Saturday, October 08, 2011

In the Club

This week I attended my first book club meeting.  Ever.                                                                                                                     There is a group of women here in town who have been meeting regularly for years, enjoying clever hospitality and rich discussion of classic literature.  Different ones have suggested I join them many times.  This time their invitation arrived during a season of less-than-saturated schedules and heightened hunger for good literature and meaningful discussion.  So I joined the club.

I was nervous, at first, about going.  I had read the book, and done a tiny bit of research about the author, and read a review or two.  But I knew these women to be intelligent, serious, and passionate.  I wondered if the discussion would branch into such complexities that I might not be able to navigate a response.   I wondered if I should get the cliff notes or see if there's a movie.  Silly girl.

Just in case, I prepared some open-ended, redirecting responses to offer if times got tough.  Lots of deep sighs, and dramatic nods of my head followed by "Yes...isn't that interesting....I'd love to hear your thoughts on that." (All of this would be delivered while cradling my chin with a bent pointer finger and thumb.)

I was cocked and ready:)

As I should have assumed, my friends, new and old, welcomed me with enthusiastic laughter and hospitable inclusion.  We ate.  We talked.  We commented.  We explored.  We reasoned.  God revealed Himself within our discussions. 

I suppose that was my favorite element of the evening.  It wasn't a "Bible study".  We gathered to discuss a secular, politically controversial work.  But whenever two or more believers gather...His Spirit within each of them guiding the conversations...God will show up.  I love that Guy!

Ok.  This month's book was "Animal Farm" by George Orwell.  'Cept that is not even that guy's fer- realizes name.  (Before I pontificate, I like to throw in some Junie B Jones lingo.)

I don't remember this book being assigned in high school.  I have no recollection of reading it.  It's short.  Someone should have told me to choose it off the AP list.

Here's a decent summary.

Due to its popularity, there are countless reviews.  I'll spare you another.

However, here are some touch points from our group.

Words are powerful and Power is dangerous.

When corrupt leaders face messages of opposition, they either
*discard the source
*discount the credibility of the source
*distract the masses with fabricated crisis
*drown out the source with lively, mesmerizing rhetoric

Why do members of community, under evil and corrupt leadership seem so brainwashed?
*many are illiterate and dependent upon others for information and explanation
*young and old have hazy memories and unclear grasp of past events
*fear.  fear of confrontation, punishment and even death.

I find it interesting that God, in His incredible love and wisdom, offered the solution for fear up front.  When we come to Him, He says, "I need you to die to yourself.  I will raise you up in newness of life, and I will live through you."  Believers have already "died" and to die again would simply catapult us toward eternal bliss.  So the threat of "Recant your words, or you will die" has been dissolved of any real power before you've begun to live.  That doesn't mean it's easy.

When we live in the "what if" mire, we are choosing to exist -if even in our imagination- where chaos and crisis overwhelm, but grace has not yet been applied.   There are abilities and strength and wisdom that God showers down during our ACTUAL time of need that our feeble imagination cannot begin to comprehend.  Reality is this:  If God allows some terrifying test of your faith, He will ALSO provide a comparable measure of His incomparable grace.  There is no need to be afraid.  Fear not.

With customary style and wit, our hostess decorated with sugar cubes and hair ribbon.  She served plot-themed foods indicated by hand-written and illustrated quotes from the book.  Her enthusiastic development of the theme drew short just in time to avoid offering oats and whiskey.  There was indeed,  a "sugar candy mountain".  Here, here!