Marvin Repinski: What are you reading? Good question

Published 4:51 pm Friday, October 7, 2022

“…….Read this I pray thee……..” (Isaiah, 29:12)

Captain James Calvert, the noted naval skipper in the nuclear submarine fleet, tells of the final and strangest question asked of him during the interview which resulted in his getting the nod to face the challenge of taking his crew underneath the North Pole ice.

The interviewer, the brilliant Admiral Hyman Rickover, asked Calvert, “What are the last four books you’ve read?” Calvert was stunned, for he realized that his answer would give a rather startling view of his outlook on life and his range of interest. Fortunately he could give a well-balanced answer, and it resulted in his selection. What are the last four books you have read?  The answer can be quite revealing and penetrating!

Retirement, or for me partial retirement, is a time for catching up! Yes, reading is part of that process. A few things I’ve read during this past week. My interest is in knowing a little more of what was called the Beat Generation. This was during my young adult years, but I was too busy with part-time jobs and trying not to flunk out of college — study time always needed!

In digging into a biography by Barry Miles Ginsberg, I discovered that all those “rebellious types,” always in the news, had superb talent mixed with their going madly against the grain. Some like the  odd writer, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, gives some of the overview:

A living “character,” Neal Cassady, was arrested “for offering a couple of joints to undercover agents.” The results were some jail time where he “became a devout Christian, memorizing the names of all — at that time (1958) — 262 popes.” In his religious habits, he devised prayers to be said at different times during the day. Upon release from jail, he found lodging with a new friend.

Ken Kesey, a writer who many of us read. Enough for now about the Beats, but reflections on the lives of many young men and women does reveal the variety of turns and circles that may be part of a young adult — and older — world.

Historical research brightens my day. The first Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an African American, Ralph Bunche. Following the deaths of his parents, he moved from Detroit, Michigan to Los Angeles to live with his grandmother, Lucy Johnson. Now an orphan at the age of 12, living with a family member, a poet, who was known for composing the poem, “Believe in Yourself.” Among the lines are, “You must not only believe in yourself, you must believe in other people too.”

I was reading recently about Abraham Lincoln, and noted how one person can bring in a needed balance to a nation.

Lincoln was born on Feb. 12, 1809. As the 16th president of our United States, we may reach beyond what are limits to some … what is now LaRue County, Kentucky. Barriers were broken by a determined and honest man. In 1870 women in some states (not yet all) gained the right to vote.

A girls’ swimming team from Austin High School is a marvel! I assume at least one of those team members, at one time, stepped back from the water. “Waves can pull you under” may have been spoken. With monumental effort, water has now become her friend!

Most of us are thinking of water these days and it is praise worthy to have all the feats and daring rescues of frightened citizens who for some lost everything in the wake of Hurricane Ian. These are the times when help is directed in many ways. We who sometimes shop at a Hy-Vee store, are appreciative of the shipments of supplies of this organization going south. I’m presently reading the book of essays, “Traveling Mercies,” by Anne Lamott, the willingness, for thousands of persons to help in many ways, is extending “mercies.” Her book’s title is saying, “Flood, wind, destruction, fire, will not stop us.”

Written by Father James Steffes, of St. Augustine Church in Austin, is a sentence from the September 25th weekly news publication. I quote because I need to hear it and apply it. I consider Father Jim, as I call him in visiting, my friend in the faith!

“People who have an intimate relationship with the Lord never find life dull or boring. As we read in the First Letter of St. Peter, “You did not see Him, yet you love Him, and still without seeing Him, you are filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described.” (1Pt 1:8). Genuine joy is incompatible with, and leaves no room for, boredom, lethargy, despair or desolation. Selfishness diminishes a person’s liveliness and capacity to enjoy reality and to grow in relationship. Egotism is a self-centered dead-end.”