Thursday, February 19, 2015

Book Review: Gone With the Wind

Many years ago my mom convinced me to watch the film version of Gone With the Wind.  I remembered two things about it; it was unfathomably long and I could not stand Scarlett O'Hara.  Well, about a month ago I was alone at my mom's house waiting for the laundry to finish so I could head home.  I meandered through my mom's books and saw Gone With the Wind.  I had actually started it once when I was in college but I didn't get too far.  This time I thought...why not?  I had time to kill and I probably wouldn't finish it anyway.  Surprisingly I couldn't put it down!
I took the book home with me but a bunch of pages were falling out.  I asked Kwacha if I could buy it  for my Kindle on Amazon since the price wasn't too shabby for a 1037 page book.  (I think it might be the longest book I have ever read, second to the Bible.)  Thankfully he said yes.

I think it was the way that Margaret Mitchell described the characters that initially drew me in.  Once I really got into it though, Scarlett O'Hara was bugging me just as much as I remembered, if not more!  And this continued on and on.  I don't think it's ever pleasant to see someone else's sins and realize that those same sins reside in your own heart, even if it may not come out in the same way.  Pride, vanity, way too much self-reliance and rudeness are just some of the words one might use to describe Scarlett's character.  

Rhett Butler wasn't much better.  And don't get me started on Ashley Wilkes, the weak-hearted weasel!  Ahem...anyway.  Melanie Wilkes was one of the few redeeming characters in the book.  She is the reason I kept on reading.  Well, partly.  As much as I couldn't stand Scarlett O'Hara, I sympathized with her many times, especially after the Civil War started and her parents died and she struggled to help her family survive hunger and thievery from the Yankees.  I kept reading in hopes that these trials would cause her to change, and they started to, but then she started gaining wealth and she married Rhett and her love for money turned her into a monster.  

One of the things that surprised me most in reading the book was the Southern perspective on the Civil War.  I think most people grow up learning about the Civil War through the Northern perspective.  You can't help but siding with the Yankees.  Of course, I don't know how true to life the book is, but if it is, there were certainly some atrocities played out by the Union.  In many cases, obviously, slavery was a horrible thing.  But there were also a number of slaves that loved the families they served and even when they were given the opportunity for freedom, they remained with the families.  It seems that the Union put many former slaves in the legislature whether they were qualified or not.  And many of the Yankees did not care for the people at all and still didn't see them as equal, even though they fought for their freedom.  (A side note: I know extremely little about politics, I will admit, so take what I say here with a grain of salt.)  All that to say, I was fascinated at reading about the Civil War through a new lens.

As I said before, my favorite character is Melanie. She is so full of love for Scarlett that she never believes any evil of her (which believe me, there was plenty!). Her character truly lives out 1 Corinthians 13, that love believes all things and hopes all things. She portrays a gentle and quiet spirit  without fear. The horrible thing is that Scarlett hated her in return because she married the man she was "in love" with. However, Melanie's relentless love for Scarlett wins her over in the end. When Melanie dies at the end of the book, Scarlett realizes that she does indeed love her and that Melanie was truly one of the few people that loved Scarlett. She realizes how much she depended on her and she's devastated over her death. But it's Melanie's death that helps wake Scarlett up to the truth. She finally sees Ashley for who he really is and she realizes that she actually doesn't love him. She really  loves Rhett but by this time it's too late. Rhett had finally had enough and leaves. Throughout the book Scarlett deals with every trial she faces by saying, "I'll think about it tomorrow." So the book ends with her planning how to get Rhett back "tomorrow." Because after all, "Tomorrow is another day."

I don't think I'll read another book of this length for a looooong time, BUT, it did leave me with the truth that God alone satisfies. Scarlett found no satisfaction in money or people. Her love for money ruined her life just as 1 Timothy tells us it will. Her best friend died and her husband left her. We must always put our hope and trust in God alone.


Tuesday, February 03, 2015

New Year

New Year's Resolutions.  I'm finally talking about them in February.  Have you been asked if you made any yet?  I think I've been asked two or three times and I had to admit that I hadn't made any.  It seems like people are either passionately for them or aggressively against them.  I wouldn't say that I fit either of the extremes but I would tend toward the latter.  I'm not against making new year's resolutions by any means.  It's good to sit back and evaluate where you are at and where you'd like to be.
It's been discussed before but the main reason I typically don't make them is because after January I tend to forget about them.  The hype ends in February and you get back into the normal, daily routine of life.  
I found some statistics about new year's resolutions on the ole internet.  
45% of American's usually make them.
8% of American's are successful in achieving them.  
But, "People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions."
(All of my info was found from www.statisticbrain.com).
Why do we make resolutions at all?
Hopefully, for a believer, the ultimate purpose is to grow in godliness and glorify God.
So, I finally came up with one.  Just one.  I think one single resolution will help me actually attain it and put things in focus.  And it's a resolution that will help make all other pursuits possible and bring about real change and that is to be faithful in prayer.
I read a really helpful devotional by Elizabeth Elliot this morning about prayer.  I'll copy some of it here:

"'If you, bad as you are, know how to give your children what is good for them, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask Him?' (Matt. 7:11, NEB).  Are you often tempted as I am to doubt the effectiveness of prayer?  But Jesus prayed.  He told us to pray.  We can be sure that the answer will come, and it will be good...Prayer is a weapon.  Paul speaks of the 'weapons we wield' in 2 Cor. 10:4-5.  They are 'not merely human, but divinely potent to demolish strongholds' (NEB)...The Destroyer himself, [urges] me to quit using the weapon he fears so intensely."  

From Keep A Quiet Heart

Prayer is effective.  God is faithful to answer.  He tells us to pray.  And Satan fears it.  
I finished out the last few months of 2014 spending much more time in the Word but by the time my hour or so was up every morning before I needed to get Shirley out of bed, I hadn't spend more than about a minute or two praying to God.  This morning I decided to get out my journal and write down things to pray for using the old A.C.T.S. method (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) and then I spend some time praying through those things. What a difference it makes spending time talking to our God!

It's actually been about a week since I started this post.  Things are still going well.  (I would hope so after only a week.)  Isn't it amazing that God wants to hear from us?  And that He actually listens to us and answers our prayer??  The God of the universe!  That in itself should convict us and lead us to prayer.  Do any of you readers out there have any little things that help you to be faithful in prayer?  I'd love to hear!




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