Tuesday, December 18, 2007

In Which The Reading Group (and I) Finished Another Book
The reading group to which I belong chose Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg and I was excited and a little anxious because once again I was visiting a book I enjoyed. I didn’t want to be disappointed and the thought that I might not appreciate the book the second time around was very much on my mind. I’ve been down this path before, written about rereading books and being horribly disenchanted. Surprise! I still love this book! I love everything about it. Every page. Every detail. Every character. Okay. Maybe not every character because not every character is meant to be loved. But still . . . what a charming and delightful book. (As I type this it hits me—I want to give this book to . . . someone. So I get up and move the book from my pile near my bed to where I have books piled for giving away. Different piles for different people.) Anyway, I reread this book with great pleasure and then I did something I had not done before; I looked up a psalm which was mentioned in the book, a favorite of one of the characters. I had expected it to be a psalm about God’s love and compassion. Instead, it was a psalm about judgment, about being weighed and measured, about being sinful and needing to be cleansed. The novel made me sigh in the peace of how loving people can be and then this psalm brought tears of grief to my eyes. So I was delighted, pleased, happy to have read the book again. I should not have gone any more deeply because I tapped into disappointment. I immediately backed away but the damage was somehow done. And so, I share below a psalm I like. (There are others but this could get tedious.)

Psalm 61 1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. 2 From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. 4 I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Selah 5 For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. 6 Increase the days of the king's life, his years for many generations. 7 May he be enthroned in God's presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. 8 Then will I ever sing praise to your name and fulfill my vows day after day.

I think Psalm 133 would have been a more obvious choice than Psalm 90. It does almost make me wish I were still a college student who had the time and resources to sit with a book and really pick it apart to see what and why and how it ticked.
If you have seen the movie and want to read the book you will not be disappointed. If you have seen the movie and liked it but don't necessarily feel drawn to read the book, although you are missing out on some delightful nuances and details, you probably can spend your time doing something else. Personally, I'm glad I read the book more than once.

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