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ElaineY's Reading Rambles

Hey, I gotta fill that blank space between my ears when I'm not working on the cure for cancer or reversing climate change.

Currently reading

Karen Robards
Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church
Michael S. Horton
A Place at the Table: George Eldon Ladd and the Rehabilitation of Evangelical Scholarship in America
John A. D'Elia
Ball & Chain
Abigail Roux
Progress: 51 %

My Quarrel with Evangelical Christianity

A Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church - Warren Cole Smith


This book not only voiced all my pet peeves about the evangelical church, it met my desire to have a basic understanding of the history of evangelicalism in North America.


Cole gives concise and illuminating accounts of the various movements in the last couple of hundred years to the current brand of Christianity being peddled from small-town America to urbanised, highly-technological societies like Singapore.


Evangelical Christianity is big business and the merchandise is on the shelves, ready to go, before your pastor has even prepared his sermon. Today, at breakfast, my husband mentioned, again, that our previous pastor, a noted theologian (as he is marketed during hos Disciple-Making Conferences) called Christianity a product. It was during the last conference we attended, back in 2009, IIRC, but again I was skeptical. No Christian leader would be so dumb as to call the faith a product. If he did, and the DH insists he did, then surely there would be some murmurs of criticism, wouldn't here? After all, that church (we resigned in 2012) is not part of the charismatic or prosperity gospel crowd.


But this is where Warren Cole's Smith enabled me to understand how pervasive this greed for power and money is; that no denomination, no leader, is immune.


Yet, despite the bad news, I am happier and more confident of my faith than ever. All it takes is knowing to separate church from faith; man from God.

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness - Kay Redfield Jamison


What a terrible time of my life it was when I bought Dr Kay Redfield Jamison's book from the now-closed Borders bookstore in Orchard Road in 1996. I had just been diagnosed as Manic-Depressive, a disorder that my shrink later amended to Major Depressive Disorder with Psychotic Symptoms.




Anyway, it was so important to me, at the time, to discover that smart, successful people could be manic-depressive. I couldn't believe my shrink, at the time, when he told me the world would be a very boring place without manic-depressives. Because we were supposed to be creative and brilliant along with our madness.




Still, at that point in time, Dr Jamison's autobiographical account of her experience with manic depression. While I, in all honesty, cannot say I experienced those uncontrollable highs - such as my mother-in-law did, and would buy a hundred cartons of milk because "it was on special" (or is that just plain stupidity rather than bipolar illness?), I did reach a stage where I felt my days had flatlined. I felt very calm, very stable, very dead. I was on an anti-depressant, then, called Remeron (mirtazapine) and was doing well, meaning, I had no nasty side effects.


This feeling as if my Joie de vivre were to be measured and a flat line would result, made relate immediately to Dr Jamison's admission that, after her battle with bipolar disorder,..." -- there is now, for me, a rather bittersweet exchange of a comfortable and settled present existence for a troubled but intensely lived past.

   There are still occasional sirens to this past, and there remains a seductive, if increasingly rare, desire to recreate the furor and fever of earlier times."


Towards the end of her touching, candid sharing, Dr Jamison says, "Any temptation that I now may have to recapture such moods by altering my medication is quickly hosed down by the cold knowledge that a gentle intensity soon becomes a frenetic one and then, finally, an uncontrolled insanity. I am too frightened that I will again become morbidly depressed or virulently manic - either of which would, in turn, rip apart every aspect of my life, relationships, and work that I find most meaningful - to seriously consider any change in my medical treatment."


Unlike Dr Jamison, I told my doctor I felt well enough (after 3 years on meds) to come off medication and he agreed. I must add that during the last year of that, I had also sent him regular emails. He suggested I try that after I read Irvin Yalom's Everyday Gets A Little Closer. I supposed it did work and he did not detect any signs of madness in my journaling. Back then there were no such things as blogs then. The worldwide web had just come to Singapore the year before and it would be nearly 12 years later, in 2008, before I discovered Goodreads, the book review site where I now post fiction reviews.


Though I have read several more books on Depression and other Mood Disorders, Dr Jamison's remains a personal favorite because she helped me feel so much less alone and afraid at a time in my life when I felt very much that.

Forays in psychotherapy: physician heal thyself first

When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession - Irvin D. Yalom

I read this only halfway so I can't rate it beyond that, except that I am a fan of Yalom's books on psychotherapy. I bought this blend of fact and fiction at a time when I wanted to know more about Sandor Firenczi and his approach to therapy vs Freud's.


Yalom, from his other books, is a firm believer in the therapist's role in, and the benefits he derives from his patient's therapy. At a time when I was in need of psychotherapy but the skills and experience of psychiatrists like Yalom was not available to me, my shrink gave me the next best thing: introduced me to Yalom's books. I devoured them.


I can credit Yalom with helping me in my journey of self-understanding and with helping me live in a world that will never understand or accept all of me, just as I won't others.


Or even care.


Still, even halfway through When Nietzsche Wept, I couldn't help but think what a lot of ado about nothing. Chill, Nietzsche.

Bait - Karen Robards; audiobook

Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church - Michael S. Horton Bait - Karen Robards


I started the audio last night but fell asleep after Chapter 2. Need to rewind...if I'm not distracted by something else. Actually I was - at 4.20am I started on s debate by a KJV-onlyist Dr Mormon vs James White. It was tiresome but I finished it then started on Bart Erhman's account of how/why he lost his faith.


...because you never had it to begin with!

Fast-food religion

Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church - Michael S. Horton

I told my bible lecturer in class, one day in 2010, that the Christianity we know and practice here in Singapore is an American product, like MacDonalds, Coke and Chris Pine (my current fantasy squeeze).


Horton should help me expand on this, and correct me should I be wrong and the likes of Joel Osteen and other prosperity preachers are selling true Christianity.


I just started and did stick some post-it notes. So far, informative and interesting.

In the end, Envy won.


I came to know about Ladd only in the late 90s through Dr Arnold Fructenbaum's seminal work on Israel in eschatology, called Israelology, the Missing Link in Systematic Theology. Ladd, for those interested in Dispensationalism vs Covenant Theology's view of Eschatology, is known as the leading proponent of Premillenialism as opposed to other Covenant Theology proponents who are Amillennialists (Hoekema, for example).


Yeah, he's dead now but I bought this book not to understand his millennial views but to know a bit about the man who described the Bible as “the Word of God given in the words of men in history."


Today, Ladd is certainly not a obscure theologian but here is, also, a prime example of posthumous recognition (whether or not you agree with his views) and the sad and sobering reminder that even experts in the Word of God can end up driven by envy and covetousness. Not for money, but certainly for fame and recognition.


A longing for a place at the table. I feel sad reading this book; sadder still that my last pastor has gone the same way - hankering after a place at the table with his heroes.


Today, 35 years after I came to know Yeshua as Son of God and my Savior, I no longer attend church but stay in regular contact with fellow believers, engage in theological discussions on a daily basis, listen to online bible lessons and (some) sermons; work on my personal bible lessons and, until my husband reached the final stages of renal failure, taught the bible alongside with him to our little home group.


I also follow blogs by gay men who used to be married and, in their 40s, came out to their families. I follow, on Facebook, a young, Muslim gay man who showed me a tender, patriotic, loving side to homosexual, with whom I've had some delightful lunches.


I read, and love, gay romantic fiction and I'm hoping I'll live to see the day when homosexuality is no longer illegal in my country and that denying gay couples the right to marry is unconstitutional. If my gay Muslim friend is being sent to the frontlines to defend our country, if he is paying taxes, why is he being denied his basic rights?


But I digress. A Place at the Table is book I highly recommend if you're a Christian who can survive not having to view our leaders through rose-tinted glassses.


This is one of my prized books on Christian history. I've been interested in the Jews even before I became a Christian 35 years ago. I was even more interested in why the Christian Church wasn't. Why did my church, and the rest of Christendom, shove the Jews aside when Jesus was a Jew?


Many, many books later, I finally understood why and this illustrated history of the attitudes towards the Jews by the Church has been invaluable to me as I sought to be convinced that there were, indeed, Christians who hated Jews; when I sought to understand, and believe, that such a thing as Replacement Theology existed.


I used the illustrations in this book for a Powerpoint Presentation of the History of Ant-Semitism called Parting of the Ways. I wish there were a version of this book with removable plates because it was very difficult to photocopy the prints.

Reading progress update: I've read 51%.

Ball & Chain  - Abigail Roux

Been decades since I read an Agatha Christie. This one even has secret passages. I feel like I'm ten again, and reading Enid Blyton's Famous Five books:)

Ball & Chain  - Abigail Roux



Just started on this today and yeah, I'm hooked. I'm interested to know whether Ty is really finished with his UC assignments or it's just more lies. Like Zane, I had enough of Ty's outright lies or lies of omission in the previous book and doubt I could handle more. I want an end to this series here.


I might follow the Sidewinder series but nothing certain yet. I was intrigued by Nick in the earlier books but made the mistake of looking at Roux's blog or something. She had posted a pic of Nick and it just ruined it for me. I didn't want to read the Sidewinder stories after that but I'll try and see if I can get Roux's image of Nick out of my mind.

Ty & Zane fanfic, anyone?


Getting here (a T&Z groupie?) was a long, arduous journey filled with frustrations and bemusement. I loved the first installment because, at last,  found an MM romance that wasn't just about sex. There was a story there! My interest was short-lived. I hated Book 2, Sticks and Stones, because I couldn't, for the life of me, understand why an author would think I want to go camping with 2 Feds. Camping. Why? I want my gay Feds to be chasing down bad guys; I want suspense connected to murders or kidnappings... you know, the stuff Feds get paid to you.


It was a few years before I dared think of coming back to this series. I did follow the Goodreads posts and reviews, though, and finally did try Book 3, Fish and Chips, which has to go down as one of the lamest FBI books I'd ever read. Book 4, Divide & Conquer I didn't even finish despite trying more than once.


Then something momentous happened: I discovered AUDIOBOOKS!


I bought all five audios from Audible and became a Ty & Zane fan from that day on. I was fortunate to have Sawyer Allerde, then Sean Crisden, as the first narrators I'd heard. If it had been Jeff Gelder, I doubt if I would have fallen in love with this series.


I loved Book 5, Armed & Dangerous, even though I thought Crisden gave Julian Cross the weirdest accent ever. Book 5 was also the last audiobooks to be made and at this point, there is no news as when the rest of the books will be out in audio. Riptide, finally, took my inquiry seriously and sent me a couple of informative emails from which I learnt that they have outsourced the series to an audiobook publisher and that it is their intention to release the rest of the books in audio.


From Riptide:

On Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 9:08 AM, Riptide Info <info@riptidepublishing.com> wrote:


We do very much hope to bring the rest of the C&R series to audio, but because audio production is a complex process about which we know little, we were concerned we wouldn't be able to produce a quality product at an affordable price. We spoke with several experts and ultimately made the decision to license the rights to professional audio publishers who do nothing BUT produce audiobooks. It was the best way to ensure we'd end up with an audiobook readers would enjoy and could afford. To help us navigate all of this, we signed on with a top-notch subrights agent who is working to find good homes for the Cut & Run books, and many others at well. At this point, though, it's a waiting game, but I promise that as soon as we know something, we'll share it with everyone.  Thank you so much for your interest, and I hope we can bring you C&R in audio soon!
Could be a very long wait.