31 May 2012

Being Read To is a Delightful Thing.

I find that books, for me, are multidimensional.  One of the reasons I enjoy them is the chance to give them dimension in my imagination, like a pop-up suddenly springing into shape from the page.  But sometimes I derive equal pleasure from letting someone else do it for me - in an audiobook.  Hearing books read aloud, especially novels, ties them to their far-back roots in the fireside circle and the discourse of the sage or the storyteller.

For those of us who love audiobooks, have exhausted the library selection, and are limited in our purchasing power, it can be a discouraging prospect finding more.  I was in such a position until recently, when I stumbled on a treasure chest while digging in cyberspace:  Librivox!  Oh the joy!  Someone feels as I do!  Someone (or many someones) believes in free audiobooks!

Librivox is a community project to make audio recordings of works that are in the public domain, fiction and nonfiction, in English and any other language one of their readers can produce.  Their readers are volunteers, who, after a short setup and review process, can join projects as they choose.  (It's a tempting prospect to me; I've always wanted to read audiobooks.)  The recordings are also in the public domain, and therefore are to be freely distributed and downloaded.  One can find works by Austen and Dickens if one is a fan of British literature, or Cooper and Irving if one is pursuing American authors - also poetry and such delights as the Andrew Lang Fairy Books, which happen to be very dear to my heart.

I've been savoring a recording of Bleak House by Charles Dickens.  It is well read by a British actress, who does all the voices, to my great delight.  And the story!  My word, what a mixture of whimsy and cliffhangers!  But perhaps I'll have more to say about that on another occasion.

Bleak House by Charles Dickens; read by Mil Nicholson

29 May 2012

A Martyr's Cry

Today I was deeply moved by reading this extract from Ignatius of Antioch's Letter to the Romans, written on his way to Rome to be executed in the amphitheater.
I pray that the events in that arena, and the unseen forces of wickedness behind them, will not conspire against me out of envy and prevent me from reaching Jesus Christ.  Bring on the fire, bring on the cross, bring on the hordes of wild animals!  Let them wrench my bones out of socket and mangle my limbs and grind up my whole body!  Bring on all the hideous tortures from the Devil!  Just let me get to Jesus Christ.  Nothing on this wide earth matters to me anymore.  The kingdoms of this world are entirely meaningless.  I am at the point where I would rather die for Jesus Christ than rule over the whole earth.  He alone is the one I seek - the one who died for us!  It is Jesus that I long for - the one who for our sake rose again from the dead!*
I found this in Getting to Know the Church Fathers by Bryan Litfin.  Each chapter contains a brief biography and a sample of writing from a great figure in the early Church.  The first chapter is about Ignatius, and if it is to be an indicator of the quality of the book, I am going to enjoy this book very much.

Litfin cites a description of Ignatius (about whom little is known) as "a shooting star streaking suddenly across the sky, only to disappear in a blaze of glory" (p.32).  He is known, says Litfin, mainly for the seven letters he wrote during his transportation to Rome by a group of soldiers whom he describes as "ten leopards" (p.51).  The Letter to the Romans includes a plea to the Roman church not to make any attempt to rescue him, because he realized the necessity of his death as a witness to the true Gospel.  It seems he intended to prove the power of the Gospel by dying for it as notably as possible, a point of view I found it difficult to grasp until I read the above excerpt.

God sends his servants on strange missions; Ignatius's was into the amphitheater.

* Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction by Bryan M. Litfin.  Brazos Press, 2007.

28 May 2012


Welcome to Quod Vide - you brave few who have stumbled upon it.  Here, at probably irregular and improbable times, you will find my thoughts on... well... possibly anything, since I am perpetually interested in just about everything.

Perhaps see you soon; in the meantime, here, have a puffin or three.