The first one is "Turn Away Thy Son" by Elizabeth Jacoway. Jacoway was a student in Little Rock during the 1957 desegregation crisis. Her uncle was the superintendent of schools, but Jacoway was sheltered from the turmoil of the crisis. It wasn't until graduate school that she realized the gravity of the situation she had ignored as a teen. About this discovery, she wrote:
"My intellectual awakening began with the realization that I had mindlessly participated in and benefited from a racist culture."
So she wrote this book -- the most exhaustive account of the Central High School crisis that has been written. I want to read it because the 50th anniversary of the crisis is this fall, and, since it happened so close to where I live, I want to understand more fully what happened. And more importantly, I want to get my mind a little more around the continual quest for freedom that exists and I think will always exist in this country of ours that has always, strangely, been called "free."
The other book is "Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith" by Anne Lamott. Lamott is pretty much the only Christian writer I like right now. Think of Joel Osteen and what he preaches. Then think of the exact OPPOSITE of that. That's Anne Lamott. She writes of faith from a very real perspective. She shows that faith can be found in the midst of the cesspool that is real life. She gripes. She complains. She curses. Quite a bit. But she always leads us back around to where God fits into the chaos. Here's a bit from her description of when she first found God -- when she first realized he is everywhere -- , while she, an alcoholic drug-user, attempted to hitchhike home from a former boyfriend's house:
"I remember standing there at dusk with my thumb out, euphoric and exhausted as if I'd been at the beach all day, then taken a long, hot shower to wash off all the sand."
Lamott can be quite profound, but also sarcastic and funny and irreverent and downright crude. I think this is why I identify with her so much. Here's her description of a town in California where she lived during her hippie days:
"Bolinas was a great place for ritual and celebrations -- it was nearly as exotic as India, if you thought about it, but without all those dying animals in the streets and people defecating in the holy waters, which doesn't really work for me at all."
Oh, and I have four deadlines looming. So I may not be reading anything at all.