Being the random thoughts of a middle aged overeducated physician, father, and citizen. James M. Small MD PhD. Send me a reply to jmsmall @ mycap.org.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Novels worth rereading

Can't resist contributing to a Hugh Hewitt symposium, since his book In but not Of got me started on this project!

What books have I reread...
Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, of course. Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis I've read several times; a Buddhist friend of mine calls it a "Desert Island book" that can be read over and over. Sort of a novel, I guess. The Great Divorce also stands up to repeat reading.

I've found that the Patrick O'Brian novels (Master and Commander, et al) stand up to rereading just fine. Good nautical fiction, lots of detail, good characters. I'm a doctor with a pretty good memory, but twenty books has enough in it to surprise me on re-reading.

1984 may be worth picking up again, too. Read it in high school which was (cough) a few years ago. My daughter read it this year and so I know we have a copy.

Starship Troopers might also be worth another read (thanks to Evangelical Outpost for that suggestion.)

Oh, almost forgot! Dune by Frank Herbert was a good reread! Again, the byzantine plot and complexity of characters made that one work for me.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Ah, Mexico!
My daughter and I traveled to Mexico (Juarez, border town) with a small church from Fort Collins last week. The twenty-odd of us were there to build a house for a poor family under the auspices of Missions Ministries.

I had gone a couple of years ago with my own church. You arrive on site and there is a 12 x 36 foot concrete slab poured onto the desert floor. A crew of locals has already delivered presawn lumber and other parts. You get to work, swinging a hammer, nailing 2x4's together into a wall, then nailing siding on the wall. By noon, the walls are up and the roof is being lifted on. By two, the walls are insulated and it's time to go back to the hotel for a hot shower.

Next day, we put up drywall, wired the place, and painted the outside. Early afternoon, we had a ceremony where we gave the family the keys to their new house. It was so moving.

It's easy for us Americans to feel superior as we give this house to a poor family, but under the surface it's more complex. The Mexican kids had longer attention spans than those up here, for example--I saw them site in rapt attention as one of the women read stories to them in Spanish. They played nicely, had big smiles on their faces, and the two kids who were going to live in the house met the bus and introduced themselves to us. One was named Jaime (pronounced Hi-may) which is also my spanish name, and he got the biggest grin when I told him so!

So I came back more humble. I met some wonderful people who have next to nothing, but have huge hearts and many more friends than I have. They have a strong religious faith that I envy. My daughter loved the people she met and thought the kids were just so cute that she wanted to bring them home with us.

I think we will be going back.

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