At first glance, the topic of losing weight has nothing to do with Zion. In my own life, however, my decades-long quest to lose weight has paralleled and strongly influenced my quest to attain Zion, both as an individual and in my relationship to the larger community. The reason for this is simple: If I want to become holy, my spirit needs to be in control of my body, and if I want to live a life consecrated to God, I need the physical and emotional strength and stamina to live a life of service.
The actual process, however, has been complex and isn’t finished. Losing 100 pounds is an enormous milestone in this quest, and because so many people I know have asked how I did it, I’m going to deviate from my normal posting style for the next few months and share brief information about books that have significantly helped me, along with quotations from some of them that particularly struck me when I first read them and have stuck with me ever since.
None of these books promote popular commercial programs. None of them offer gimmicks or quick fixes. None of them advocate eliminating entire food groups on a permanent basis. All of them advocate eating healthy foods in balanced amounts. Some of them allow for more modern convenience foods than others. Some of these books are out of print, and some of the information in them is out of date. Instead of telling you how information in any of the books may be out of date, I’ll provide the copyright year of the book for context. Where the books most differ is in the macronutrient ratios they recommend, and for that reason, I will give those facts for every applicable book if they are available.
As I share these books, please keep in mind that 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.
Like many readers these days, I sometimes listen to audiobooks while doing other tasks. A good source for free audiobooks in the public domain is LibriVox. You can download or stream audiobooks from the web site, or you can install an app on your phone or tablet to do the same thing. Here is the basic description of LibriVox from its web site:
In April 2015 my book group read The Virginian: A Horseman of the Plains, by Owen Wister. One of the fun things about this novel is that the school teacher in the story, Molly Wood, gives books to the Virginian to read. When he returns a book to her, he gives his spirited observations about it. His remarks about Fathers and Sons and Kenilworth are so intriguing that my group added those books to our list for 2016. Some of his comments—such as those about Emma, by Jane Austen—are about books we have already read. One of his observations is about The Mill on the Floss, a George Eliot novel the group hasn’t read yet. I wanted so much to add the Virginian’s comment about The Mill on the Floss to this post that I read it on my own.
I’ll warn you right now; the Virginian’s observation about The Mill on the Floss contains a significant spoiler, so you may want to skip down a few lines to Fathers and Sons. If you’re like me, however, you may prefer to avoid tragic surprises in a book and are more likely to read it if you get a warning, so here it is:
I’ve just uploaded updates for two important files on my web site. The first, “Wholesome Literature—A Realistic Choice,” is a rewrite of the essay previously entitled “Wholesome Literature—the Intelligent Choice” for a general religious audience. The original essay began as a literary spotlight to a group of women in my church almost twenty years ago. Of all my literary essays, it was the one with the most potential for revision to a more general audience. After several attempts over the past decade to make that revision, I finally produced something that satisfies me!
The second document I updated was “My Favorite Clean Fiction.” I now provide a link for each author who has books in the public domain to his or her list of free ebooks on Project Gutenberg‘s web site. I also simplified my list and added descriptions for almost all of the titles.
As I collected descriptions, I couldn’t help but notice how many of them weren’t written to draw a popular audience, particularly those describing the classics. That seems a shame to me, because so many of the classics really are great stories. If the descriptions were written to capitalize more on the story and less on the meaning, the books might find a wider audience. For example, here’s a boring description of The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne:
As I begin this quest to capture and share glimpses of Zion from the fiction I read, a few of you may wonder whether you should read some of these books that may promote religious or social ideas you don’t agree with. A few of you may be troubled by the fact that I’m recommending books that don’t agree on many points with the tenets of my own church, which, in the effort of full disclosure, is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some of you may think that I’m glossing over the very real doctrinal differences between religions to present a view of life that has no basis in reality. Some of you may be looking for tools to help you better evaluate the religious content you encounter in your own reading. For all of these reasons, I want to address the issue of doctrinal differences up front and get it out of the way.
What is Zion? This term has several meanings, but the one that applies best to the focus of Novaun Novels is this one: “A place or a religious community regarded as sacredly devoted to God; a city of God” (The American Heritage Dictionary, 1979). This quotation by Saint Augustine expands the idea of a city sacredly devoted to God:
“The Men of the Mark do not lie, and therefore they are not easily deceived” (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers).
“God has just such gladness every time he sees from heaven that a sinner is praying to Him with all his heart, as a mother has when she sees the first smile on her baby’s face” (Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot).
“God’s love and mercy can overcome all things—our ignorance, and weakness, and all the burden of our past wickedness—all things but our wilful sin, sin that we cling to, and will not give up” (George Eliot, Adam Bede).
“Unlimited power is in itself a bad and dangerous thing; human beings are not competent to exercise it with discretion, and God alone can be omnipotent, because His wisdom and His justice are always equal to His power” (Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America).
“I decided that God, a kind and loving God, could never be proved. In fact there are . . . a lot of arguments against him. But there isn’t any point to life without him. Without him we’re just a skin disease on the face of the earth, and I feel too strongly about the human spirit to be able to settle for that. So what I did for a long time was to live life as though I believed in God. And eventually I found out that the as though had turned into a reality” (Madeleine L’Engle, The Moon by Night).
About the Author
Creator of spaced-out Christian fiction and clean-reading resources. See my BIO.