Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Well Meaning Gift

Earlier today, the family that gives me a ride to church gave me a few gifts. They didn't have to, though, but I appreciate it. The lady asked me if I open gifts when I get them or wait until Christmas. I have not set policy, but generally prefer to wait until the holiday to open any gifts. However, her daughter kept insisting that I open it, just to satisfy her mom, as she was so excited to see my reaction when I open the gift. I hesitated, though. She told me that I'll want to read this, that it would go straight to the top of my reading list. She even said that I should open it now because I'll want to read it on the plane when I fly home for Christmas. That intrigued me, so I decided to open it.

I laughed when I saw the title. I had never heard of this book before, but the title amused me because its obviously in reference to a conversation we had about the Facebook debate on atheists holding the priesthood in the Community of Christ. I was actually touched that she got such a book for me, even though I never would have bought it had I seen it on bookshelves. As I flipped through it, I noticed that it seems to be more evangelical Christian and thus why they'd have a problem with atheism. But most of all, the forward was written by David Limbaugh, who is a conservative author (I'm not sure if he's related to Rush Limbaugh, but they seem to have similar views). To me, that strikes at the heart of credibility. Of course, I'm going to read it since someone gave it to me as a gift and it does look interesting.

I appreciate her kindness and thoughtfulness in getting me this book. It truly is a touching gesture and I'm grateful for it. And yet, I also feel a need to express here that when it comes to books, I'm probably a bad person to buy for. This is because I have way too many books and have a hard time parting with any of them, even though I only read them once and then put them on a shelf (I'll use them for reference after they get read). When someone gives me a gift like this (a book I've never heard of, thus never would've bought), I'm conflicted because I don't like giving gifts away (I feel it is bad form, even though it isn't), but this is a book that I likely will not keep after I read it.

As I skimmed through it, trying to get a sense of the book, I had to laugh. This lady read me completely wrong. I don't actually have a problem with atheists. There is a real need for atheists in our society, as they help keep religious people intellectually honest and they ask tough but important questions. Their strict rational logic can be frustrating at times, but that's the way they're wired, I suppose. We can learn much from their rational way at looking at the world. This book looks like it rips on atheists, which may not be accurate information.

What I do have a problem with is people who become atheists but refuse to give up their priesthood calling. To not do so is morally and ethically wrong because it violates the trust between a church member seeking a special, sacred ordinance of the church in good faith from what is supposedly safe to assume, a priesthood member who believes in God and a human soul.

Another friend of mine asked me what I wanted for Christmas and mentioned that he might buy me a book. I showed him my book case and asked, "Does it look like I need another book?" I'm flattered that people realize that I love books and want to get me a gift...but unless you know that i really want such and such a book, its probably best not to buy one for me. I'm trying to keep ahead on my reading list and whenever I'm tempted to buy a book, I always ask myself, "Will I read this before the next payday?" If the answer is "no," then I won't buy it.

My reading schedule for 2012 will be politically heavy. I will read a lot of political memoirs and a few biographies on Obama, Hillary Clinton, and about the 2008 campaign. Its to help put me into a political frame of mind, although I also plan to read the books I have about finding a dream career and dating. Those are my main goals for next year, so religious books are going to have to wait until 2013. The book I want to read the most is Condoleezza Rice's memoirs of her time as Secretary of State. If someone gifted me that book, I'll be thrilled so I don't have to buy it early in the new year.

As for reading on the plane, I told this lady that I would not take this book on the plane with me because it would be too provocative and I really don't want to send the wrong impression to people. When I travel, I always pick a book to read that might be a little out of the norm for most people and one that might spark a conversation if someone initiated one with me. For this trip, I already have a couple books picked out for my journey: a biography on Aung San Suu Kyi and Amy Tan's novel Saving Fish From Drowning (which I've wanted to read for several years now). Another friend of mine gave me a book about Alaska that I haven't touched yet, but want to. Too many books, not enough time!