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Perelandra

Perelandra, by C.S. Lewis

“The second novel in Lewis’s science fiction trilogy tells of Dr Ransom’s voyage to the planet of Perelandra (Venus). Dr Ransom is sent by the Elida to Perelandra (Venus) to battle against evil incarnate and preserve a second Eden from the evil forces present in the possessed body of his enemy, Weston.”


In this novel, Dr. Ransom’s “battle against evil incarnate” is both philosophical and physical. The philosophical struggle adds meaning to the physical conflict and raises the stakes. Because the stakes are so high, the resolution of the story arc between Ransom and Weston satisfied me more that it would have had it come at the end of Out of the Silent Planet. Dr. Ransom’s battle is also fantastical, so much so that I wasn’t disturbed by the fact that the novel contains, at its core, a view of the “fall of man” that is very different from my own. Reading this book, in fact, inspired me to ponder these matters in a way that I hadn’t in a while. I particularly like this conversation between Ransom and Tinidril from chapter 9: Continue reading

Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis (science fiction)

Out of the Silent Planet

Out of the Silent Planet

“In the first novel of C.S. Lewis’s classic science fiction trilogy, Dr Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet’s treasures and plan to offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there. Ransom discovers he has come from the ‘silent planet’–Earth–whose tragic story is known throughout the universe…”


I read this book a couple of years ago and came away from it with an “eh” feeling. After my recent reading of Perelandra, the second book in the Space Trilogy, I went back and re-read much of Out of the Silent Planet, and my experience was much more satisfying. My problem the first time around was that the adventure started strong and then seemed to fizzle out in the end. What I failed to understand during that reading was that the true villain in the stories of C.S. Lewis is never completely the antagonist; it is the fallen nature of the protagonist. God always exists, is always a major player in the outcome of the story struggle, and will always win. I believe that this quality, more than anything else, is what makes the Space Trilogy radically different from standard science fiction, defines it as Christian science fiction, and marks it as a standard for modern faith-based science fiction, including my own. The question of a C.S. Lewis story is how it will end—which is generally quite unique and creative—and whether the protagonist will end his or her struggle on God’s team. Continue reading

Lady in Waiting

Lady in Waiting

Lady in Waiting

Lady in Waiting, by Rosemary Sutcliff (historical)

“Handsome and gifted, Walter Ralegh was a star even in a court of brilliant men ruled by one of the greatest monarchs of all time, Elizabeth I.

“Ralegh held position and power, and was loved by the Queen, but his dream was to conquer new lands for Elizabeth, to find El Dorado.

“Bess Throckmorton was one of the Queen’s Maids of Honour.

“Shy and retiring, her dream was to capture the heart of the proud and restless Ralegh, in whose life it seemed she would always come second.

“But when Elizabeth dies and James I comes to power, Ralegh’s fortunes take a dramatic turn . . .

“Once a beloved courtier, he becomes a disgraced prisoner.

“And his dreams of reaching El Dorado seem to be forever out of reach. ”


I began reading this book in August, when I was preparing to go to the Outer Banks in North Carolina with my family. No trip to the Outer Banks is ever complete for me until I make a visit to Roanoke Island, the site of the first English colony in America, which was organized by  Sir Walter Ralegh. Reading a novel about his wife Bess Throckmorton seemed fitting. Continue reading

New Alien Roads Sample

I am pleased to announce that Alien Roads, the second book in The Dominion Over the Earth series, is finally finished! This is futuristic fantasy geared to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormons. Here is a short description of the series: Continue reading

The Dark Trench Saga: A Star Curiously Singing, The Superlative Stream, and Freeheads

The Dark Trench Saga, by Kerry Nietz (Evangelical science fiction)

A Star Curiously Singing

A Star Curiously Singing

“Sandfly is a debugger. He is property, bought and paid for in an Earth under sharia law. All faiths but one have been banned. And the rule of the great Imam is supreme.

“As a debugger, Sandfly has an implant in his head that connects him to the world’s technology—and doles out mental shocks to keep him obedient. All he wants is to fix bots and avoid shocks.

“Now he’s been called into Earth orbit. The masters have a new spacecraft—one capable of interstellar flight. On its maiden voyage, the only robot on board went mad and tore itself apart.

“Why? Better question: does it pose any risk to humans?

“When Sandfly reviews the bot’s final moments, he perceives something unexpected. Something impossible.

“As Sandfly pieces together the clues, a trap spreads beneath his feet. If he solves the mystery, he may doom himself. And if he fixes the robot, he may shatter his world.

“Suspenseful, unique, and awash in cyberpunk jive, A Star Curiously Singing presents a bleak future that might be closer than we think.”


The Dark Trench Saga is Evangelical science fiction at its best—the setting is unique and well-executed, and the faith-based aspect of the story is perceptive and complex enough to inspire thought. Nietz brilliantly uses a continuous digital “stream” of information as a symbol for the knowledge of God that flows to humanity from Heaven. This “superlative stream” provides a flow of light and truth to those who are spiritually prepared to receive it—sanctifying power that “reprograms” the person’s mind and heart. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 6: The Book I Wish I’d Read Sooner

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

To read the third post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40,” please click here.

To read the fourth post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 4: The Final 40,” please click here.

To read the fifth post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 5: Cookbooks,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I talked about that in the fourth post of this series.


The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation

The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation

The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation, by John A. Widtsoe and Leah D. Widtsoe (LDS non-fiction)  

“The Word of Wisdom, a code of health dealing primarily with human nutrition, was promulgated as a divine revelation in 1833 by Joseph Smith, the ‘Mormon’ Prophet. It is a part of the religious system of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which declares that the care of the body is a sacred duty; and it has been practiced measurably by members of the Church with very favorable results.

“Three objectives have been kept in mind in the preparation of this book. First, to make clear the meaning of the Word of Wisdom in terms of modern knowledge. Second, to show that the learning of the last century confirms the teachings of the Word of Wisdom. Third, to furnish some information for the guidance, through proper nutrition, of those who seek to retain, improve or recover their health.”

Biographical note: John A. Widtsoe graduated from Harvard University with a degree in chemistry and went on to earn a Ph.D. in physiological chemistry (biochemistry) from the University of Göttingen. In 1921 he was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Leah D. Widtsoe was a renowned home economist.


This book was originally published in 1937 and is full of health information that was “modern” for its time. Eighty years have passed since then, and nutritional science has progressed by leaps and bounds. That being the case, how can this be the one book about health that I wish I had read sooner? Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 5: Cookbooks

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

To read the third post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40,” please click here.

To read the fourth post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 4: The Final 40,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I talked about that in the fourth post of this series.


I’ve acquired many recipes over the years from multiple cooks and books, but in this post I will share the cookbooks that I have used the most in my health quest or anticipate using more in years to come. All but one of the books—which wasn’t designed to be a “diet” book—aim to provide lighter alternatives to common American foods. The techniques and ingredients they use to meet that goal, however, are often very different. I’ll confess that I dislike non-fat dairy foods and salad dressings and don’t use them, even when the recipe calls for them, which changes the nutritional statistics of many recipes for me. I do use reduced-fat items. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 4: The Final 40

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

To read the third post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me. The information in this post is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. I’ll tell you a little about my experience working with a dietitian in this post. Please keep in mind, however, that the advice I have received from her has been based on my individual needs. I don’t know what particular advice she gives to her other patients, but some of the general advice she gives can be found here.


In early April 2016, I met with the dietitian for the first time, committed to follow the advice she gave to me. She urged me to continue to use the My Fitness Pal (MFP) application, but she wanted me to customize the calorie and macronutrient goals. To my surprise, she didn’t suggest I lower my caloric intake and, in fact, wanted me to stay in the 1800–2000 calorie range I was in as long as I continued to lose weight at that level. She did, however, want me to pick a calorie goal and stick with it every day, whatever exercise I did. I decided on a goal of 1900 calories, since this was the number that MFP routinely gave to me. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 3: The Second 40

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

To read the second post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I’ll tell you more about that in the fourth post of this series.


In the spring of 2006, less than a year after moving to an inner suburb of Washington, D.C., I bought a bicycle and, with my husband and children, began riding it on the wonderful park trails that were now easily available to us. We generally got out at least once a week when the weather was good, and I was able to build from 2–3 miles in the beginning to 15 miles within a few months. That, combined with my inconsistent adherence to the health program designed by Dana Thornock that I described in my last post, enabled me to drop another 15 pounds easily.

Katherine Padilla at the 2007 National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

Katherine Padilla at the 2007 National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

The next book on my list was the first one that clued me in on the fact that what I had long been taught were “healthy” fats weren’t, perhaps, as healthy as I had believed. Continue reading

Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 2: The First 20

I’m deviating from my normal blogging style for several months to share brief information about books that have significantly helped me obtain better health.

To read the first post in this series, “Books that Helped Me Lose 100 Pounds, Part 1: Introduction,” please click here.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or a dietitian. I do not recommend or endorse a particular health regimen. My intention is to provide a few insights into what has worked for me at various times of my life. The information in these posts is no substitute for individual medical advice, and you use it at your own risk. These books, in the end, were not even enough for me. I lost the final 40 pounds by working with a registered dietitian. I’ll tell you more about that in the fourth post of this series.


I didn’t discover the next book on my list until the year 2000.

Lean & Free 2000 Plus

Lean & Free 2000 Plus

Dana Thornock’s Lean & Free 2000 Plus, by Dana Thornock © 1994

“Eating well above 2000 delicious, normal calories a day, Dana dropped from 204 pounds and a size 18 to a size 4. . . . She has read virtually every reputable book, article, and program about nutrition, wellness, and weight control. . . . Unlike diets, the Lean and Free 2000 Plus program doesn’t deprive, it provides! You’ll be free to enjoy favorite foods. But most of all, you will experience a life unhampered by the worry of excess body fat or ever getting fat again.”

While you’re in a life-and-death struggle with your own body, it’s impossible to find complete contentment or joy. (p. 103)

***

In this program you will reverse everything you’ve been told about losing weight. You won’t diet your way to an unhealthy, starved body. You will eat your way to health. . . . You’ll look great, you’ll feel great, and you’ll have the abundant vigor that frees you to be of service to all around you. (p. 4)

Dana Thornock’s dietary advice—with its emphasis on complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole grains, and fruit—is similar to that recommended by the authors of How to Lower Your Fat Thermostat, which I told you about in my last post. Her program, however, addresses lifestyle issues in a more comprehensive way, such as motivation, goal-setting, daily meal-planning, eating out, and managing healthy eating when the family is resistant to the changes. The macronutrient ratio of her plan is 65–80% carbohydrate, 10–15% protein, and 10–20% fat. She recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 5% of total calories, although she recognizes that many people don’t have bodies that are “resistant to fat loss” and can lose weight quite well without eliminating sugar. I fell into that category at the time, so I never felt a need to restrict sugar too much, as long as I balanced my other food choices in the way she suggests. Continue reading

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