The Brothers Karamazov: Tackling the Intimidation

By Emily Shirley “Some of Dostoevsky’s most intriguing and teasing fugues of obsessive reflection… explore the balance between the liberty to say what we like, protesting about the reduction of language to mathematical clarity or certainty, and the necessity to say what can be heard[1].” Few authors move the hearts and engage the minds of readers like Dostoevsky. In addition to thrilling storylines, he offers an intellectual journey that is sure to please readers of all ages and backgrounds. Out of Dostoevsky’s works, The Brothers Karamazov is generally considered his most significant. This novel explores the relationships between a forgetful father and his three remarkably diverse sons. Filled with suspenseful sections, convicting passages, and timeless truths, The Brothers Karamazov is guaranteed to please any reader who is willing to commit to a thorough reading. To the reader who is having a hard time committing to such a long novel, allow me to make the following suggestions: Do not read alone. No matter how interesting the material, if we do not have friends or classmates reading alongside of us, we will often lack consistency in our reading. This is especially true when you are first beginning a novel as long as The Brothers Karamazov. Schedule a time for reading. Reading, much like other leisurely activities, is often pushed aside or forgotten during the course of our day. Because of this, many novels collect dust on our shelves with a bookmark comfortably resting between the 20th and 21st page. Setting a time each day (or each week) for reading helps to promote consistency. Combine reading with other enjoyable activities. When I began reading The Brothers Karamazov, I discovered that I was...
Memorials Help Us Keep Perspective…

Memorials Help Us Keep Perspective…

Have you ever noticed how easily we forget the blessings that have been bestowed upon us? How quickly your day, week, month or year can turn into a series of difficulties or frustrations? Depending on our personality and upbringing, we either have a tendency to see life as a glass “half-empty” or as a glass “half-full”. Regretfully, the first describes my mode of thinking more often than the later.   Perhaps you have heard attitude determines altitude, I have come to embrace the idea that my thought-life and the filter through which I view life – must continually be cleaned and adjusted! Several years ago, when my children were very young and through a series of  “parenting refinements”, I was introduced to this idea of a memorial box. As the Lord often commanded his people to remember (crossing the river with Joshua, feasts, the Lord’s supper, etc…), so the Lord commands us to remember. So here is our modest, authentic and rather tacky-looking memorial box… So what has our family put in it? It has to meet one of two criteria: (1) It reminds us concretely of a situation or circumstance where the Lord uniquely worked in the life of our family or a family member or (2) Provide a significant or pivotal memory in the life of the family member. Here you see our overflowing ten-year-old memorial box. (We need to store some of the contents to make room for more.) Driver’s license plate reminds us an old car we received as a GIFT when we desperately needed a second car. The Bible is a memorial to when...

Shirley Top 10 List (from 2003)

Posted in honor of a few of my special “sister sojourners” of the last nine years. I love you, and am thankful for each of you! The laughter, tears, and prayers are special treasures! 10. Your youngest son, who admires Steve Erwin (the crocadile hunter guy), catches a worm in the back yard and says “Mom! Mom! Look! She’s a beauty!” 9. You realize you’ve lost touch with reality when you recite to your daughter why we don’t do something. After speaking nonstop, without taking a breath for 15 minutes, – Emily tears up and says truthfully “Mom I can’t remember all that.” 8. Laundry is an adventure. Silly putty, lego men, chapstick, rolley polleys are all potential pocket dwellers. 7. “Mom! Jack (the family dog) wanted some of my food – so we played follow-the-leader and I led her to her food and she ate!” – life inside the mind of Caleb. 6. Moments of irony… Emily says “Mom I want my hair to be darker like yours”, while mom is sitting in a salon chair with aluminum foil in her hair – her highlighting treatment. 5. You know your youngest is growing up too fast when you tell him (Caleb – 3 years old) “No snacks – dinner is almost ready.” With advanced reasoning skills he replies, “Mooommm… What if I was the adult and you were the kid… and you wanted a snack and I said no… Would you be happy at me?” 4. Family phrase of the year – “Are you happy at me?” 3. Your daughter is going to be a woman of determination...