Rowan Williams, Being Christian

I want to take a moment to suggest a book which I’ve just read which has had a profound influence on me and which has been important to me as I reawaken to my faith. The book is called Being Christian, and is by Dr. Rowan Williams, who as many will know, is the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

The book focuses on four areas: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, and Prayer. While a short book, the depth of the writing and focus is very powerful. There is no fluff, just the clear and insightful language that Williams always seems to bring when he speaks.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon:

And here is one of my favorite short clips of Williams, which will give the unfamiliar a taste of his thinking and style:


Attended Mass and didn’t take Communion

I attended Mass today and didn’t take Communion. I am writing a brief note about this because I experienced what I would call judgment from those around me. I was nearest the aisle and as the Deacon approached saying, “Body of Christ”, I stayed in the pew, praying. I confess (pun intended) that I didn’t feel worthy of Communion today and definitely not in a state of grace. I went to pray for my family, myself, and the world. I prayed for forgiveness. As I stayed there I noticed that the people beside me needed to get out for Communion. I asked if they needed to get by and the nice woman said yes and that he was giving Communion there. It felt odd because it was as if there was an implication in what she said, that I should also take Communion, or perhaps, what’s wrong with you don’t you know there’s Communion there?

 I guess what irks me is the way people looked at me as they passed by. I also felt as though they felt inconvenienced by my staying in the pew. I know I’m not wrong in what I did, but I did feel judged. I am sorry to say that I think this happens a lot in Catholic churches.

In my defense, from

Out of habit and out of fear of what those around them will think if they do not receive Communion, some Catholics, in a state of mortal sin, choose to go forward and offend God rather than stay in the pew while others receive the Eucharist. The Church’s ancient teaching on this particular matter is expressed in the Didache, an early Christian document written around A.D. 70, which states: “Whosoever is holy [i.e., in a state of sanctifying grace], let him approach. Whosoever is not, let him repent” (Didache 10).

At any rate, I hope those who attend Mass may be a little more judgment free towards their fellow brothers and sisters. Judge not lest ye be judged, and all that.

Finally, a happy belated birthday to W.H. Auden!

*An aside and update: I was attending a Catholic Church as the Anglican Church I attend was closed due to bad weather. So, there were other factors influencing my not taking communion there, one of which being that I’m not Catholic.

Blog Hop

I’d like to introduce you to Jess C. Scott, who invited me to take part in this blog hop.

Jess C. Scott

Jess C. Scott

Jess has been writing and publishing books in a wide-array of genres (including: Psychological Thrillers, Fantasy, Non-Fiction, and Erotic Fiction) and blogging since 2007. She is prolific and talented in each of these genres and has recently started blogging about socio-political issues in Singapore. Talk about being multi-talented!

I can personally recommend her anthology of erotic short-stories, Primal Scream, which I have enjoyed. *(Jess, sorry I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet!)

I highly recommend that you give her a visit:

Now it’s my turn:

a.  What am I working on?

Currently I am revising my sonnet collection 365 Days of Verse. My plan is to release a single volume 2nd edition. I may also revise my five act play “The Sacrifice” and possibly publish that.

I’m also working on a mini-epic poem written in iambic pentameter. I’ve been working on this for about three years now. I hope to finish it within another year. It’s 20 pages long so far.

b.  How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I suppose I am more attuned to blank verse and perhaps “less standard” rhyme schemes than others, but to be honest, I don’t know. I’m certainly not doing anything too off the wall. I suppose writing a sonnet every day for a year is in some ways different.

c.  Why do I write what I do?

I’ve written for various reasons over the years. It’s varied from: ego gratification, trying to impress the opposite sex, and because I love a good challenge. I think nowadays I primarily write out of enjoyment more than anything. I have no particular axe to grind internally or externally. I’m pretty well aware that most people don’t like sonnets, verse, etc., and I’m fine with that.

4.  How does your writing process work?

When I engage I guess I become somewhat obsessive. I look at it like trying to solve a riddle. So for example, in the mini-epic I’m working on, I started with the structure of a story that happens to the characters. Then I had to figure out what goes in there and from there work on the verse aspect of it (which rhyme schemes to use, and so forth). It’s a large and complicated puzzle but it’s intensely gratifying.

I’ve failed to get in touch with other bloggers for the blog hop but I’ll just link to them.

Greg Rodgers, blogger and vagabonding master. Greg has traveled the world, and then some. He writes about his travels and perspectives on his blog He also blogs for on Asia travel.

Dmitri Mandaliev, author of Stoic Living for the Modern Soul. Dmitri writes about a lot of different topics and focuses a lot on stoicism. His Letters to a Young Man series hearkens Seneca’s moral letters. Interesting, if sometimes provocative, stuff.
Website is here:

Review of Stoic Living for the Modern Soul by Dmitri Mandaliev

Stoic Living for the Modern Soul

Summary: A panoply of wisdom and insight. This book stands out amongst other modern books on stoicism.

I’ve read a lot of books on stoicism, including the classics by Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, as well as newer books, which I read after reading the classics. What I love most about Stoic Living for the Modern Soul is that it inspires me rather than tries to teach me with academic lessons and rote techniques. In this way it is much the same as the classic works in its approach, that is that it shows us rather than tells us. I think this is because the author, Dmitri Mandaliev, says that he wrote this book as reminders to himself, in much the same way that Aurelius’ Meditations was written. I’ve looked at his blog (tao of dirt on wordpress) and have found his ‘Letters to a Young Man’ series, a body of work which continues to grow and echoes the Moral Letters of Seneca. This is what the world needs now, I’m convinced of that. So often we are told what to do but we are not shown.

I got this book a couple of days ago and started reading it immediately. For me it’s been one of those books which is filled with moments of insight and inspiration. As I read I found myself saying, “Yes, this is what I’ve been looking for”, feeling that I have found a voice which I can relate to. So many topics are covered which are relevant to living today, including work (and dealing with having a job you don’t like), friendship and marriage, self-control, taking care of your body and mind, appreciate life in the face of turmoil, all the things you’d expect to find in such a work.

The book is divided into five books. It starts with an Introduction followed by books on: the body, the mind, the spirit, and the living of life. (Excerpts are available on his blog here.) The intro discusses what stoicism is, but it’s not your typical walk down academic lane with history. That has been done to death. Instead, it gives Mandaliev’s personal take on stoicism and parts of it are unexpected to me but nonetheless make perfect sense. In a way, it’s almost a re-framing of stoicism from a modern perspective, but one which retains the core elements and just views the words of the ancients somewhat differently than others do.

The following chapters take on each of the topics with clarity, dignity and with a personal touch which draws you into the world of the author. As I read I found myself contemplating my own life through the lens that Mandaliev presents, and I found that there are angles that I wasn’t considering. The human quality with which problems with work and with family are handled, make you feel that you have a mentor who is helping you a long, much the same way that I’ve felt when reading Seneca. Mandaliev’s ‘Letters to a Young Man’ series is much the same way, incidentally.

If you’re interested in learning about stoicism, or are a seasoned pro, I recommend this book. I dare say it could be life-changing. There’s something new here which I think has been missing from the writing on stoicism of late, and that is a personal voice which is human and that we can all relate to. I’ve grown tired of dry lessons and ‘techniques’ which always fail me. What I’ve been craving is a new voice to go along with the classic stoics, one which understands the specific troubles I have day-to-day. The ancient stoic writings and their principles still help, obviously, but it’s very helpful having someone talk about things like cell phones and how they distract us from more important things, from a stoic viewpoint. I dare say that Dmitri Mandaliev has picked up the torch from the past and is carrying it forward, and in doing so he takes it with us.

You can get the book here.