The Mother Tongue

First, thanks to Lauren for recommending this book!

The edition which I will be quoting from is by Perennial (an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) from 2001. I am somewhat familiar with Bill Bryson, as I once read his Neither Here nor There, an amusing account of his retracing, in midlife, his travels across Europe which he took as a young man. So, however informative The Mother Tongue turns out to be, I am sure to be entertained.

My interest in English is amateur, both in the sense that I am not paid to do anything with it (except, I suppose, speak it at work) and in the sense that I love the language. So I am looking forward to reading this book.

Note that I have used the label 'profanity' for this post, which means that at some point, I will use words considered profane. I will indicate at which point I do so; you have been warned.

The Wind Cries Kvothe

I have my work cut out for me commenting upon The Name of the Wind (by Patrick Rothfuss). As Keith said when he recommended it for selection:
I found the story to be really engaging initially, but it petered off towards the end (IMO). It still was a great read though, I highly recommend it, and perhaps you can put into words why I found the ending to be not nearly as engaging as the beginning!
So I have a specific task set out for me. My comments have to deal with passages that I think signify the shift from more to less engaging and, hopefully, illuminate why this shift takes place (if indeed I find it to take place).

The book itself is also more than 600 pages long, so I can't do a running commentary from start to finish in any case. The edition which I am using is the 2007 hardcover publication by Daw Books, Inc. I will cite chapter numbers to help if, for some reason, you feel possessed to get your own copy and read the passages for yourself.

Anyway, without further ado, let's look at The Name of the Wind. I should state now that, while I will try not to be free with the book's plot, I won't be working too hard to keep details out, especially if I need to refer to them to make my point clear. If you wish to read the novel without knowing what is going on, steer clear. This is also probably going to be more like a standard review, but I will work in as much marginal commentary as I can.


January Selections

Here are the three books I have selected at random to read and comment upon in January. Congratulations to those of you whose recommendations were selected!

The books chosen are:

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler

Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich

I would also like to thank those of you who made recommendations for January: Alyson, Dan, dee, Elizabeth, Emily, Matt, Paul, & Peter!

With any luck, having chosen the books in mid-December will allow me to get my hands on them in good time.

I'm looking forward to reading them; look for my marginal commentary on them, beginning in January.


The Four Pages: The Sermon

This is the text of a sermon I wrote according to the method of the 'four pages' which I have been trying to explicate in the past little while. I preached the sermon on Sunday, December 5 (the second Sunday of the liturgical season of Advent), and my chosen text was Matthew 3.1-12, which is the gospel reading for the day according to the lectionary.

I will include a checklist which is added as an appendix to Wilson's The Four Pages of the Sermon, as well as links to the rest of the posts in this series. The checklist is an aid to help evaluate the sermon (it is found in the book on pp. 261-2). Indeed, any sermon, whether it uses Wilson's method or not, can be evaluated by these criteria, because every sermon may contain material from each of Wilson's figurative pages. It is a matter of identifying whether what is heard or read belongs to one or another page. Should you wish to comment on the sermon, don't worry about trying to answer all of the questions raised in the checklist; if you like you needn't refer to it at all. However, it may be useful in evaluating the sermon according to the criteria Wilson has in mind.

First, to bring them to the forefront, the theme sentences I composed for each page for the purpose of writing an unified sermon.

Page One: The people of Israel needed to repent to be God's people.
Page Two: We need to repent to be God's people.
Page Three: God chose the people of Israel to be his people. [This is also the theme statement for the sermon as a whole.]
Page Four: Jesus chooses us to be his people.


The Four Pages: Grace in the World

Here I will be covering the last of Wilson's 'four pages', the page which focusses on God's action in our contemporary situation, with regard to the need identified way back when we were working on the unity of the sermon. In Wilson's discussion, it is 'grace in the world'.

My final post on the 'four pages' will be the sermon which I composed following this method, however imperfectly; so you will all have a chance to see for yourselves something of what it looks like in practice.


The Four Pages: Grace in the Bible

Continuing my discussion of Paul Scott Wilson's method of sermon composition, which he calls 'the four pages of the sermon', we turn to the topic of the third page (which Wilson calls Page Three), which is 'grace in the Bible'. The last two pages, you may recall (summarised here), dealt with 'trouble', the first as it is revealed in the Biblical text, the second as we find it in our contemporary situation (in whatever context).

This 'trouble' consists, in the sermon, of one thing, one aspect of life in the world which is harmful or which places the burden on us to change (either ourselves, our society, or the world).

I will explore what 'grace' means as it applies to the third page in more detail in this post, but in short it refers to the action God is taking (and, on page three, has taken, in or behind the Biblical text) about the 'trouble' of the first half of the sermon. Since for Wilson the proper object of the sermon is God and one of the most important tasks of the sermon (for Wilson) is to inspire hope and a sense of mission in its hearers, and to do so theologically, then it is appropriate for the focus of a sermon to be what God has done and is doing (and for Christians, has done and is continuing to do through the death and resurrection of Jesus).


The Four Pages: Trouble in the World

This is the next post in a series on writing sermons according to the method outlined by Paul Scott Wilson in The Four Pages of the Sermon. Before I get to this post's topic, you may want to see what the previous posts in the series were about.

Sermon Composition as Making a Movie
Ensuring Sermon Unity
Trouble in the Bible

The first two posts talked about the reason for using this method and the first major step in writing the sermon; the next four deal with each individual 'page' of the method; the last will be the sermon I wrote following this method, with requests for people to analyse it according to the method and see how well it does and - this is perhaps most important - where it falls short and could use improvement. I should point out that I preached the sermon on Sunday, December 5, so it was a real sermon for a real audience (congregation, to be more accurate); it was not only an exercise for fun.

On to the topic for this post, which is the second 'page' of Wilson's method, the page which deals with 'trouble in the world'.

Reader Recommendations: January

It's that time of month, for you out there to recommend books for me to read and comment upon for next month. I've enjoyed the recommended books for November (some of which due to various circumstances I have, ahem, not yet finished reading and writing about).

Before making a recommendation, I suggest you read the guidelines on the page, 'How to Recommend Books'. Just select the hyperlink here, or you can click on the link of the same name on the right-hand side under the heading 'Pages'.

Don't forget to make your recommendations in the comments section of this post!

For January, it can be any sort of books you have in mind. The three books will be randomly chosen (I shall draw them from out of a hat) from the list of recommendations. I will be selecting the books on Thursday (December 16).

I'm looking forward to seeing your recommendations!


The Four Pages: Trouble in the Bible

Update: Well, I'd hoped to finish this stuff last week for Sunday, but writing the actual sermon kinda had to take priority, for obvious reasons. Based on the reactions I got after preaching, with some in-depth discussion with the folks, I can say that Wilson's method of four pages works. I should send that guy a card.

Anyway, the first of the four figurative pages is, according to Wilson, 'trouble in the Bible'.