Anna Karenina Book Review

A cautionary tale that contrasts a relationship gone to hell and a relationship bloomed to life.

The last two nights have been a roller coaster of emotions both in Russia and in Fargo, ND. I finished reading Anna Karenina which involved the last two parts of the book. I topped off the night holding my newborn son near candlelight with a cup of hot cinnamon spice tea, and of course potato chips, big sour chewy nerds, and a grapefruit sparkling water. Weird choices? It was a delight to the senses.

To write a book this big and not even as big as War and Peace, he must have something to say. And he does. And it’s brilliant. The writing is exquisite. The story is awfully sad, and yet hopeful and happy. He is so detailed and knows how to peel the onion of someone’s mind. He shows the devastating effects of adultery and lust, and how sin ultimately leads to death.

The fact that the book is about an affair, I wonder if many people think it’s just some steamy romance like most modern day stories where they want to glory in the affair, the sin, the darkness. Not this story. And Tolstoy packs a punch making you observe your own life and your own desires. Tolstoy shows how sin curses you, entices you into a whore’s house, and poisons you with death.

And all the while he interweaves a beautiful narrative that is rich, deep, and filled with a loving relationship that isn’t perfect, but is being transformed and changed into something glorious.

I was really surprised by the questions he posed to the reader through one character. Why am I here? What is the purpose of life? What am I living for? Reason vs. romance. Intellect vs. revelation. Working vs gifting. Vanity vs. meaning. And he wonderfully attempts (and I believe succeeds) in answering many of these questions.

Tolstoy offers us two pictures and two paths. The way of misery or the way of happiness. The way of death or the way of life.

I’ve heard this book is used in counseling marriages, and I don’t doubt it. It should be. This book may be a mirror for some and a life saver for others. Do you want to enter a rich and beautiful world filled with longing and suffering, hope and agony, joy and sadness? Do you want to be delighted and taught through a profound story that paints the good, true, and beautiful? I heartily recommend you read, Anna Karenina.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“in former days the free-thinker was a man who had been brought up in ideas of religion, law, and morality, and only through conflict and struggle came to free-thought; but now there has sprung up a new type of born free-thinkers who grow up without even having heard of principles of morality or of religion, of the existence of authorities, who grow up directly in ideas of negation in everything, that is to say, savages…And he turned to what seemed to him the very source of culture–the magazines. In old times, you see, a man who wanted to educate himself–a Frenchman, for instance–would have set to work to study all the classics and theologians and tragedians and historians and philosophers, and, you know, all the intellectual work that came in the way…but now he comes at once upon a literature in which the old creeds do not even furnish matter for discussion, but it is stated baldly that there is nothing else–evolution, natural selection, struggle for existence–and that’s all.”

Lost in Space – 10 Reasons to Watch

Lost in Space (2018- ) is a TV show I don’t hesitate to recommend. So many TV shows are garbage. So finding one that is actually good is like finding gold in the dross. They are hard to come by (especially newer shows), but they are out there.

Here are 10 reasons I’d recommend watching “Lost in Space”.

  1. Location
    The first season was filmed in Vancouver, Canada. The second season is filmed in Iceland. To showcase the beauty of another planet, they film it on planet Earth! THIS world is truly beautiful.
  2. Trouble
    The writers are willing to put their characters through a lot of trouble. This is good because it inspires the audience ways to work through trouble because this world is full of it.
  3. Family
    When a large part of our culture wants to get rid of the family, it’s refreshing to see a family go through conflict together, stay together, and work together. Family is the backbone of society. G.K. Chesteron said, “The family is the test of freedom; because the family is the only thing that the free man makes for himself and by himself.”
  4. Fatherhood
    It’s rare to see current shows where the father is seen as a critical role to the family and what happens when the father actually steps up to be a man, sacrifice for his family, and give his life for them. Yes, John isn’t the perfect role model, but seeing him transform throughout the series is inspiring.
  5. Responsibility
    When a boy named Will takes responsibility for his robot, I question my life and ask, “Am I taking responsibility for the people, positions, and things that have been entrusted to me?” Responsibility takes humility, self-control, and action.
  6. No nudity
  7. Music
    Music fits the show well. The soundtrack has some lovely songs I enjoy listening to. Without good music, it’s hard to have a good movie or show. Christopher Lennertz composed the music beautifully.
  8. Character building
    People want to grow. So when you see characters grow through turmoil, suffering, and catastrophic events, it encourages you that you can do the same. You are not alone. Will we grow in our character and responsibilities or will we become self-centered and prideful?

    C.S. Lewis said, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which,if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
  9. Questions
    The show asks lots of great questions that the viewer can ponder and work through. Roles in family, robots, what love looks like, questioning authority, and so much more.
  10. Beauty
    There are so many beautiful elements. You will just have to watch it. Truth, goodness, and beauty is on display. It’s not perfect, but we need more shows like this.