Category Archives: Books

The Last Lecture

Thanks to Maria, I finally picked up this book and read.
I haven’t finished reading it yet, but the parts that I read trigger some thoughts that I need to write down…
Randy talks about his experience of how his football coach trained him:
"There’s a lot of talk these days about giving children self-esteem. It’s not something you can give; it’s something they have to build. Coach Graham worked in a no-coddling zone. Self-esteem? He knew there was really one way to teach kids how to develop it: You give them something they can’t do, they work hard until they find they can do it, and you just keep repeating the process."
"When we send our kids to play organized sports–football, soccer, swimming, whatever–for most of us, it’s not because we’re desperate for them to learn the intricacies of the sport. What we really want them to learn is far more important: work, an ability to deal with adversity. This kind of indirect learning is what some of us like to call a ‘head fake’."
"There are 2 kinds of head fakes. The first is literal. … The second kind of head fake is the really important one–the one that teaches people things they don’t realize they’re learning until well into the process."
And he talks about the role of an educator:
"…educators best serve students by helping them be more self-reflective."
"I’d compare college tuition to paying for a personal trainer at an athletic club. We professors play the roles of trainers, giving people access to the equipment (books, labs, our expertise) and after that, it is our job to be demanding."

Somehow all these talks sound familiar to me.  I am reminded of how God bas been training me.
-Tough lessons: having gone through them makes me feel confident of handling whatever that might come in the future, I think I now understand why there are so many things that cannot be given to us for free, they’re supposed to be learned
-Indirect learning: when I thought I was working towards something very specific, it turns out I got more insights about something that I didn’t intend to learn
-Self-reflective: I am not sure since when I’ve become what I am today… always thinking, always in reflection mode, and I think it should be a good thing
-Demanding: very true… it reminds me of when my dad tried to teach me swim when I was small, he always moved away from me when I ALMOST reached where he was.. I hated that so much and I found him to be very 玩o野… unfortunately, that is the only way for us to grow

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (but were afraid to ask).

This looks like a book that I’d like to get after reading an excerpt of it. Most reviews at Amazon are praising it but a few said it introduces no enlightenments and the author tried too hard to be funny~ Hmm..
From the excerpt I think he’s a pretty good writer, and that he brought up an important point: being religious isn’t necessarily good, having a relationship with God is the real thing.
More quotes from the excerpt:
  • Many people are religious and have zero relationship with God. In fact, being religious can be a bad thing.
  • For many people, being religious and morally "good" are nothing more than fancy ways of trying to manipulate God into giving them what they want.
  • Without a relationship with God at its core, all religion devolves to superstition. And superstitionwhether or not a person calls it that—is against what God wants for us.
  • So God doesn’t owe us anything. He is our loving Father who would do anything for us; he’s not some adversary we are bargaining with! He wants us to see that, and to see that if he gives us good things, it’s because he loves us, not because he owes us.

Rome Sweet Home

I ordered 3 books by Scott Hahn last Sunday… During the ride from Kingston Prison visit, Silvester mentioned briefly about his books… that they’re not hard to read. And after going to BSP for a few years, I believe it should be pretty worthwhile to read them. I picked up Rome Sweet Home to start with, because I’m really curious about how he as a Protestant pastor eventually converted to a Catholic scholar… Once I picked up the book, I find myself really eager to read on  I haven’t finished it yet, I’m about halfway through… at the end of the "horror story" part.
This book has a very powerful introduction (it’s actually someone else’s quote I just found out): The late Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote: "There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Roman Catholic Church; there are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church." How true! Although I still don’t know very well about the Catholic faith, I know very well that the Church is so misunderstood by many people… Sometimes it seems like there’s no way to defend the Church with arguments that people would buy… Oh well…
The book tells a story about how Scott & Kimberley as a couple, walked the journey that eventually leads to their conversion from Presbyterian to Roman Catholic. I like how the readers could see things from both perspectives. It’s interesting how Scott describes what he went thru as first being a detective story (investigation with the Bible/theological text to find out the real meaning of the Word of God), which later turns into a horror story (struggling whether the Roman Catholic Church is really true, and trying to avoid the humiliation of having to convert), and eventually turns into a love story (truly coming to embrace the Catholic Church). And Kimberley sees stages of their journey as 4 seasons~
One of the things that struck me the most is how Scott treats the Bible with so much respect and how he could study and meditate over the same Bible passage for so many times… I haven’t read much religious/theological books before… Many of the ideas/doctrines that I heard/read from great scholars I kinda naively assumed they were from miraculous divine inspirations. Now as I read thru his journey, I know it took a lot of his persistence/prayers/struggles for him to come to conclusions to any questions that he had. He stayed really open with his mind to accept nothing but the truth, even though he knew what he’d find out wouldn’t be what he wanted (i.e. the truth that he wants lies within the Cathlic Church).
This book talks about many doctrines (with Biblical references to most) including: baby baptism, real presence of the Eucharist, contraception, the whole salvation history being a convenant, sola fide (justification by faith alone), sola scriptura (God’s word being in the Scripture alone) etc… It’s a great start for anyone who would like to know the Catholic/Protestant faith more…
Although I’m only halfway thru the book, I highly recommend it to everyone!!! I got it from indigo (free shipping for order over $39):

Search for a Personal Legend

I was so free yesterday that I decided to pick up the Alchemist (which I’ve bought for months) and read. I heard it was really good, but I’m not super impressed by it. It does reinforce some important messages though. Some of them popped up especially when I feel hopeless with the current job situation.
The main theme is about finding one’s personal legend. For the boy it was easy, it’s just a dream that he had twice. And that legend suits his interest too… One thing that is the most important about the search is to be not afraid of risking what you have originally… We all become accustomed to what we have, and it becomes something that holds us from pursuing our mission in life… He has doubts along the way, especially when he finds the one that worths more than the treasure… He continues his search because true love doesn’t stop one from pursuing his mission…
Some good quotes:
  • Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.
  • If you start out by promising what you don’t even have yet, you’ll lose your desire to work toward getting it.
  • Don’t forget that everything you deal with is only one thing and nothing else.
  • When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.
  • It was the pure Language of the World. It required no explanation, just as the universe needs none as it travels through endless time. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. He was more certain of it than of anything in the world. He had been told by his parents and his grandparents that he must fall in love and really know a person before becoming committed. But maybe people who felt that way had never learned the universal language. Because, when you know that language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Haven’t read any novels for a while… Happened to see this one on the bestsellers rack while walking in the UW bookstore… The synopsis of the story sounds attractive to me. And that’s why I got the book.

The story is really inspiring. The author’s notion of heaven is pretty fresh to me. When we think of heaven, we just think of a state of peace and serenity. We don’t really have a specific idea of how it’s like… Having people explain your life to you does sound like a very good idea… I’m sure there are so many of us who don’t understand why certain things happened in our lives… Heaven is a good place for us to get those answers.

The part that touches me most (made me cry so much) is when Eddie meets his wife. The love between them is incredible. I could really imagine what it’s like to be a widow/widower. During the 33 years that he lives after his wife’s death, it really seems like his life has no meaning… He doesn’t even bother to celebrate his birthday. The author brought up that point about "Life ends. Love doesn’t", because we’d still be in love with a person even if he/she is gone, we’d still be in love with the memories… This is so true.

Another part that made me wow was towards the end… It’s surprising to find out the girl’s hands that he felt was the Filipino girl who brought him to heaven… I like the idea that even though Eddie indirectly caused the death of that girl, he somehow gave up his life for saving another girl… There are mistakes that we commit in our lives, directly or indirectly… We might be troubled by that. This part of the story makes me wonder God might give us opportunities to redeem our mistakes. We might not have to actively look for these opporutnities, somehow it’s all planned by God…

Not sure who will be my 5 ppl… not even sure if there will be 5 ppl 😛