have enjoyed a few books that I have gotten via both at low prices.

But if you are looking for a specific backlist title, and you expect a lower price because it is not a new, current title, you expectations may well not be met. For example, Barbara Tuchman’s acclaimed history of medieval Europe, A Distant Mirror, was first published in the 1980’s. The Kindle price is $13.99. True, the trade paperback at Amazon is $15.27, but still the Kindle price is more than one might have expected.

I’m not really complaining. The publishing houses are having a tough enough time as it is staying in business. All of the consolidation is sad and depressing to see. They certainly have the right to ask a reasonable price for their backlist titles as well as for their bestsellers.

And I’m grateful to have my iPad Kindle app and the opportunity to read such a  wide array of books.

measuring what we’ve lost

The meme at the bottom of this post really spoke to me. I do get upset thinking about the Library of Alexandria.

I was a classics major at Pitzer College. I studied Greek and Latin along with the history, literature, mythology, and art & archaeology of the classical world. In addition to all that we have, I think about all that we are missing.

Take the tragedians, for example. We have seven plays by Aeschylus, but we have the names of sixty-eight others. We also have seven plays by Sophocles, but the names of another 116. We have nineteen surviving plays by Euripides but sixty-one other titles.

Then there’s Aristotle. We have nothing of his own work, only what are in essence his students’ notes.

There is a Homeric comedic epic poem called Margites which the Aristotle we have mentions, but for which we have no manuscript.

Think of how many of these works we might have today had the library at Alexandria survived.

Yes, I get upset thinking about the Library of Alexandria.


Unaccustomed Earth

UnaccustomedEarthUnaccustomed Earth
Jhumpa Lahiri
Vintage (April 1, 2008), 354 pages
Kindle edition $11.99, Amazon paperback $8.98
purchased as a Book Riot Kindle deal for $1.99

I have long planned on reading Jhumpa Lahiri, so I took advantage of this title being on sale through Book Riot to read her work for the first time. Unaccustomed Earth is a collection of stories, longer than short stories, but shorter than novellas. All of the stories are about Indian immigrants, specifically from the Bengali community, who have found their way to the United States. They are all involved in academia in some way, and most of them are in one way or another in the New England corridor, often in the Harvard/MIT orbit. The opening story, however, takes place in Seattle.

Part One consists of five unrelated stories. Lahiri varies the voice from one story to the next. While one story is told by an omniscient narrator who knows the thoughts of her characters, another story is told by an omniscient narrator who is more removed. One of the stories is told from a first person perspective.

Part Two is entitled “Hema and Kaushik.”   This part of the book consists of three independent stories. Hema is the daughter of an Indian-American couple whose friends are the parents of their son Kaushik. The first story takes place when they are children, and is written in the first person with Hema speaking to Kaushik. The second takes place while Kaushik is in college, again in the first person with Kaushik addressing Hema. In the final story both are adults out in the world. It is written in the third person.

The time frame is vaguely the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. There is talk of roommates sharing a corded telephone and a reference to The Empire Strikes Back being in theaters. There is a lot of back and forth travel between India and the United States. You would think that was a simple as the Amtrak trip from New Haven to New York City.

As for happy endings? Not many. But Unaccustomed Earth offers fascinating insight into Bengali-American culture, and Lahiri’s prose in and of itself makes this book worth reading.

working on the discipline

I’ve been really good the last several years when it comes to doing my walking on a regular basis. I have long kept a spreadsheet, which helps to keep me honest. That discipline flagged somewhat over the holidays and into the new year. We had our short encounter with the rain and a number of cold days. That gave me an excuse to get sloppy. If the temperature got below 60° I decided it was too cold to go out. (Don’t ask why I didn’t elect to use the treadmill in the gym at the lodge.)

Then I noticed something. People in the Four Seasons community were out walking when it was much cooler than sixty. I saw men and women much older than me out there when the temperature was in the low fifties. That got me back on track.

So much for excuses.

Sacred Music Friday: When Morning Gilds the Skies

When Morning Gilds the Skies, arranged by Samuel Metzger, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir

shopping for her family

I was in the grocery store the other day. I was not at our Southern California regional, union, privately owned chain. I was at our western states, non-union, employee-owned discount chain. I was in the produce section and I noticed a young Muslim women there with her young son, probably five or six years of age. We don’t have a large number of Muslims in Hemet, but we do have some. Enough to keep a small halal grocery store open here, something we didn’t have in Gilroy.


photo credit: Wikipedia

The woman was nicely dressed, wearing a hijab and jeans. She was carefully selecting produce. Glancing at her cart, I saw it contained a wide variety of produce, and at that point nothing else. She was obviously taking a great deal of care with respect to her family’s health and nutrition.

It occurred to me that most Muslims living in the United States just want what most people want. To be able to feed and care for their families.

Yes, there are “radicalized” Muslims. And there are radical whites who occupy government property in Oregon. But most of us just want to live and enjoy our lives.

That is worth remembering when we encounter people who are different from us. I’m trying hard to do so.



As you likely know, Terry and I are big fans of The Kitchen on the Food Network. We enjoy the hints and tips offered as much as we do the recipes. Sometimes more.

spiral1On a recent episode early in the new year they demonstrated two vegetable spiral cutters, and showed how one can use the resulting spiralized vegetables in place of pasta for spaghetti. We both liked the idea. As it happened we had a rewards gift card available from one of our credit card accounts, and our practice is to use such cards for fun stuff spiral2rather than for everyday purchases. So I ordered a gift card from Bed Bath & Beyond.

When it arrived we headed over to our local store, and found a couple of gadgets that did just that sort of thing. We bought the one that appeared to be better made and brought it home. I had stir fry planned for that evening, and so rather than slicing the zucchini, I spiralized it. spiral3We were both delighted. I am not a big zucchini fan, but when you do stir fry you need veggies of some kind, and zucchini is as good of a choice as any. And cut so thin, the zucchini was very tasty. We both enjoyed it a lot.

Next we’ll try doing the spaghetti thing. We’re looking forward to it.

Star Wars after 38 years

It is hard to believe that the latest Star Wars movie appeared more than thirty-eight years after the original (May 1977 → December 2015). I was twenty-three at the time. I had little interest in seeing the movie and in any case I was busy getting ready to leave my beloved Claremont for the unknowns of Laredo, Texas. I was an employee of B.Dalton Bookseller, and I was getting my first manager’s gig, opening up the new store in Laredo. My section of the mall was the first to open. Later that summer the section of the mall containing the multiplex opened, and the first batch of movies included the original Star Wars. I was hooked. I saw it multiple times while I was playing there.

Now here I am at sixty-two and the first episode from Disney has arrived. Terry and I avoided Star ForceAwakensWars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens during its opening weeks, but we saw it last Friday after the crowds had dissipated.  My take: Harrison Ford was great. I loved Daisy Ridley. I don’t know why people were complaining about how Carrie Fisher looked. I thought she looked perfect in the role. Bottom line, though: it was too much of a fan flick for me. There were too many scenes that were simply remakes of the original three movies. I mean, really, [*spoiler alert!*] did the confrontation between Han Solo and Kylo Ren have to take place on a narrow catwalk above a deep chasm?

But you know what? I might well see the next movie. I would like to see more of Daisy Ridley’s character. Where did Rey get the powers of the Force? Is she, as my nephew and I suspect, Luke Skywalker’s daughter? And as my nephew said, there has to be more to Fenn’s story. There are unanswered questions there.

And so it goes in the Star Wars world.

as the Anglican world turns

…with a hat-tip to Susan Russell for that most apt phrase.

If you don’t follow the world of the Episcopal Church on Facebook or other social media, you nonetheless have likely seen news reports about the meeting of Anglican Primates (the head bishops of all the constituent member churches of the world-wide Anglican Communion) at Canterbury last week and heard or read about its outcome.

In short, while the Primates stated that they “condemn homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation,” they nonetheless also sanctioned the Episcopal Church in the United States for its approval of same-sex marriage last year. They declared that “for a period of three years The Episcopal Church [shall] no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

What does that mean? Probably not a lot. Susan, in a blog post from which I drew heavily for this one, quotes Episcopal priest Tobias Haller, who states that the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) “is the only legally constituted ‘instrument’ of the whole Communion,” and that the Primates have no legal authority over that body.

Episcopal House of Deputies president Gay Clark Jennings wrote: “I want to assure you that nothing about what the primates have said will change the actions of General Convention that have, over the past four decades, moved us toward full inclusion and equal marriage. And regardless of the primates’ vote, we Episcopalians will continue working with Anglicans across the globe to feed the hungry, care for the sick, educate children, and heal the world.”

She echoed Tobias Haller’s statement about the ACC: “However, the primates do not have authority over the Anglican Consultative Council, the worldwide body of bishops, clergy and lay people that facilitates the cooperative work of the churches of the Anglican Communion.”

Susan Russell stated clearly the feelings many of us have about this whole episode:

quoteThere’s a lot of work ahead – but today I’m proud and grateful that being considered second class Anglicans is a price we are willing to pay to treat God’s beloved LGBT people as first class Christians.

I leave the final word, however, to our marvelous and inspiring Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in the video below.