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Books and Mommy ADD

Even though this summer has been a little bit crazy and my kids are making me crazy and I’m counting the days until they go back to school, I have enjoyed the weeks when we’re not running at a frenetic pace. I can sleep (my favorite thing to do) and I can read (my next favorite thing to do).

I finally broke down and read The Shack. I had avoided reading it for the longest time because I knew the premise of the story and, as Nathan would say, it gave me big freaks. Then I had been warned that reading this book was a grand heresy involving big seminary words like “penal substitutionary propitiation,” which only made my feeble brain spin.

But I was curious, and heeding the warnings about certain theological inconsistencies and having confidence in my discernment, I ventured forth. And I was completely riveted.

Good books are dangerous when you’re a mom of young kids (or any other demanding occupation, I suppose). I get totally sucked in and can easily ignore everything else in order to finish just one more chapter. Thankfully my kids can either make their own lunches or at least get their own snacks to tide them over until I can back away from the book. Don’t tell CPS.

So The Shack – very intriguing story indeed. And I read it as just that – a story – not a theological treatise.

And I have to tell you – the one huge, ginormous, perspective-altering aspect of this book that I loved was the picture of Mack sitting at the kitchen table talking to the three Persons of the Trinity. That alone changed everything for me. Having that mental image in my mind – the picture of God being so close and so personal, so intimate and so lovingly involved – has stayed with me every time I pray, every time I sing, every time I cry out for help.

I’ve known God for a very long time, but never like this. Somehow I just needed that mental picture to draw me deeper. Maybe it’s one of those right-brained, creative-thinking things. In any case, I’m changed. And thankful.

The Shack. Check. Moving on.

The rule in our house is that before the kids see a movie adaptation of a book, they must first read the book. And, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that this has been the summer of the sixth Harry Potter installment. Meghan has read all the books roughly five times (and I’m not exaggerating), and Griffin was bound and determined to get through The Half-Blood Prince before the movie came out.

Michael and I alternate putting the kids to bed each night, which means that we alternate reading Harry Potter to Griffin, which means each of us misses out on huge chunks of the story. So in preparation for the movie, I sat down and read the entire sixth book. In two days. Six hundred seventy-two pages.

Then I read the seventh book. In three days. Seven hundred fifty-nine pages.

Michael gently told me that he was getting a little jealous of Harry.

Man these are good stories. The imagination required to come up with this stuff is unreal. I am in awe of J.K. Rowling.

Then I decided to start at the beginning and read the entire series. All that chunk reading left me a little confused as to what exactly an Auror is and why Harry and his buddies don’t like Mundungus.

After reading the first book (as much as I enjoyed it), I thought I would take a quick break from good ol’ HP and pick up, upon recommendation as an alternative to The Shack, The Pilgrim’s Progress. If you’re not familiar with this book, it is classic literature required of many a high school student (except me) and was written in the 1600s. It is an allegory of a man’s journey of faith, much like Hind’s Feet on High Places.

Bound and determined to read it and expand my mind and stretch my once-brilliant scholarly literary aptitude, I sat down and dove in.

Doggy-paddled is more like it. Until I was treading water.

Oy.

Here’s what I wrote on my Facebook page:

Abandoning The Pilgrim’s Progress after 45 pages and retreating back to Harry Potter. Behold, the parchment dost declare mine achievements in English at thou esteemed establishment of education, but lo! my mind doth suffereth much weariness and cannot comprehend thy meaning of thy fine work of literature. Lay blame rightfully upon the fruit of my womb, numbering three. Expelliarmus.

My friend Troy suggested I pick up Five Little Monkeys instead. “Stimulating conflicts,” he said. Animal vs. floor, mother vs. doctor.

Sadly, he is correct.

Yes, I have a degree in English. I used to be really, really smart.

Then I had children.

I believe that there is a condition called Maternal Onset ADD where the brain is so extraordinarily strained from multitasking and multiple little people talking to her simultaneously that she cannot accomplish ordinary tasks and cannot concentrate on a book that was written in the 1600s, so she must resort to a 7th grade reading level.

Otherwise known as “Mommy Brain.”

So I went back to Harry Potter.

I remain, as they say, blissfully ignorant.

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11 thoughts on “Books and Mommy ADD

  1. I clearly have Mommy Brain. It's disturbing, isn't it? Just when you could really use some extra brain power to conquer small children, it's eked out of you by those same tykes.I have The Shack sitting in my room, waiting to be read. I've heard all the crazy controversy but from friends that have read it, I've heard it was actually life-altering. I can't wait to read it.

  2. Okay. Now I do have to read the Shack. You are the second person, whose opinion I value who has had the same remarks about it. I'll put it on my list. I can totally relate to this post. I just devoured The Help (highly recommend it) in just a few days. My poor kids watched way too much TV yesterday and it helped that Tom was on 24 hour call last night (finished reading at midnight and I am NOT a night owl). I also have Mommy ADD or whatever it is because Tom is always reading these intellectual books and recommending them. I'm lucky if I can make it through the first few chapters in several months. At least, it's not an isolated problem. Do you think we have any chance or regaining those brain cells when we have empty nests?

  3. I really enjoyed The Shack as well. I thought about it for days after I read it.I plan to read all the Harry Potters books, too…although hearing from you, it will probably be after my kids are in college.Did you read the Twilight books? Such a fun read!! I want to read them again but know if I do then someone will have to call CPS!!!

  4. 1. If they make a movie of the Shack I am going to jump off a tall building.2. Yes, the author does portray the intimacy of God. He also hides behind the "it's a story" line even though he is doing mostly theology (just in narrative form). If it draws anyone closer to God, great. The bigger question is, is he drawing people toward the true Biblical picture of God? If you have your theological wits solid about you as you read it, as you so do, one will emerge unscathed– hopefully. My key warning is the author starts with the presupposition that God has no wrath against sin that was poured out on the Son instead of us (listen to the interview on worshiptrench.com). That is core to the Gospel and is missing from this work as well. If the cross is not God "making His son His enemy, whereby we who are His enemies can become sons and daughters," then why the Cross? The cross becomes and unnecessary but sadistic tool of a despotic Father who allows His Son to be afflicted for no real reason. On the other hand, if God's holiness and justice be preserved as well as His love, then sin must be paid for. This is my key difference with the author of The Shack but a crucial and central one to our faith. End of diatribe, now I must start book one of Harry Potter so I can have more book dialogues with our fine (AND SMART) Mrs Hunt. HA!

  5. I got sucked into "I Know This Much Is True" this summer. 800+ pages of psychological issues of two twins that can be super intense..but a good read, if you can get past it. As for The Shack, I read it and really enjoyed it, both as a story and as a story with deep theological convictions. (even though it was written to be a story, not a theological treatise) I even have seminary profs who have written things like "Finding God in 'The Shack'"…..What other good things have you read lately? I would read HP, but it's just not a genre I can get into. I've tried..just doesn't work for me…my imagination is lacking!

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