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Galileo's Daughter

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I am currently reading a book about Galileo Galilei entitled Galileo's Daughter.  It is an historical memoir based on the surviving letters his cloistered daughter wrote to him over the course of  about 20 years, and on accounts and records of his most fascinating and still important scientific discoveries.  The chapter I began reading last night was about his 1633 trial at the Vatican.  He had been summoned to appear before the Holy Office of Inquisition, accused of heresy for writing a book that gave credence to the Copernician belief that the Earth moves around the sun. Galileo was convicted and spent his last 10 years of life under house arrest in Rome.

By a strange coincidence, today's Writer's Almanac on NPR featured this very event in Galileo's life, it being April 12, 1633 that he was defending his scientific beliefs  before the Church! 

I would highly recommend this book by Dava Sobel - it has much historical detail woven into a lovely story of the scientist who was also a father, a friend and a devoted Catholic.

Vikes, Twins and C.S. Lewis

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It's been a fun few days with the excitement of the Vikings beating Green Bay, the Twins beating Detroit and last night's Poetry Plus.  Sharon's son was our guest presenter, and his program was on The Screwtape Letters of C.S. Lewis.  I read that book when I was in my late teens and remember thinking "wow, that's odd stuff".  I gave it another try before last night's program, and as usually is the case I had an entirely different perspective on it.  This time I saw the satire instead of the "oddness" and pictured Professer Screwtape as an almost amusing purveyor of temptation toward his student Wormwood.  Not to downplay the seriousness of the topic, but certain scenes made me laugh out loud.  One being the man in the museum who is contemplating the deep religious tones of a painting - Screwtape instructs Wormwood to make the man focus instead on being hungry, therefore breaking his concentration and leave his spiritual thoughts behind and head for lunch!   Makes me wonder how often I am visited by a Wormwood without even knowing it!!

An excerpt from No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

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(It is because of passages like the following that  I love reading the books in this series so much)

   The world, Mma Ramotswe believed, was composed of big things and small things.  The big things were written large, and one could not but be aware of them - wars, oppression, the familiar theft by the rich and the strong of those simple things that the poor needed, those scraps which would make their life more bearable; this happened and could make even the reading of a newspaper an exercise in sorrow.  There were all those unkindnesses, palpable, daily, so easily avoidable; but one could not think just of those, thought Mma Ramotswe, or one would spend one's time in tears - and the unkindnesses would continue.  So the small things came into their own:  small acts of helping others, if one could; small ways of making one's own life better:  acts of love, acts of tea, acts of laughter.  Clever people might laugh at such simplicity, but, she asked herself, what was their own solution?

 

Taken from The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith, copyright 2007, Random House 

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