“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories – science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
~ Ray Bradbury
In the immortal words of Samwise Gamgee, “Well, I’m back.”
On June 5th, I packed my bags and boarded a plane to Mexico City, where I was blessed to spend three wonderful weeks with the Pliego family. Blogging and e-mail interaction was enough to assure me that they would be amazing; now that I’ve actually met them in the flesh, I’m convinced that amazing is a woefully inadequate description. It’s like saying the Atlantic Ocean is wet.
To begin with, Mr. Pliego and Mrs. Pliego are quite easily the most welcoming hosts I have ever met (which is saying something). There was no awkwardness, no sense of being out-of-place – from the moment I stepped into their home, I felt like one of the family. The hospitality they demonstrated was so warm, so gracious, so sincere, it was nearly overwhelming. That’s not gushing on my part, either – I’m simply giving you the facts.
Then there’s the rest of the family, starting with Santiago, who is currently a student at New Saint Andrews College. He’s smart, he’s funny, and he’s passionate about engaging secular culture with biblical truth. A two-word description of him would be simple: he’s bloody awesome.
Next up is Annie, who is as lovely a girl as you could hope you meet. She has a knack for anything related to photography, and her love for God and family is the most evident thing about her. She also plays the guitar, sings beautifully, and has a terrific sense of humor.
Continue reading In Which I Recount My Experiences Abroad
By this time tomorrow, I will be well on my way out of the country. Destination? Mexico City, where I will have the privilege of spending most of June with the Pliego family. Awesome.
In preparation for the trip, I’ve been gathering supplies from all over creation (not really) and pondering the way time flies. It must be driving one of these, and there aren’t any policemen to bust it with a speeding ticket.
Your prayers are coveted for safe, healthy, and hassle-free travel. I’ve never flown solo before (much less out of country), so this ought to be an interesting experience. You should pray for the Pliego family, too – they’ll be putting up with me for three whole weeks.
Luggage is being packed, however slowly, and is beginning to have some semblance of ordered chaos. Clothes? Check. Shoes? Check. Books? Check. Inflatable rubber ducky? Now wait just a bleeding minute…
I’ll be taking Denzel Washington with me. He’s been to Mexico City before and has the requisite “street smarts.” Plus, if we run into any trouble… well, let’s just say he’s capable of reacting in a very memorable (read: unpleasant) way. Think of him as a WMD with sunglasses and a cool suit.
Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy
When the U.S. president decides that drug smuggling has become a “clear and present danger” to national security, a covert military operation is launched against one of the chief cartels. This is the second book I’ve read by Clancy (the first being The Hunt for Red October), and so far, it’s simply fantastic. If you have any suggestions regarding other Clancy novels I should check out, leave a comment down below.
Erasing Hell by Francis Chan
To quote an Amazon reviewer, “This book is a sobering reminder of how we have watered down the language of hell to appeal to our own comfort, when in reality the words that Jesus and others used in the Bible are both intimidating and clear: Hell is a real place and many people will go there.” I picked this one up for free in Kindle format, and it’s been a great read.
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
My first taste of Mieville was bitter in the extreme, but this book is fast restoring him to good favor. It’s clever, funny, and very bizarre – think Norton Juster meets Lewis Carroll. And as Mieville himself observed, “Part of the appeal of the fantastic is taking ridiculous ideas very seriously and pretending they’re not absurd.”
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
Profound, simply written, and challenging. Tim Challies dubbed it “a modern classic,” and though I’m not finished with it yet, I cannot help but agree. Get yourself of copy of this book – you won’t regret it.
The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
Father Brown is a priest… who also happens to be an amateur detective with a keen understanding of human nature. Fascinating? You bet. The only thing I can’t understand is why I haven’t picked these mysteries up before. They’re clever, well-written, and riddled with gems like this: “The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen.”
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett
What would happen if you crossed the humor of Monty Python with the fantasy world-building of J.R.R. Tolkien? You’d get Terry Pratchett, of course! This is second book in the Discworld series, and as much as I loved the first, this one is even better. Sorry, but I can’t resist sharing an excerpt: “He moved in a way that suggested he was attempting the world speed record for the nonchalant walk.”
Note to Self by Joe Thorn
I haven’t started this one yet, but it’s been recommended to me by multiple bibliophiles in the blogosphere (hey, that sounds like the name of a special club or something). You can get the Kindle version for just $3, and if you’re still undecided, read some excerpts here.
What’s on your bookshelf right now?