A Round Up of Great Posts On and By Women

Today is International Women’s Day. Men, before you get your boxers in a bunch, just remember that we still love you and appreciate you. But there are a lot of women in the world who don’t hear that message, and today honors the progress that has been made, as well as the work left to do.

Here is a collection of some of my favorite posts and thoughts on and by women:

For inspiration:
I Am A Dangerous Woman poem by Idelette McVicker

“There are still major obstacles for women: violence against women is still a pandemic, too few women are in leadership roles and most workplaces don’t make enough accommodations for working mothers, especially in the United States. But there have been some brief glimmers of progress, evidence that when we commit to global action for women, we actually can move the needle toward greater gender equality.”

“First wave feminists provided role models and a framework for responding to present-day issues of inequality. Second wave feminists led me to realize the necessity of a compassionate response to hurting souls longing for freedom from oppression. Scripture has compelled me to grapple with what it takes to build a more just world for all people—regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or any other human labels.”
 

For people interested in Hollywood:
 

For the Outdoor Enthusiasts:

Yosemite National Park did an AWESOME post with pictures and stories on influential women in its history

 
For my bookish friends:
“This is why we don’t stop talking about gender. This is why we don’t stop talking about diversity. This is why these conversations are vital, flourishing, and unapologetic. Get comfortable with getting uncomfortable and let’s keep talking.”

“Far more books are published by men than by women, perhaps because publishers feel that books by men are a safer bet. We can affect this by making a choice when it comes to the books we buy, since how we chose to spend our money is the most effective weapon we have.”

And in case you want some recommendations for great books by women, other than the Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf options:

Finally, to all the women in my life I would like to say thank you. To my mom, who taught me what strength means. To my aunts and grandmothers, who reminded me of our individual gifts and power. To my friends, who live bold and courageous lives that inspire me to embrace who I am. Thanks for being you and for teaching me how great women can be.

Who is a woman in your life that inspires you?
What are some great posts or stories you have found about women?

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Redesigning the Bible: The Bibliotheca Project

A new project, funded through Kickstarter, is re-imagining the way the Bible is presented and read. Bibliotheca, created by graphic artist Adam Lewis Greene, has set out to redesign the Bible into four volumes specifically crafted for a  more traditional literary experience that is also aesthetically appealing.

Greene began with a simple question:
     “Why is it that people love stories so much, and yet they view reading biblical literature as a chore?”
On the Kickstarter page, Greene suggests the “encyclopedic nature” of our current Bibles propagates the myth that the Bible is dry or boring. Elements such as the chapter and verse numbers, the thin pages, and the density of text on each page prevent a “rich reading experience” of what was originally a literary work of art. Plus, until the Middle Ages the entire expanse of the biblical books were only available in separate volumes, not crammed into one compact version like the ones we use today.

Thanks to his background in graphics and book design, Greene understands the impact a book’s shape, print, and cover can have on the reading experience. Greene approached the project with the mindset of how the Bible used to be made: by hand, with great detail, and as a holy act of artistry.

Greene demonstrates his meticulous attitude towards the project in his choices about using the ASV translation and even creating a special font for the project. Another unique feature is that Greene based the proportions of the book and pages on the original dimensions for the Ark of the Covenant. (For those of you interested in his artistic choices Bible Design Blog featured a two-part interview with Greene.)
The four-volume set artistically designed and bound. Courtesy of http://www.bibliotheca.co/

The four-volume set artistically designed and bound. Courtesy of http://www.bibliotheca.co/

Besides those of us who are picky about translation and font, other potential criticisms await. There are Christians who are hesitant to call the Bible a “literary work.” The fear is that people will relate literature with fiction, and they don’t want the Bible to be considered fictional in any way. Along those lines, some people might disapprove of reframing the Bible in a standard book format. Hesitation to altering the Bible’s format also remains due to the sacred quality of the text.
 
Even so, in past years the Bible has been printed in a magazine format aimed to attract teenagers, in an illuminated magazine format, and as the “Brick Testament” illustrated entirely with Legos. Most recently, Zondervan published The Story, which is similar to Bibliotheca in its goal to present the Bible, without chapter and verse numbers, in a complete novel-like format. 
 
The concept of viewing the Bible as a grand story has actually gained significant favor in the last few years. It helps people to remember the scope of God’s plan and the importance of reading any part in relation to the whole story. Dr. Scot McKnight, professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, agreed that Bibliotheca is a good idea. “I’m in favor of whatever gets folks to read the Bible,” says McKnight, “it is after all way too long for one volume.”

One way or another, the positive response to Bibliotheca proves this is an idea people want to see more of. With only three more days until the Kickstarter campaign finishes, the Bibliotheca project has overwhelmingly surpassed its funding goal. The initial goal was set for $37,000 and Greene specified that this minimum is the amount required for production without profit. Yet now, with over $800,000 pledged and more than 8,000 backers, it is evident that an aesthetically appealing, book-like version of the Bible is worthwhile.

Responding to the success of the project, Greene speculated that “it has a lot to do with the fact that readers are ready to enjoy the Bible as the great literary anthology that it is, rather than as a text book.”

Greene states on the Kickstarter page that, for now, pledging support is the only guaranteed way to get the set. If the project does prove successful, as it has so far, Greene hopes that the set might be made available beyond the campaign, perhaps even in different translations and languages.

As of today, the Kickstarter page was updated with a “stretch goal” to reach one million dollars in support. If the new goal is reached, Greene will add the Deuterocanonical Books (commonly called the Apocrypha) as an optional fifth volume and include a traditional book board slip case with every set. At the pace they are going, a million dollars actually doesn’t seem too far of a stretch.

What do you think of the Bibliotheca project?
 
What is the appeal of having the Bible in a more novel-like format?

The Worst Question to Ask a Book Lover

It causes shudders of frustration, mind somersaults of decisions, and an explanation with lots of “ums” or “wells” or sighing in general.

Someone bold enough to consider asking such a question has also probably uttered queries about why Snape killed Gandalf or which episode Captain Kirk and Darth Vader faced off in. Depending on who they ask, they will either get strangled by the Force, stupefied with a swish, or perhaps given a large eye roll by the less defensive person in the room.

The question in question: What is your favorite book?

As an English major and an avid reader I receive this question more times than I can count. I have also watched as professors, classmates, and fellow readers wrestled with the question in painfully awkward moments of long silence or stuttered excuses. There is a reason that Goodreads has an entire element of their website devoted to book lists. In fact, we could probably fill an entire book with the various lists of books that exist out there.

Why is it so difficult, you ask? I could also make a list of reasons, but here are my top three:

  1. There are different genres for a reason: not all books are the same. Juxtaposing science fiction against a memoir is like trying to compare robots against puppies. Each genre involves a different range of expectations, style, and story development. It is safer to ask someone their favorite book in a specific genre, but you are still left with an ocean of choices.
  2. Decades change the scoring system altogether. Many books gained respect over time and became classics because of their ability to touch on universal themes. Literary writing styles also developed in accordance with declining public attention spans. War and Peace is considered a classic, but few people would call it a favorite because they think Tolstoy took too long to get to the point. This disregards the significance of Tolstoy’s innovation as well as the popularity of longer novels at this time in history. Trying to compare books written in different periods involves a complex analysis of varied language, writing styles, and historical context.
  3. I don’t ask you to pick your favorite child. This may seem extreme to some people, but book junkies will understand the deep emotional attachments that emerge between a reader and a book. So I didn’t actually give birth to it myself, but I carried these books lovingly for a length of time, watched out for their well-being, and saw part of myself in the eyes of each page. Picking a favorite just wouldn’t be fair, especially for the awkward middle book that no one else likes but I know its unique special qualities and love it anyways.

 

In case you still feel a deep desire to know people’s favorite books, you can check out this list of the 10 Best Top 100 Book Lists. That’s right, people even make lists about the best lists because it’s impossible to choose just one.

And if you still persist in asking such questions, go ahead and ask a cinephile their favorite movie, or a chef their favorite dish. I will have the ice ready for your ego when you get back, and a stack of books waiting for you.

What do you say when someone asks you about your favorite book?

Why do you think it is difficult to choose a favorite?

Divine stupidity or a great faith?

I started reading the classic novel East of Eden by John Steinbeck the other day. Besides enjoying it as a great story and excellent piece of writing, I also experienced some moments of inspiration that I wanted to share with you.

Although my copy is a bit tattered, and it’s not technically mine since my brother lent it to me, but I still love it mostly because of this guy on the front cover. Man how could you not be happy with a mustache like that? :)

At the end of chapter two, the following paragraph lay neatly nestled between the story lines, inconspicuous and unassuming. Yet in its humility is where I found its splendor.

“They and the coyotes lived clever, despairing, submarginal lives. They landed with no money, no equipment, no tools, no credit, and particularly with no knowledge of the new country and no technique for using it. I don”t know whether it was a divine stupidity or a great faith that let them do it. Surely such venture is gone from the worl. And the families did survive and grow. They had a tool or a weapon that is also nearly gone, or perhaps it is only dormant for a while. It is argued that because they believed thoroughly in a just, moral God they could put their faith there and let the smaller securities take care of themselves. But I think that because they trusted themselves and respected themselves as individuals, because they knew beyond doubt that they were valuable and potentially moral units– because of this they could give God their own courage and dignity and then receive it back. Such things have disappeared perhaps because men do not trust themselves any more, and when that happens there is nothing left except perhaps to find some strong sure man, even though he may be wrong, and to dangle from his coattails.”

Ray Bradbury: A Man in Love

I originally had something different intended for today’s post, but upon reading the morning news on my New York Times App I decided that the subject of this headline deserved some attention:

“Ray Bradbury, Master of Science Fiction, Dies at 91”

I am not a huge Science Fiction buff, but Bradbury’s works were something I always enjoyed. My admiration for the author grew even more when I read an interview with him on CNN titled “Sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury on God, ‘monsters and angels'” in which he spoke out about his faith. My favorite part about it was the fact that most people don’t consider science fiction writers, or most fantasy writers for that matter, to be religious. I would guess that is an assumption based on a very selective definition of religious though, because it isn’t crazy for a Christian to have an active imagination too. Bradbury was a man who went to the boundaries in life and literature, one who defied the definite daily.

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images: Ray Bradbury in 1980

I want to share one section of that article that has really stuck with me as a great way to view faith:

The center of his faith, though, is love. Everything — the reason he decided to write his first short story at 12; his 56-year marriage to his muse and late wife, Maggie; his friendships with everyone from Walt Disney to Alfred Hitchcock — is based on love.

Bradbury is in love with love.

Once, when he saw Walt Disney, architect of the Magic Kingdom, Christmas shopping in Los Angeles, Bradbury approached him and said: “Mr. Disney, my name is Ray Bradbury and I love you.”

Bradbury’s favorite book in the Bible is the Gospel of John, which is filled with references to love.

At the center of religion is love,” Bradbury says from his home, which is painted dandelion yellow in honor of his favorite book, “Dandelion Wine.”

I love you and I forgive you. I am like you and you are like me. I love all people. I love the world. I love creating. … Everything in our life should be based on love.

Bradbury’s voice booms with enthusiasm over the phone. He now uses a wheelchair. His hearing has deteriorated. But he talks like an excitable kid with an old man’s voice.

Love. It truly is at the center of our faith, because the gospel is a story of love – it is the story of a God who loved His people so much that He sent His only son to reconcile the world back to Him, out of a love so vast we can hardly understand it. He loves us and forgives us, we are one in Him so that I am like you and you are like me, it all begins and ends with love.

May Bradbury rest in peace, as we can thank God for a man who was willing to defy the ordinary, to go beyond the boundaries, all for love.

Do you have any favorite Ray Bradbury books or stories?

How is your faith centered in love?