Something Other Than God

This weekend I read Something Other Than God by Jennifer Fulwiler, who blogs at Conversion Diary. It’s her memoir, which details her conversion from atheism to Catholicism. I’m not sure how long I’ve been intermittently reading her blog, but it feels like I’ve been waiting for this book to come out for approximately forever.

In telling the story of her search for truth, the book deals wonderfully, critically, and very honestly with the big, hard questions about God, religion, and those details of specifically Catholic teaching that often make people uncomfortable (contraception, I’m looking at you). I literally both laughed out loud and well, I didn’t quite cry, but there were tears in my eyes at points in the book.

I can’t find the post to link it, but I remember reading in one of her posts that when Jen was an atheist, she used to use the term as almost a shortcut or code for saying she was intelligent. It’s an attitude I encounter a lot: of course I’m an atheist, I rely on
REASON rather than faith in fairy tales. Her intellectually rigorous, honest, and reluctant journey to the Church shows so beautifully that were never intended to leave reason outside when we enter the church.

No matter where you are in relation to God, to faith, to religion, to doubt, even complete rejection of it all – this book will meet you there. Who could not love following the faith journey of someone who “poured out the most sincere prayer [she] had ever said, for the soul of Tupac Shakur.”

I leave you with the book trailer.

What I’ve Not Been Up To

I have no exciting knitting to share. I’ve been very busy not-knitting, actually. I seem to have gotten into a bit of a knitting funk. I just have no motivation to pick up my needles. Savannah’s Harry Potter sweater is very close to completion and I just have not done it. I’m not sure what to blame this on. The pattern is very not exciting, for starters. It’s all stockinette. Once I finished the not-really-intarsia letter H there was nothing to keep it interesting. Is my attention span so short? Yes, apparently it is. And somehow, while I’ve been busy not-knitting it, it got to be May! At this point, I’m thinking there’s already no way possible that all my big projects will be completed for Christmas. And I’m thinking that’s okay. I’ll have to decide, once I’m feeling knitty again, which projects take precedence. I also think, however, that I kind of burned myself out with the number of projects I ended up making for last Christmas. Moderation: it’s good for all things. Anyone have any tips for getting out of my knitting funk? I really would like to start knitting again, but night after night, I just don’t. Hm.

While I’ve been not-knitting, we’ve also been not-sailing, which is a bit of a bummer. We spend Mother’s Day down at the boat trying to finish up the maintenance necessary before putting it back in the water. It’s very close now and it’s scheduled to go back in Memorial Day weekend. Of course, this would be easier if Alan – who is not a runner – hadn’t signed up for a 50k race on June 1. Why would he do such a thing? So… getting the boat ready and finishing up training will both be packed into the next two weeks. This should get interesting.

So what have I been doing whilst busy not-knitting and not-sailing? There have been softball practices and games and church activities. There was a First Holy Communion and a party. And there has been reading, which is a plus. It is hard to find the time for both knitting and reading (and I found out the hard way not to try to mix the two). I was inspired by the release of the movie (which I haven’t seen) to re-read The Hobbit, which I just finished. I intend to go on and read The Lord of the Rings books and The Silmarillion, but we’ll see.

So what have you not been doing that you should be or would like to be doing?

Recent reading

I just finished The Poisonwood Bible, which has been on my to-read list for at least 10 years. I need to read more Kingsolver, I just love the way she writes. I can add The Poisonwood Bible to a couple of other books I’ve loved that have dealt with the history of the Congo in various ways, particularly Heart of Darkness and King Leopold’s Ghost. My historical education has been rather lacking in African history, which is a lack I would really like to fill.

Savannah is flying through the last third or so of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. She finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince a while ago but needed a bit of a break before finishing the series. I loved the Harry Potter series and I love watching her experience it as well. She thinks it’s rather funny that she’ll have read the whole series in second grade, as her school doesn’t allow kids to check the Harry Potter books out from the library until third grade.

Savannah has also read Friendship with Jesus, which is a beautifully illustrated picture book that includes children’s questions about the Eucharist, and answers by Pope Benedict XVI. It’s a perfect book for kids preparing for their First Holy Communion.

Sammy and Lissie have loved How Rocket Learned to Read. This book is adorable, and perfect for pre-readers and budding readers. Felicity at this point can recognize a few common sight words and knows letter sounds but isn’t quite at the point where she can start to sound out words she doesn’t know. This book is great for gently starting to introduce that skill. The sequel, Rocket Writes a Story, is definitely on our to-read list.

Well so much for that…

Multitasking, that is. Despite my efforts at making the most of my free time by knitting and reading simultaneously, I have merely succeeded in confirming that multitasking is inefficient and leads to errors. I measured my work; I was just about at the point to start adding the letter H to my first Harry Potter sweater when a mistake caught my eye. I’d managed to pick up an extra stitch on one end. After counting my stitches it turns out that I had in fact managed to pick up two extra stitches. Enter a brief mental struggle over whether to fudge it by knitting a couple sets of stitches together and be bothered by the error every time I looked at the thing, or rip a couple inches and do it right. I ripped it. It was painful. Lesson learned. I suppose I’ll finish this sweater eventually; it seems to be taking forever. It’s probably a mark of my generation that I so greatly prefer projects done with bulkier yarn and bigger needles. If not instant, gratification that comes at least a bit faster is so nice.

Time management

Time management

I’m supposed to finish the first Harry Potter sweater by March 4. It’s written on the calendar in permanent marker and everything. So far I have the back finished and just a few inches of the front. I’m thinking it’s not going to happen.

My knitting pace has slowed waaaaay down. There is only so much free time, and after the frenzy of Christmas knitting, I’ve been wanting to use more of mine with my first love and obsession: reading. The problem is, with the big plans I’ve already made for next Christmas, I kind of already have a schedule to keep to. Now, I’m well aware that multitasking is not very efficient. However, it is really good for silencing the part of my brain that’s nagging me to do whichever activity I’m not currently doing. So, while I may be both reading and knitting slower than normal if I do both at the same time, I’ve found it’s highly satisfying to do so. How does one knit and read at the same time? Well, you need a book that stays open by itself. The Kindle is obviously great for this, but at the moment I’m reading an old fashioned print book, so a binder clip helps keep it open. Also, quite obviously, this only works with a totally brainless pattern. The Harry Potter sweaters are all stockinette stitch – the bits that need shaping and the intarsia for the initial of course call for strict attention, but great swaths of it can just be done on autopilot.

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With the book held open, one need only stop to turn pages. Multitasking accomplished. Knitting pace may still be slow, but my free time satisfaction rate is high.