Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NABLOPOMO FAIL. But a kick ass book

Yeah, I know. Three days into NABLOPOMO and I blew it on this blog. Well, in my defense, I was rocking a big fat sinus infection and was hopped up on Robitussin with codeine; so chances are I wouldn't have had much of any coherence or interest last night.

I am *this* close to being finished Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen. I have so enjoyed Janzen's voice, humor and brutal honesty as she examines her roots, her rebellion against those roots and the eventual appreciation and respect (at a distance, of course) she finds for the belief system that in so many ways shaped her life.

Throughout the hilarious style of her writing--the endearing, adoring way she pokes fun of her mother, the sarcastic and self-deprecating multiple-choice quiz boxes, and her development of her very own 12-step program--she interlaces insightful and deeply philosophical snippets of the person she truly is, beyond the self-effacing "I'm such a goofball! How could I be anything else with this life?! Ha Ha!" image that so much of her book portrays. Take this passage, for example,

"But I have come to believe that virtue isn't a condition of character. It's an elected action. It's a choice we keep making, over and over, hoping that someday we'll create a habit so strong it will carry us through our bouts of pettiness and meanness. Until recently I dismissed Niccolo Machiavelli's brutish philosophy that the ends justify the means, but lately I've begun to question that. If in the service of choosing virtuous behavior we need to practice some odd belief, where's the harm? Don't we all have our weird little rehearsals and rituals? Sure, from a ratiocinative point of view, the intervention of angels on the wall seems an unlikely way to achieve virtue in praxis. Or take the case of the nuns. Insisting that you are the bride of Christ is pretty wacky, in my opinion. So is the bizarre corollary, giving up sex on purpose. Yet these choices, odd as they are, harm nobody. It seems to me that there are many paths to virtue, many ways of creating the patterns of behavior that result in habitual resistance to human badnness....

At this stage of my life, I am willing to accept not only that there are many paths to virtue, but that our experiences on these varied paths might be real. We can't measure the existence of supernatural beings any more than we can control our partners. And anyhow, I don't want to measure supernatural beings or control my partner. What I want to measure, what I can control, is my own response to life's challenges," 175-176)

But when she's not waxing philosophical? Freaking hilarious. I have about 10 pages left to read and I'm bummed. I wish this book were 500 pages long.

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