[Originally posted November 19, 2011]
I finished “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J Gaines. A profound fictional (I wonder) study of the Cajun South in 1940. A young black man ends up on death row and a teacher is asked by relatives to prepare him to die with dignity.The teacher unhappily has returned to teach in his hometown and wants none of this task. This book captures the rage and racism of that period but also touches on so many other things. Like how heroism can be about not stepping up when everyone else is. This young black teacher is pressured from all sides to deliver messages to the doomed prisoner. Both of them resist and therein lies the story and lessons. I loved the part in the book where the teacher explains to his girlfriend that black men suffer from the rage of never being able to stand up and protect their women and families. It touched me profoundly, that alone has influenced the role of black men for generations and still is today. With their rage they in turn became the abuser.
Another book that is touching me profoundly is by Jonathan Dudley. This book will shake a lot of trees but it got me to see things from a different perspective. There is so much politicizing of issues today that it is hard to know where the truth lies. “Broken Words: The Abuse of Science and Faith in American Politics” is a very straight forward history of the Evangelical movement and how it is influencing political agendas today. I like this book because the author was raised in an Evangelical home, schools and college. He is on his way to become an M.D. and his journey has been tree shaking to say the least. I love scientific minds because they want to know how things work. I remember learning about a hypothesis in fifth grade and being a little dazzled by it’s scope. This book will definitely rattle your tree if you are an unshakable soul but it can also show you where it led one brilliant young man in his faith.
Isn’t it ironic that being open to a higher power sometimes involves tree shaking? Having an open mind takes a lot of faith because I get led to places that are uncomfortable usually. This book is one of those destinations that will change how you view the past. Have a great Thanksgiving full of gratitude and plenty. Marsella