Adele Gallogly

REFLECTIONS & REVIEWS


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Loving Mercy, Living in Prison

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The Sun Does Shine is the gripping memoir by Anthony Ray Hinton, who was wrongfully convicted of killing two men and sentenced to death in 1985 in Alabama. The case against Hinton, a 29-year-old black man, was clearly shaped by racism and rooted in insufficient evidence. He spent nearly 30 years in prison, until he was finally freed in 2015, after 16 years of working with Equal Justice Initiative.

As Hinton relives moments leading up to his conviction and his painful decades in 34964905prison, his voice burns with righteous anger at the systemic injustice at work. From the moment he is convicted, however, he finds great freedom is his ability to make choices that will shape his life for the better. Even in the depths of death row he chooses compassion over hatred, and forgiveness over bitterness.

Surrounded by sights and sounds of death and despair, Hinton finds strength in his faith in God and the love of his family and friends. He also relies on the liberating force of his vivid, playful imagination. His friendships with fellow inmates help him recognize their shared humanity and identity as children of God. He advocates for a prison library so he and the other prisoners can share in the transformative power of literature.

Hinton’s gritty yet triumphant memoir bears witness to the rewards inherent in “loving mercy” in one of the world’s most seemingly forsaken places.

{Originally published in Christian Courier)

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Seeing through the Lens of Personality

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the plethora of personality types and their corresponding measurements? Author and well-known book blogger Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) may be just the wise and gracious guide you need.

In Reading People, Bogel pulls from years of research and offers up her personal experiences with popular personality frameworks such as the Enneagram, Keirsey’s Temperaments, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. She compares understanding personality to “holding a good map” and positions herself as a fascinated “fellow traveler” in the quest to make sense of the complex layers of human identity through various typing systems.

Examining people through the lens of personality requires deep interior work—and Bogel notes that we may not necessarily like or immediately understand what we discover. She writes, “When it comes to understanding yourselves and others, wishful thinking will get you nowhere. If personality information is going to help you, you’re going to have to get comfortable with the true self that lies within you.”

As difficult as this soul-mining exploration may be, Bogel suggests that it is absolutely worthwhile work. We have much to gain by both “confronting our junk” as well as embracing our particular gifts and characteristics. These steps can equip us to improve our relationships, clarify our vocations, and refine our spiritual lives.

Reading People is an entertaining, astute, and actionable personality primer that can help us more fully understand how God has uniquely made us and those around us. (Banner review)


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Art and Secrets in the Dutch Golden Age

midnight-blueThis historical novel by Dutch author Simone van der Vlugt follows Catrin, a driven and talented young widow who is desperate for a fresh start after the death of her abusive husband. The story begins in 1654, during the Dutch Golden Age; Catrin sets out from her small village in North Holland in search of work and new opportunities—settling first in Amsterdam before moving on to Delft. As she navigates this new chapter, her life is complicated by secrets from her past and romantic possibilities in the present. Ultimately her journey is brightened by her artistic pursuits, which land her a role in the creation and rise of Delft Blue pottery and even allow her to interactwith real-life famous Dutch painters (much to the delight of Rembrandt and Vermeer fans). Continue reading


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The Gorgeous Curiosity of Mary Oliver

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Eighty-one-year-old Mary Oliver is widely acclaimed for her wise, lyrical poetry that presents life as a spiritual pilgrimage. Her latest book, a collection of essays, celebrates nature and literature as sources of hope, and points to the power of quiet acts such as taking a slow walk in the woods or spending hours with a book. As fans of Oliver’s work already know, however, she sees such acts as far more than movements of serenity or escape. The very title of her new book, Upstream, alludes to resistance—and the purposeful boldness of her vision should not be missed. Continue reading


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Through Ambition’s Tunnel

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Photo by Derek KeatsCC BY 2.0 – via Wikimedia Commons

AMBITION: Essays by Members of The Chrysostom Society
edited by Luci Shaw and Jeanne Murray Walker (Cascade Books, 2016).
Review originally published in Christian Courier in July 2016.

I happened to revisit Doris Lessing’s ambition-themed short story “Through the Tunnel” around the time I read Ambition, so it hovered over my experience of the book. Lessing’s story is the tale of a young British boy named Jerry who trains himself to swim through a dangerously narrow passageway. He sees other boys do it first, and does it to be like them – to prove himself worthy of friendship and respect. His eyes and nose bleed and his lungs nearly burst during his triumphant dive. The scene is thrilling, but also frightening. Should Jerry be admired for his risky, pride-led act, or chastised for it?

Ambition’s personal, often lyrical essays also acknowledge that ambition can be viewed as both a virtue and a vice. Its authors belong to The Chrysostom Society, a community named for Early Church Father John Chrysostom. Continue reading


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On Austen’s Novel of Re(dis)covery

Jane Austen’s Persuasion is a subtle, small-scale novel compared to her other five classic works. The cast of characters is slimmer and there are fewer humorous moments. The heroine, 27-year-old Anne Elliot, is mostly serious and introspective; she doesn’t even speak a word of dialogue until Chapter 5. Even so, Persuasion captivated me upon my first reading. Every few years, I return to Austen’s insightful rendering of a nuanced love story that begins on a note of regret – a story that expertly reveals the values of 18th century English society.
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Anne Eliot may not display the buoyant wit of Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet or even the amusing foolishness of Emma’s heroine, but she is quietly wise and has an intriguing past. Persuasion begins seven years after her great error of judgement: ending her engagement to Captain Frederick Wentworth, a man she deeply loved. She was convinced (persuaded) by her dear family friend, Lady Russell, that his seafarer position and modest financial means made him an unsuitable match. Years later, Anne still sees the social logic of this choice, but she is remorseful. The descriptions of her faded youth and lost bloom are about more than her age – they point to the pained, retreated state of her heart.

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Tragedy and Levity in a Time of War

51jZGbaKlpL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_British novelist Chris Cleave has proven his ability to write sprawling, thoroughly researched stories about people struggling to build a stable life in an often violent world—his international #1 bestseller about a Nigerian refugee, Little Bee is a prime example. His latest novel, the wartime epic Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, perhaps his most personal book, is rooted in his own family history. As Cleave explains in the preface, the story is partially inspired by the life and letters of his grandfather, a WW II artillery captain.

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