Book Club Picks: This Present Darkness

So as you all know I started a book club last year. I have fallen behind with my posts, but I was catching up.  I was only two behind, and now I still am.

Every month we read a book and I do a little post on the book we read and discussed. What can I say, I just love books.

There is no theme, other than with each month, a different member gets to pick a book, whichever one they want. The next one was:

This Present Darkness (Darkness #1) by Frank Peretti

Frank Peretti is one of my favorite authors. In fact I was able to meet him once and totally fangirled over him. But he was super nice as he autographed my books and actually spent a long time talking to me. It made the other people in line mad, and I can’t blame them, but I didn’t care as I had just met FRANK PERETTI!

Frank Peretti started out being a pastor, but discovered that it wasn’t the life for him. He drifted from job to job, and while working in a snowshoe factory he wrote his first novel, and this book, This Present Darkness. He has now written over 30 books for adults, teens, and children. His books are amazing as they always have great, realistic characters, action, adventure, suspense, and a moral message. Every time I read his works I feel great!

This book is about a small town Ashton that becomes the battleground in a war between angels and demons.

Rafar the prince of Babylon is taking over, using his followers to take over the town and its college in order to indoctrinate the students into believing their untruths. They also have city council, board members, the police chief, and the pastor of a mega church in their court.

On the other side we have a pastor of a small church, Rev. Hank Busche, a true prayer warrior. He was brought in accidentally, and unable to be controlled. He kneels every morning in prayer for his town fighting the only way he can.

Marshall Hogan, editor of the Ashton newspaper, becomes involved when his reporter Bernice Krueger sees something she shouldn’t. After she is falsely arrested, so that the police can tamper with evidence, Marshall and Bernice try to blow the top off the coverup.

It has action, comedy, suspense, drama, and the supernatural.

It is a powerful story. I reread it every 6 months as it recharges me and builds me up in my faith.

If you enjoy Christian fiction, you need to check this out. I love this book and I cannot stress it enough how much I do.

For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Zookeeper’s Wife

For more Frank Peretti, go to It Feels So Good to See the Bad Guys Scared for a Change: Hangman’s Curse (2003)

For more on This Present Darkness, go to A Whole Lot of Fanfare

For more Christian fiction, go to Book Club Picks: A Voice in the Wind

For more bible verses, go to Who Says I Have to Stop: Fireproof (2008)

For more on spiritual warfare, go to He is Coming: The Visitation (2006)

 

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You Will Be Haunted By Three Spirits: A Christmas Carol

Day 7) G is for Ghost: Choose a Ghost story

I’m not really a ghost person.

ghostbusters

After all I am a Ghostbuster!

Ghost stories aren’t my thing so I tried to figure out what to do and thought about all the books I like, which one could possibly have a ghost in it?

Thinking Hmm

And then it hit me:

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I know a book I love that has not one, but four ghosts!

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A Christmas Carol: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas by Charles Dickens

So I love this story.

I love it

Every year I watch a film version of this book: whether A Flintstones Christmas Carol, A Christmas Carol, Muppet Christmas Carol, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, etc.; I’ve been in plays of it, and of course: I enjoy reading it.

I love it!

I love it!

A Christmas Carol was written in the fall of 1843. Originally it didn’t sell well, but became extremely popular through the public readings that Dickens did.

This book also came out at just the right time. Thanks to Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, Christmas culture changed with a whole flurry of new ways to celebrate the holiday, becoming the traditions we currently practice. For instance Christmas trees became something now done in England.

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We now see the jolly old Santa Claus, used later in stories and culture.

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And Christmas cards became a tradition and were sent out in the penny post.

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But not everyone had a nice Christmas. Many had to still work in the factories and poverty was running rampant; very grim indeed.

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A lot of historians actually attribute A Christmas Carol as being the first thing to start the ball rolling. It opened peoples’ hearts and more reforms were adopted; such as the Bank Holiday act in 1871, making Christmas an official day of rest. 19 years later, every state in America had adopted the same practice.

Double double yay

Yes like Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The JungleA Christmas Carol was more than just a novel but changed the very world we live in.

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So let’s get started with the review!

“I have endeavoured[sic], in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour[sic] with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”
Their faithful friend and Servant,
CD. [Charles Dickens]

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So the story begins with stating the fact that Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge’s old partner is dead. Without him being dead then we would not have a story.

Marley has been dead for seven years, with Scrooge carrying on the business. Scrooge is a cold-hearted businessman who only cares about money. Everything from appearance, demeanor, and personality is cold, cruel, harsh, and sharp.

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No one liked him and all avoided him, as who wants to poke the angry beast?

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Scrooge is miserly, and one way he is tightfisted is to keep his door open to make sure that his clerk does’t try to add more coal to their fire. Poor clerk, Robert “Bob” Crachit. It is freezing outside and even colder in the presence of Scrooge.

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That evening Scrooge’s nephew Fred comes to call on him. He wants to invite Scrooge to his house for Christmas, but Scrooge refuses. He doesn’t keep Christmas at all and sees no reason to celebrate.

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He also pokes at Ned’s “poor” life and wife.

“What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older and not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months, presented dead against you?”

You know I’ve seen a lot of posts lately by my age group saying the same thing. Christmas isn’t anything special but just having us be a year older, poorer, and unhappier. I think it is horribly sad.

No thank youhowaboutno

Let’s not Scrooge around, but be Freds instead.

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After Fred leaves, wishing Bob a merry Christmas, Scrooge is approached by charity workers. They appeal to Scrooge for help, but he refuses. He thinks the workhouse and poorhouse is substantial (I’m sure that sentiment was shared by many others before reading this novel.) He even goes on to say that if people die because of their poverty, than things would be better as less people on the Earth is best.

Jerk

Scrooge gives Bob a whole day for Christmas (his question now making sense as I earlier stated that it wasn’t a law to give people Christmas off until 1871), although angry at missing out on the extra work. But even though he is given his day to celebrate, Scrooge warns Bob that he must be in, even earlier the next if he wishes to keep his job.

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Scrooge then heads home that night and that’s when things get…a little creepy. As he goes through the foggy streets

Stay out of the forest!

The door knocker on his home changes until it becomes the face of Marley!

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But then it becomes a knocker again, just a figment of his attention.

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But later that night Marley appears. Scrooge tries to convince himself he isn’t real, but the Marley’s ghost is here!

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Marley has come to him to warn him. Scrooge sees the chains wrapped around Marley and is astonished. Why does he have such horrible things on him.

“I wear the chain I forged in Life,’ replied the Ghost [Marley]. ‘I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on, of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it…’Or would you know,’ pursued the Ghost, ‘the weight and length of the strong coil you wear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured[sic] on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!”

Scrooge tries to console Marley, that while he didn’t help others he was a good businessman. But that is not what life is all about. As the bible says:

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25

That love of money separates us in our relationships, as the greed consumes our soul.

“Business!’ cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. ‘Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business…At this time of the rolling year,’ the specter said, ‘I suffer most: why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed star which led the wise men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”

Marley warns Scrooge that he still has time to change. He is to be given the gift of three spirits He leaves and the air is than filled with ghosts, all those he knew in life and all covered in chains.

GHostFantasia

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The first spirit, The Ghost of Christmas Past, comes a young boy but also an old man.

babyfacehowoldareyou

He has him touch his robe and the two travel back to Scrooge’s boyhood.

Scrooge is at school and alone as everyone else is gone for the Christmas break. As he sits glum and alone, a woman comes in to the room…it is his sister Fanny! He loved his sister dearly, and she him. She has begged her father to bring him home and he has finally agreed. They leave the boarding school to spend a very merry Christmas together.

19thc_christmas

But Fanny didn’t live in the world long. She died after giving birth to her son Fred.

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Later they visit his old boss Fezziwig. Unlike Scrooge, Fezziwig always liked to treat his clerks right; having them stop on Christmas eve and throwing a party for all his employees. It only cost a little, but he understood the true meaning of Christmas. To give.

“He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome: a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up-what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great, as if it cost a fortune.”

Now as you can tell I love the language of this book, the characters, the moral–but I also love how when you read the book you see how the change starts in him so early in the adventure, transforming him at every step. Looking at the young boys, he wishes he was nicer to a boy singing Christmas carols. And seeing how great Fezziwig was, makes him ashamed of his own conduct with Bob.

Hmm...

Hmm…

But then he is taken on and sees the broken engagement of his fiancé, Belle. She breaks it off, as Scrooge no longer cares about her anymore. All he cares about is money.

“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Matthew 16:26

Man, I just think how hard that would be. To give up someone because you know it won’t work, and poor Scrooge. He really missed on a winner.

In the next scene he sees how much he missed out when he sees her, her husband, and the family all gathered in one very happy, merry Christmas bunch.

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The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

On the second hour we have the Ghost of Christmas Present. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a giant, jolly and dressed in holly chowing down on Christmas treats.

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Scrooge touches his robe and off they journey. It is Christmas morning and many are at work in their shops or readying their homes. Christmas Present has a torch, that when he sees anger, quarrels, or any unhappiness; sprinkles fire from his torch bringing good humor and Christmas cheer.

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They go down to the Cratchit house, a family of eight, very poor, but full of Christmas cheer and happiness. They wear threadbare clothes poorly patched: have limited food and call it a feast; thank Scrooge for providing the feast even though he is cruel; and the youngest, Tiny Tim, is crippled yet is proud that in his body he can remind others of the miracles Jesus did and the true reason for the season.

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Scrooge becomes invested in the scene before him and little Tiny Tim. When he asks about whether he will live, Christmas Present tells him that looking to the future his crutch is the only thing he can see.

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They visit others, and then find themselves at the home of his nephew where he is having a fun Christmas dinner. They have lots of fun laughing, singing, and playing all kinds of games.

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After all:

“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty founder was a child Himself.”

Scrooge would like to stay there, but that spirit’s time is over and he must return, the new one coming next.

The next is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, truly frightening figure in a black cloak that covers him and silent as the grave.

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The first place they go is to a dead man’s home who’s items are stolen by employees in the area. No one liked this man, his funeral had barely anyone and the items stolen went unnoticed. Debtors are happy that he is gone as the next master may be kinder.

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They then stop by the Cratchits, who are mourning the death of Tiny Tim.

The_Wolf_Man_4Crying sad

They stop by his old haunts, but he is not there. The spirit takes him to a graveyard where his tombstone lies. The man they all hated that are thrilled is gone, is him.

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He pleads with the spirit for another chance, for time, to be able to be a new person.

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Scrooge awakens to find himself home, in his bed. All the adventures having been done in one night and it being Christmas morning.

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Christmas time

He decides to begin making amends as soon as possible. First he orders the hugest turkey to send to the Cratchit family; he finds the charity workers from the day before and promises to give them a lot of money; and to top it off goes to his nephew’s house for dinner. They spend a wonderful night together.

victorian_christmas room decorated for christmas

The next day he awaits Bob, who comes late to work. At first Scrooge acts angry, like he was going to fire Bob, but then wishes him a Merry Christmas, raises his salary, adds more coal to the fire, and helps all in every way he can.

“He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world.”

Scrooge becoming a new person

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“And as Tiny Tim observed,

God Bless Us Every One!”

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I love this book. From beginning to end, the characters, the language, the writing, the descriptions-oh. Just a fantastic read!

 

ReadingNOtBoring

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to The Unknown Princess Nevermore

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For more on Charles Dickens, go to The Taxman Cometh

For more on ghosts, go to They’re Coming for Me Now…And Then They’ll Come for You: House on Haunted Hill (1959)

For more Cassandra Clare, go to Drug of Choice

For more bible verses, go to Is Love at the Thanksgiving Parade Really Just Pride & Prejudice?

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So I know the book mentions the Christmas  carol God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, but I’m not going to talk about that carol as I already reviewed it last year.

So as Queen Victoria adopted her husband’s Christmas traditions, making the tradition of Christmas Trees a global tradition, I decided that is the song I am going to go with.

OChristmasTreeOChristmasTreeGrimm

Except I’m going to go with the traditional German version, O Tannenbaum.

This is an old song and wasn’t originally it wasn’t a Christmas song as Tannenbaum means fir tree and is instead about its symbol of steadfastness and constantcy. However, in 1824 Ernst Anschütz updated the song, changing the words to make it about Christmas; paired at just the right time when, as said before, Christmas trees were added into the culture of Christmas instead of just Germany.

I choose the version by Celtic Woman as I think this group is extremely talented.

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For more on Celtic Woman, go to Waiter, There’s Some Disney in My Jane Austen

For more Christmas Carols, go to I Think I Have Found a Means of Conveyance…An Elephant: Around the World in 80 Days

 

It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

Day 1) A is for Apocalyptical: Choose a book with an apocalyptic theme

Fahrenheit451

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451 is one of my absolute favorite books. I first was introduced to it at the age of 10, when I came across my parents watching the German film. I didn’t quite understand it, so my mom gave me the book to read. Since then I read it at least once a year.

Or 10th, 50th, 100th....

Or 10th, 50th, 100th….

Every time I read this book it shocks me with how accurate it is in portraying the culture of today. I was amazed at that age, but this most recent time when I read the book, it really struck me with exactly how spot on it is.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

The book was published in 1953, and is set in a Dystopian future. No year is given, although it is done after 1960. In this future reading is outlawed

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Books are an illegal substance,

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and the firemen’s job is to burn the offensive material.

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don’t know about you all, but a world without books sounds like a catastrophic end of the world to me. After all:

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Guy Montag has always lived life the way culture dictates; has a good paying job, married, no kids as they are bothersome and their are already too many, multiple wall screens to stream TV, etc.

Sound familiar?

Sound familiar?

But then one night everything changes. He meets the daughter of his new next door neighbor, Clarisse, who doesn’t like firemen.

“And you must be-…the fireman.’ Her voice trailed off.

‘How oddly you say that.’

‘I’d- I’d have known it with my eyes shut,’ she said, slowly.

‘What- the smell of kerosene? My wife always complains,’ he laughed. ‘You never wash it off completely.’

No you don’t,’ she said, in awe.” [pg. 4]

She starts talking about all kinds of things, like how firemen at one time didn’t burn things but helped stop fires. She even questions whether he ever reads the books he burns.

whatdoyouthinkTwilightzoneRealmartianpleasestandup

Clarisse is completely counter to the culture of the day and a throwback to the past.

OldFashioned

 For instance, she doesn’t like this obsession with everything has to be in a hurry, driving all is blur with no one taking the time to look, examine, or have have patience. In fact her uncle was jailed for driving 40 mi/hrs, as it was far too “slow”.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

Clarisse also likes to go out for walks and and look at the sky, stars, or moon. Something else everyone finds as weird or odd.

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This reminds me so much of our culture today. Everything needs to be instant-instant news, fast food, all TV shows, etc. No patience, no waiting. My niece and I were watching a show on Netflix, and she asked me why they would have these moments where they pause, go to black, and then do a review of what we already seen. I actually had to explain that they used to show these episodes on TV, and there would be commercials in-between. Because you might get people who just tuned in and didn’t see the beginning, and were unable to see the beginning (unless they purchased it on VHS or DVD, they would repeat it for them. And then I had to explain that streaming is something new, prior to it you had to  wait a week for the next episode; and when the season ended you had to wait 6 months to a year for the next season.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

Now here is a child who has grown up on the world of streaming and the internet and never, ever experienced having to wait for something.

keanu Whoa

Just like in this.

Anyways, when Montag returns home he finds his wife, Mildred, almost dead, having sucked down a lot of pills. He calls the hospital and they don’t even bother sending an ambulance. So many people these days are trying to kill themselves and end their life with pills, they have a machine like a black snake to pump the stomach.

The next day, Mildred doesn’t remember anything about what happened that night, and all she cares about is her “family” a TV show she follows.

Ringu Watch TV

There are all kinds of people suffering in the world or “real issues” that need to be talked about, but are all glossed over by entertainment. All people care about is the TV screens, wanting this giant Wall to Wall circuit. And the shows they watch have no real themes or content to them. Just mindless chatter.

When I reread this, it made me think of the reality shows we have that are just the same thing again and again, no real changes or real content. Keeping Up with the Kardashians for example. Or the endless dating shows looking for love like Flav O FlavMy Fair Brady, etc. Or The X Factor, The Voice, American Idol, etc, And people care more about these shows then real things.

We are strange people.

We are strange people.

Then Montag runs into Clarisse.  She talks to him, really talks just about anything and everything. Because she isn’t “normal” they force her to o to a psychiatrist.

“They want to know what I do with all my time. I tell them that sometimes I just sit and think.” [pg. 20]

In fact that is something she and her family like to do, just sit around and talk no devices, go out and walk just talking. In this world conversation is dead, no one really talks anymore. Sound familiar?

“He laughed.

She glanced quickly over. ‘Why are you laughing?’

‘I don’t know.’ He started to laugh again and stopped. ‘Why?’

‘You laugh when I haven’t been funny and you answer right off. You never stop to think what I’ve asked you.” [pg. 6]

It gets him thinking, and thinking is dangerous in a dystopian world.

“He felt his body divide itself into a hotness and a coldness, a softness and a hardness, a trembling and a not trembling, the two halves grinding upon the other.” [pg. 21]

Clarrise is a great character because she represents a type of person that is fading out. The one who is still holding on to the values of the past. A type of person who wants to think for herself instead of being spoonfeed an idea from the Internet, government, or teachers.

“I’m antisocial, they say. I don’t mix. It’s so strange. I’m very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn’t it? Social to me means talking to you about things like this…But I don’t think it is social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk, do you?…We never ask questions…they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing…It’s a lot of funnels and a lot of water poured down the spout and out the bottom, and them telling us it’s wine when it’s not.” [pg. 27]

The other thing I love about Clarrise os that she is so easily relatable, at least to me she is. She is disconnected to her generation because she doesn’t have the same values as they do she is more old fashioned, and because of that she is an 80 year old in a 17 year old’s body. I know exactly how that feels. I love reading, creating things by hand, having things until they wear out, not getting the newest stuff. That’s how I been my whole life which makes it hard to find others who value the same thing. I mean I read Emily Post.

“You sound so old.’

‘Sometimes I’m ancient.” [pg. 27]

ancientsoulinyoungbody

Clarrise hates this world of blandness and nothingness.

“People don’t talk about anything.’

‘Oh, they must!’

‘No, not anything. They name a lot of cars or clothes or swimming pools mostly and say how swell! But they all say the same things and nobody says anything different from anyone else.” [pg. 28]

Clarisse opens Montag’s mind up to the way the world is and how it should be, and before he knows it, she and her whole family are gone.

You question in a dystopian world and you are gone.

You question in a dystopian world and you are gone.

He asks Captain Beatty if it is true that fireman used to stop fires instead of creating them.

Not good

Not good

The rest if the firemen are uneasy, but Captain Beatty knows it is natural for at one pint a fireman to question things. He shows him the history of the firemen and when they were first established.

“Established, 1790, to burn English-influenced books in the Colonies. First Fireman: Benjamin Franklin.

Rules

  1. Answer the alarm quickly.
  2. Start the fire swiftly.
  3. Burn everything.
  4. Report back to the firehouse immediately.
  5. Stand alert for other Alarms.

Before anything else can be done, an alarm sounds and the group heads out. They reach the place and apprehend a women, demanding to know where her contraband is. She won’t tell them but quotes Hugh Latimer.

“Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

The fireman don’t understand this, but Hugh Latimer was executed for his protestantism, under the ruling of catholic Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth’s older sister. He was burned alive for his beliefs, which is foreshadowing as to what is to come.

Not good

They find the books and are going to burn them like they always do, except this night is different. This woman, Mrs. Blake, stands their silently judging them.

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Montag begins burning everything, but instead of just being things, they feel more alive, like killing animals.

I don't like it 11

They burn everything, ready to decimate the building, but Mrs. Blake won’t leave. She refuses to give up her books. The fireman leave, ready to let her die; but Montag tries to help her. She refuses as she holds in her hand a match.

Not good

Not good

Willing to die for her beliefs.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow what

I think that is why I love this book so much, the fact that it truly explains a connection people have not just to the book but to the author’s thoughts and ideas. Destroying a book is more than destroying a physical object, it is trying to kill the person who created it.

“It’s not just the woman that died…Last night I thought about all that kerosene I’ve used in the past ten years. And I thought about books. And for the first time I realized that a man was behind each one of the books. A man had to think them up. A man had to take a long time to put them down on paper. And I’d never even thought that thought before…It took some man a lifetime maybe to put some of his thoughts down, looking around at the world and life and then I come along in two minutes and boom! it’s all over.” [pg. 49]

Montag returns home after the horror with a secret:

“His hands had been infected, and soon it would be his arms. He could feel the poison working up his wrists and into the elbows and his shoulders, and then the jump-over from shoulder blade to shoulder blade like a spark leaping a gap. His hands were ravenous. And his eyes were beginning to feel hunger, as if they must look at something, anything, everything…He balanced in space with the book in his sweating cold fingers.” [pg. 38]

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Montag realizes how empty his life is, he married his wife ten years ago, but can’t fathom why. He doesn’t love her and she doesn’t love him. They don’t talk, they spend no time together, and all she does is watch TV or listen to her device with her little seashell headphones that go in her ears practically disappearing from view. Both people are empty, full of nothingness. There is countless walls between them through the TV shows she watches and she is more connected to those fake creations on the screen than her own husband.

All Mildred does is watch TV, yet even that is so empty that you if ask questions what is it even about Mildred doesn’t know. Mildred doesn’t know anything. It’s like she is on drugs, the way her memory and mind is so foggy.

She is like a zombie.

She is like a zombie.

The next day Montag is sick, not physically but mentally, and philosophically. The death of the woman has troubled him dearly and he can’t understand it.

“You weren’t there, you didn’t see,’ he said. There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.” [pg. 48]

booksWordsChangetheWorld

Mildred doesn’t understand it and think that Montag is crazy for taking the death of a stupid radical this way. He should focus on work, on making more money, so they can get more things and TVs and such.

“Let me alone,’ said Mildred. ‘I didn’t do anything.’

‘Let you alone! That’s all very well, but how can I leave myself alone? We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long has it been since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?” [pg. 49]

Then Beatty shows up as Montag has been missing from work. He figured it out that Montag has been questioning the world they live in. So he gives them the spiel he gives out to bring those on the edge back to reality.

“Once, books appealed to a few people, here, there, everywhere. They could afford to be different. The world was roomy. But then the world got full of eyes and elbows and mouths…Films and radios, magazines, books leveled down to a sort of paste pudding norm…in the twentieth century, speed up your camera. Books cut shorter. Condensations. Digests. Tabloids…Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve line dictionary resume…

Speed up the film, Montag, quick. Click, Pic, Look, Eye, Now, Flick, Here, There, Swift, Pace, Up, Down, In, Out, Why, How, Who, What, Where, Eh? Uh! Bang! Smack! Wallop, Bing, Bong, Boom!…Whirl a man’s mind around so fast under the pumping hands of publishers, exploiters, broadcasters, that the centrifuge flings off all unnecessary, time-wasting thought.

…philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work. Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?” [pgs 51-53]

Life today. Now this part here really gets me with how PC you have to be 24/7, the littlest infraction and you are out.

“Now let’s take up the minorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger the population, the more minorities. Don’t step on the toes of the dog-lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico…The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that! All the minor minor minorities with their navels to be kept clean.

Authors, full of evil thoughts, lock up your typewriters. They did. Magazines became a nice blend of vanilla tapioca…But the public, knowing what it wanted, spinning happily, let the comic books survive, And the dimensional sex magazines of course.

There you have it, Montag. It didn’t come from the Government down. There was no dictum, no declaration, no censorship, to start with, no! Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick…Today, thanks to them, you can stay happy all the time…

With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual’, of course became the swear word it deserved to be…

We must all be alike. Not everyone was born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man in the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, judge themselves against…”

Horrifying, yet that is the world we live in. You don’ like it, they destroy it; and that is happening now. A book about George Washington’s slave, who liked him because she saved his life from an assassination plot, making him a birthday cake was pulled because it isn’t p.c. Uncle Tom’s Cabin? No longer read because it is “cruel to blacks”, when it wasn’t. People don’t even read the book, but destroy it because it might hurt someone’s feelings. The remake of Red Dawn? Last minute had to be rewritten as it might hurt China’s feelings.

Captain Beatty lets them know they got rid of the girl as she was too crazy and out there.

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Life’s better bland, nothing to worry about, pleasant life, no problems, no nothing.

He tells Montag it is okay to check out a book, just one, as there is nothing in there. He’ll read it and burn it afterward.

After Beatty left, Montag is furious, but instead of taking something to make him happy, he has 20 books hidden in the house. He has decided to read them, sharing them with Mildred.

Montag goes to see Professor Faber, a man he ran into before. Faber used to work at a liberal arts college, but they closed it down as it was no longer important. He wants to know how to understand the books, to learn and Faber is the only one he has left.

Faber tells him we need three things in life:

“Number one: Do you know why books such as these are so important? Because they have quality…This book has pores…You’d find life under the glass, streaming past infinite profusion…The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.” [pg. 79]

And the second? Leisure. Now Montag brings up that we have plenty of leisure, but he means actual time set aside to read, not bombarded with all types of  things.

“You can’t argue with a four-wall televisor. Why? The televisor is ‘real.’ It is immediate, it has dimension. It tells you what to think and blasts it in. It must be right. It seems so right. It rushes you on so quickly to its own conclusions your mind hasn’t time to protest, ‘What nonsense!’

‘…You can shut [books], say ‘Hold on a moment.’ You play God to it. But who has ever torn himself away from the claw that encloses you when you drop a seed in a TV parlor? It grows you any shape it wishes! It is an environment as real as the world. It becomes and is the truth. Books can be beaten down with reason. But with all my knowledge and skepticism, I have never been able to argue with a one-hundred-piece-symphony orchestra, full color, three dimensions…” [pg. 80]

And thirdly the ability to carry out the actions learned from it.

Montag thinks they can change the world by planting books on all the firemen, to bring them down. But Faber knows it won’t help, it isn’t the fireman that created this rule but the public who wanted people to stop reading.

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That’s right, we did when we stopped reading.

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Montag is afraid to go out as Beatty might mix him up again. Faber gives him these devices so he can put it in his ear so that he can hear Faber. That night he goes home and sees that Mildred is having a party.

Montag is horrified by these women. One just marries, divorces, marries, divorces, no emotions whatsoever. The other has kids who are in school constantly, and never sees them as she doesn’t care. They discuss politics. voting for people based on how they look and their names, rather than what they actually say or want to do.

Montag reads to them but they don’t understand. They’ve been too distorted with TV and the culture with no substance.

Captain Beatty knows that Montag has been reading and plays with him, using the books he clings to to rebut his arguments. They leave as they have a call, and it turns out that it is Montag’s house

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Mildred put in the alarm and she is heartbroken. But what saddens her the most? Losing her TV family

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Yes, not her husband, home, etc.

Montag is forced to destroy his own home, and afterwards destroys the firemen. After all, his whole life he has been taught, you have a problem, burn it.

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He has now become a fugitive and runs. Not knowing where, but just continuing to run.

After running, he plants the books in other firemen’s houses. Montag stops to see Faber, finds out the Hound (the firemen’s robotic assassin) is after them, and continues to take off. Never knowing where he is to go next, but running.

He runs into the country until the end of the all known. He stops when he reaches an area with men siting near a campfire and TV set. They give him a potion to change his perspiration, but it is’t really necessary. The Hound needs to find someone, as after all this is TV, the people need the answer.

They find some poor sop who looks like Montag and kill him to save face.

These men are former professors , intellectuals, etc; who have been running from the law. Each one has taken in a new life, the life of a book. These books are locked away in an area they can never be taken from. The mind.

Eventually the hope is to one day reenter society and bring the books they have been passing orally to the world.

“Do you really think they will listen then?’

‘If not then we’ll just have to wait…you can’t make people listen. They have to come around in their own time…” [pg. 146]

And what book does Montag choose to be? Ecclesiastes.

Besides this fantastic story, we have the amazing language and the great way it was written. Take the beginning:

“It was a pleasure to burn.

It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history. With his symbolic helmut numbered 451 on his stolid head, and his eyes all orange flame with the thought of what came next, he flicked the igniter and the house jumped up in a gorging fire that burned the evening sky red and yellow and black. He strode in a swarm of fireflies. He wanted above all, like the old joke to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparkling whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.” [pgs. 1-2]

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This book is only 158 pages, barely any pages, but there is so much power is in that. Amazing amounts of power. I just love this book.

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Remember:

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Turn your TV, computer, cell phone, and any other device you have off for a while and pick up a book instead.

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To read more 30 Day challenges go to 30 Day Challenge: All About Me!

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For more on Fahrenheit 451, go to It’s A Fan World After All

For more Ray Bradbury, go to Baby Jane Austen

For more Dystopian futures, go to Remember, Remember The 5th of November

For more on being old-fashioned, go to Not a Hipster, But an O.F.

For more Cassandra Clare, go to Drug of Choice

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So last year I posted a Christmas Carol every day in December and I really enjoyed it. I had so much fun picking out the songs, I decided to bring it back.

So with everything going on in the world, and the way people have been acting: I think we need a little Christmas in our lives. So I choose that song.

We Need a Little Christmas is from the musical Mame based on the novel Aunt Mame. In the story Mame gains guardianship of her nephew and starts to raise him. At this point in the musical, Mame has lost everything in the stock market crash of 1929. With everything practically gone, she decides to have Christmas early as she doesn’t know what will happen.

Of course that isn’t the end of the play as Mame has many more interesting antics. However, this song is great and just the right thing to put us in the mood.

This version is sung by Angela Lansbury, from the first musical cast of Aunt Mame.

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For more Christmas Carols, go to We Wish You A Merry Christmas

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For more on Angela Lansbury, go to Because I Am Mad, I Hate You. Because I Am Mad, I Have Betrayed You: Gaslight (1944)

Drug of Choice

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Words can be addicting, they can define who we are, they can change us.

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Yep:

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For more Rudyard Kipling, go to Redone Done Right

For more book-y posts, go to We Shall Rule the World

For more of my favorite quotes, go to Can’t Go Back