Assessing and Looking Foward

Last year, I resolved to read more and included a photo of the books I intended to read in 2019.

Someone commented on that post that he need not finish every book he starts. He resolved “to free [him]self from boring books by freely abandoning them.” 

Without realizing it, he gave me permission to do the same. And I did, more than once. Yet here I invoke a paraphrase of Reagan’s eleventh commandment that no writer say anything bad about another. And my cup of tea may just not suit you.

As is always the case, the list of books I finished is quite different from those I wrote about a year ago. Other books just shouted to go to the head of the line. And I brought them forward.

So this year, my list still contains a few books from last year. I still resolve to read more by managing television and internet time better than I did in 2018 and then in 2019.

Two books that jumped to the front of the line immediately upon my acquiring them were both by Abby Johnson. Unplanned (the basis for the film of last year) and The Walls are Talking are Johnson’s accounts of having worked in the abortion industry and now working to help others escape employment therein.

I read them out of order, reading The Walls first and following up with Unplanned. In her Preface to The Walls, she states, “This will not be an enjoyable read. It is a necessary one[.]”

She is correct on both counts.

Also jumping to the front of the line last year was My Father Left Me Ireland by Michael Brendan Dougherty. My son gave me this book for Mothers’ Day ahead of my journey with my husband to the land of my heritage. The book provided a solid context about Ireland’s history of the Easter Rising and the Troubles. As an American who grew up in a single-parent family, Dougherty also provides a clear diagnosis of the crisis America faces today.

I read one and a half other books on Ireland–but neither matches Dougherty poetic and profound account.

Among the books on last year’s list that I finished is Everything Happens for a Reason–Kate Bowler’s stellar, sometimes humorous, discussion of what it’s like to live with a terminal diagnosis–emphasis on live.

I also consumed A Pope and A President by Paul Kengor. This book allowed me to relive some of the history I’d seen on the evening news over the decades and to get a behind the scenes, in-depth understanding of God’s working in that historic news. There’s always so much more to the story–and Kengor provides it.

I’m still working through Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak–an amazing piece of literature. I get the sense Zusak may have been trying to stay off the Young Adult shelf in America where The Book Thief had landed from his native Australia. However, some of the language he uses in the book’s dialogue does seem to accurately reflect the way teen boys would talk without an authority figure directing them otherwise.

An off-list book I continue to work through is Raising Jesus: The Skeptic’s Guide to Faith in the Resurrection. E.J. Sweeney’s book offers an amazing discussion of the reasons we can trust the veracity of Christ rising from the dead–from a viewpoint skeptical of the miraculous. I frequently underline and make notations as I read.

Even if you’re not a skeptic, this book is still a great apologetic tool for any discussion you may have with someone resistant to faith. I don’t agree with all Sweeney writes (I’m not that skeptical), yet his scholarship is dead on, and his arguments sound.

Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life is one I had planned to read in 2019 but didn’t get to. It’s on my list for 2020. I was gratified to see a student reading it on campus last semester. He assured me that it’s a worthy read.

I plan to pick up Man and Woman, He Created Them: A Theology of the Body by Saint-Pope John Paul II again this year. You can read this book as you would a devotional. It seems meant to be digested slowly.

Sonia Pernell’s A Woman of No Importance is on my list for the new year upon the recommendation of a trusted friend.

Also in my pile of books are Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments. You might think that watching a couple of episodes of the Tale on Hulu would discourage such a goal in me, but articles like this one and this one push me the other way.

On my list–but not yet in my pile–is Robert Sarah’s The Day Is Now Far Spent. I thoroughly enjoyed his The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, another book you can read as a devotional.

On my list but not pictured is Out of the Ashes by Anthony Esolen, a book about what we should do when we find the civilization around us crumbling. Sounds timely.

And I couldn’t resist John Zmirak’s title The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins. I’ve thumbed through the book and read most of the introduction. Zmirak seems orthodox in his faith and hilarious in his outlook.

Blessings to you this New Year. What do you plan to read?

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Quiet Voice for Life

“Look at the world around you. It may seem like an immovable, implacable place. It is not. With the slightest push—in just the right place—it can be tipped.”  Malcolm Gladwell

When police came to arrest him, he didn’t understand what the big deal was. He hadn’t done anything wrong. He had only been helping people.

Kermit Gosnell would later be convicted for performing late-term abortions, killing aborted babies born alive, and causing the death of a woman who had undergone an abortion. He believed that, eventually, society would exonerate him because we would come to see that what he did had not been wrong after all.

I continue to feel optimistic of the eventual outcome…the vindication of what I’ve done, why I’ve done it and how [it] will become accepted within my lifetime.”

In January, the state of New York decriminalized every crime Gosnell committed. Had he been convicted in that state instead of Pennsylvania, he would have grounds to be pardoned and immediately released, perhaps with an apology from the state.

The woman who had an abortion and died later, had received medications at the hands of untrained employees acting on Gosnell’s orders in his absence.

And a baby weighing six pounds died after being born alive–after exiting his mother’s body–after he had begun breathing on his own. Gosnell stuck scissors in the back of his neck and cut his spinal cord.

That baby was not the only living, breathing child Gosnell and his co-workers “snipped”.

The state of New York has chosen to side with such an approach to death–death inflicted by the trained and untrained–death for the already born.

New York speaks death over those with no voice.

Yet, there is another voice today–a quieter but growing one. It’s a voice that understands the there is “an American consensus … implying that there are truths that we hold in common, and a natural law that makes known to all of us the structure of the moral universe in such wise that all of us are bound to it by common obedience.” George Weigel

We who understand the power of the one behind this natural law must raise our voices now.

America has been going down the path of death for decades–but not so far that we cannot turn back. A few states like New York are opting for more death. But the outcry for life is making itself heard in every state. People are speaking up.

A few weeks ago, a reader told me that she is praying about what she can do on behalf of the unborn.

Here are a few ideas.

Notify your legislators at the city, county, state, and federal levels about your conviction that the legalized killing of children born and unborn must end.

Talk to your neighbors, friends, and family. Most people don’t realize that Roe v. Wade and its companion case of Doe v. Bolton legalized abortion THROUGH THE ENTIRE NINE MONTHS OF PREGNANCY.

Attend or consider planning an event in your community to raise awareness about the plight of unborn children. Join your local pro-life group. Volunteer for/support your local crisis pregnancy facility.

Go see Unplanned, in theaters this week. The story of Abby Johnson who once managed a Planned Parenthood abortion facility but is now a voice for life–and who now mothers eight children–some of them by birth, others by adoption.

Pray. And then pray some more. Pray about what you should do. Pray for the mothers, the babies, the Abby Johnsons who still work at the clinics, and the Kermit Gosnells who just don’t get why unborn–and newly born–life really matters.

The laws opposing life are not immovable, implacable. Perhaps your effort–or our effort combined–will produce that slightest push to tip America back to the side of life.

Before it is too late.

Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered is out in paperback! Get your copy here!

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. Restoring the Shattered is published through Morgan James Publishing with whom I do share a material connection. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Photo Credit: Unsplash