Blog a book: ’A Tale of Two Cities’
|by Catherine Larson|
Okay, so after much procrastinating, I’ve started reading A Tale of Two Cities. Last Friday, after my hard drive crashed and went to hard-drive heaven (will I be reunited with my data in the world to come?), I read chapter one. It was the shortest of first chapters, it was the longest of first chapters. So bottom line: the year is 1775 and our story is set in London and Paris.
After finishing chapter one, I said to myself, “I just can’t handle this today.” I put the book down and picked up Miroslav Volf’s The End of Memory, which I promptly finished on Saturday. I loved it (Volf…not Dickens). Volf’s book is an absolute must-read. But I will write more on that later.
On Tuesday morning, I slogged through chapter two. While I can’t say I enjoyed it, I can say that “blunderbuss” is quite a fun word and was used several times. I looked it up and found that it is derived from the Dutch “donderbus,” another word I’ll be adding to my vocabulary just for the fun of it. While it literally means a kind of gun, I think it sounds more like a nice hardy insult. As in, “What were you thinking, you donderbus!” At least that would have been my answer had we been playing Balderdash. Here are a few other phrases I picked up in chapter two: “So ho!”; “Yo there!”; “Answer straight,”; “D’ye mind me?”; “A blazing strange answer”; and “You’d be in a blazing bad way.” So other than those little jewels I can’t say I got much out of chapter two.
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Now chapter three intrigued me a bit more. It started with the profound musings:
A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to the every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!
Now this is a fine thought and worthy of pondering. In fact I’d journaled something similar on the metro several months back:
The brush of humanity. You are so close to me yet so foreign, like a language I do not understand. You could be Einstein or Hitler for all I know. You mind could be dazzling. Your heart could be stone. Don’t look so sad, so forlorn. Let me lend you my smile. We’ll be friends for a moment and then blow past each other like autumn leaves. Human wonder, we don’t speak, and you are lost to me forever. There was a moment and it passed. Intricate treasures, unknown, but within grasp.
There is definitely something mysterious and wonderful about how God has made us each so unique and how he has created us with the ability to navigate each other’s personhood and explore the wonder of the other through speech. Sometimes we don’t take advantage of the mystery, one of the most profound mysteries imaginable, the opportunity to know another.