Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 250s

254: Forbidden Fruit Creates Many Jams by Mary Katherine and David Compton

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254.4: Compton, Mary Katherine and David Compton. Forbidden Fruit Creates Many Jams: Roadside Church Signs Across America. New York: New American Library, 2001. 134 pp. ISBN 0-451-20406-9.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 250: Christian observances in daily life
  • 254: Parish administration
  • 254.4: Public relations and publicity

Mary and David Compton’s Forbidden Fruit Creates Many Jams is probably as simple a book as one can conceive. Go around, collect witty saying from church signs, and present them in a compact volume to be consumed quickly without much fluff. I literally cannot say much more about it. Some are funny, some fall flat, some are judgmental, and some are uninspired. There’s no real originality or synthesis here, just two hundred or so pieces of text from signs.

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253: The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good by Peter Greer

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253.2: Greer, Peter with Anna Haggard. The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2013. 176 pp. ISBN 978-0-7642-1102-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 200: Religion
  • 250: Christian pastoral practice and religious orders
  • 253: Pastoral office and work (Pastoral theology)
  • 253.2: Pastoral theology concerning life and person

Sadly, even when you do good deeds there is a possibility that you will be doing for the wrong reasons. Even if it’s for the right reasons, the good you do may come at the detriment of other areas in your life. Peter Greer (with the help of Anna Haggard) writes about his experiences running non-profits in The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good and along the way, he discovers how to life a more meaningful, honest, and spiritual life all while trying to make the world a better place.

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255: The Calling by Catherine Whitney

255.972: Whitney, Catherine. The Calling: The Year in the Life of an Order of Nuns. New York: Crown Publishers, 1999. 250 pp. ISBN 0-517-70854-X.

This Dewey section is pretty straightforward. The 200s are religion, 250s are Christian orders and local churches, and 255 hold religious congregations and orders. Not much fuss there.

Catherine Whitney’s The Calling covers Rosary Heights, a house of Dominican nuns in Washington State. It is ostensibly about a year in the life of these religious women. Unfortunately, the story is all over the map (literally). Rather than “intern” at a religious house and relate her experiences and how she coped with the contemplative, religious life, she takes the opportunity to write mini-biographies of everyone associated with the order.

We get the back story of no less than eight different sisters, all with their own complicated interactions with religiosity and the contemplative life. Don’t get me wrong—these stories are interesting looks into what constitutes “the calling” and how different life events serve to challenge and mold the devotional, but I wanted a lot more of Catherine day-to-day life in a convent, or at least proper vignettes of convent life.

I would have much rather read a book about the chronological experience of living in a religious house, with flashbacks necessary to providing context for experiences and interactions with the other sisters. Whitney is fairly adept at turning a phrase, but at points becomes slightly melodramatic in her quest to enter and understand the religious life. All in all, it was an interesting book. Nuns are significantly out of the view of the general population and reading their stories was indeed eye-opening. I just wish the book had been structured better.