Tag Archives: television

Save the World?

I’ve been watching Heroes because I got three seasons for my birthday (hurray brothers!). In the series, as in so many spy novels or thrillers I’ve read, the characters obsess about saving the world. “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” was the tagline of the first season of the show.

Last week a friend reminded me that the world is built of small things: individuals, households, neighbourhoods. She wondered aloud whether the Kingdom of God was not made up of a lot of small things: noticing a child’s smile, helping a woman find a gift for her grandson’s baptism, saying thanks for the climbing roses on the house across the street. I think she’s probably right. I tend to miss the small things the world is made of and wonder what my larger Purpose is. Perhaps Purpose becomes evident with attention to the everyday.

What can you do to save the world today? Share a smile, pay a compliment, be a neighbour, write a small blog post. Who knows? Maybe we’re planting mustard seeds.

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The Complete Ideal Bookshelf

Previously I suggested five books of a possible 10 for my personalized bookshelf in the Swan station were I to be stranded there and have to push a button every 108 minutes to save the world. I have the final five, and now present the complete list. Three are non-fiction works, and seven works of literature.


1. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought ed. Alister E. McGrath. To provoke theological thought so I don’t get bored.

2. The New Oxford Annotated Bible (4th Edition) NRSV, hardcover, with Apocrypha. With the above work, so that I remain a theologian while stranded. It is important to maintain a sense of who you are called to be while stranded on a desert island.

3. Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James. I said before that this was so I could write mystery novels while on the desert island. This is true. I thought about bringing more non-fiction to help me produce things while stranded, thinking that fiction/literature was only about consuming. I don’t think this is entirely correct. I realized that literature produces something in me that leads me to be creative. Reading literature is not just a consuming activity, but can also be a creative activity. I still want to bring James along because this reflection is not just a how-to manual but a reflection on what detective fiction is and does. If I couldn’t find my copy of James, I’d bring The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers instead.


4. A one-volume English translation of The Divine Comedy by Dante. I figure on a desert island I’ll make time to read Dante. Right?

5. Possession by A.S. Byatt. Best Book Ever. No further explanation needed.

6. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. In print for 200 years, how can one not bring Austen? For down time.

7. Anathem by Neal Stephenson. I had a debate in my head about whether to bring Cryptonomicon or AnathemCryptonomicon is a Pacific-focused book. The Island is probably in the Pacific. (Though it moves.) But Anathem is about parallel universes, and it is very clear that parallel universes play a part in what happens on the Island.

8. Children of Men by P.D. James. This is not detective fiction, but speculative fiction by James. It is about the end of civilization, or the end of the world as we know it. This seems appropriate reading for the Island somehow.

9. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. This is literary detective fiction, not at all brain candy. It is about an island of women in the sea of men at Oxford in the early twentieth century. Again, somehow appropriate.

10. Mystical Paths by Susan Howatch. Howatch wrote a set of books about the Church of England in the twentieth centuryMP is the one I’ve re-read the most. There are ways that some of the action in this book speaks to some of the people and things that happen on the Island in the LOST series.

Clearly I’ve been watching too much LOST. But it is so much fun and full of twists and turns and people running through the jungle yelling each other’s names! And it has lots of books and the potential to talk about ideas and books. Good times.

Do you have a top ten desert island list? You don’t have to put yourself in the LOST series, but which books would you want with you on a desert island?

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Ideal Bookshelf part 2

I said that I’d come back to the idea of an ideal bookshelf later in the week after I thought a little. I’ve thought some. If this is a bookshelf for me in the Swan station, I’m allowed 10 books, because according to all the LOST lists, there are ten books on the Swan shelf in the LOST show. I’ve already chosen two books, Possession and an unspecified reference work. Let me specify the reference work: The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought edited by Alistair E. McGrath. To these let me add the following:

The New Oxford Annotated Bible (4th Ed’n) hardcover, NRSV with Apocrypha. This and the theological reference listed above are for the theologian in me.

A single volume translation of The Divine Comedy by Dante, I’d like the Sayers translation but am not sure if that comes in a single volume or not. This is on my to be read list, and there’s nothing like a desert island to get you to read Dante, right?

Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James. There is no point to bringing mysteries to the Island, I might as well bring Baroness James’s thoughts on writing mysteries and attempt to write my own.

I’m still working on the final five (no Battlestar Galactica reference intended). Stay tuned.

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LOST Reading, Part First

I mentioned earlier this year that I was re-watching LOST and noticing the books. I dug up a LOST booklist or two, and thought that I could easily find reading material on the lists. I’ve started reading from the LOST-inspired list that now sits on my desk top. As I tick books off the list I’ll tell you about them. I started with a book I already owned and have read, but I read The Chosen by Chaim Potok a long time ago. I have fond memories of it, and recommend it to people regularly, but it has been several years since I read it. I started it again today. It certainly evokes a particular time and place, Brooklyn at the end of the second world war. I’m finding the re-read fascinating and enjoyable so far. I’m sure there will be much more to say later. I do like the main characters and the way they become friends. You should read it too.

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Ideal Bookshelves

Here is an article on the pleasures of owning physical (not digital) books. Ah, the truth to the pleasures inherent in gazing at bookshelves of read and yet-to-be read treasures. I’m thinking about my desert island picks, my ideal bookshelf as described in the article. I’ll post it later in the week. In the meantime, which two books would have to be on your ideal bookshelf list? My top two? Possession by A.S. Byatt. And a reference book of some kind. I’ll pick a specific one out for my ideal shelf list later in the week. I’m defining my ideal bookshelf as the set of books I’d like to have with me in the Hatch if I had to push a button every 108 minutes to save the world.

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Tenth Day: LOST in a good book

I’ve been re-watching LOST because MBro got me seasons 3 & 4 for Christmas. I knew from previous voyages with these characters that there are a lot of book references in the show, but I’d forgotten just how many. To top it off, I realized last night that many of the books referenced on LOST meet my criteria for old books! I can just jump into the LOST reading list if I am at a loss.

Now there are many lists of books referenced on LOST. So far I’ve noticed explicit references to Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, and Watership Down. Alice meets my old book criteria, but Watership Down just misses it. Oh well, there are other references that make the cut, not the least of which is Our Mutual Friend.

I think I’ve just figured out at least part of my winter reading list. In addition to Christmas books of course. I will not neglect those.

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Books on TV

Here is an interesting reflection on books watched by characters on TV shows. I am not a Gilmore Girls watcher, so I didn’t know books played such a prominent role in the show. I watched LOST, and was interested in the books Sawyer read and how these played into the plots of the show. Do any of these lists ring any bells for you?

I probably have more to say about the Gilmore Girls list as it seems impossibly long. Possibly people closer to high school can comment. Is this  list doable? Can one read so many books, with such density of content during high school? Do tell. I am interested in your thinking on this.


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Lenten Reflections on Battlestar Galactica

Wait, what? Seriously? What has BSG (new series) to do with Lent? Quite a lot I think. Read on.

The premise of “Battlestar Galactica” is the threatened extinction of the human race by human-created robots called Cylons. The humans in BSG have lost everything — their homes, families, and easy access to resources. They are on a permanent fast of sorts. Sometimes this fast becomes more apparent, in episodes that feature acute lack of food (food processing ship got contaminated) or water. The fleet of space ships then becomes very focussed on finding supplies of food or water or fuel. An early episode features an acute lack of rest. The Cylon fleet keeps finding and attacking the human fleet every 33 minutes. The humans fast from sleep in order to resist each new attack.

OK, you might say, there’s fasting in BSG. But fasting and Lent are not synonymous. Further, the fasts on BSG are not voluntary fasts, like lenten fasts. True. But there are elements to the BSG fasts that are voluntary. People decide to continue to work together under extraordinary circumstances to evade the cylons as they attempt to find a new planet to call home. Discipline and self-control are valued in the show. Also fasting in BSG leads to some interesting spiritual questions and reflections. Humans ask if the human race is really worth saving. Moral and spiritual arguments about the worth of humanity are often discussed. Cylons have their own spirituality. In an interesting twist, humans worship the many Gods of the Greek pantheon and cylons worship the One True God. Both humans and cylons have believers and non-believers among them, and this leads to some interesting discussions.

Fasting in Lent should sharpen our focus on God. It should send us to prayer. It should give us a longing for the resurrection. It should remind us what hope is.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go back to watching BSG for more spiritual insights. It’s the beginning of season 4 — Jesus is about to show up.

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