Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Secrets Over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones Book Review

From the Publisher: "Secrets over Sweet Tea follows the lives of a boisterous pastor’s wife, a polished news anchor, and a beleaguered divorce attorney as they intersect on the tree-lined streets of Franklin, Tennessee, when scandal threatens to topple their carefully constructed worlds. Jones touches on delicate social issues, such as infidelity, gossip, rape, and divorce, yet keeps her novel light with the Southern humor and charm she is known for to balance the novel’s message."

I stopped reading the book very early into it.  I am uncomfortable reading about other people’s sex lives and the first bedroom scene in this book made me feel uncomfortable.  

One of the reasons why I avoid secular fiction, in favor of Christian fiction, is that I don’t want to read about the sexual encounters of others.  This book actually contained a couple of sexual references regarding the preacher’s wife right from the get-go and that turned me off.  Some things should be left sacred and, in my opinion, writing about the sacred act of making love somehow demeans it.  I understand that this is one of the new “big things” in Christian literature---to take what secular authors have smeared and try to make it holy.  However, I wonder if Christian authors consider that they’re not just writing for happily married people.  

What about the single woman who reads this scene and inserts the face of someone she knows into the imagined scene?  That’s commiting adultery in one’s heart.  What about the unhappily married woman who uses this scene to draw comparisons to her own husband and lacking sex life?  

I understand that it is very likely the author used these scenes and descriptions to set the stage for the bigger story her book was trying to tell.  It's very possible that I am just not meant to be ministered to by this book at this time.

I am disappointed that I was not able to read the book as the description was attractive.  However, I’m not willing to let someone else’s lovemaking scene, even if it contains fictional characters, run through my mind and distort what is going on in my real life marriage.

Visit Denise Hildreth Jones at Reclaiming Hearts.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers to review.  All opinions are honest and are my own.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

If You Have a Craving, I Have a Cure by Sheri Rose Shepherd --- Book Review

Sometimes I read passages in the Bible that sound so great---but I have a difficult time really putting them into practice.  Ecclesiastes 5:18 is one of those verses:  "It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life."  As one who has always struggled with her weight, the thought of eating and drinking---while still accepting my lot in life---doesn't sound as promising as it might to someone else who has a little more self control.  It seems my lot in life, thus far, has been to eat, drink, and gain weight.

Author Sheri Rose Shepherd has been there too.  As a teenager, Sheri Rose was overweight, depressed and struggling with an eating disorder.  Over time, she's allowed God's healing to change her life and put her on a healthy path.

I've been a big fan of Sheri Rose Shepherd for about 8 years now and own several of her resources.  I even had the opportunity to hear her speak at a women's conference several years ago and was very blessed.  That's why I was super excited when I was given the opportunity to review her newest book, If You Have a Craving, I Have a Cure

As soon as received my free copy of the book, I flipped through it just to have a look at some of the topics.  What I saw were tons of recipes! Yay!  I love my copy of Sheri Rose's cook book, Eating for Excellence, so I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy this one as well! 

Sheri Rose offers several "craving" scenarios:  things like cravings for rest, energy, and times of celebration---and gives her readers Biblical principles, coupled with delicious healthy recipes, to help satisfy those cravings.  

One Scripture that she shares in her chapter on rest really stood out to me and is inviting me to study and pray about it further.  Isaiah 28:12, "God has told his people, 'Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here.  This is a place of quiet rest.'  But they would not listen."  Wow!  I really crave that place of rest!

If You Have a Craving, I Have a Cure is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to find the source of their soul's unrest and the reason for feelings of emptiness or lack in many areas of their life.  I know Sheri's godly wisdom is going to help me, not only as I battle my cravings for unhealthy foods, but in several areas of my life where I need to trust God.  I encourage my readers to visit Sheri Rose online at, www.biblelifecoaching.com, and try to pick up some of her resources---you will be blessed for sure!

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. 

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Organizing Happiness by Mrs. Lorrie Flem: An Excellent Resource for a Beginning Homemaker

I recently had the opportunity to read Mrs. Lorrie Flem's e-book, Organizing Happiness.  What a great resource for training an older daughter in the basics of running an organized home!

Do you know a new homemaker who could use a crash course in the basics?  Organizing Happiness is an excellent tool with great ideas for practical application.

A few great things that stuck with me about Lorrie's e-book included:
  • "Just Say No":  Don't you hate that feeling of obligation for saying, "yes" when you know you should have said, "no"?  Think of how much more peaceful our lives, homes, and families would be if we stopped taking on more than we can handle!

  • "Progress Not Perfection":  We should strive to get the job done well---not perfectly.  As Lorrie says, we can always go back and do the details later.

  • "Never Give Up" on your family.  Trust God that your husband and children are ultimately God's children.  Have faith that the seeds we plant today have great potential for future success!

  •  "Visualize the Victory":  having a mental image of our goals can really help in following through with our organizational plans.  When I was a new homemaker, I used to make a chart of how I wanted my living room set up when I was ready to rearrange it.  I didn’t get overwhelmed because I knew just what I was doing.
My favorite part of this blessed little book is her section on Spiritual Weapons for Happiness.  These truths are great to apply to my life as a wife, mom, and homemaker.

It's so easy for you to get your own FREE copy of Organizing Happiness!  Just visit the Eternal Encouragement website and sign up for Lorrie's newsletter, Snippets from Lorrie's Diary.  You'll be sent an email with a link to download the free e-book!

Should you be interested in purchasing a copy for yourself or a friend, you can find Organizing Happiness by following the link to her website as well!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Giveaway!!! Children's Bible Story Book --- International

I am so happy to offer my readers to win a sweet little book just in time for Christmas!  

Baker Publishing Group is offering to send one of my readers a copy of My Favorite Bible Children's Bible Story Book.  

All you have to do is leave me a note in the comments below and you will be entered in to the drawing!  The giveaway is open to international readers as well!  

Also, if you are reading this via my Facebook page, a comment within that feed will earn you an entry.

Here's what the publisher has to say about My Favorite Bible:

"With the vibrant illustrations and engaging text in this Bible storybook, you can enjoy sharing the best-loved stories of the Bible with the children in your life and encourage a life-long love for the Word of God. My Favorite Bible is a book of exciting Bible stories and activity pages that guide children through the foundational truths of Scripture.

Each story is fully illustrated and includes a simple narrative full of things kids love: repetition, rhythm, and energy, along with a key biblical theme, a key Bible verse, and discussion questions to help adults introduce children to the Bible.

The colorful illustrations will capture the imaginations of children ages 4–8, and the stories will help adults to pass along the most important truth in life—the Gospel. Families will cherish this time as they read, listen, learn, and love, growing closer to one another even as they grow closer to God."

Giveaway ends December 12th.  

Disclosure: (because the law will come after me if I don't disclose...)  I didn't receive anything from Baker Publishing Group in exchange for posting this giveaway notice---well, nothing except a bunch of happy readers!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Set Free to Live Free Mother's Day Contest

 Good morning!  I wanted to share with you all a contest I just found out about in conjunction with a great new book on healing releasing this month.  

Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, author of Set Free to Live Free  is sponsoring a “Set Mom Free” Mother’s Day Contest.  Everyone who enters is eligible to win a $100 VISA card, a bouquet of flowers delivered on Mother’s Day (for yourself or your own mom!) and an autographed copy of Dr. Dalton-Smith's new book. 

To enter, go to Dr. Dalton-Smith's “Set Free” Facebook page and click “Like” to become a fan.  Then  click on “Promos” at the left of the page. This will take you to the contest details.  Follow the directions from there to be entered.  Contest ends at 11:00 a.m. on Friday May 6th

 Here is the press release for Dr. Dalton-Smith's new book:

A Physician Shows How Our Physical Health
Is Impacted By Spiritual and Mental Choices

Discover the seven lies women believe about themselves and how they can overcome them

Author Saundra Dalton-Smith, a practicing physician, shows women how to break free from fear, insecurity, and other lies they tell themselves into a life of health and balance in Set Free to Live Free (ISBN: 978-0-8007-1993-7, May 2011, $12.99). Smith shares with readers how one patient reshaped her practice and approach to medicine. One day, a patient entered her office, and as Smith listened, she recognized she would need to work closely with this patient if she was to get better. She could not simply offer the latest medications, but would instead need to walk with the patient and help her become free from the lies that had impacted her physical health. Readers will journey with this patient and others as Smith shares how their triumphs became her motivation to see others free.

Imagine life with unlimited possibility, where fear, misconceptions, and insecurities don't have the power to rob us of our potential or our dreams. Many women have trouble seeing this vision, because they are bound by mental ties that keep them from living free. In Set Free to Live Free, Smith will show women how to break free from seven mental ties that hold them back: perfection, envy, image, balance, control, emotions, and limits. She encourages women to embrace spontaneity, be transparent, nurture their bodies, and cultivate a balanced life through compassionate and inspirational writing.

A study guide is provided at the end of the book outlining each chapter with discussion questions.

Saundra Dalton-Smith MD is a board-certified internal medicine physician who has been practicing medicine since 1999. She treats a predominantly female population and has firsthand experience with the struggles women face trying to imitate the American dream. Dr. Dalton-Smith has been an adjunct faculty member at Baker College and Davenport University in Michigan. She lives in Alabama.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life.  They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

Contact: Donna Hausler, Publicity Assistant


For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Any one can Bake!" -- Blue Monday

Today I'm linking up with Smiling Sally for Blue Monday! Visit her blog for more Blue Monday participants!

A couple months ago, my mom gave me a box of recipes and cookbooks that belonged to my great-grandmother, Annabelle. We are pretty sure that a good majority of them belonged to her mother, Tresa Baker. Tonight, while looking for something blue to share with you all, I spied this promotional cook book put out by the Royal Baking Powder Co. in 1927. Since Grammy Annabelle was only 12 years old then, I'm assuming this was my great-great grandmother's book.

The book is titled Any one can Bake and the cover features a picture of kitchen items and the words, "Price $2.00" at the bottom. It is in really nice shape with a tight binding and glossy pages---several of them are in color. OldCookbooks.com lists it to sell for $38.50 for an excellent copy and $14.50 for a super beat up copy.

Not only does it feature lots of great recipes, but it also has many, many tips and ideas for table setting, menu planning, entertaining and nutrition (page 42 is titled: "Cookies--Wholesome Sweets for Children").

In the section labeled "Menus and Menu Building", the following sentence is used: "Similar vegetables such as macaroni and white potatoes or macaroni and rice or potatoes and rice should not be served at the same meal." Now who can tell me what is wrong with that sentence? Ha! Also, the following are listed as "combinations to which we have become accustomed": corned beef and cabbage, pig's knuckles and sauerkraut, roast duck or goose and apples, roast pork and applesauce, roast veal and tomatoes, buckwheat cakes and sausage, fish and cucumbers. I can honestly tell you that if buckwheat cakes are what I think they are then that is the only of those combinations that I've heard of or eaten! However, even though I thought we had not one more meal in the house and were in desperate need of a grocery shopping trip, now that I know fish and cucumbers are an acceptable meal, I can unthaw those few salmon patties in my freezer and serve them with the handful of cucumbers I've got in the fridge!

A menu plan "that will interest the 16-Year-Old" on page 87 prefaces it's choices with the following: "Every young girl is anxious to give a party that is different and to be assured that her boy and girl friends are going to have as fine a time at her home as at any other. The kinds of cake or sandwiches or other dishes that the boys like will always be the ones decided upon." Ha! I won't write them all out now but I can say that most of them involve coffee and toast!

My favorite part of the book is the very last page, "Hints for Young Housewives". There were a couple of really great ideas, as well as some that I'd already had to learn from trial and error! I liked this idea for keeping a round, cut cake fresh: "cut the desired number of slices from center of cake. Push the two remaining pieces close together like a whole cake and it will keep moist and soft for several days." Duh...I can't believe I haven't thought of that yet!

All teasing aside, I really think this book will come in handy as I plan to invite the ladies of our church (all but a handful of them are great-grandmothers) over for a get-together now and then. I'm sure it will really bless them to have me make up some of these recipes that they probably remember having as a child or preparing as a young wife.

Enjoy your Blue Monday!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mystery of History Creation Lesson: Blue Monday

Today for Blue Monday over at Smiling Sally's blog lots of talented bloggers are writing about their beloved blue "stuff"!

I'm joining in the fun by featuring a series of artwork that my kids did one day during our Mystery of History lesson on creation. All were done on blue construction paper.

Each child was responsible for creating a picture for one day of creation. Selah, age 3, did Day 1 (above). She's got some black to represent darkness and some sunshines to represent light. Jesus is featured there as well because He was there too!

Lynzie, 10, got two days since we had more days than artists---her picture shows Day 2 and Day 3:

Cainan, 5, did Day 4:

He's got a sun, moon, and stars in there!

Elisha, age 6, took Day 5:

He was feeling a little unsure of his birds but we all assured him they were great!

And finally, Michael, age 8, did Day 6:

Michael was uncomfortable depicting Adam and Eve without clothing so he decided to dress them! He's got several cute animals there, including a horse, a flamingo, a frog?, a monkey and a tiger!

I told the kids that I'd do Day 7 but, unfortunately, have been too busy with new baby to get to it yet! I have, instead, acted out that lovely day of rest with many naps since! I also blogged about rest here!

Hope you all have a great and restful Blue Monday! Visit Smiling Sally to see more participants!

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Pardoner's Tale and England in the Middle Ages

Here's a paper I wrote for midterms in my British Author's class this past summer:

The Pardoner’s Tale and England in the Middle Ages

Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales, lived in England between 1300 and 1400. As a servant to the Court, he had to be careful how he expressed his political, religious and social views. I believe Chaucer used the Tales to illustrate the social unrest, specifically the religious unrest, of his day; allowing his views to be made public, but through the voice of a fictional character.
The Great Famine of 1315-1317 and the Black Death ushered in a time of social instability and war between social classes. The people of the European lands, which had been prospering for so long, now found themselves involved in peasant revolts such as The Hundred Years' War, (www.vlib.us).
For hundreds of years, the Pope was deemed to have full authority over the State. The Church was the highest power in Western Europe and there were continuous struggles for power between secular and Church leaders. Pope Boniface VIII stated, around the beginning of the 14th century, that it "is necessary for salvation that every living creature be under submission to the Roman pontiff," (Unam Sanctam).
Chaucer began writing The Canterbury Tales in 1386 or 87, (Chaucer, 16). This is a time when the Catholic Church was falling apart as it attempted to deal with the split known as The Great Schism. These conflicts damaged the Church's honorable place of universal authority and eventually led to historical benchmarks like the Reformation, (Oxford Dictionary). The disunity of this seemingly solid foundation of society became a target for satirical writings like The Pardoner's Tale.
Some would argue that the Pardoner uses his turn at storytelling to clean his conscience. He describes himself as a liar, a drunk, and one given to greed and avarice; a definite hypocrisy for someone committed to the church. I think the Pardoner was carried away in drunken boasting and was too caught up in the attention he was receiving to realize that these confessions may come back to haunt him one day.
In my opinion, Chaucer uses the character of the Pardoner to portray the "most confused and disordered society" (Ackroyd, 158) in which he was living. Even though the Reformation was still about 150 years in the future, citizens were beginning to recognize a need for change regarding absolute church authority. However, since to boldly speak out against the Church would mean forfeiture of his employment for sure, and very likely his life, it seems that he, instead, chose to subtly visit the controversial themes in his writing.
With all the faults of which we could accuse our Pardoner, we can make one generalization: he is a hypocrite. He gives the impression that he believes it doesn't matter what his personal sins might be--this does not affect his power and "rights" as a leader of the Church. This attribute could stem from an ironic truth of the Catholic Church called the Apostolic Authority of the priesthood. Among other things, the doctrine states that a priest is still in authority even when he is involved in sin and that a priest has the power to forgive sin, (therealpresence.org). The Pardoner seems to embody this idea when he states, “It is an honour to you to have found a pardoner with his credentials sound”, (Chaucer, 275). Just as we see him as ridiculous and lacking in integrity, it's possible that the people of Chaucer's day felt the same about their real-life "Christian" examples.
As I stated earlier, the Pardoner's actions are a definite hypocrisy for someone committed to the Church. Perhaps that's where the real issue lies. There is a big difference between being committed to the Church and being committed to God. The Church can have stringent rules for each member to obey, protocol by which all things are done, and can make judgments of others in comparison to themselves. When one commits himself to the Church, he must concern himself with following its laws. When one commits himself to God, he can take each day as it comes to him and allow God to direct his path according to God's plan for each individual on the earth. He can allow God to work on the things that need to be changed in the order that God sees fit and not that the Church sees fit.

When one is committed to the Church, it is often because he feels like he has to be. When one is committed to a relationship with God, it is only because he wants to be. It's all a heart issue. From what I see with this Pardoner, the issue to him was making sure he displayed just enough “God” so that others would trust, or at least respect, him as a man of God and thus, leave themselves open to be taken advantage by him. This Pardoner had to be committed to a relationship with the church in order to better his own cause: himself.

Ackroyd, Peter. Chaucer. New York: Doubleday, 2005

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales: translated by Nevill Coghill. New York: Penguin, 1980.

Cross, F.L. & Livingstone, E.A. eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford University Press, 2005.



Pope Boniface VIII. Unam Sanctam. 1302.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Here is what I wrote regarding this book last week for an English class:

“Madness” and Spiritual Significance in Wuthering Heights

The novelist and poet, Emily Bronte, was born in Thornton, Yorkshire on July 30, 1818. The middle sister of the three famous Bronte girls, she was actually one of six Bronte children. After the death of her mother and two older sisters, Emily, Charlotte and Anne were taken from the school they were attending and were largely homeschooled. After a series of moves, Emily ended up home in Haworth tending to her father and focusing, like her sisters, on writing.

In 1845, Charlotte discovered manuscripts of poems that Emily had hidden away and was adamant that she have them published along with her and Anne’s. The girls collected their works into a volume called, Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. Published in 1846 at the expense of the sisters, the volume sold only two copies. In 1847, Emily’s only novel, Wuthering Heights, is published just shortly before her death in December 1848, (Kuntz).

It has been said that Bronte was, what the British call, “mad”. In the introduction to the Barnes and Noble Classics version of Wuthering Heights, author and commenter, Daphne Merkin, alludes to the fact that Emily Bronte seemed to invite death to come to her; somewhat like her characters Catherine, and later Heathcliff, do in the story. She says, “the cause of her death was officially given as consumption, but it is clear to any reader of Emily’s biography that it was a form of passive suicide—that she had helped her end along by willing herself into the next world she so devoutly believed in”, (Intro, xv).

It is possible that Wuthering Heights could have been intended to be biographical; surely it is prophetically so. More than one critic has drawn a comparison between the terrible Heathcliff and the almost-mad woman who created him. Romer Wilson, author of All Alone: The Life and Private History of Emily Bronte, when describing her as an author says, “Here appears, very early in her life, the creature who is destined to become, in time, the unregenerate, pagan, superstitious Heathcliff”, (46).

One critic, Edward Chitham, likens Emily, who is well-read and who takes care of the household chores, to Nelly, the housekeeper and co-narrator in the story. He points out the similarities in the two names: “Nelly”, a shortened version of “Ellen”, is close to Bronte’s pseudonym, “Ellis”, (academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu).

A third biographical suggestion is, in my opinion, a bit of a stretch. Katherine Frank, in her book, A Chainless Soul: A Life of Emily Bronte, argues that what critics have often seen as a strange mysticism surrounding the author’s personality, was really a hidden or misdiagnosed case of anorexia nervosa. Frank defines an anorexic as being, “overwhelmingly hungry, preoccupied with food, obsessed with power and control, and terrified of disorder”, (4). She claims Emily was not free of these obsessions and asks, “How did it feel to be perpetually hungry and deny that hunger? Even more importantly, how was this physical hunger related to a more pervasive hunger in her life—hunger for power and experience, for love and happiness, fame and fortune and fulfillment? (4).

I have a hard time concluding that these attributes that Frank ascribes to Bronte are definite evidence for only one ailment: anorexia. Granted, there are signs in the story that Catherine and Heathcliff may have both died of starvation, I believe their reasons for starvation were not related to their body image, as anorexia often is, but instead to their utter desperateness for one another.

While Frank does offer some sound evidence, writers are often known for their high-strung emotions and obsessive behaviors. It’s possible that she was just manifesting the eccentric behaviors and emotions that artist’s tend to exhibit. I also take issue with her claims of the “more pervasive hunger(s)”. If Bronte wanted experience, fame and fortune then why did she welcome death so readily? She’d just had her only two submitted works published and was on the road to experience, fame and fortune. If she longed for these things, wouldn’t she have made more of an effort to overcome whatever sickness was ailing her so she could move forward?

There are many themes that thread in and out of this relatively short gothic work. Bronte weaves in ideas about child abuse, patriarch-led families, social classes and the downfall of a woman who marries for money and not for love, among several other important and timeless matters. A central theme that I see as very important to understanding both the story and it’s author is what Bronte calls “madness”. The “ailment” of madness can be found in many, many places throughout Wuthering Heights and is especially obvious as it helps to accentuate the spiritual bond between Catherine and Heathcliff.

Shortly into the story, Catherine makes a seemingly harmless statement that a reader unfamiliar to the entire tale would dismiss as an epithet of love. She is in the middle of chastising Nelly for suggesting that she and Heathcliff would be parted once she married Linton, when she utters probably the most famous line of the work, “Nelly, I am Heathcliff!” (82). However, the deeper one gets into the story, the more one wonders if Catherine truly is “mad” and believes that they are one and the same soul—and if Heathcliff believes it as well. In Merkin’s introduction she points out, “you choose whom you love, and, in the absence of genuine psychosis, you understand that for all your feelings of having stumbled onto your other half, you and your love object are not one and the same”, (Intro, xxiii).

Nevertheless, over and over throughout the story, we see this theme of the two having the same restless soul. On what is to be the last night that Heathcliff and Catherine are together, Heathcliff is heartbroken over her imminent death and says, “Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you—oh, God! Would you like to live with your soul in the grave?” (159). After Catherine dies, Heathcliff remarks to Nelly in anguish: “I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!” (165). It’s obvious that both Catherine and Heathcliff literally believe that they share the same soul—a belief that eventually kills them both from anguish.

Almost every character in the story displays “mad” behavior at one time or another. Hindley, in a drunken fit, demonstrates despicable behavior toward his son, Hareton, which can only be described as lunatic. Hareton utters such horrible things about his son such as, “he deserves flaying alive”, and “As sure as I’m living, I’ll break the brat’s neck”, before dropping him over a railing to what could have been his death had Heathcliff not been in the right place at the right time, (73-74). Hareton displays “madness” at a young age as he “hang(s) a litter of puppies from a chair-back”, (179). Even young Linton acts “mad” for attention, (like his aunt Catherine did on her death bed), when he throws himself to the ground in fits of convulsions in order to get his way, (258).

With all of this “mad” behavior going on, one cannot help but compare the characters in an attempt to discover the “maddest” of them all. Although I think that Heathcliff takes the cake over the long haul, beginning with his detestable behavior toward Isabella, his wife and “proxy in suffering” (144), Catherine’s behavior is what really surprises me as I believe her “fake madness”, as alluded to in the previous paragraph, is what led to her early death. I think that Catherine’s “mad” behavior began as playacting to keep from having to answer Linton when he asks, “Will you give up Heathcliff hereafter, or will you give up me? It is impossible for you to be my friend and his at the same time; and I absolutely require to know which you choose”, (117). It is at this time that Catherine begins exhibiting physical ailments, going from “stamping her foot” just a paragraph before, to “dashing her head against the arm of the sofa, and grinding her teeth”, (118) in the next. Even Nelly, the one who probably knows and understands Catherine the best, says that there was “nothing in the world the matter” (118) and that Catherine had “resolved, previously to his coming, on exhibiting a fit of frenzy”, (118).

I think that Catherine is going to great lengths to keep from having to admit that she’d choose Heathcliff if it came right down to it. More than that, I think that her keeping to her bed and starving herself could be to keep herself from having to make the choice at all. The point eventually becomes moot when Heathcliff is no longer available to Catherine or a threat to Linton after he runs off with Isabella.

When Nelly tells her that Linton has “no idea of your being deranged; and of course he does not fear that you will let yourself die of hunger,” (120) Catherine is adamant that Nelly forward the “news” to him. “Persuade him!” She shouts. “Speak of your own mind: say that you are certain I will”, (120). To her, this is a game as observed in the instance on page 126. Catherine is animated and talking about things that Nelly calls “insane”. I would disagree that Catherine is not actually in possession of her faculties here, but either way, she’s making sense and speaking coherently. When Linton comes into the room, Catherine begins to act as if she doesn’t know him. “At first she gave him no glance of recognition: he was invisible to her abstracted gaze. The delirium was not fixed, however; having weaned her eyes from contemplating the outer darkness, by degrees she centered her attention on him, and discovered who it was that held her”.

Catherine’s antics are best displayed in her last scene with Heathcliff. For several minutes, the two had been expressing their love and regret to one another, frantically trying to make up for lost time before Linton came home and before Catherine drew her last breath. Although the dialogue between the two is feverish and overly-emotional, it is still sane and understandable to anyone who may be eavesdropping. However, once Linton is heard coming toward the room, Catherine resolves herself to her biggest show of madness yet. She let her body go limp and seemed unresponsive as Edgar entered the room. Heathcliff played along by placing her in Linton’s arms and left the room. Catherine was “all bewildered,” and “sighed, moaned, and knew nobody”, (161). It seems obvious to me that, like Bronte herself, Catherine took advantage of an ailment and let it consume her to past the point of returning. This, as I said before, could be seen as a prophetic destiny that Bronte may have not realized she was writing.

Not only do Catherine and Heathcliff exhibit signs of the same sort of madness, they also present a clear picture of a true spiritual bond. Catherine, while on her death bed, calls to Heathcliff in her imagination and says, “I’ll not lie there by myself: they may bury me twelve feet deep, and throw the church down over me, but I won’t rest till you are with me. I never will!” (125). The idea of death does not seem to bother her in the least: it’s the thought of death without Heathcliff that she can’t seem to bear.

Years after Catherine’s death, Heathcliff describes a scene (which only affirms his “madness”) in which he goes to Catherine’s grave to exhume her body. As he’s attempting to pry the lid off her coffin, he hears sighing and could feel a “substantial body in the dark”, though he knew there was no one there. Where a perfectly sane person might find this whole situation odd and a little spooky, Heathcliff claims he was consoled because, “her presence was with me: it remained while I refilled the grave, and led me home”, (278-279).

Just before Heathcliff’s own death, the reader gets the impression that he has received some sort of message from Catherine that he is soon to die. He comes home on a couple of occasions with a strange smile on his face and a more peaceful countenance. He claims that everything connects them. The clouds, the trees, the night air, even the material that the flooring is made up of remind him of Catherine. He attempts to explain to Nelly that he senses a change coming but “shall not know that till it comes,” and says he is “only half conscious of it now,” (313).

When it finally does come time for Heathcliff to die, it is hard to tell if he is in a state of “madness” or just one of extreme “spiritualism”. It seems that he, too, is suffering from a lack of food—just like Catherine did. Though there is no doubt in my mind that Catherine starved herself willingly and willfully, I can’t help but wonder if Heathcliff believes he is receiving the instructions to abstain from food from Catherine from beyond the grave. Nelly reports, “I vainly reminded him of his protracted abstinence from food: if he stirred to touch anything in compliance with my entreaties, if he stretched his hand out to get a piece of bread, his fingers clenched before they reached it, and remained on the table, forgetful of their aim”, (320). In my opinion, this is a good sign that Heathcliff was fighting against his subconscious and willing himself to follow whatever instructions stopped him from grabbing the bread. Nelly affirms this a few pages later when she says, “I concealed the fact of his having swallowed nothing for four days, fearing it might lead to trouble, and then, I am persuaded, he did not abstain on purpose: it was the consequence of his strange illness, not the cause”, (324). Interesting that Heathcliff would experience the same sort of death as Catherine—and the madness that preceded it.

The spiritual element to Wuthering Heights is concluded as Heathcliff joins Catherine to eternally haunt the moors and countryside after his death. The locals claim to have seen him and say that “he walks” and that he had been near the church, on the moor, and inside a home. Even old, crotchety Joseph says he’s seen Heathcliff and Catherine together since their deaths. Nelly goes on to describe an instance where she comes across a little shepherd boy who is frightened of the apparitions he saw of Heathcliff and Catherine.

The last line of the book leaves the reader with something to think on. Nelly is describing a peaceful time visiting the graves of Catherine, Heathcliff and Edgar. She describes the “benign sky”, the “fluttering moths” and the “soft wind” and wonders: “how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth”, (326). Although I do not believe in the ability of a soul to “haunt” those left on earth after it’s body dies, for the purposes of fiction, I say, who could blame them? They’ve got a lot of time to make up for and a lot of unfinished business to take care of.

Works Cited

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights (Barnes and Noble Classics). New York: Barnes and Noble Books, 2004.

Frank, Katherine. A Chainless Soul: A Life of Emily Bronte. New York: Ballantine, 1990.


Kuntz, Stanley J. ed. British Authors of the Nineteenth Century. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1936.

Wilson, Romer. All Alone: The Life and Private History of Emily Bronte. Whitefish: Kessinger Publishing, 2003.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

I'm pretty sure that before last month, I was the only person on the planet who had not only not yet read this controversial story, but was absolutely in the dark as to the reason for the uproar. Ever since it first came out, I have been curious as to why it caused such a stir. Since I didn't think I would be interested enough to read it in paper form, I found it on audiobook and put it on my MP3 player to listen to during my walks.

I'm not going to take the time to go into every single detail of the book as I'm sure my readers are aware of the basics. However, I do want to comment on a couple of things. I understand now the uproar, but I think way too much focus has been put on this book. What people don't seem to realize is that it is a work of FICTION. Do we Christians like the message it is sending out? No, of course not. But it is FICTION. Millions of fictional stories have been written over the ages...most people are very much able to decipher the difference between fiction and reality.

The truth is that there really is a faction of people out there who do believe and practice the "religion" in The DaVinci Code. There really are people who believe Christ was married and fathered children and that there are descendants alive and well today. I sort of think Brown did us a favor by exposing them. It's hard to debunk a falsehood when you don't know the falsehood exists.

The book is based on mythology. Mythology is another word for FICTION. The mythology centers around a painting, created by a man, who may or may not have intentionally added to his painting the elements mentioned in The DaVinci Code. Either way, DaVinci was just a man with his own imagination and beliefs. I think God is big enough to reveal truth and let the truth live---in spite of the imaginations of men.

That said, let me admit to a terrible truth: I adore Dan Brown. Well, adore might not be the right word...but how about, I really like him a lot :) I am currently reading, Angels and Demons and it is so hard to put it down. I never expected myself to be in to this kind of genre...I think it's the conspiracy theorist in me!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Old Wives' Tales part 2

Here are the answers to yesterday's "tales":

Tale #1
: "Lightning never strikes the same place twice."
False. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a Virginia man named Roy Sullivan holds the record for the person who has been hit by lightning the most times. Sullivan was hit seven times between 1942 and 1977.

Tale #2: "Thumb-sucking causes buck teeth"
True. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a person who sucks their thumb long term can actually push their upper front teeth outward and reposition the teeth.

Tale #3: "Wait an hour after eating before swimming."
False. Way back in 1956, B.W. Gabrielsen, a swimming coach at U of Georgia, published Facts on Drowning Accidents. In this book, he debunked the myth, showing how less than 1% of drowning deaths took place right after a meal. In 1961, physiologist A. Steinhaus concurred in a published article in the Journal of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, dismissing any link between the two activities.

Tale #4: "Craving spicy food means you're having a boy."
Maybe. There might be some truth to this one. There has been a study done that shows that women's cravings may be linked to the sex of the child. A professor at Harvard followed the pregnancies of 250 women and found that those who were carrying boys ate 8% more protein, 9% more carbohydrates, and 15% more vegetable fats than those who were carrying girls. The thought is that the testosterone secreted from the infant boys' testicles signal the mother to eat more.

In case you've no idea what I'm talking about, here's a snippet from yesterday's post...and the new "tales" for today.

"So, I thought it would be fun to play a little Tales game. I'll list a few here and then you come on and tell me which ones are true and which are false. (You can even elaborate on your answers with your own stories or thoughts...yes, I'm trying to get you people to write :) !!!) Tomorrow I'll post the answers and some more tales. Now, I know you've got Google right there handy and you can just look up the answers...but that would be CHEATING!!!...and you have more integrity than that, right? :) Have fun!"

Tale #4: Toads give you warts.
Tale #5: Reading in dim light ruins your eyes.
Tale #6: Curvy women were built for child-bearing.
Tale #7: A full moon causes strange behavior.

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