Stolen from Stephanie

My friend Stephanie (who just successfully passed oral comps for her PhD!!!) found a new book-inspired blog called Booking through Thursday that posts a question (or two, or three) about books each Thursday that readers can answer on their own blogs. She posted these on her blog and I thought I would do the same. How about the rest of you? I know we have some readers out there so share your answers either in your comments or on your own blog. Just be sure to link to your blog in the comments so I can check them out! Happy Reading!

What was the last book you bought?

For me: Tracy Chevalier’s Girl With a Pearl Earring and Falling Angels

I won’t list the ones I buy for the library. They’re kind of boring. 🙂

Name a book you have read MORE than once.

Only one? Most recently, Poisonwood Bible. Growing up, I read the Chronicles of Narnia every summer.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love gave me a much clearer view of God’s unending love for me and the lengths he will go through to reclaim his straying children. I’m one of those strayers.

How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews

Friends’ recommendations mean a lot and I try to stay on top of current fiction and young adult fiction. I don’t get to read everything, but if there’s a book that seems to have captured the collective consciousness of the nation, I try to read it. I believe it’s important to understand the thought processes of our culture.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?


What’s more important in a novel – beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

I confess to being a book snob. In my reading world, there is a difference between a good book and a page turner. Many books that people gush about are page turners with gripping plots that are poorly written and drive me nuts. I believe that JK Rowling needed an editor and that Stephanie Meyer would not be publishing if teen girls were not so taken with the thought of dating the bad guys. They may be able to spin a good yarn, but neither of them are what I call good writers.

I love well-written novels that challenge my attention span by making me think about the characters and plot. My happiest “reads” are when I finish a book and think, “Wow! That one is going to show up in a literature class some day.”

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)

Aslan from Chronicles of Narnia

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

CS Lewis Perelandra
Stephanie Meyer New Moon
Sue Monk Kidd Secret Life of Bees

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?

The last book I finished was a re-read of Calvin Miller’s Singer, Song, Finale trilogy. It is a poetic retelling of the life of Jesus. I read it between the time I finished my last classes this summer and the fall semester at work started. Once school starts it’s harder to finish a book, but I have several that I’m working on.

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?

Only once that I can remember. I wasn’t connecting with it at all and couldn’t justify the time. And – no – it wasn’t a literary read. It was a page turner so I had no guilt!

Friday Fun

I love this. It’s just absolutely so much fun. Playing the Narrator would be such a fantastic thing to do!

Announcing . . .

Some other Burley blogs for your enjoyment:

Becca can be found at She’s been writing for a while but I haven’t had a chance to link to her since school started.

The Burley Boys are located at The boys have been asking for a blog for a few months and we finally got them up and running. This should be interesting. (And yes, I know there’s a misspelling in the address. What can I say? My brain works faster than my fingers and I didn’t catch the mistake. HA!)

Please take a few minutes to check them out and leave some encouragement for them!

Some Food for Thought

I don’t usually engage in a lot of public discussion about political candidates or issues, primarily because I don’t like conflict. Don’t get me wrong — I care very much about our nation and hope that my children will be left with a country that has a few dollars and morals left. However, my ultimate citizenship is in heaven and I just refuse to get too bent out of shape about politics. No matter who wins this election, God will still be God and his purposes will be accomplished.

I’ve been very concerned about the amount of rhetoric in this election, but not the rhetoric from the candidates. My concern has been with the amount of hateful emails circulated about both candidates from people who call themselves believers. Some conservative believers forward emails that declare Obama to be the anti-Christ, while others lambaste Sarah Palin for having the audacity for being a working mom. One blog I read actually proclaimed that Sarah Palin was God’s judgment on America and that we were so morally bankrupt that of course we deserved a woman in leadership. The irony? That blog post — and the multiple comments in its support — was written by a Christian woman.

That makes me sad — very sad — for more than one reason.

First, I would hope that we could remember that the candidates are people who have feelings. Imagine how hurtful it would be to have emails circulated about you, accusing you of being the anti-Christ or of being a radical Muslim terrorist when all publicly proven information shows that you accepted Jesus as a savior as an adult convert. It might hurt a little.

Second, why would a woman accuse another woman of being a sign of judgment? If you can’t agree with someone’s politics, that’s one thing, but a personal attack on someone, calling them a sign of God’s disapproval? Is that really necessary? Or even kind? Speaking as a working mother of five, I know how difficult it is to balance everything that entails. As Christian women we should be encouraging one another no matter what roles we fill. Women deserve better than to be maligned by other women.

We still have a few weeks before this election and all of its rhetoric will come to an end. I’m committed to not being a part of any speech that will degrade any of the candidates. Will you join me in this? I’m also determined not to malign anyone who voices support for a candidate that I don’t like. I’m not going to judge anyone’s Christianity by their political preferences.

Will you join me?

I have daughters

In case you didn’t know or have forgotten, I have daughters. Living in a house full of women means that we have very interesting conversations at times. Last year I found this post from of all people, the renowned Bible teacher Beth Moore. She has daughters too. I’m reposting it here so it will either encourage those of you with daughters or just provide a well-needed laugh.

Please More Spirit!

Since some of you Sistas brought up the subject of PMS (after all, we are sistas and if sistas have anything at all, it’s hormones), I feel compelled to tell you what I told a group recently. If you want to live those fretful days of evil principalities with any measure of victory, if, when the day of evil comes, you indeed want to stand, you have to get in your head that PMS means Please More Spirit! Need a reference? OK, how about John 3:34 – “for God gives the Spirit without limit”? (It’s a good thing.) Need another? Luke 11:13 – “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” You know how furious we get when one of our loved ones makes the merest suggestion that maybe we’re a little hormonal? Like those times when waking up to an open bag of Fritos on the coffee table and a water ring left from a sweating glass of soda seem perfectly legitimate grounds for divorce? If, while we’re denying the remotest chance we could have PMS, we start looking for the nearest thing we could throw at them, we might want to see these words flashing in red florescent lights across the marque of our minds: Please More Spirit! Please More Spirit! This morning Keith drew my attention to a darling 12 year old girl at church with that look on her face and said, “I hope her parents are really keeping an eye on her. She really seems sullen.” “Honey,” I said, “All 12 year old girls are sullen. They are a hormone waiting to wreak havoc.” How could he have forgotten? Between his three women – Amanda, Melissa, and me – his skin was in jeopardy the greater part of any given month. But don’t think he wasn’t the kind to invite trouble. He’d say stuff like, “I’m so sorry, Baby. That zit really looks like it hurts.” Where’s me a lamp?? Good thing we have God. That’s all I’m saying. And good thing for THEM we have God. Next time around, remember two very important things:

1. Pray “Please More Spirit!”

2. Take Your Midol.

Introducing . . .

Last week I spoke at the Harding University Fall Lectures series about gnosticism and contemporary culture. The research was fun and I’ve never minded getting up in front of a group to talk. The hard part? Figuring out what they should say when they introduced me.

Yep. I never know what to say about myself. I can talk about lots of things, but not so much about me.

This is what I finally emailed to the young lady who was chosen to do my intro.

I never know what to say for these things.

Here are a few random facts about me:

1. I have been married to my husband Keith for 21 years and we have five children.

2. We have three daughters and two sons. They range in age from 19 to 9.

3. In my former life as a full time mom I enjoyed scrapbooking and sewing but now I spend a lot more time taking pictures and less time doing anything with them.

4. I love to read and think that quality fiction can often teach us more about ourselves than non-fiction. Jesus’ use of parables seems is just one example of this.

5. I am a librarian and have been working at Harding University for 3 years. Before that I worked at the University of Arkansas in Monticello and at the public library in Monticello.

6. I grew up in the Searcy/Harding community but am the only member of my family without a degree from Harding.

7. People fascinate me. The human condition fascinates me.

8. I am absolutely amazed by God’s love every day.

I seriously doubt that’s what they wanted, but it’s what they got.

So . . . if you had to sum yourself up in a few short sentences for a room full of people, what would you say? It’s not that easy, is it?

PS: The young lady who did the intro said, “These are GREAT! I can tell you have an AMAZING life!!!” Thanks to all of you for being a part of my amazing life. 🙂

Food for Thought

“The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame.”
— Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

“One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.”
— Golda Meir, Israeli political leader (1898-1978)

“Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.”
— Lyndon Baines Johnson, February 11, 1964

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
— Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.”
— Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech at Dartmouth College, June 14, 1953

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
— Romans 8:38, 39

“I’m pretty sure that includes books and ideas too.”
— Lisa Burley, right here, right now.

Banned Books Week

Yes, it is. It is Banned Books Week 2008. You can google “Banned Books” and come up with lists that will tell you which books have been banned or challenged during any time period. Rather than repeating that information here, I’m going to list some of my favorite books that keep winding up on those lists.

Sigh. Yes. I read banned books and they become some of my favorites. I suppose it comes from having a father who was an English teacher who allowed me to pull books off his shelf and read them at will. There weren’t limits.

It was a wonderful way to grow up.

So here it is. Not all of these have been banned/challenged in the United States, but they’ve all been under the microscope SOMEWHERE. There are no numbers because I can’t possible choose a #1 favorite book. That’s an impossible task.

My Personal Favorite Banned and Challenged Books List
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Giver by Lois Lowry
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

No, I’m not advocating that we have no discretion at all when we read. If you think that, then please reference my recent posting about the book Twilight. However, I do want to advocate two things.

First, don’t complain about a book if you haven’t read it. Don’t jump on a bandwagon of outrage based on what you’ve heard from someone else. Be willing to read things that may challenge you. The least it will do is allow you to have an intelligent conversation with someone about the book, even if you disagree with its contents. And who knows? You may just learn something along the way. Learning is a good thing. 🙂

Second, read to your children. Read with your children. Read for yourself and let them see you read. Talk with your children about what they are reading and let them read to you in return. Model to those in your life that reading is an important part of the daily routine. Teach them to read with discernment so they can sort out truth from lies. Fiction can teach us as much about ourselves as non-fiction can. If you don’t believe me, then ask yourself why Jesus used parables to teach us about human nature. Read, read, read and talk, talk, talk.

Now — go track down one of those lists of banned books, pick a title you haven’t read before and go for it. Maybe by this time next year, you’ll have your own personal list of favorite banned and challenged books. And if you read the Bible, you can add it to your list. It’s one of the most challenged books ever.

PS — Ready for a piece of irony? Fahrenheit 451 is one of the most frequently challenged/banned books. If you don’t understand why that’s funny then your reading assignment is to read Fahrenheit 451 and find out. 🙂

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