Tag Archives: book review

Movie & Book Review: “Sarah’s Key”

I love Netflix. For about 8 dollars per month, I have access to a wide plethora of TV shows & movies on demand.

This week I watched the film ” Sarah’s Key” based on the novel that I read several months ago on my NOOK. I thought the novel, as a whole is an excellent story about a little-known piece of pre WW2 Europe. I also enjoyed how the main protagonist, Julia, uses her journalism skills to find out the truth behind an apartment that her husband’s family has owned since before the Second World War.

What was a bit disappointing for me was how the author turned some of Julia’s story into a soap opera. As one reads the book & sees the movie, one realizes that Julia is trapped in an unhappy marriage. The story could have progressed without the interpersonal drama between Julia & her husband.

Julia discovers that the Jewish family who owned the apartment were among the thousands of French Jews who were arrested & eventually sent to the death camps.

At the beginning of the subtitled film version Sarah, locks her little brother in the bedroom closet & promises to return . Throughout both the novel & the movie, Sarah keeps the key to this closet on her person.

The family arrives at the concentration camp where the women & children are separted from the men.

Later on, she is separated from her mother & sent to a part of the camp that houses only children. Along with an older girl, she escapes from the concentration camp & rescued by two kindly French citizens. Sarah grows up & sheds her Jewish identity. Eventually she emigrates to the United States & Julia tracks down her paper trail and ends up in New York.

Both versions of this story were good, but as an avid reader I much preferred the novel over the film version, This was the first film I’d viewed that employed subtitles & that hindered my understanding of the movie. It is hard for me to keep track of the dialog on the screen. The only American actor in this film is Kristin Scott Thomas . I thought she did a fair job of playing the lead character of Julia. But to me, the star of the show was the child who played young Sarah.

As a Christan with Jewish roots, this story was a tough one for me to read/ watch . But I am glad that I did, as the story of Europe’s Jewish citizens during the reighn of Hitler. I am a proud Christian but choice, but my Jewishness is a gift with which I was born & one that I fully embrace.

Book review: _Sarah’s Key_

Since I was sick in bed yesterday I finally finish reading the novel _Sarah’s Key_ on my NOOK .

As a whole, I am fairly impressed with the novel. Th author clearly did her research on the topic, until I read this novel I knew pretty much next to nothing on the arrest of French Jews during the Holocaust. Naturally I knew that Jews were not persecuted in *only* Germany & Russia, but this was the first time I had read anything of the arrest & deportation of French Jews.

This is not an easy novel to read. The author describes in detail the horrors experienced by a young Jewish French girl.

As a Christian with Jewish heritage { my Mom is Jewish so by Jewish tradition I am Jewish & VERY PROUD of my heritage} I hope that people ho might not otherwise know much abouy the horrorsof the Holocaust might glensomething from this novel. hae noticed, specialy here in he Deep Souh where I live, that many people do not understnd than anti-Semitism & holocaust-denying that *still* exists even now.

The story is told from the viewpoint of young Sarah and it alternates with a sub-plot of the French-American journalist who researched & wrote about the deportation of French Jews in the summer of 1942. My only complaint about the book is that the author makes the story more & more about the journalist’s family issues the further the story moves along. the last two or three chapters focused almost exclusively on Julia’s{ the journalist} marital problems more so that on Sarah’s story.

In my opinion, the author could have skipped some of the marital drama, even if doing s would have shortened the novel. When I finished with the novel, I did a Google search on French victims of the Holocaust. Any book that teaches me something important is always worth reading, but I must admit that the predictable ending of this novel disappointed me.

Advent with ++KJS Day 8 ” How can We Keep from Singing?”

Today is Day 8. Bishop Katharine gave me a challenging meditation on which to ponder.

She tells a story of bringing Communion to some residents in a nursing home. In this particular nursing home , Bishop Katharine inadvertently gave Communion to a Jewish woman who had come to receive the Bread & Cup of life.

Now according to our Church’s canons, one must be a baptized Christian in order to receive Eucharist. Those who are not yet baptized but wish to come forward during Mass can receive a God’s Blessings in the form of words pfrom the priest. Unlike our Roman Catholics some Lutheran synods, we Anglicans do not practice a truly ” closed” Communion. Ideally anyone who comes to the altar for communion does so because she or he believes that Jesus Christ died & was raised from the dead in atonement for our sins.

I do not agree with the closed Communion policies of the Roman Church, & some synods of the Lutheran Church. yet I can see why ou Anglican tradition’s canons have the policy about all baptized Christians invited to receive at our Table. Yet I can also see the arguments of some Presbyterians whose position is that ALL are welcome at the Lord’s Table.

A few years ago I read a fabulous book by Sara Miles called _ Take This Bread_ .

Ms Miles, a self-proclaimed lesbian, super-liberal atheist suddenly found herself sitting in Mass at St Gregory Of Nyssa Episcopal Chuch in San Francisco. Miles says that she walked into the nave of the building simply because of curiosity. Her experience of inclusion in our Church’s Holy Communion was the catalyst for a radical change in her life. Not only did Ms Miles eventually get baptized, her initial experience of Church was when the priest let all the canons surrounding reception of Holy Communion go & do what God asked of him.

St Benedict of Nursia said that rules are meant to be a guide to follow…not a rigid law. Hmm.

Maybe our Canons should be revised at the next General Convention to permit priests to allow ” seekers” to receive Communion. Our Mass is not for members of an exclusive club. A Presbyterian minister I once knew when I was younger always ended he Prayer before Communion by saying” The feast of God for the People of God.”

Amen. { Thank you Reverend Nan of the Presbyterian Church, USA for your inspiration for me to live out the tough questions of faith.}

Proud to be an American!

Today is officially Memorial day, 2011. Thanks to ALL service people & veterans who served this great nation. Freedom isn’t free, so I am grateful for the sacrifice of so many military members & their families to ensure our freedom.

I love my country. As a matter of fact, it is * because* of this love for my country that I wish to offer her constructive criticism. I love my country so much that I want to see life improve for her citizens…as well as improve her image worldwide.

In his homily yesterday, my priest reminded us that “to love” is an action verb. In my view, patriotism is not about passive flag-waving, but a call to make the United States an even better nation & society. Because I love my country, I work to promote environmental responsibility. It is because of my gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice made by so many of our military that I work & wish for positive change for my nation & ALL her people.

Since I’ve lived in Northwest Florida I’ve encountered a strange phenomenon that ” patriotism” means never fact-checking & acceptance of life as it always as been for a society dominated by straight, Caucasian men. Yes, in this nation even in the 21st century there is an undertow of very negative ISMs such as racism, heterosexism,ageism, ect.Possessing pride in one’s nation should not mean that one must turn aside regarding the civil rights that some citizens of our nation do not enjoy.

I have had my patriotism questioned when I point out such facts that American consume most of the world’s natural resources. Lisa Bloom says in her book _Think_ ” I don’t know what patriotism has to do with fact-checking.” Amen, Lisa, amen. Fact-checking is not unpatriotic & neither is being of the opinion that this great nation of ours can be even better than it is now. While I am a proud American, I also am a realist.

Why is realism ” unpatriotic”, pray tell? Dictatorships restrict the flow of ideas & I grew up believing that to challenge the status quo of * any* establishment is par for a healthy individual & societal mindset.

God Bless the USA.

Further comments on Albert Cutie’s book

I’m almost finished with Albert Cutie’s book_ Dilemma_. As a matter of fact, if I were feeling better physically, I would have skipped my Sunday afternoon nap in order to finish this fascinating insider’s foray into the inner workings of the hierarchy in Rome.

Fr Cutie tried in spite of his growing disagreements with the hierarchy of the Roman Church,to be a good Roman Catholic priest. He has been criticize in some circles for being wishy-washy and ” abandoning his Church” but after almost fishishing his book I see now that Fr Cutie DID try hard to remain a ” good” Roman Catholic priest. Up until he became an active Roman Catholic priest, the Roman Church was all he’d known. He’d been indoctrinated to believe honesly that tha Papalism is the ONLY true form of our Christian faith.

Although I am not a priest I identify strongly with Fr. Cutie’s story. I’m an Epicopal convert, too. My journey to TEC, albeit not public nor a ” scandalous” as is his, sill is one wrougt with sorrow. I feel sorrow that people from my former Presbyterian congregation are of the mindset that I am “ persona non grata but I am very much at peace with the way my life has turned. While I know not what thefuture holds for me, I am joy-filled at peace as an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian.

It is * really* hard for a person to step out of his or her comort zone when it comes to matters of faith & faith communities. People will have hurt feelings& some will never understand how the person who left said faith community can be such a ‘traitor”.

I know first -hand how folks whom one thought one knew from one’s former faith community suddenly treat one like a pariah. When I Ieft my former denomination, folks whom I had believed to be my friends cut off all communication with me. It was emotionally & spiritually one of the worst experiences of my adult life but in hindsight I see the ” big picture” God wanted me as an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalan Christian.

Like Fr Cutie, I’d been seriously praying about whether or not to leave the unhappy situation that was familiar & venture into the little Episcopal parish that is now my home. Like Fr Cutie, I am HOME in the Episcopal Church & for this I thank God.

I admire him for having the courage to question some of what he had been taught to believe about the Church of his upbringing. From what I read, he was and is the sort of priest who could attract new followers to the messege of Our Lord Jesus Christ . Priests such as Fr Cutie are needed…both in the Anglo- *and* Roman Catholic traditions.

Rock on, Fr Albert!

Book plug part 2{written after my daily perusing of NY Times}

Here is Part two of my series of reviews, section by section, of Lisa Bloom’s first book_ Think_.

The first part of the book delves into detail about why & how the ” dumbing down” of Americans occurs. Part two is much more optimistic. I like folks who can constructively criticize *and* offer solutions to problems ,whether said problems are personal, familiar, organizational or societal.

The dumbing down of Americans, especially American girls & women is a HUGE problem. The solution is attainable, even for the busiest women. It all comes down to prioritizing. Ms Bloom says that women need to create time to think, dream, create, ect. Whether literally or figuratively, Bloom says that every woman needs ” a room of her own. { Ha….I LOVE Virginia Woolf}

Ms Bloom devotes an entire section on the subject of the value of READING. As an avid reader, this section felt a lot like the author was” preaching to the choir of readers” but there were a few new point she brought up regarding reading that made me ponder my own reading habits. We tend to chose books that reflect our own tastes. especially nonfiction books. { I am by far no exception to this rule} She suggests that readers make a concerted effort to choose books which totally go against one’s personal/political/ social beliefs. Now I am not * quite* ready to purchase Ann Coulter’s latest tome , but I * might* check out Richard Nixon’s biography at my local library. Ms Bloom also suggest that reading should include one quality newspaper{ such as the NY Times, which I read online on most days} & a local hometown newspaper. I admit that I don’t peruse the Times as much as I should but the daily newspaper is part of my morning routine as much as is coffee.

Shameless book plug

Lisa Bloom rocks!

I am shamelessly using this blog to plug a book that currently has me enthralled. Anyone who knows me at all knows that I value intelligence, so when Ms Lisa Bloom, feminist & legal eagle extraordinaire, released her first book I got my pre-ordered copy. So far I’ve read the introduction to her book and the first part. In the Introduction Ms Bloom gives props to her parents for raising her to THINK for herself.

The first “main” section of the book outlines the problem of how Americans{ especially girls & women} have fallen for several socially-constructed traps that are unhealthy both for individuals and society as a whole.

She talks about how the mainstream media { of which she is a part} caters to society’s insatiable hunger for celebrity ” news” & how news execs chase ratings by sacrificing hard news. Apparently hard news doesn’t sell and this fact baffles me. After all , I did not study journalism just to follow the latest Brangelina ” baby bump watch” or capitalize on the Pretty Missing White Girl Abduction du jour. She pointed out an interesting yet sad fact….almost never do we hear coverage of stories of missing children of color or even boys. It seems like society only values the safe return of Pretty Missing White Girls. This is sad….ANY missing child deserves to be found. Ms Bloom also points out that children go missing all over the world..but do we hear about these kids? We do not.

She also discusses how much money , time & heartache American women waste yearly on ” beauty ” products. I’ve always been a minimalist regarding face makeup & I hate pedicures passionately. Paying a stranger to touch my feet? EW. No thanks. However, one little luxury that I do enjoy periodically is getting my hair colored by a professional…but my appointments for that service are quarterly. I’ve learned the hard way that drugstore hair coloring products * are* inferior to beautician-grade products.

Great book so far.

Quotable Quote & Advent thoughts

I came across a GREAT quote this morning { because I woke insanely early & had time to proverbial ” kill” } when I was reading more from my copy of Bishop Katharine’s new book.

The quote, uttered by Martin Luther King, Jr from a letter written from a Birmingham, Alabama jail, goes like this:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Injustice is not only about racial injustice, but can be found whenever one or more groups of people try to marginalize a group{ or groups} they deem ” unworthy”.

The human family needs to take care of one another. And no, I’m not meaning that the government should be responsible for meeting ALL our needs, but that the system should be so that there is enough for everyone without ANYONE feeling jilted. Government cannot & never will replace the decency of people who care about other people.

Every Advent, my parish erects an Angel Tree in the narthex. Parishioners & friends are encouraged to take one of the slips of paper that contains a childs first name , age & Christmas wish list. these gifts are then brought back & distributed with the food packages by the local Caring & Sharing of South Santa Rosa County { Google it!} I’ve participated in Caring & Sharing for several years & every year the generosity of folks such as my parishioners astounds me. My favorite Saturday during Advent is when I go to the distribution site & help other volunteers pack boxes of food, toys & other items that the Caring & Sharing organization has collected for families in need.

Injustice & prejudice affects us all…and perhaps it is those who feel a need to make themselves & their demographic group seem superior to a group or groups other than their own. I feel sorry for those who se minds & hearts are so closed that they are willing to sit idle while injustice against groups of people occur around the world . The fight against injustice can & should start here in our own nation. The effects of Hurricane Katrina in the New Orleans area exposed some ugly injustices right here ” in our own backyard” that until that storm came ashore, were hidden well. Poverty exists in other parts of the globe but it also occurs here. Poverty & other forms of injustice do no stranger to many Americans, even within middle & upper-class towns & neighborhoods poverty exists.

I live in a beach community, & even here on the gorgeous Gulf Coast, there are many people in need.

Especially in the current economy, hard-working people are financially strapped. If the current economic situation isn’t affecting you on a personal level, I know that we all know those who have lost much during this recession.

++ Katharine says all the time that she envisions a world of * shalom” , a world where no one goes to sleep homeless and/or hungry, a society where individuals are judged pasted in their content of character & not skin color, religion, gender, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation.

As people of faith, we are called to fight injustice in all its forms & each of us can do SOMETHING* to inch society closer to equality.

It is my hope & prayer that I live to see society grow closer to that grand vision of shalom.

Rudolph? Bah Humbug!

Ok, even though I am not yet 35 I must e inching close to middle age. I discovered, via FB, that one of ONLY two shows I watch faithfully is preempted for the RUDOLPH Christmas special. :O( F’real, th networks take away my weekly Chris O’Donnell & LL Cool J fix for an ancient claymation Christmas special that even today’s children know is way behind the times in terms of technology. :O(

Sheesh. I watch only two shows on network TV & one of them is preempted this week.

Great….it looks like I’ll be snuggling under my quilt with a book this evening. I’m more than halfway through the latest book by ++ Katharine Jefferts-Schori & so far the third book has been * just* as good as her first one, _ A Wing & A Prayer_.

THIS is what a feminist looks like..part 2

I can’t recall if I’d already written a ” Part 1″ Anyhow….

Y’all know that I am a quote junkie. This week I came across this quote & in the spirit of all the Kagan-confirming & the mitigate & thought it apropos. The quote goes something like this:

‎”I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat or a prostitute.” ~Rebecca West, “Mr Chesterton in Hysterics: A Study in Prejudice,” The Clarion, 14 Nov 1913, reprinted in The Young Rebecca, 1982

I am a woman & perfectly happy as God created me as a woman. I have NEVER wanted to be a man. So the stereotype that all feminists secretly want to be men is absurd: I know many other women who feel the same way as I do. ” Girl Power” need not mean sacrificing one’s femininity.

I am a feminist. But I am so not the stereotypical bra-burning, man-hating, butch-looking image of ” feminism”. I wear my hair long, prefer dresses to shorts, enjoy lipstick, and am totally straight. Heck, I even own & often wear bikinis to the beach & pool! But I think that women can aspire to be anything that we ae called to be.{ By the way, Church of England, that includes women as Bishops!} Attention Vatican: this also means that women ARE called & SHOULD be permitted to enter the diaconate & priesthood!

Yet I don’t let my gender pull me away from trying new experiences. This past American Independence Day I was the * only* woman present at the picnic I attended who was willing to join” the boy boys” in lighting some big fireworks It was freaking AWESOME: what an adrenaline rush! While on vacation this June I had a chance to fly in a private plane AND take the controls{ with the guidance of a very competent pilot in the seat next to me} of said private plane.

I recall as a child, wanting to join in the fun of lighting big fireworks, but my Dad told me that it’s too dangerous”. Well, if fireworks are dangerous which they are} then why must men be the * only* ones who can & should allow themselves to experience danger? Women too, over the age of 18 are able by law & should be encouraged to try new things if we so desire.

The Episcopal Church not only ordains woman priests{ note PRIEST, not ” ministers” but the US Episcopal Church also consecrates dualy-elected & approved women as BISHOPS.

I totally agree that men & women are different. But different does not mean ‘less than’. Feminism, to me, means that we seek equal opportunities for women & girls in all parts of the world. Although here in the United States we’ve still some milestones to uncover in the struggle for gender equality but we women born here are much better-off than our sisters in many parts of the developing world.

Last autumn I read a book by Nicholas Kristoff which changed my perspective of gender equality. The book_ Half The Sky_ details the frightening setbacks & inhumane atrocities suffered by our sisters in other places around the globe. But the book isn’t all tragic, it shows how the women featured overcame some horrendous injustices .

Feminism isn’t * just* for the female gender, either. I wish more men would self-identify as femininists & realize that having a passion for gender equality is very attractive & YES!!} very ” manly”.