Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I suggest

Sometimes I do crazy things. Like drink several cups of coffee the day after I was miserably sick to my stomach because I drank too much coffee. At least, that is why I think I was miserably sick. It might of been because I was licking the salt lamp. Some friends of ours were gifted a lamp that they didn't like. They gave it to us. I think it is very pretty. It is also made of a giant piece of Himalayan salt. Yeah, so I spent some time licking it. Whatever.

Anyway, the coffee drinking. I get a bit worked up when I drink that much coffee. The words coming out of my mouth, though words that I would say, are not the words that I meant to say. I find myself giving in to that secret inner belief that I am the foremost authority on anything and everything that could possibly come up in conversation. I am a talker. And I've had several cups of coffee today.

I wanted to expand a little on one of the books in my "what you should read right now" column. Mary Doria Russell's The Sparrow is just one of the best books ever. Like, ever. It is set in "the future" (2019? The soon-to-be-upon-us future) and it is wonderful, intelligent, reverent sci-fi. D is reading it right now (sort of) as a result of one of those conversations that go, "You never read female writers. What are you? Sexist or something?", and then he points to the Zadie Smith books on his shelf (two), and says that women don't write the kinds of books that he likes (sci-fi). Mary Doria Russell is a physicist, and adult convert to Judaism. The protagonist of the novel is a Jesuit priest/linguist.
I am the child of a linguist. I will admit to having a bias towards linguisticy-smarts. Sandoz is a wonderful, brilliant, loving main character.
The book follows the linguist/priest Sandoz as life is discovered on Alpha Centauri and the Jesuits decide to go. I want to quote the prologue to you here, just because it is so good I don't believe anyone could not want to read the book afterward.

"It was predicatable, in hindsight. Everything about the history of the Society of Jesus bespoke deft and efficient action, exploration and research. During what the Europeans were pleased to call the Age of Discovery , Jesuit priests were never more than a year or two behind the men who made initial contact with previously unknown peoples; indeed, Jesuits were often the vanguard of exploration.
The United Nations required years to come to a decision that the Society of Jesus reached in ten days. In New York, diplomats debated long and hard, with many recesses and tablings of the issue, whether and why human resources should be expended in an attempt to contact the world that would become known as Rakhat when there were so many pressing needs on earth. In Rome, the questions were not whether or why but how soon the mission could be attempted and whom to send.
The Society asked leave of no temporal government. It acted on its own principals, with its own assets, on Papal authority. The mission to Rakhat was undertaken not so much secretly as privately - a fine distinction but one that the Society felt no compulsion to explain or justify when the news broke several years later.
The Jesuit scientists went to learn, not to proselytize. They went so that they might come to know and love God's other children. They went for the reason Jesuits have always gone to the farthest frontiers of human exploration. They went ad majorem Dei gloriam: for the greater glory of God.
They meant no harm."

Go read this freaking book. I just, oh, it gives me chills and I want to read it again. There is a sequel, which is important and equally wonderful. I have lately started finding them cropping up in used bookstores. I don't know what was wrong with their previous owners, but I suggest you profit from their imbecility.

Also, this woman is my current favorite person on the internet. I've been reading a lot of blogs lately and people are - how do I put this delicately? - mostly humorless bores. Or prigs. Or preposterously self-obsessed pretentious people. Which doesn't mean I don't subscribe to their blogs and eat up every bit of ridiculous advice on (insert appropriate topic here) as if they really are the experts they think they are. Shauna, at, however, is lovely. And normal looking. And a really talented writer. And genuinely not trying to be anything she isn't. And she makes amazing gluten-free everythings. Gluten-free everythings that I feel capable of reproducing in my own kitchen. And I like her. She is today's internet crush.


Kelsey said...

hooray internet crushes! and nerdy sci-fi!

adalee said...

OK. so I went and bought the book for my Kindle.
Love you!

The Coles said...

i think i will!

thanks for the recommendation!