Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Politics and Religion around the Table

After a violent event, people instinctively gather to exchange comfort and support. Our town experienced murders and a suicide in a few brief and terrifying moments at the town shopping mall last Saturday. Police and news helicopters could be heard at our house. Three people under 25 years of age died quickly, one the suicidal killer, 19 years old. 

A young woman and young man, colleagues working in a skateboarders' store, died. A young survivor fell the floor, ending up beside the male victim and hearing his final words. The survivor would not allow his face to be shown. His tone of voice was, as expected, subdued.

The community mourns, and flowers mark the inner fountain of the mall, along with written notes and cards of grief or condolence.  Around tables in homes and restaurants, politics (gun and mental health policies) and religion (life's meaning and after death) mixed without rancor

Two topics quickly rose to the surface by that evening only three days ago. Some thoughts immediately went to gun control laws (the shooter used a rifle) and some thoughts immediately went to mental health. I am sure those conversations will continue around tables in our county of Howard and beyond.

Now is the time to pause and mourn these deaths and especially to pray for the families affected by this violence. We can, otherwise, jump away from the terror inflicted before we honor those robbed of life. We must allow our spiritual response before we jump into our political skins. 

The Columbia (MD) Mall is large and sprawling. The deadly acts affected thousands of feet of its interior where singles, friends, couples, and parents with children were shopping or hanging out. That also should give us pause.

Before joining any conversation about politics or mental health, I intend to reflect on innocent victims whose lives were robbed of light last Saturday. I find I cannot write with words adequate to express the emotions still welling up in many of us who did not know these young people. 

There must be room made around the table to mourn, to honor the victims, and to pray for the families. There will be a time to take up other related discussions and actions. Now, however, is the time to remember and to reflect on those taken from this community's life and those nearby, terrified and locked in place.

Dear Lord, we desire your mercy upon this city and your favor upon first responders and their teams that risk their own lives for all of us. Amen.

Copyright (c)2014 Opinari* Writers
*Think, Reason, Believe


Friday, January 03, 2014

Convergence of Book and Bread

There is an area of human experience that is rare and yet common, a phenomenon of convergence. It happens rarely perhaps to each of us and yet is a common phenomenon for all of us. This has happened for me recently regarding bread and books.

Specifically, during the Christmas holidays I began to plan to learn how to bake bread in this new year. Who knows why this desire entered my head? You just follow it if it promises a new skill and something delicious to taste and share, right? 

I began to research bread-making machines and books, while not mentioning this idea to anyone. I wanted to surprise them.

At the end of December, I started to think of how the four basic ingredients of bread relate to writing and on another blog, I wrote about that! Was it a stretch? You be the judge, but for me, it made sense. I even renamed one of my blog pages and a bookstore and wrote about that, too. 

Mind you, not one visit to the store for bread ingredients had occurred. Not one bread-making machine or book had been bought. Yet, I was going bread crazy already with nary a homemade loaf, muffin, or doughnut hole produced! 

See how strong ideas and planning can be, how motivating? Yeah. 

Meanwhile - and here's where the main convergence comes in - my husband brought home Jodi Picoult's The Storyteller.  

"You've got to read this," he said. 

"OK." I guessed I'd find out why I had to read that once he finished the book and I got into it. Would I get into the story or the author's style? 

Hubby did not mention that The Storyteller has two or three heroines - or at least, that's how I see it, having finished the book yesterday - or that one of them is a seriously skilled... bread-baker who also loves to talk and think a lot about bread. Perfect for my secret plan, which I soon told him and everybody about. 

He only said something to the point that the book had to do with "different stories coming together."  (I later realized, it is another form of convergence phenomena.) 

That happens, doesn't it, as different lives cross, and it happens with these phenomenal events, over "little" things, that converge strikingly. I have not yet even started to bake bread, but I have learned so much about different kinds through The Storyteller.

The Storyteller is not for everyone, but if you dare to read it - so far, I've learned, it's been on the NYT Bestseller List for a while - you will find it worth it at the end, I believe. Here's a link to tell you more about this book, which I added to one of my online bookstores. 

That's all I'll say about that, dear friends, for this time. I do want to add, though, that my husband's mother, our beloved Mary Helen, was a superb cook and, of course, she could bake any kind of bread she wanted to "from scratch." She could make the process seem so easy because she appreciated, as I look back on it, what the baker's waiting and the bread's resting do for the outcome. 

I wish I had asked her to show me how to bake all kinds of bread, but I was too impatient or busy, it seems, looking back on those times.

The phenomenon of convergence in our lives is not earth-shaking, yet it leaves a mark, and we say hmmmm, what was that about?, and we feel somehow that the convergence might be hinting at something important for us. 

It sometimes happens between a book and an idea to bake bread, and I'm paying attention.  

(c) 2014 Jean P. Purcell

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Books and Bread - Reading Good Books and Learning Bread-making

About Books Sold Here

On this first day of a New Year, I'm letting you know more about the select, hand-picked books in the Books and Bread store and my side-bar lists from Amazon.com here. 

You might visit out of curiosity about what's new or to buy once or again. The book sales include all of Amazon's assurances about deliveries, tracking, and such.

The books fit one or more of the following categories:

  • Books I have read and liked a lot
  • Books recommended to me, but I've not yet read them
  • Books published this year, last year, or a few or many years before
  • Books I am adding every week 
  • Book selections intentionally limited with links to goodies that allow expanding your searches for authors, titles, soap, or any other Amazon-related product. 

My selection is hand-picked, so you might discover books you've not heard of, yet with stories you'd value, while at the same time getting to Amazon. 

When I add one or more titles every week to each category, I put the latest addition in the front positions so you can immediately see what has been added. 

If you find what you want here and buy through my links, you add a little bit to the coffers that help here and elsewhere online. I appreciate that! 

Wishing you a wonderful year of reading, whether you get Books and Bread books or books from your public library, local bookshop, or on loan from a friend.