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Archive for June, 2009

Life of Pi

Let me begin this post by stating that I have no idea what to think about this book.  I am not exactly sure why I am even writing about it other than to express that I really enjoyed it and I feel that this book is significant. 

This is the story of Piscine Patel (Pi), whose family travels from India to Canada on a cargo ship in the late 1970’s in an attempt to escape the political unrest and turmoil in India.  A shipwreck occurs fairly early in their travels, leaving Pi alone on a lifeboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for months.  His only companions are a motley group of surviving animals, constant hunger, and despair.  Much like Hemingway’s Santiago, Pi’s experience in the life boat is wrought with heartbreak and disappointment.

Pi is an interesting young boy with an intense interest in religion and spiritual matters. I believe this novel is about the power of stories.  I think it is about the most powerful stories of all: those of the Savior, the higher power, God, Allah, the Buddha, etc.  Pi’s interest in the traditions and narratives surrounding the various faiths of the world blend and meld in his mind and heart, creating, simultaneously, a curious mixture of the sacred and the sacrilegious.  As I already stated, I do not know what to think about his novel.  That must mean I need to read it again.

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This powerfully moving memoir written by Ron Hall and Denver Moore should be required reading for all Christians.  The alternating narrative structure of the book shifts between the stories of Denver, a man with wisdom beyond his education, who has lived on the streets for over 30 years, and Ron, an affluent international art dealer.  These two men meet through Ron’s wife, Deborah, and begin a friendship that becomes more like family. 

What strikes me most about this book is the amazing faith of these people.  They encounter some extremely challenging situations, but they face them with prayer.  They take their problems to God and ask Him to guide them.  The compelling way that this story unravels shows the humanity and fraility of personal faith.  The characters do not write themselves in a postive light, only to glorify their own self-interests.  Rather, they reveal their honest doubts, anger, fears, and prejudices in a way that I truly admire. 

Although I have had a heart for the homeless since my childhood (Dad calls me a “bleeding heart liberal”), this book moved me in a way that nothing else ever has to commit to action.  I find myself asking the following questions: What role should the church take in feeding and clothing the hungry and poor?  What role should each one of us take in being active participants in homeless ministry?  What should the role of state and local government be?  Does not Christ tell us that whatever we do for the least of his people, that we do unto Him?

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